Indulgence, Swedish style
Our recent trip to Stockholm brought us a small edible discovery, in the form of the chokladboll. “What is this thing you speak of?”, you may well ask. Well. If you like chocolate, you probably like baked, chocolatey goods. And if you like baked, chocolatey goods, then you are probably (almost certainly) going to like the chokladboll.
You can find chokladbolls on the counter and in the cabinets at many cafes throughout Stockholm (and I am sure throughout the rest of Sweden). Our journey into chokladboll fan-dom began at the cute pop-up cafe at the Moderna Museet (don’t worry, we’ll be writing about that in posts to come!). We were in need of a coffee stop prior to hitting the galleries, and as you can see from the photo above, it was a case of perfect espresso and hot chocolate + chokladbolls = happy times in Stockholm. We really had no idea what these mysterious sweet treats were going to taste like, but I can report that they taste good. Really, really, really good.
Once we had taken a bite or two (really, these were gone in two bites!), we deduced from sight and taste that cocoa, oats, coconut and sugar were all crucial ingredients. What a combination! So simple, but so delectable.
The chokladboll is a typical Swedish sweet treat, often eaten along with a coffee for fika, the Swedish term for “coffee break” involving a drink and a small snack. Particular highlights of the Wikipedia page for fika include
“Fika is a social institution in Sweden”
“Fika performs an important social function as the “non-date date”, i.e. while going on a date can be perceived as a big deal, ta en fika (“Take a fika”) is a very low-pressure and informal situation, and doesn’t in itself imply any romantic context. People of opposite/appropriate genders meeting for a fika doesn’t raise any eyebrows or particular suspicions they are to become an item.”
“Traditionally, fika requires sweet, baked goods”
I can’t see much that’s not to like about the ingrained tradition of fika (and I am sure you will come up short too!), and I find it intriguing what you can learn about a society and its culture from small, daily institutions such as this. We liked the chokladbolls we sampled at the Moderna Museet so much that we were still hankering for them when we returned to Holland. So, there was no other solution than to make our own. Sure, they weren’t as good as the real deal that we had tasted in Stockholm, but the result was pretty delicious (you can check them out in the photos below). Whilst making the chokladbolls for the first time, I discovered that they were even simpler to make than I could have imagined (no cooking required!) and the secret ingredient (or not so secret, but the ingredient that we hadn’t guessed when we had first sampled them) is coffee. Truly, these are so easy to make, it’s even a stretch for me to call this baking! Below is the recipe I used. I challenge you to give chokladbolls a go for a slice of Scandinavia – they are fit for a viking, and I am sure you won’t be disappointed!
Indulgence, Swedish style: Chokladbolls
What you’ll need…
Makes about 25
3 1/4 cups of oats, 8 tablespoons of cocoa (get the best quality you can – it will really make a difference to the end product!), 1 1/4 cups of white sugar (I used caster sugar (fine sugar), but I don’t think it really matters if you use regular white sugar), 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract mixed into 7 tablespoons of cold espresso coffee, 150g butter (slightly softened), desicated coconut (enough to coat the outside of the chokladbolls – roughly about a cup or a cup and a half).
Put the sugar, cocoa and oats into a large mixing bowl, and mix together. Next add in the butter, and using either your hands or the back of a wooden spoon, combine the butter with the dry ingredients. Do this until the butter and dry ingredients are all merged together into a doughy consistency.
Pour the coffee and vanilla extract over the dough mixture and stir together until you have a well-combined mixture. It’s really important that the coffee is cold (otherwise it will have an undesired melting effect on the dough mix). Even if it looks like the mixture isn’t going to combine after you add the coffee and vanilla, never fear, keep stirring and it will!
Pour your coconut into a bowl or onto a plate. This really is a get-stuck-in type of recipe and is fun to make (getting a bit messy is par for the course, but part of the enjoyment) – next step is to grab small amounts of the mixture in your hands, roll into a ball shape and then roll in the coconut to coat the outside.
Once your chokladbolls are all covered in coconut, place on a plate and refrigerate for a couple of hours until you can no longer resist trying them. They’ll keep for a decent time in a container in the fridge – that is, if you can keep yourself away from them…
If you try them out, be sure to let us know how you get on! Photos by CIA in Stockholm and Leiden, July 2012. The recipe is slightly modified from that which appears here.