Merry Scandinavian Christmas

No skincare today. It's Christmas Eve. In Scandinavia, we celebrate Christmas today (you may now envy Scandinavian kids who don't have to wait until tomorrow for presents).  Festivities will often start in late afternoon/early evening. Some of the traditional foods of the day are spicy pepper-cookies (recipe below), brown sugar cookies, candied almonds and marzipan accompanied by mulled wine and other spirits.

What We Eat

The traditional (Danish) dinner is pork roast and/or roast duck accompanied by tiny caramelized potatoes as well as boiled white potatoes, sweet-pickled red cabbage and gravy. This is followed by a traditional Christmas dessert.

Pronounced 'reeze ah lah mahnd'

Dessert is ris รก la mande – a rice-based, vanilla-infused 'pudding' with loads of whipped cream, chopped almonds, and topped with a cherry sauce. A single whole almond is hidden in the dessert, and a lively hunt for it begins with every served portion. Who will be this years lucky winner and win the almond prize?

In between meals and snacks, there are generous helpings of mandarin oranges, crisp winter apples, cakes, cookies, and candies galore – just standing about waiting to be tasted.

It's a feast to be sure.

And it Doesn't Even Stop There

We also celebrate with a traditional Christmas lunch on the 25th – which the Danes have dubbed 'First Christmas Day'. This is followed by 'Second Christmas Day' (with even more feasting), and it has even become quite common to include 'Third Christmas Day' in holiday plans.

We need that third day because otherwise, how would everyone have time to visit the people they want to see, serve and eat all the goodies that have been prepared, and then enjoy a much-needed sleep-in after all those delicious calories?

And speaking of calories: Here's my recipe for pepper-cookies (I figured you might be curious). I like them a bit spicy, but if you want less 'bite', feel free to cut back (a bit) on the pepper. Surprisingly, pepper works really well in cookies (and yes, they are quite kid-friendly).

This portion makes about 60 cookies

Traditional Danish Pepper Cookies

125 grams butter (don't skimp - it's Christmas - use the real stuff)
125 grams castor sugar
1 egg
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cardemom
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp white pepper
275 grams flour

Mix butter and sugar until creamy. Add egg. Mix thoroughly. Set aside. Mix all dry ingredients and work into the butter mixture. Roll into small balls (about half a walnut size –  they swell a bit) and lightly flatten with thumb on baking tray. Bake at 200 degrees celcius (392 degrees F) for 10-12 minutes.

Merry Christmas