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World's Best Cup of Hot Chocolate

I called this the "World's Best Cup of Hot Chocolate" because of that coffee shop scene in the Christmas movie ELF—where Will Ferrel runs in and congratulates a small diner on their "worlds best cup of coffee" sign. The mental congratulatory phrase I gave myself after I made this elaborate looking image (above) was totally in his voice saying "You did it! Worlds best cup of coffee hot chocolate. Congratulations!" You probably have had to of seen the movie in order to get the reference. But seriously, if you celebrate Christmas, what the F*** have you been doing with your life if you haven't seen Elf yet?

Whereas the coffee from the movie was probably not super great, I think that this hot chocolate lives up to the hype. It's refined sugar and dairy-free, but alllll delicious goodness. This is another one of my healthier (yet indulgent) recipes that I really think people won't even know the difference. I hope you enjoy it this weekend over a Christmas movie (maybe Elf?), cozy up, and get into the festive spirit.

This recipe usually serves about four people. (Or, two people if using large mugs like in the image above). If you want to make a different amount, just divide down or multiply up the recipe to your desired serving portions.

I have listed the recipe in both American and Swedish measurements below. Enjoy!

Worlds best Cup of Hot Chocolate

Hot Chocolate Ingredients:

4 US cups (1 liter) non-dairy milk—I have used almond, coconut, and oat milk successfully. Just use whatever kind you like the best.

1/4 cup (0,6 dl eller 4 msk) raw cacao

3 tbsp (3 msk) organic honey

3 tbsp (3 msk) maple syrup

1/4 tsp (2 krm) vanilla extract

A tiny pinch of salt

And, whatever optional toppings of your choice: non-dairy whipped cream, chocolate sauce, chocolate shavings, sprinkles, marshmallows, caramel sauce, chopped nuts, cookie crumbles, etc.

Optional Chocolate Sauce Ingredients:

100g of milk-free or dark chocolate—I used a Reneé Voltaire coconut milk/sugar chocolate bar

18g coconut oil

Clear glass serving glasses (so you can see the drip effect inside the cups)

Hot Chocolate Instructions:

  1. Put all hot chocolate ingredients in a blender, blend until mixed. Sometimes I like to keep running the blender until the mixture develops a tiny bit of a froth on top (like you would get when you froth milk for coffee)—But, that is totally optional. It only works in some blenders and if your non-dairy milk is really cold. You can also use a handheld coffee frother to add a layer of froth on top of the mixture if that works better for you, or just skip the frothing entirely.

  2. Transfer the blended mixture to a large enough saucepan and warm on medium-high heat until slightly simmering. Once the mixture is warm enough to drink you can pour the mixture into glasses for serving. ....BUT, If you are going to make my optional chocolate sauce, I would just keep the mixture on low (to keep it warm) on the stove until you have completed the next steps for the chocolate sauce.

Optional Chocolate Sauce Instructions:

  1. Use a double boiler or make a makeshift one and fill the bottom layer with a bit of water and bring it to a boil.

  2. Break the non-dairy chocolate bar into a bunch of smaller pieces and place them in the top layer of the double boiler with the coconut oil.

  3. Heat and stir until melted and well mixed

  4. Coat the inside of your serving glasses with a few large drips in a pattern of your choice, reserving a little bit of the sauce for on top if you are going to have non-dairy whipped topping or marshmallows.

  5. Pour your hot chocolate in the glasses

  6. If topping with non-dairy whipped topping and/or marshmallows. Use some of the remaining chocolate sauce to lightly drizzle on top for a nice looking effect and serve.

 

 

2018 Foodie Advent Calendars

This is definitely the year of the advent calendar. I have noticed a ton of them floating around the stores this past couple of months. The beauty world has just totally blown up with boxes and boxes of sample-sized 24-count products everywhere you look. Though, who could blame any business for taking advantage of this (not so new) trend? It's ingenious! Is there any better way to get a customer to willingly buy and sample a variety of products over the holidays? Probably not. We are usually all too busy buying presents for everyone else. This is quite possibly the best way ever to get people to self-gift sans-guilt!

