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Scandinavian Christmas dessert?

i'm doing a Scandinavian-inspired Christmas again, and would like help on a better dessert. The menu is gravlax with cucumber sorbet, mushroom consomme, ham with coffee-mustard sauce, Jansson's temptation, and red cabbage. I know the tradition is rice pudding with an almond hidden in it, but I hate rice pudding. Last year same menu, and I did a gingerbread trifle, which was fine but not exciting.

Any thoughts?

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  1. I don't know how exciting they are, but I've made both a cardamom pound cake and a Swedish apple cake several times, and they are both delicious. Let me know if you want recipes.

    2 Replies
    1. re: MMRuth

      Yes, I'd love those recipes. Thanks!

      1. re: katelynne

        Photo of the apple cake here:


        Link to Cardamom cake recipes:


        I'll type up the apple one for you later, and also take a look at Scandinavian Feasts, which I think will have some other good suggestions.

    2. The PBS Create network has two Scandinavian cooking shows, Perfect Day and New Scandinavian Cooking, that might inspire you. How about lingonberry pudding? Celebrichef Marcus Samuelsson must have some creative fusion desserts in his cookbook, and of course there's Beatrice Ojakangas.

      1 Reply
      1. re: greygarious

        My top choice right now is from Samuelsson's book, with glogg poached pears served with sauteed endive, walnuts, and blue cheese.

      2. I grew up with awesome krumkake, Danish pastry, and all kinds of Norwegian and Swedish cookies (think almond), and something that I recall must be the Scandinavian version of panna cotta (started with an M). She always served it with a berry sauce. A local restaurant does a cardamom panna cotta with blueberries that rocks.

        My mom's pastry was truly a thing of beauty in flavor and looks. Maybe scope Danish pastry type recipes out? Make sure your almond extract, butter and eggs are fab. And if you're brave, krumkake done on an old fashioned iron griddle are truly beautiful. They also tend to incur burns and small butter fires hehe. Some griddles make much prettier designs than others, I've noticed. I really respect the labor that goes into those cookies.

        What about a dried winter fruit soup? Or cherry fruit soup? I think those are traditional.

        I'm into much more adventurous flavor profiles, generally, but the desserts I grew up with were uniformly beautiful and rich. All about quality ingredients, since they were simple.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Vetter

          I heartily second the krumkake idea. I grew up with that too, and my grandmother's krumkake so beautiful. My mom tried all sorts of different ideas with it, and had so much fun with it too. Especially if you're going to do fillings, it was nice because you could do them ahead of time.

          1. re: Vetter

            I just made a batch of krumkake this morning to freeze for Christmas. I am SOOOO excited because history was made...for the first time EVER (in 20+ years of making them) I didn't have to throw away a single one...none stuck, none burned. I'm so excited, that I just had to share with Chow friends.

          2. You could make a Princess Cake, though I've never tried to do so. I think there maybe a thread here about it.


            1. I grew up around the corner from a Danish family and their bakery. Their nec plus ultra dessert for Christmas or other celebrations was a kransekage - a tower of rings of almond paste -based macaroon dough, decorated with drizzled-on hard white sugar icing and little paper Danish flags. It is apparently fairly difficult to make - you need a set of circular molds to make the rings and construction could be a bit iffy - I have never attempted to make one. It is however a beautiful thing to behold (and seasonal, since it is basically Christmas-tree shaped). They are available from online Danish bakeries in the Midwest, as is the world's best coffee cake for almond fanciers, the smorkage. But that would be cheating, wouldn't it?

              1. Icelandic Vinartarta (or Vinarterta), a six or seven layered torte filled with a prune jam. Sometimes iced with a Marzipan icing.

                6 Replies
                1. re: middydd

                  Isn't there also a dessert with layers and layers of pancakes, with whipped cream and jam in between the pancakes?

                      1. re: MMRuth

                        Sorry for the (I hope) playful nudge, but we both know what a gulf there is between the two.

                        1. re: Joebob

                          Not a problem! In one of Simon Hopkinson's books that was published in the U.S., the word pancakes was used when they meant crepes. I should have written "Swedish pancakes", which I think are similar to crepes.

                  1. re: middydd

                    My family is Norwegian and we also make this. It almost makes up for the Lutifisk.

                  2. I am Danish and celebrate a Scandinavian Christmas every year. My family doesn't really like the rice pudding either so we do Julia Child's charlotte malakov. We skip the lady fingers and layer it with raspberries instead, and serve it with a raspberry sauce. So sinful and amazingly delicious. The only ingredients are sugar, butter, cream, ground almonds, and grand marnier. It is in her book "Mastering the Art of French Cooking".

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: junglekitte

                      I've got the book and can't wait to make this. Just bought two cartons of raspberries at Costco. Thanks to you for making my day.

                      1. re: Joebob

                        Excellent! I hope you love it like we do. :) Report back if you have time.
                        Over the years we started to add slightly less ground almonds and slightly more whipped cream to lighten it up but it IS definitely delicious exactly as the recipe describes too! :)

                        1. re: junglekitte

                          Thank you everyone for the excellent ideas! I checked out Beatrice Ojakangas's Great Scandinavian Baking Book, and tried the Swedish Apple Cake--it's excellent, and I'm going to do that for Christmas....

                    2. I can't imagine Christmas without my mom's rice pudding and lingonberries. If you dislike rice pudding, I would make a simple custard to replace it, so you could still have the lingonberries, although maybe it's the custard part you find off-putting. I suppose you could do a big Pavlova with lingonberries and whipped cream, that would be beautiful and in keeping with the rest of the meal.

                      We also serve a huge platter of cookies probably 12-15 kinds, always including krumkake and pepperkaker. Those are served later, with coffee (gotta sober up from all the pre-dinner glogg)

                        1. katelynne, you ought to check out the December issue of Saveur, which features an assortment of Scandinavian (ok, Swedish :)) Christmas sweets, including recipes. I am working on some of them, myself, though I'm hardly waiting for ChrIstmas! Good luck and God Jul!

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: vvvindaloo

                            Thank you for the Saveur suggestion! I think the Almond Caramels look very good, although I doubt that nonstick spray is really going to keep the caramel from sticking to the muffin liners. A cookie plate would be nice. But I also found in Ojakangas's book a great looking recipe for a meringue torte--layers of almond cake and meringue baked right on top. It's to be layered with fresh berries and cream; given the season, I might try folding cloudberry jam into the whipped cream instead. I've never tried cloudberry jam but am looking forward to it.

                            1. re: katelynne

                              Which book of hers do you have? Turns out that I'm making Swedish meatballs etc. for Christmas Eve., and was planning to make her apple cake. Cloudberry jam is lovely.

                              1. re: MMRuth

                                I have Scandinavian Feasts and Scandinavian Baking out from the library right now. Fun to work through...

                          2. If you don't like rice pudding you could make rommegrot instead. It's a Norwegian pudding made with cream, butter and flour-- very rich! It's not associated with Jul the way risengrot is, but you could serve it anyway. I'd give it a trial run first, so you can decide whether or not you like it.