Desserts and pastries play an essential role in Swedish cuisine. They have lovely textures and flavors with fresh fruits, berries, and cream in most of them. Swedish people indeed have a weakness for sweets as they enjoy them anytime during the day. Sweet treats like Kanelbulle and Kladdkaka are a favorite during Fika, a Swedish coffee break. On the other hand, desserts like Applekaka and Nyponsoppa are usually relished at the end of a meal.
These traditional Christmas sweet delights are deep-fried doughnuts made with yeasted dough. Lemon rind and liqueurs like vodka or cognac also go into it to enrich it and make it flavorful. It is rolled and twisted into small knots or diamonds. Once fried, they get a crispy, golden appearance. As they are famous all over the Nordic countries, several different versions and names of the sweet treat exist. They are best served with a sprinkle of powdered sugar and cinnamon on top.
Blåbärssoppa is a Nordic purple-colored sweet soup having fresh bilberries as its main ingredient. Potato starch, sugar, and water are also added to make it thick and sweet. It is a comfort dish enjoyed either hot in winter or cold in summer. It is traditionally served to those participating in Vasaloppet, the world’s oldest and longest cross-country ski marathon held in Sweden, to provide them energy.
Nyponsoppa is a traditional Swedish soup primarily made with the reddish fruit-like round parts of the rose plant known as rose hips. They are pureed and blended with potato starch and sugar. It has a dark orange-brown color with an earthy and slightly tangy taste. Sometimes, spices like cloves and cinnamon also go into the preparation to make it flavorful. One can either relish it as a breakfast item with crunchy bread pieces or as a dessert by adding a generous dollop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
Smulpaj is an authentic Swedish pie dish that lacks a pastry shell. Instead, a buttery, crumbly mixture made with wheat flour, butter, sugar, and oatmeal is evenly layered on a fruity filling consisting of diced apple, bilberries, and raspberries. Sugar, potato starch, and cinnamon are also blended to make it sweeter, thicker, and slightly spicy.
The dessert’s name is formed from two Swedish words, ‘smula,’ which translates into crumb, and ‘paj,’ meaning pie. The crumb pie is baked until it attains a crispy, crumbly golden-brown crust. Smulpaj is a typical dessert item in Swedish cafes, often served with vanilla ice cream or vanilla sauce on top.
Ostkaka is a traditional dessert whose name comes from the Swedish words’ ost,’ meaning cheese, and ‘kaka’ referring to cake. However, this cheesecake is much different from American cheesecakes. Its preparation includes rennet to convert warm milk into cheese, which is then added to a combination of flour, sugar, eggs, almonds, and cream.
Instead of the complicated process of curdling the milk, many prefer using cottage cheese. The mixture is baked and served slightly warm with fruit jams or whipped cream. It is light yet firm and has a creamy and nutty flavor.
Knäck is a Swedish toffee that is a must-have during Christmastime in Sweden. It is sticky, sweet, and crunchy, typically made using simple ingredients like caramelized sugar and butter. Sweet syrups and nuts are also added to make it extra sweet and nutty. The liquid mixture is poured into waxed paper molds and left to cool down. The word ‘knäck’ means crack in Swedish, indicating its hard, crunchy texture.
Prinsesstårta or princess cake is a well-known Swedish cake commonly seen in birthday celebrations and other special occasions. It consists of different layers, including a sponge cake, fruit filling, and pastry cream, all coated with a thick layer of marzipan. The delicate textures and sweet and slightly tangy flavors make Prinsesstårta a highly desirable dessert item.
This attractive cake was initially known as grön tårta, meaning green cake, as it had a green-colored marzipan frosting. Its recipe was first mentioned in the Swedish cookbook Prinsessornas Nya Kokbok, published in 1948.
Semlor are soft, cream-filled buns typically enjoyed during Fat Tuesday or the day before the Lent season starts. While the bun is prepared with plain yeast dough and flavored with cardamom, the filling includes a combination of almond paste and whipped cream. Sometimes, a bit of jam also goes into it, adding a hint of tanginess. The bun is finally topped with a whipped cream and vanilla sugar mixture and dusted with powdered sugar.
Kladdkaka is a famous Swedish chocolate cake made with flour, eggs, butter, cocoa or dark chocolate, and sugar. It is dense and rich with a soft, gooey interior and a thin, crisp exterior. It is usually served by dusting powdered sugar and best paired with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream and glazed raspberries. Kladdkaka can either be enjoyed during Fika, a traditional coffee and cake break, or as a luscious dessert to finish off the evening.
Though the name translates into apple cake, Applekaka is not exactly a cake in the traditional sense. Instead, it is something between a cake and a pie. It is soft and moist, loaded with sweet crispy apple slices. The simple fruity delicacy tastes even more heavenly when paired with a traditional vanilla sauce.
