Semla with Coffee & Swedish Memories

We sat around the dinning room table, my Mom, sister, Mormor (mom’s mom) and I. Mom poured coffee into antique tea cups and I dusted powdered sugar over plump semlor. Mormor reminisced about her grandfather’s Swedish farm, Ybby. She has a painting of this farm hanging in her living room.

ybby-house

“The last time I had raw milk was when I was in Sweden”, she said as she poured fresh raw milk into her coffee cup. “When we used to visit the farm they had all kinds of stuff like that – homemade cheese and bread…it was so good.”

She was just a girl when she would visit with her brother,  sister, and mother. My Mormor is on the right.

mormor-and-children

Mormor said they would pour warm milk into bowls with the semla – that’s the traditional way to eat it. I decided to add coffee to mine. Maybe it’s mixing cultures because it tastes a lot like Italian tiramisu. I imagine my great-great-grandfather may have tried his semla this way back in the days on the farm.

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You’ll never guess what made me want to make this recipe in the first place.

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That’s right, a stamp. My Mormor and her Swedish friend, Ruth, (Yes, the one who gave me the recipe for Mazarinmuffins.) send me all the stamps from their foreign correspondence. Many of them boast of Sweden’s delicious pastries and baked goods.

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Semla is a cardamom bun filled with almond paste, topped with whipped cream, and sprinkled with powdered sugar. I don’t remember where I found this recipe, but there are similar ones all over the internet. Mormor said these were smaller than usual, but the size was perfect for tea time.

Swedish Semla

Makes 16 Semlor       (Semlor is plural for Semla, in case you were wondering. I was… :)

Bun-

  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 1 1/4 c. milk
  • 5 t. yeast
  • 1/2 t. sea salt
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 t. baking powder
  • 1 t. ground cardamom
  • 4 c. flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 T. water

Filling –

  • 1/2 c. milk
  • 200 g. almond paste or marzipan
  • powdered sugar
  • 1 c. whipping cream
  • 1 t. vanilla

For buns –

Melt butter. Add milk and yeast. Let sit 3-5 minutes. Add salt, sugar and egg and beat well.

Combine baking powder, cardamom, and flour. Mix two cups of flour mixture into butter mixture and beat to combine. Add remaining flour and knead until smooth and glossy. Coat with oil, cover with a warm, damp cloth and let rise in a warm place for one hour.

Turn out onto a bread board and cut into 16 pieces. Shape into round balls and place on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Cover and let rise 30 minutes.

Heat oven to 450. Beat together egg and water. Brush rolls with egg mixture and bake 8 minutes, or until golden. Cool to the touch.

Cut the top off the bun with a serrated knife. Use a fork to make a well in the center of the bottom part of the bun. Reserve the centers for the filling.

For filling –

Combine almond paste and milk in a bowl. Add bun centers and beat with a hand mixer until smooth. Spoon into the hollowed buns.

Whip cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla together. Pipe or spoon onto filled buns. Place the top of the bun on the whipped cream and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

IMG_0702Serve with warm milk and hot coffee.

Flavors of Europe Tart

Just two years ago, my sister and I were over in Europe, somewhere between the Netherlands and Italy. You can read about our adventures over on our Sisters Four blog if you like.

Biking the lovely streets of Haarlem, Netherlands

I’ve been missing Europe a lot lately – the trains, the towns, the people, and, of course, the food.

There are several flavors that totally remind me of different places in Europe. Part of that is due to my ancestry, part to travels, and there’s probably a part in there that comes from what I’ve been told by cookbooks or people in general. Perhaps it’s faulty, but never the less, there.

I’ve been wanting to make something that was reminiscent of the amazing flavors we sampled on our trip, but when I saw the recipe for Brown Butter Tarts with Sour Cherries in the Midwest Living a couple months ago, I knew I had to incorporate cardamom whipped cream somehow as well.

Cardamom is native to India, but my viking relatives (I’m sure I was related to one of them!) introduced it to Scandinavia over 1,000 years ago. That’s why cardamom always makes me think of my Swedish grandmother’s delicious Cardamom cinnamon rolls and not this great sounding recipe for Badam Burfi.

This fabulous photograph was taken by Moira over at Who Want’s Seconds? You’ll find some interesting facts about cardamom over there.

