Tag Archives: moomin

Souvenir Makes No. 3: Scandi Snacks

12 Dec

Regular readers will know about the recent goal I set myself, to only buy holiday souvenirs that I can use to make lovely things. No more fibre optic Eiffel Towers or Kiss-Me-Quick hats from Blackpool!

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I picked up these fab cookie cutters during the Stockholm leg of my Scandinavian roadtrip back in October, as they were perfect reminders of Sweden – they depict Moomintroll, Little My and Snufkin* from the Moomin stories, and the ubiquitous Dala horse. Ever since returning home, I have been eager to get baking!

I used BJ Reeve’s recipe from AllRecipes.com for Sugar and Spice Cookies. I have copied the recipe below, but if you do try it, please remember to post your feedback on the AllRecipes page so that BJReeve can see it!

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour               1/2 cup softened butter

1 cup packed brown sugar                  1 egg

1/2 tsp vanilla extract                         1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp ground cinnamon                     1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

pinch of ground cloves

1. Mix the flour, the baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves together in a bowl. I also added half a teaspoon of ground ginger at this point, as I love the taste!

2. Cream the butter and brown sugar together with an electric mixer in a large bowl until smooth; beat the egg and vanilla extract into the butter mixture. Add the flour mixture in small amount to the butter mixture, beating each addition until blended. Add any colouring you wish to use at this stage. I ended up mixing up two batches, one in the classic red for the Dala horses, and one plain for the Moomins.

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3. Form the dough into a ball, wrap with plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to 3 days.

4. Preheat an oven to 175 degrees . Grease baking sheets (or use greaseproof paper if you have any).

5. Roll the dough out on a floured work surface with a rolling pin to about 1/8-inch thickness. Cut with 2-inch cookie cutters. Arrange the cut cookies onto the prepared baking sheets, ensuring there is enough space for the dough to spread.

At this stage, I found it worked well to chill the shapes again for 20 mins, as it helped them to maintain their shape during cooking. I also found that you had to be really careful when easing the dough out of the cookie cutter, in order to protect the dough shape. A butter knife came in handy for loosening the edges.

6. Finally, bake in the preheated oven until the edges begin to brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 1 minute before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. The aroma of the spices will fill your kitchen and you will be tested to the limits of your patience as you wait for them to cool before icing.

Once the cookies were completely cooled, it was time to get on with the fun and messy task of icing them.

Dala horses are traditionally seen with blue and white saddles, alhough you can see them in a wide variety of shades. I decided to keep it simple with just two colours. As you can see, my icing leaves much to be desired, but I think I am slowly (very slowly) improving. Once the icing had set, I used a cocktail stick to punch a hole in the surface, for added decoration.

I would have loved to decorate my Moomins with cheeky expressions and different outfits on, but I didn’t trust my icing skills, to be honest! I’m quite a novice baker and so I decided to keep them simple with just a light touch of white icing piped around the edge.

I took a batch of the cookies with me to Kat’s wedding crafternoon a few weeks ago. They went like hotcakes! They have a lovely, mildly spiced flavour, and the icing added sweetness.

I made such a lot of dough, that I was able to freeze up some more cookie shapes for baking at a later time! As long as the dough is well wrapped up in clingfilm or in airtight bags, it should last for a few months. This means that I should be able to take freshly baked cookies with me when I next visit my family. Hopefully my icing skills will improve with time.

*PS, anyone who wants to know the names of each of the Moomin characters need look no further than here . I have never known their real names until now!

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Scandimania Pt 1 – Stockholm

29 Nov

I am back from my adventure to Scandinavia, and I had an amazing time. I saw so many beautiful places, visited eye-opening galleries and museums, tasted various Scandinavian cuisines, and met so many inspiring people that I barely know where to start!

I guess, in that case, the only logical place to start would be at the beginning. I began my trip by flying into beautiful, crisp, Autumnal Stockholm in Sweden. I had a fantastic few days here, filled with museums, galleries, river cruises, history, art, amazing food and new experiences.

My first stop in Stockholm was Djurgarden, an island midway between Norrmalm and Sodermalm, where many of the main museums are situated. There was one that I had been waiting patiently to visit for ages: Skansen. Skansen was the world’s first ever open-air museum when it opened in 1891, and contains reproductions of Swedish villages and communities from different eras.

 

You are able to visit a 19th Century High Street, replete with a smithy, a potter’s, a bakery and a glassworks. Guides kitted out in historical dress are on hand to answer questions and demonstrate the skills. I was able to watch the glassblower creating beautiful Christmas baubles in her workshop, and also spent some time watching a pair of silversmiths creating bowls.

There are also houses and farm buildings which have been transported from across Sweden for preservation at the museum. It was a bit surreal to be walking between virtually deserted villages, occasionally catching a glimpse of someone in period dress. As you can see, the souvenir headband from my Scottish adventure was getting well worn!

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If you are visiting Stockholm and want some tips for what to see, I would definitely recommend checking out the Vasamuseet, which is also on Djurgarden. It was completely amazing! The museum houses the Vasa ship, which sank in Stockholm harbour on its maiden voyage in 1628 and was refloated and preserved in the 1960s. It’s absolutely enourmous, and the salvagers were able to preserve the ship almost in its entirety. My completely rubbish photo does not do it justice. Maritime history is a huge part of Stockholm culture, and the Vasa really felt like the jewel in the crown of all of the city’s exhibits.

Even when I wasn’t visiting museums, I thought Stockholm was a really cool city to walk around and get lost in. I spent hours strolling around in the old town of Gamla Stan, which is full of gift shops and boutiques, and round the suburb of Sodermalm, where much of the action of Steig Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is set.

One fact that I learned whilst in Stockholm is that The Moomins are some of Sweden’s national treasures! The original stories were actually written by a Finn called Tove Jansson, but were originally published in Swedish – they seem to have an enduring appeal here.

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I spotted some gorgeous Moomin cookie cutters during my wanderings around Gamla Stan, and I can’t wait to use them to produce some delicious Swedish cookies. I also couldn’t possibly leave Sweden without a souvenir of the iconic Dalecarlian, or Dala horse.

My time in Stockholm seemed too short, but soon enough it was time to move on to my next destination – an excursion into Norway for a few days before returning to Sweden. Next stop, Trondheim!

 

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