- Andy Brumbaugh
- Swedish vanilla dream cookies and coffee
Fika is a wonderful Swedish tradition. Though the word loosely translates to "coffee break," it doesn't just mean grabbing a coffee. Rather, it is time to slow down, taking a moment to sit and savor a warm drink. You'll rarely see a Swede running around with a big ol' coffee to go. (Though, as national coffee chains spread throughout the world, it's becoming more common.) What makes this custom extra sweet is that it usually involves a treat.
There is an old Swedish tradition of "seven sorts of sweets" that should accompany any good fika. Seven is considered a somewhat magical number in Sweden. During the summer holiday of Midsommar, it is said that if a young woman places seven kinds of flowers under her pillow, she will dream of her future husband. Seven is also considered the proper number of dessert varieties. If you make more, you could be seen as showing off. And if you make fewer, you might seem stingy. Dreams (or drömmar) are a wonderful addition to any dessert tray.
Traditionally, they are made with baker's ammonia, a leavening agent that is hard to find in American grocery stores. You can substitute baking powder — I did in this recipe — but if you can get baker's ammonia, it will give the cookies a delightful, melt-in-your-mouth texture.
These cookies are similar to shortbread, but slightly less dense. For a variation, top them with sliced almonds before baking or drizzle them with chocolate after they cool. Even plain, though, they are a perfect little bite of cookie. You might even say they're dreamy.
- 7 tablespoons butter, softened
- 1¼ cups sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup canola oil
- 1⅔ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder (or 1 teaspoon baker's ammonia, available from King Arthur Flour)
- Sliced almonds or melted chocolate (optional)
- Put a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 300 degrees.
- Beat together the butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy.
- With the mixer still running, drizzle in the oil.
- Mix the flour and baking powder together in a separate bowl, then add gradually to the rest of the batter, stirring until well combined.
- Using a cookie scoop or a spoon, place small balls of dough, about 1 inch in diameter, onto parchment-lined baking sheets, topping each cookie with an almond slice if you like.
- Bake for around 20 minutes. The bottoms of the cookies should just barely turn brown, but the tops should remain light.
- Serve, ideally with coffee. (Or freeze them for up to three months, and pull them out when you need them!)