Many of my great-grandparents immigrated to the United States from Finland. The most recent set came over almost a hundred years ago, so we’ve been American for quite some time! I’ve always been very drawn to my Finnish roots, only more so since travelling there. Many Finnish foods have a special place in my heart, and I love including them when serving family and friends. For some reason I particularly enjoy including Finnish and Scandinavian holiday foods during the Christmas season.
This article is not limited to Finland alone! It seeks to inspire you to include tasty and unique dishes from all over Scandinavia in your holiday spread this year.
Scandinavian Holiday Sweets: the coffee table, desserts and beyond
Pulla: Finnish coffee bread
First up is a classic Finnish pulla from yours truly. Pulla is not reserved specifically for Christmas, but a lot of American Finns do make it as a festive treat. If you’ve never experienced the rich, flavorful joy that is pulla, I urge you to give it a shot. It also serves as the base dough for a number of other coffee table indulgences. The primary flavor in pulla comes from cardamom, which lends it a signature flavor and aroma.
Chocolate Fudge Kladdkaka (Swedish Sticky Cake)
Kladdkaka, or sticky cake, is a Swedish delicacy somewhat similar to a dense, fudgy brownie or a molten chocolate cake. This one from The Spelt Kitchen features a gorgeous fudgy topping and is guaranteed to impress.
Toscakaka-Swedish Tosca Cake
Toscakaka is a Swedish delicacy featuring a sponge cake covered with a almond caramel topping. It looks extremely impressive, and tastes incredible! Recipe from The Cinnamon Jar here.
Krumkaker: Krumkake Cookies
If you’re looking to impress with your cookie platter this year, look no further than Norwegian Krumkake cookies. These are a delicate waffle cookie rolled into a cone shape, then dipped or filled. They do require a special iron, which imprints a pattern on the dough, and I think you’ll agree makes for quite the showstopper!
Brunkager (Danish Christmas Cookies)
Brunkager are made slice-and-bake style, and are a spiced, nutty, crunchy cookie. They’re a perfect way to add some variety to a cookie platter amongst all the chocolatey options!
Princesstarta (Swedish Princess Cake)
Princess cake has to be one of the most distinct-looking and showstopping traditional desserts out there. Once you’ve seen one of these dome-shaped green cakes, I don’t think you’re likely to forget it in a hurry! I was surprised when I learned that underneath the green marzipan, Princess cake is made with layers of cake, cream, and jam. For some reason I thought that a cake so eye-catching had to be flavored with something extremely unusual. Princess cakes are not exclusive to Christmas in Sweden, but they are generally intended for special occasions.
Savory: Scandinavian holiday main courses and appetizers
Gravlax is fresh fish, salmon in this case, cured at home in a mix of sugar, salt, and herbs & spices. It’s easy to make, but it does require a little forethought as the fish needs to cure for a day or so. It’s perfect for those who enjoy smoked salmon but not the price tag! It is also lighter in flavor than smoked salmon. Gravlax is commonly served as an appetizer at a Scandinavian Christmas gathering.
Carrot Lox (Vegan Smoked Salmon)
Tempted by the gravlax, but don’t wish to actually include salmon? Whether you’re vegetarian or simply don’t have access to quality fish, this carrot lox is a perfect way to include all the flavors of smoked salmon in your holiday spread, without any actual fish.
Raksmorgas (Swedish Shrimp Sandwich)
Hosting a brunch around the holidays? This Swedish shrimp sandwich is light and refreshing, and looks very elegant!
Norwegian Salt Cod Stew (Bacalao)
I remember the word “bacalao” from my Spanish-studying days, and sure enough, it’s Spanish for “cod”! This Norwegian Salt Cod Stew features salt cod, olive oil, tomatoes, potatoes, garlic and shallots. You should be able to find salt cod, with or without bones, at a local butcher. This is a great option if you’re looking to include a nod to Scandinavia in your main course.
Norwegian Meatballs with Lefse
We’re digressing from seafood at last with Norwegian Meatballs with Lefse! These are a hearty, versatile beef/pork meatball in brown gravy. They’re served rolled in lefse, a traditional Norwegian flatbread. Here in Minnesota, you can find lefse in just about any grocery store, especially around the holidays, but I’m not positive if that’s true everywhere!
Are any of these Scandinavian holiday dishes catching your eye? Do you ever include a nod to your family’s heritage in your Christmas spreads? Tell me about it in the comments!