by Camilla Larsen
During Christmas we’re allowed to eat treats every day! With the variety in Denmark, you could eat a new kind almost every day up until Christmas. Each family has different traditions when it comes to which they prefer, but there are some that most Danes can agree are a must during the Christmas season. If you’re spending your December in Denmark and are in doubt about what you should try, pebernødder, risengrød, æbleskiver and havregrynskugler are the ones. And why not prepare them at home? Let’s check out the recipes.
These are the small, round, traditional Danish Christmas biscuits. These little guys are everywhere in the Christmas season, and most homes will probably have a bowl filled with them in the house. The biscuit contains Christmassy flavours such as cinnamon, clove and cardamom. They’re fairly easy to make, but you must buy the main ingredient: a pebbernød spice mix.
Combine your spice mix with 220g flour, 125g sugar, 125g butter and 1 egg. When the dough is combined and kneaded well, start dividing the butter into smaller balls (you will get 100-200 pieces, depending on the size) and place them on a baking tray with parchment paper – remember that they will get bigger while baking, so don’t place them too close. Bake them in the oven for 8-10 minutes at 200 degrees celsius, or until they are slightly golden. Leave them to cool, and then dig in!
Risengrød, also known as rice pudding, is a very Danish and VERY Christmassy dish. Most people only eat it during Christmas. However, it is highly debated among the Danes what kind of plate is it. Some see it a main course, whilst others categorise it as a dessert, or even as more of a snack. No matter how you eat it, you should have it!
For 2-3 portions, you need 1 litre of milk, 125g pudding rice and a pinch of salt. Bring a pot of water to the boil and add the ingredients. Turn down the heat, put on the lid and let it simmer for around 40 minutes. Stir once in a while to check on the texture, as it has to be thick. When it’s really thick, the pudding is done. My trick is to turn off the heat completely, after 40 minutes, and leave it on the stove for another 10 minutes; it will help the mixture thicken.
Once ready, enjoy it warm with butter and cinnamon sugar on top – as much as you like! Together with a cup of cordial on the side, this tasty dish is more than complete!
It isn’t Christmas until you’ve had some æbleskiver. Æbleskiver is also known as Danish doughnuts, even though they don’t really have any resemblance to doughnuts as we know them. They are commonly eaten as an afternoon snack, and a lot of people invite friends and family over for a cosy Christmassy afternoon with æbleskiver and gløgg. Æbleskiver, however, is a bigger project to master, but a little challenge never hurt anybody.
To make a batch of 20-25 pieces, you need 250g flour, ½ teaspoon baking soda, 1 vanilla pod, 25g cane sugar, 2 eggs, 0.5 litres buttermilk, 25g melted butter and some extra butter for the pan.
Start off by sifting the flour and baking soda into a bowl. Next, remove the vanilla seeds and blend it with the cane sugar. Blend together the eggs, homemade vanilla sugar, buttermilk and melted butter in another bowl. Pour the flour and baking soda into the bowl and combine well.
Heat up an æbleskiver pan (you need this special one!). When the pan is hot, put a bit of butter in each hole and fill it ¾ up with the mixture. To turn the æbleskiver, use a fork. Fry them until golden. The hardest part is getting them perfectly round!
Enjoy them warm with jam and icing sugar, and don’t forget to wash it down with some gløgg.
If you have a little less time, why not try havregrynskugler. These are traditional Danish confections that most Danes have at Christmas. They are easy to make and most people love them – what’s not to love when chocolate is involved!
To make a nice batch you need 100g butter, 3 dl rolled oats, 1.5 dl icing sugar, 1 teaspoon of vanilla sugar and 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder. Add a of bit coffee or almond extract for added flavour.
Pour all of the ingredients into a big bowl and knead together nicely. Next, take small amounts of dough and roll into round balls. You can make whatever size you desire, but they’re usually no bigger than a mouthful. Lastly, roll the tiny ball in either shredded coconut or more rolled oats, or just leave them plain. Put them in the fridge before serving, as they are best enjoyed cold.
Biscuits, sweets and confections
These recipes are just a tiny selection of all the Danish Christmas treats that exist! There are plenty of other options, and if you want to try them, stop by the Christmas markets, grocery stores or chocolate shops around town; they will certainly help you out!
There is something for all the tastes, but I would recommend you try: vanilje kranse, jødekager, brunkager, finskbrød, klejner, peberkager or fedte brød. If you’d rather have sweets and chocolate, I would also recommend: sugar-roasted almonds, snebolde, juleskum, lakridskonfekt, romtoppe and marcipan brød.
However, if you want to try something really Danish, a BIG tradition at Christmas is homemade confections. These include cornflakes toppe, marzipan dipped in chocolate or marzipan with nougat. Common ingredients are marzipan, nougat and chocolate, but there are no rules.
With all of these options, you won’t lack treats this December. There’s only one thing left to do: try everything, and find your favourites!