This delicious cake, also known as Jordgubbstårta, is a summer delight in Sweden. It comprises about three layers of sponge cakes, each of them filled with ripe strawberries and whipped cream. Traditionally, it is served during the Midsummer Eve celebration, especially in the countryside. It is light and fluffy, with the flavors of the sweet berries bursting inside the mouth providing absolute delight.
Frasvåfflor is a Swedish waffle made with butter, flour, sugar, milk, and baking powder. The batter is poured in a greased heart-waffle iron until golden brown. They are light and buttery, much thinner than the famous Belgian waffles. They are commonly served immediately to enjoy while it’s still crisp with a topping of a dollop of jam or whipped cream and fresh berries. Though it is a favorite sweet treat all around the year, its consumption reaches its peak on Waffle’s Day, celebrated annually on March 25.
Kanelbulle are classic cinnamon buns made with cardamom-flavored dough and a cinnamon and sugar filling. Traditionally, it is rolled into pinwheels, but other shapes also exist nowadays, like knots and twists. Before baking them, they are brushed with egg wash and sprinkled with pearl sugar on the top. The lovely golden brown buns have the perfect balance of sugar and spices, a combination making them everybody’s favorite. Though they are commonly served during Fika, Kanelbulle has its special day on October 4, known as Kanelbullens dag or Cinnamon Bun Day. On this day, it is the most sold sweet item in every bakery across Sweden.
Pepparkakor are delicious thin and crispy ginger cookies traditionally served during Christmas in Sweden. Though the name translates to pepper cookies, there is no hint of pepper in them. Instead, it is spiced with ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom. A bit of orange zest also goes into the sweet and spicy cookie dough mixture for the slight citrusy effect.
According to the Swedish custom, Pepparkakor are believed to grant wishes. One of the ginger cookies is placed on the palm and a wish is made. Then, by using the other hand’s index finger, the middle of it is tapped. If it cracks into three pieces, the wish will come true.
Risgrynsgröt is a Swedish rice pudding made with short-grained rice, water, milk, sugar, salt, and cinnamon sticks. It is a comfort food having slightly sweet and spicy flavors, ideal during winters when served by sprinkling powdered cinnamon on top.
As per tradition, a bowl of Risgrynsgröt is left outside the front door on Christmas Eve as an offering to Nisse or Tomte, the Christmas gnome. It is done to please him so that he does not cause any mischief.
There’s another tradition in which a blanched almond is put somewhere inside the pot before the pudding is served. Any unmarried man or woman who finds it was believed to get hitched within a year.
These authentic saffron-flavored buns are vibrant and mouth-watering, enjoyed especially during Christmas or to celebrate St. Lucia’s Day on December 13. The primary ingredients for its preparation include flour, butter, sugar, milk, eggs, and yeast. They are usually given the shape of the reversed ‘S’ before baking, along with raisins pressed into them before putting them into the oven. Soft and fluffy having a lovely golden color, they are not overly sweet and taste delicious with a delicate hint of saffron flavor.
Ris à lá malta is a staple Christmas dessert in Sweden. It is easy to make, consisting of rice pudding blended with whipped cream, icing sugar, and vanilla. It is served by topping it with spiced oranges and toasted almond flakes. It is creamy and fulfilling with the right balance of flavors.
Fruktkaka is a tasty Swedish fruit cake that bears not much similarity with the American fruit cake. It is soft, dense, buttery, and slightly chewy, with dried figs, raisins, and dried apricots going into its preparation. One can also combine fresh fruits like ripe berries and banana pulp for a refreshing, fruity flavor. The cake mixture is made more flavorful by enriching it with dark rum and zests of orange and lemon.
Rulltårta is a Swedish cake that is much similar in appearance to American jelly roll cake. It comprises a sponge cake rolled around a vanilla pastry cream and strawberry filling. It is served in pieces after dusting it with powdered sugar. The unique textures and flavors make it a favorite among many.
Swedish Fish Fudges are attractive bite-sized fudges made with melted white chocolate, sugar, butter, and heavy cream. Drops of pink food color and Swedish Gummy flavorings are also added to make them look attractive and give them the sweet candy taste. Once it is prepared, the soft and chewy little Swedish fish candies are added by slightly pressing them on top, making them appealing and tasty.
These irresistible desserts prove how much Swedish people enjoy their sweet delights. Some like Kanelbulle and Frasvåfflor even have their own special days, celebrated by exclusively enjoying them all across the nation.
Best Swedish Christmas Desserts: Klenat, Pepparkakor, Ris à lá malta
Traditional Swedish Desserts: Semlor Buns, Kladdkaka, Kanelbulle
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