December 13, 2012

The Great Scandinavian Baking Book

_DSC0005HAPPY ST. LUCIA DAY!!!!!!!! I have NO idea what St. Lucia Day is!!!! Which is why instead I have deemed this day Happy Scandinavian Holiday Fun Day!!!!

Really. I know nothing about St. Lucia day, other than it’s a holiday tradition in Sweden where special pastry buns are consumed and when young ladies wear green garland crowns on their heads that have candles in them. Which sounds like quite a fire hazard. But I understand there are battery operated candles now? But what about back in the day? You were walking around with flames on your head? AWESOME!

Apartment Therapy has kindly already done a post telling us more about St. Lucia Day.

But as I like to shout every so often, I have a strong, secret, Inner Scandinavian Person living within me. I love everything Scandi. Especially MOOMINS. And Astrid Lindgren. And TOMTES.

So I was thrilled as punch when I saw that darling darling Heather from Audrey Eclectic was hosting a blog party of sorts, celebrating St. Lucia Day! You must hop on over as soon as you’re done here, to see her post and what the other participating blogs have planned. I wanted to have some Scandi fun too, so I thought now was the perfect time to discuss ‘The Great Scandinavian Baking Book’ by Beatrice Ojakangas, and show you all the most divine Scandinavian treat!

_DSC0021One thing you should know about Scandinavian baking. Actually two things. ALMONDS. And CARDAMOM. Scandi folks use cardamom the way Americans use cinnamon.

_DSC0017Another thing you should know about Scandinavian baking is that there are millions upon gazillions of holiday Christmas treats.

_DSC0009I just could not decide what the heck to make, everything in this book looks so entrancing. But I wanted something that looked relatively easy-ish for the blog, plus I was nervous about messing up a recipe right before the St. Lucia blog party!

I chose a Norwegian recipe, called Tosca Squares.

Imagine a lemon bar. Now take away the lemon and add almond filling instead, with an almond/butter/sugar glaze on top.

My first words upon trying one, after they were done:

"OMG."

Andrew wanted to know how many he could eat at one go, without getting into trouble.

_DSC0010There is an incredible amount of butter used. More than what you see here. It’s OK. When you taste these, you’ll realize how incredibly OK it is.

_DSC0022You start by making a shortbready crust. You don’t roll it out, you smoosh and spread it into the pan. You may be worried like I was about getting it nicely into the pan. Don’t worry. Just smoosh and spread, it doesn’t have to look pretty, no one will see.

_DSC0023You partially bake the shortbread crust and then make the almond filling and pour it on top. Then bake again.

_DSC0024After the shortbread and the almond filling have baked together, you make the almond glaze that goes on the tippy top. This comes together very quickly, so wait until your cake is actually out of the oven, and then make the glaze and pour it over the top.

PicMon1Lovely and shiny, yes?

_DSC0033_DSC0034_DSC0036Here you can see the layers ~ the crust, the squidgy middle layer (such a Nigella word!) and the gooey topping. (it's gooey warm out of the oven, but the topping will harden into a nice, smooth glaze as it cools.)

OH FRIENDS!! It was better than I hoped it would be. It’s MARVELOUS. You must try it. It’s better than awesome. I don’t even have a word for what that could be.

NORWEGIAN TOSCA SQUARES

Makes 16 squares

Ingredients:
1/3 cup butter (5 1/2 tablespoons), room temp
3 tablespoons sugar
1 egg yolk
1 cup all purpose flour

Filling:
2/3 cup blanched almonds (I just used about a 1/2 cup almond meal ready prepared)
5 tablespoons soft butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 whole egg
1 egg white

Icing:
1/4 cup butter (4 tablespoons)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup chopped or slivered almonds
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1 tablespoon milk or cream

Directions:
Lightly butter a 9" inch square baking pan or a 7" 1/2 x 11 inch pan. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In the large bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter with the sugar until smooth. Blend in the egg yolk and flour until dough forms. (Mine stayed crumbly, and I just gathered it together and smooshed into a cohesive dough ball) Press into the baking pan evenly and build up the edges about 1/2 inch. Bake 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, pulverize the almonds in the food processor (or just use almond meal like I did) or in a food chopper. Blend almonds with the butter and sugar. Beat the egg and egg white until fluffy (I just did it for about 4 minutes) and fold into the butter and almond mixture. Pour into the partially baked crust.