Advent calendars weren't a big thing in my house as a kid. We did have a cloth one with little Christmas shaped items in each pocket, just for decoration. It was like "Super, geee an angel made of cloth. Let's just pop that right back in the crap looking little pocket it came from. Bye." If my parents would have purchased a calendar with something more useful or entertaining inside it, I think I would have jumped on this Christmas calendar train years ago.

Since I currently have way more than my fair share of beauty products, I had been looking for other ways to share in the joy of the Christmas countdown (than buying a bunch more crap I don't need). And, what do I love way more than makeup? FOOD!!! Glorious, food. So much, that on Black Friday I actually headed to the grocery store instead of competing with all the other madness. Later on, when I just happened to be also browsing online for more food (yes, that happened) I purchased my very first advent calendar from Holland & Barrett. I don't know if you noticed, but December first was yesterday. I can't even tell you how much joy I had from that first silly piece of milk-free chocolate. It got me wondering what else was out there in the world, that I could open one little door at a time for all the remaining days until Christmas.

Luckily for all you Swedes, I have tirelessly hunted down all the still in-stock food and drink advent calendars that I could find—that could be purchased in or shipped to Sweden—and listed them below. Which, of course, comes up to a total of 25 items. I have literally made an advent of advent calendars. MIND = 💥. So, while I sit around with that song that starts "On the first day of Christmas..." repeatedly stuck in my head, I hope you all have enjoyed your very first (and second) day of Christmas and will enjoy this list as well.

 


2018 Foodie (and Drinkie) Advent Calendars:

1. MyMüesli2Go Advent
A calendar packed with 14 to-go MyMüesli portion-sized cups.


2. Kinder Mini Mix Advent
Of course, I had to add in a classic Kinder calendar to the list. It's listed as available in Öob stores throughout Sweden but if you are in Stockholm, you can also get it through Mat.se.


3. Haribo Advent
In case you are getting a little sick of all the holiday chocolate, here's a fun gummy candy calendar to still get in your daily sugar fix.


4. Hopt "Beery Christmas" Advent
24 craft beers from world-famous breweries delivered to your door.


5. CHASE "Twelve Festive Single-Estate Spirits" Advent
This British distillery has a sample collection of 12 of their fruity vodkas and gins available with international shipping through Selfridges.


6. Lindt Advent
I mean, who can argue with this?


7. Fortnum & Mason Tea Lover's Calendar

Enjoy this classic British brand's tea calendar with international shipping from their web store.


8. Fortnum & Mason Wooden House Calendar
Ok, so this is a bit of a splurge item, but it's a keepsake re-fillable wooden advent calendar with the iconic Fortnum & Mason storefront illustrated on it. It comes with Fortnum’s Gold Chocolate Coins, Milk and Dark Chocolate honeycomb bites, Foiled Milk chocolate Santa and Snowmen characters, Green and Red chocolate beans, Jellybeans and fruit jellies. So, even with the shipping to Sweden, I think it's still worth the hefty price tag.


9. Jelly Belly Advent
America's classic jelly beans, but here in Sweden!


10. Ginvent Calendar
Another Item from Fortnum & Mason with international shipping to Europe. It may have another hefty price tag, but it sounds oh so fun. Who doesn't want a craft gin cocktail every evening—out of a box that looks like a tiny bit like a Swedish flag?


11. Saveurs et Natures Advent
Some french ecological chocolate? Yes, please!


12. Let the Weekend Be-Gin and Tonic Advent
A gin and tonic filled calendar for those of us who really only want to drink on the weekends.


13. Coffee Advent Calendar
A coffee calendar for the elevated caffeinated types.


14. Pärlans JulKalender
A Christmas Calendar for the serious caramel fan!


15. Joe & Seph's Gourmet Popcorn Advent
Apparently, the Brits have cornered the market on cool foodie calenders this year. This gourmet popcorn one sounds amazing.


16. Quevedo Port Wine Advent Calendar
If you love a good glass of port wine with dessert, this is where it's at.


17. 24 Days of Rum
And of course, there's a rum one too, if you are feeling a little more like a tropical cocktail this December.


18. 12 Days of Pringles
For those real big Pringles fans. This every other day flavor exploration of their classic chip is available through Amazon UK.


19. Hampton Selection Jam & Marmalade Advent
This seems like a fun addition to change up your daily breakfast porridge or toast this month.


