Advent treats

IMG_3208Something that becomes obvious when you’re living abroad are all the things you used to take for granted. I guess, to me, celebrating advent is one of them. Lighting one candle every Sunday up until christmas and gathering with friends and family to drink mulled wine and eat christmas treats was something I for most of my life took for granted.

Here in Canada I find that advent is mostly celebrated among religious people and people who aren’t religious find it odd to celebrate it. I wouldn’t call myself very religious, but I like following traditions religiously, especially when they involve baking, wine and gathering with friends. Therefore I still put together my buffet of advent treats and cuddle up under a blanket to christmas tunes with the first candle burning.

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Dates stuffed with blue cheese.IMG_3203

Traditional Swedish saffron buns

IMG_3174Citron knäck (lemon toffee)

I will post the recipes for the buns and the knäck another day.

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Box of candy (christmas tree fudge and spicy truffles)

I decided to make some christmas candy for presents this year since we’re going to visit a whole bunch of people in Toronto over the holidays. I justed slight modifications of some of my favourite recipies:

Christmas tree fudge

This fudge has flavour of white chocolate and lime. Their sweet and acidic smell reminds me of how fresh the christmas tree smells when you’ve just brought it in from the crispy cold outside and they will melt on your tongue like snowflakes.

OBS! Use a thick bottomed pot to make the fudge, otherwise you might burn it.

  • 200 ml whipping cream
  • 450 ml white sugar
  • 150 g butter
  • 2 tbs of honey
  • 100 g white chocolate
  • 2 tsp vanilla sugar
  • grated peel from 1 big OR 2 small limes.
  • THERMOMETER

Heat up the sugar and the cream while stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Then add the honey and the butter (cut in pieces). Keep stirring until the butter and honey is dissolved too.

Bring the concoction to a gentle boil and check with the thermometer that it doesn’t get warmer than 116°C (after that it will burn). Once the right temperature is reached, take the pot off the heat and add the chocolate (broken into small pieces), the lime peel and the vanilla sugar. Keep stirring until the paste is smooth.

Cover a deep oven ware or baking sheet with parchement paper and pour the fudge paste into it. Leave it in the fridge to cool down and then cut out pices in whatever size you’d like with a sharp knife or small cookie cutters.

Spicy truffles

  • 200 ml whipping cream
  • 100 g butter
  • 200 g dark chocolate
  • 100 g white chocolate
  • 3 tbs brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tbs strong coffee
  • cinnamon

Prepare a hot water bath (a heat tolerant bowl over a pot of boiling water). Melt the dark chocolate in the bowl. Bring the cream and the butter to a quick boil in a thick bottomed pot and then add the sugar, the coffee and the cardamom.

Pour the mix over the melting chocolate in the bowl. Keep the water boiling on low heat under the bowl until all of the chocolate is melted and the paste is smooth. Add the white chocolate last and just stir carefully to get ripples of white in your truffles.

Leave the bowl with the truffle paste in the fridge for at least 2 hours (over night works too). Shape the paste into little round balls and sprinkle them with cinnamon (or coacoa) for decoration.

Place the candy in nice little boxes with parchment papaer in between the layers.

Perfect present for your grandparents or someone special :)

Jansson’s temptation (Potato gratain with anchovy) – a must on the christmas buffet

For the Biology christmas party this year I decided to make a classic Swedish christmas dish – a “Jansson”.

Potato gratains in general seldom go wrong, but this recipie is especially flavourful. I added nutmeg and italian spices to the recipie since they often go well with creamy sauces in general.

  • 2-3 large russett potatoes (any kind that gets soft is good)
  • 1 can of anchovys in oil (50g)
  • 350 ml whipping cream
  • 1 big yellow onion
  • nutmeg
  • italian herbs
  • salt
  • pepper
  • bread crumbs

Set the oven to 225°C.

Peel the potatoes and chop them in fine strips. Chop the onion in thin half-rings. Mix potato, onion and ancovy filets in a croc pot (pour the oil from the anchovys in too). End with potato on top.

Mix the cream with the spices + salt in a bowl and pour into the croc pot over the other ingredients. Top off with sprinkling bread crumbs all over the top. If you want you can also add thin slices of butter on top to get a harder crust.

Bake in the oven for ca 30 min with the lid and then 15 min without. If you’re using an ovenware without lid, you can put aluminium foil over it so that it doesn’t burn.

Gingerbread creations

One thing that makes christmas extra exciting is all the candy and cookies you get to bake!

Since I’m Swedish I have a long tradition of baking ginger bread creations. The one on the picture is from 2009 when we decided to make a gingerbread replica of Disney’s little robot Wall-E.

To get a good gingerbread dough for making houses (or robots) you need to add extra flour in it so that it becomes stable.

Here’s a good basic recipie for swedish gingerbread dough for house making:

  • 160 g butter
  • 75 ml syrup (“golden syrup” or light corn syrup is the best North american version if you don’t have the Swedish one, maple syrup is a bit too runny)
  • 200 ml white sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 700 ml flour (approximately)

Bring sugar, butter, spices and syrup to a boil and then let it cool down.

Add the eggs. Mix halv of the flour with the baking soda on the side and then stir it into the rest of the mix.

Keep adding the rest of the flour until your dough is smooth but not sticky. If it seems like it’s getting dry, don’t use all of the flour but save it for when your rolling the dough out on the table.

Let the dough rest in the fridge for at least a few hours (if you have time, leave it over night…)

Make paper cut outs of all the pieces you’re planning on gluing together for the house and take in account that everything will grow a little bit in the oven.

Roll out the dough with a rolling pin until it’s only a few millimeters thick and cut out your pieces.

Bake them in the oven at 150° celcius on an baking sheet covered with parchement paper for about 12 min (until they get golden, not dark brown colour)

Let them cool down and harden before you take them off the baking sheet.

Have a big tray or plate handy to put down the glued house pieces on.

Melt white sugar in a frying pan  so that it turns golden (Warning, it get’s really HOT! Don’t burn yourself!) and dip the sides of the house that you want to glue together. Press the sides together and hold until the sugar hardens.

Once all the pieces are glued together and the sugar has cooled down, decorate with icing and candy or what ever you can find to glue on :).