Almond is used everywhere and for good reason, it is AMAZINGNESS! The Swedes use mandalmassa (almond paste) in muffins and biscuits and other treats like the Swedish Mazarinmuffins. When we were in Haarlem, Paula, the hostess at our phenomenal B&B, served us a bread laden with liqueur soaked fruit and a whole log of almond paste wrapped inside. Oh my! That was a flavor worth savoring! I recreated the recipe for Kerststol in my Taste of Europe series here.

Okay, almond was a given. Maybe some orange. Cherries? I like that…

And so the Flavors of Europe Tart began to take shape.

I started with a crumb crust. Actually, I lied. I started with a pastry crust using almond paste, flour and butter. It was delicious, but it wasn’t what I was looking for. So we ate that and started over.

7 oz. almond paste

1/2 c. flour

1/4 c. butter

1/2 c. almonds, ground

Pulse in a food processor, until blended and press into a tart pan. Bake for 15 -20 minutes or until golden.

I wanted vanilla bean custard for the filling, so I went with my tried and true custard/pudding recipe that I use for just about anything I need pudding or custard for.

2/3 c. sugar

1/2 vanilla bean, scraped

1/4 c. cornstarch

1/4 t. salt

2 c. milk

4 lg. egg yolks

2 t. butter

1 t. vanilla

Whisk all ingredients together in a sauce pan while cold. Turn on the heat and whisk while it warms. As soon as it starts to thicken, remove from heat. Stir in butter and vanilla and pour into tart crust. Cover with plastic wrap to keep from forming a skin on top and chill in refrigerator.

The yolks I used are farm fresh and were so orange. That explains why the pudding is yellow. I knew you were wondering. :)

And guess what? The shell of the egg was green/blue! I LOVE that!

I decided to used dark sweet cherries for the topping and reduce them in their own juices. So easy! Just put 12 oz. of frozen cherries in a pan and let simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is a  syrupy consistency.

Cardamom Whipped Cream from Midwest Living

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup whipping cream

1 tablespoon powdered sugar (optional)

1/2 teaspoon finely shredded orange peel

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

Beat cream until it starts to thicken. Add sugar, orange peel, vanilla and cardamom. Beat until desired texture is reached.

Slice tart and serve with a dollop of cream.

So now, just to be totally random (and because I like it so much and I’m so excited about it :), I have to share my latest project with you.

I decided to paint my closet. I’ve done a lot of painting in the past working for my Dad or sisters or doing jobs of my own and I’m telling ya’, I really dislike painting closets. I mean, come on, it’s just a closet! Right?

Well, I don’t know what got into me.

I took a plain, decent closet…

And spiced it up a bit!

 I love it so much I’m doing to get rid of all my stuff, take the doors off my closet and enjoy it! :D Just kidding. But it was sad covering so much of it up.

Now it’s just a closet again…with an attitude.

Swedish Mazarinmuffins

My mormor (mother’s mother) has a Swedish friend named Ruth who has been giving me amazing stamps from her communications throughout the world. Many of them are from Sweden. I may be partial, but I think Swedish stamps are some of the most beautiful. 
 
The detail on these is amazing!

 Looking through them brings back memories from my childhood. Even though I have never been to Sweden, my life is full of Swedish accents, thanks to my Mom and Mormor. 
Wasa bread and cheese is a staple at our house.
And Pippi Longstockings, the Swedish fictional character that could pick up her horse, piqued my imagination as a child.
I love this series of stamps – stinky fish…Sweds are known for it. :D
They are also know for their sweets served at tea time.
This recipe is one such sweet. It was given to me by Ruth – in Swedish. Sadly enough, my Swedish doesn’t go beyond the basics of thank you and good day, but I got out the dictionary and translated it well enough to make it. 

 It was a great success, judging from the fact that they were gone in no time flat once everyone got home. Here I share my translation with you. Because you need this recipe. It’s perfect for tea and unusual enough to make it very special for us Americans.
Marzipan muffins

5 oz. (or 10 T. Or 150g) almond paste
½ c. Sugar
8 T. butter
2 eggs
1/3 c. flour
¼ c. sliced almonds

Line 9 muffin cups with paper muffin liners. Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream together almond paste, butter and sugar. 
 Add eggs and beat until combined. Stir in flour. Spoon into muffin cups, filling to ¾ inch full. 
 Sprinkle with sliced almond and bake for 18-22 minutes. Let cool ten minutes before serving with coffee or tea.

If you like coffee, here’s a coffee drink for you to try…

1 c. hot Hazelnut coffee
one drop almond extract
a sprinkle of your favorite sweetener
almond milk
cream
Njut av dina muffin och kaffe!
Enjoy your muffin and coffee!