20. C&T Organic Hot Chocolate Advent
Is there a better (non-alcoholic) way to celebrate the season?


21. MunchKings Christmas Advent
I just can't say no to 25 days of gourmet nuts and savory snacks. Can you?


22. Moo Free Dairy-Free Chocolate
For those of us who want to join the party, but without the cow.


23. Baileys Original Irish Cream Chocolate Truffles
All I have to say is... "YUM!"


24. Drinks By The Dram Scotch Whisky Advent
For the real OG's of Christmas.


25. C&T Organic Superfood Advent
For the responsible self-gifter. 24 completely gluten-free, delicious Advent snacks with 24 blends of soya, almonds, cashews, goji berries, cranberries, and other snacks from Landgarten

Thanksgiving in Stockholm

Thanksgiving is a day-long celebration and feast, for both Americans and Canadians alike. The US holiday is on November 22nd but isn’t usually celebrated here in Sweden. However, I’m finding that a lot of restaurants, turkey suppliers and other Americans are trying to import the tradition more and more. Which of course, I think is great. When I usually explain my family’s traditions for the holiday, a lot of Swedes find that what happens is very similar to what they do on Christmas. And, who could ever argue against having a second Christmas?! 😋

I suggest you grab your friends and/or family here in Stockholm and find a way to have a meal, share what you’ve been grateful for this year, and celebrate with us turkey-and-pumpkin-pie-crazed northern Americans! The day should hopefully leave everyone with full bellies, a sense of family (or community), and enough warm and happy vibes to get you all the way through the cooling temperatures of the season— until Christmas. 

If you can’t get around to hosting your own feast or finding an event (like the one Henrik and I did, that I will try to post more about later) you should at least go to a fun restaurant with a festive Thanksgiving dinner menu. I have found a few places that are celebrating the holiday in Stockholm this year, and have listed them below. If you are interested, I recommend booking your table at any one of these places as soon as possible. I hope you all enjoy this list and have a super happy Thanksgiving this year! 🦃🍂🍗🧡💛

Here are my recommendations to have a Thanksgiving dinner out in Stockholm:


Low and Slow Smokehouse
Luntmakargatan 98
Thursday, November 22nd (by pre-booking only)
Reservations made by email: bbq@lowandslow.se
Two-course meal for 350 sek per person.

Main course: smoked turkey, candied jams, green beans, stuffing, a kale, and cranberry salad and cornbread. 

Dessert: pumpkin pie!


Yellow
Jakobsbergsgatan 23
Thursday, November 22nd 
Reservations made on their website: http://yellowsthlm.com/thanksgiving/
Three-course menu for 495 sek a person

Appetizer: pumpkin soup with cream cheese, pumpkin seeds, and cranberries 

Main course: stuffed chicken, a side baked sweet potatoes filled with bacon, jalapeños and cheddar, a side of yellow beans with caramelized onions, chicken gravy, and cranberry sauce. 

Dessert: Pecan Pie, caramel, marshmallows, candied pecans, and chocolate


Austin Food Works
Norrtullsgatan 24
Thursday, November 22nd, 23rd and 24th
Reservations made on their website: http://norrtull.austinfoodworks.se/
Three-course menu, no price listed yet

AFW will be publishing more about what’s on their menu a little closer to the date. Stay tuned to their @austinfoodworks Instagram account for more info.


Kitchen and Table
In the Clarion Hotel Sign, Östra Järnvägsgatan 35
Thursday, November 22nd and 23rd
Reservations made on their website: https://kitchenandtable.se
Three-course menu for 495 sek

Appetizer: foamed pumpkin soup with pumpkin cream flavored with vanilla, sprinkles on panko fried rosemary, egg 63, roasted pumpkin kernels, pickled chili, peeled rose pepper, roasted pumpkin 

Main: turkey “to share”, lemon and thyme gravy, Karl-Johan mushroom cappuccino, roasted root vegetables, sweet potato, carrot, cabbage, fried green kale 

Dessert: apple pie burrito, dates, crumble of mixed nuts, apple chips, custard sauce 

Coconut Banana Pancakes

Happy "Fars dag" (Swedish Father's Day)! I thought it was a good time to share my favorite "Coconut Banana Pancake" recipe with you all—just incase anyone wants to suprise their dad with a heavenly short stack on his special day. These pancakes happen to be gluten, dairy and refined sugar-free, but are so good that no one would ever even notice the difference. Henrik, my partner, thinks that they may even be better than regular pancakes. And, he's a pretty tough pancake critic. I hope you all enjoy them as much as we do!