Bake 10-15 minutes until the filling is set. (I did 15 min.)
To make the topping, melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add the sugar, almonds, flour, and milk. Heat, stirring until thickened. Simmer 3-4 minutes, then remove from heat. Spread mixture over the baked cake. Cool and cut into squares.

~ from 'The Great Scandinavian Baking Book'

SO GOOD, you guys! This needs to be in your holiday lineup of treats. I've never had a treat like this before and I have so many other recipes from this book earmarked to make this holiday season. I think I'm going to have to exercise A LOT in the coming weeks.....

27 comments:

  1. Haha! Melissa you always make me laugh! High five to another with a secret inner-Scandinavian (although it's not so secret any more, is it? We've totally just 'come out')
    These bars sound So. Good. I made something similar (kringlers) and yes, I wanted to eat it all in one sitting. I now know how amazing almond filling is.
    I'm so glad you joined in the procession! Happy St. Lucia Day!~

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    1. We're totally out!! Hurray for Scandinavia! Almond filling. Oh my goodness. It should be in EVERYTHING!

      So happy I got to participate in this experience with you!!

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  2. Oh, dear. I may need to try making this. But not today. I only have one stick of butter left anyway. I love gooey, sticky desserts!

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    1. Yes, note to self: if making scandinavian desserts, get the big box of butter!! ;)

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    2. Butter, butter and MORE BUTTER. So delicious.

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  3. These look delicious. I always love reading your blog. You've introduced me to so many cool things!

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    1. Thank you Amanda!!! I feel like there are so many wonderful things out in the world,books and treats wise, and I love love to share b/c I'm an oversharer :)

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  4. Replies
    1. And a Happy Scandi Holiday Fun Day to you too!!!! ;)

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  5. Sweet Saint Lucia on a bicycle, that looks delicious! I was introduced to cardamom through Indian cuisine, and I've been having a love affair with it lately, mostly in my coffee and tea. Mmmm. Maybe my Swedish heritage has genetically programmed me to love it? I WILL be making this for Christmas! Thanks! Glad to find your blog!

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    1. Thanks Holly, I'm so happy to be found! I love your name. Julia was almost a Holly, it was my grandma's name!

      I've heard that grinding your own cardamom is the way to go, but I haven't tried that, have you?

      I'll be making this again for Christmas, we all loved it so much!

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  6. so... Is this what you're bringing to Christmas Eve??

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    1. Oh I think that can be arranged G-ma!!!! ;) xoxo

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  7. Well, I feel like I should learn more about this since I have a little Lucia--maybe next year we will celebrate it proper like! I fear, it's too late for this year....

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    Replies
    1. yes yes, Lucia needs to celebrate on her own special Name Day!

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  8. shortbread is my favorite! plus custard on shortbread is angel food. i tell you. i speak truthz.

    make this for me and send it to me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know! You = Truthz-teller.

      Baby, I will send you lots and lots of MY LOVE. That's almost as good, yes?

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  9. Yay! I have almond meal! The first step on the road to Tosca Squares. Never heard of them but they look artery cloggingly magnificent. Christmas here I come!

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    1. They are so very Christmasy! I'm so excited that you're all ready to go with the almond meal :)

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  10. I have this book too! And I love anything with almond meal. Our hippie store sells it in big ol' bags, which is awesome. Haven't tried this recipe yet; it's going on the list.

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    1. Of course you have this book! So awesome! Also, hippie stores are THE BEST. I know this b/c I'm from Maui, which has the bestest hippie stores in the whole wide world. Closely followed by the Pacific NW, which is where I live now :)

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    2. Central Kansas isn't really a hippie-store mecca, but we've gotten several just in the past few years that we've lived here. I'm looking forward to moving somewhere with really excellent food shopping when the husband finishes his current contract. Of course, that's probably going to be 2014.

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  11. Well, this looks INCREDIBLE!!!

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    Replies
    1. Incredible is an excellent word for what these were, Rebecca! :)

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  12. Dearie, I know this post is old but I would love to hear your thoughts on this book, it's been on my wish list forever. Those bars look so good I'm about to drool over my keyboard (not a pretty sight, let me tell you that). ;)
    xx

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    1. I LOVE this book Patricia!!!! I had almost every page bookmarked. It's really lovely. I have to go find it, and I'm not sure where I put it and I'm freaking OUT because I need to find it asap!

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  13. Thank you for taking the time to reply, dearie! <3
    I think I'll purchase it as a Xmas gift - for myself. ;)

    xx

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