I have listed the ingredients in both American cups and Swedish measurements. This recipe makes about 16 medium-small pancakes and could serve four people easily.

"Coconut Banana Pancakes"

Dry ingredients:

3/4 cup (60 grams) coconut flour
3/4 cup (120 grams) gluten-free flour mix—I used “Lailas Mjölmix Glutenfri” 
2 tsp (2 teskedar) baking powder
1/8 tsp (about 1 finger pinch of salt) 

Wet ingredients:

2 tbsp (2 matskedar) organic honey
2 tbsp (2 matskedar) organic maple syrup
1/3 cup (70 grams) coconut oil for in the batter 
+1 teaspoon (1 tesked) coconut oil set aside for frying later
1 cup (2 dl + 2 matskedar) unsweetened non-dairy milk
1 medium sized banana 
1/4 tsp (1 krm) real vanilla extract
6 medium to large sized eggs  

1. Sift the gluten free flour mix if you can, this helps prevent clumping in the dough later.

2. Whisk all dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.

3. In a small pan at a very low temperature add the honey, maple syrup, coconut oil and non-dairy milk together.

4. In a small bowl mash the banana until somewhat smooth and then add to the pan. Once the coconut oil looks like it has melted and the only chunks in the batter are from the banana, remove the pan off of the stove to cool for a minute.

5. Whisk 6 eggs in a small bowl until well mixed and add them to the pan—When you do this, make sure the liquids in the pan are just slightly warm to the touch (not at all hot) because you don’t want to cook or scramble the eggs!

6. Then, pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredient bowl and mix well. Try to make sure there are no lumps left in the batter with dry flour. 

7. Heat a teaspoon (tesked) of coconut oil in a non-stick frying pan on medium-low heat.

8. Use a small to medium sized scoop and spoon your pancakes into the pan at your desired size (I used a Swedish "glögg" scoop and it made perfectly sized pancakes).

9. When very small bubbles begin to form along the edges, or the pancakes firm slightly, then it is time to flip them. (The first two pancakes are always a mess, so try not to judge your skills until the end.)

10. If the first two pancakes are too thick for your liking, you can add a bit more non-dairy milk (or even water) to the batter to thin them out slightly. Gluten free flour mixes tend to vary, so you many need to adjust the liquid amount slightly. 

11. There is no need for more coconut oil or butter in the pan after that first teaspoon. Pancakes actually come out smoother and more perfect looking, when there is less oil or butter in the pan. So, just scoop your next pancakes into the pan and repeat the process until you are out of batter.

12. When finished, serve with whatever toppings you like! 

Some suggested toppings: more bananas, coconut shavings, butter or margarin, jam, maple syrup, powdered sugar, peanut or almond butter, berries, chopped nuts, coconut “whipped cream”, ice cream, sprinkles, Nutella or chocolate chips.

A few of our family's tips for making perfect American pancakes:

Tip #1: My grandmother always used to serve her pancakes with melted butter in a little pouring dish (that was heated on the stove or in a microwave). We used to pour our butter on top right before the maple syrup! I now sometimes do this with vegan butter.

Tip #2: My mother always stirs in a bit of extra melted butter into her pancake batter, to make them extra moist. I haven’t done that in this recipe, but i’m guessing it would work well for all pancake recipes. Let me know how it goes if you decide to try it!

Tip #3: You can always add even thicker banana chunks, other berries or fruit (or even chocolate chips!) to the batter right before frying, to give the pancakes a little something extra. I haven’t done that for this recipe before, but I imagine it also works well with all pancake recipes. If you dare to try this too, let me know how it goes and comment below!

Falling in Love with Fall Markets

Who doesn’t love fall? You have to be a psychopath or something, to not feel any joy at the turning of the season. Yes, I’m totally going to be one of those cringe-worthy people boasting about their love of fall right now. I have no shame. There are a million reasons to go crazy for it (and it’s almost over, so we have to celebrate it as much as possible, while we still can). I love the colored leaves, the sweater weather, the pumpkin spice everything (even the pumpkin spice haters), apples, scented candles that smell like food, the actual food, etc. I could go on for days, but I’ll spare you. 

Other than baking up a storm and lighting scented candles that smell like dessert, I had been really looking for something fun to do in Stockholm this time of year, that really felt like a seasonal celebration. Back in the states, my family used to take my sister and I to a pumpkin and apple farm for a whole day. We would pick out our Halloween pumpkins, drink warm apple cider, take a horse-drawn hayride, walk through corn mazes and purchase homemade sweets in a little old-fashioned country store. If we were lucky, we even got some caramel apples and cider donuts to take home with us. Those days made up some of my best memories as a young kid.

I searched around a little and realized that pumpkin farms aren’t a real popular thing around the Stockholm region. If you go down to the south of Sweden, it seems to be a bit easier to find one. Maybe it has to do with the climate down there or something? A pumpkin farm outing was out of the question unless we wanted to take a very long road trip. So, I had begun looking around at all the fall markets nearby instead (also known as a “Höstmarknad” or a Harvest festival "Skördefest" in Swedish). 

A couple of years ago, we went to the Skansen Autumn fair. It was well organized and had a good amount of vendors. I found a really good homemade jam stand that year. The Skansen festival is really a bit more than just a fall market. They have musicians and actors putting on a show at different times and everyone is dressed up in old-fashioned clothing. You must pay to get into the open-air museum, but then you also have access to a full day of fun activities inside (whether you stay in the fall market part of the park or not.)

More recently, we've gone to Zetas fall market. Zetas is a beautiful garden center and "White Guide" recommended cafe, just south of the city. The market takes place inside the venue and is free to attend. Unfortunately, I was a little late in looking it up, so we missed it this year. It was a really good event though and worth the trip. They had everything you could want; all the typical jams, fresh produce, and old-world food products one hopes to find at these type of events. I even saw a lot of fun craft items, clothing, and jewelry everywhere. The cute little red and white striped awnings over each booth made the whole market seem very fun and festive. It could possibly be my favorite one so far!

This year we decided to try something new. There was a fall market happening at a castle called Ulriksdals Slott (”slott” is Swedish for “castle”). I have a huge love for visiting castles, ever since my move to Europe. I find them absolutely fascinating to see in person. Especially since we grow up without that type of history around us in the US. Henrik, being an architect, also has a love of buildings that are both old and new. So, visiting castles and old manor homes has kind of become a little thing that we do together. (Which, is why we’ve even chosen to get married at one next year!) So, you can guess at my level of excitement, to see that one of the local castles was holding a fall festival.

Ulriksdal’s fall market was small but nice. It didn’t have as many vendors as I was expecting, yet it was fun to visit none the less. I think the most exciting part was really just to be outside in such a beautiful park on a sunny crisp autumn day.

The castle itself held guided tours (only in Swedish, unfortunately. However, they do happen to have English ones in the summer). At 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm, the small beautiful chapel nearby had a free music event going on as well. There were even cute little pony rides for children at 50 SEK a turn, making this quite the fun family event.

I think my favorite part of this festival was that it was in walking distance to Ulriksdals Trädgård; a garden center with a self-picking field, greenhouse, gift shop, and cafe. The cafe makes excellent vegetarian food and fika desserts year round. Often, using organic ingredients they grow on site. It’s one of my favorite escapes just north of Stockholm city. We frequently come here to pick vegetables and flowers in July and August too and it's absolutely wonderful.

On the day of the market, we all ended up walking over to Ulriksdals Trädgård and getting the best lemon meringue pie EVER! Hands down, THE BEST. Henrik always goes crazy for it. I have begun to consider it a favorite of mine as well. I’m a bit sensitive to dairy and gluten, so I can only have things like this in really rare amounts (I’m currently living by the 80/20 rule), but the pie here is so worth the sacrifice. This is truly one of the best fika places in town. (If they had a barista that could serve specialty drinks—like a latte or cappuccino—I would say it was “the best,” but still waiting on that.)

I would say this was the perfect picturesque fall day that I had been hoping for. Even the long hike back to our car and finding a delightful parking ticket on our windshield couldn’t spoil the mood. It was a great way end to the season. 

If you have any tips for other good fall markets or activities in the Stockholm region, please leave a comment below!!! I would love to hear more about what everyone else has been doing. 🍂