Happy Hygge Life | Scandinavian Food and Drink Recipes
Hygge is the concept of the Danish for being cozy and comfortable. Enjoying time with family and friends or just being alone. The Danish’s focus on hygge is the main reason they are voted as the happiest people on earth. The small things in your life are what make the difference in our sense of wellbeing.
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Scandinavian Food and Drink Recipes to Get You Warm and Cozy

Scandinavian Food and Drink Recipes to Get You Warm and Cozy

The Importance of Eating Together

Hygge is the concept of the Danish for being cozy and comfortable. Enjoying time with family and friends or just being alone. The Danish’s focus on hygge is the main reason they are voted as the happiest people on earth. The small things in your life are what make the difference in our sense of wellbeing.

Set out the candles. I have no idea why candles are seen to be just reserved for blackouts or romantic dinners. Candles bring so much more to our lives. They create an atmosphere of warmth. Whether it’s day or night, sunny or rainy. Candles are that touch of coziness.

Create a team with the family. Give everyone a part in making hygge. Decide on when and plan a meal together. Give everyone an option of taking a role, whether it be cooking, or just setting the table. It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant. A simple meal will suffice. Just work together as a team. Have fun. Put thought into the presentation of the table.
No complaining during Hygge. No work stress, no negative talk about friends, family, or others. Leave the drama elsewhere and focus on the positive.

Turn off all technology. Having a hygge time doesn’t have to last for hours. While the candles are burning and the meal is being prepared, the cell phones, computers, tablets, etc. are off. Have everyone put their devices in a box and shut the lid. Put the box in another room.

Remember to the we not I. Sounds simple, right? Well, think again. During the hygge moments, try to be present with who is around you. Get out of your head. Don’t think about your problems. Ask the others to try to do the same thing. Play a game. Talk about something funny the children may have done. Focus on little things that have made you happy and share them. Just 30 minutes to an hour on focused hygge with family during a busy week can show us what we’ve been missing out on. It sounds easy but it will take practice to reap the benefits.

Cakes, Hot Drinks and Pastries

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Silvia Cake

This is Silvia cake from Sweden, possibly after the Queen. The base is an old version of sockerkaka or sponge cake with water added which is also known as fattigmanskaka or poor man’s cake. The topping was added later on. Not sure why the water was added except to thin the batter, it will not work well without the water. A word of caution after you make this; one little nibble may turn out to be more and there won’t be enough left for fredagshygge or Friday cozy time.

* Cake
* 2 tsp. baking powder
* 3 eggs plus one yolk
* 1 cup plain or cake flour
* 2/3 cup white sugar
* Seeds from ½ vanilla bean
* 1/3 cup light brown sugar
* Icing/Frosting
* 2/3 cup butter
* Seeds from ½ vanilla bean
* 2 egg yolks
* 2/3 cup white sugar
* Few drops lemon juice
* 1/3 cup shredded coconut

Heat oven to 350. Prepare an 8 X 8 square baking pan with nonstick spray then line it with parchment paper.

In stand mixer, beat eggs, brown sugar, white sugar, and vanilla until thick, light and fluffy.

Mix together flour, salt, and baking powder. Gently fold in the sugar mixture. Slowly pour in 1/3 cup cold water, fold until incorporated.

Allow it to bake 25 to 30 minutes or golden and springy to touch. Toothpick should come out clean.
Make icing/frosting when the cake comes out of the oven. Melt butter in saucepan, do not brown it. Add sugar and vanilla and allow to dissolve. Add egg yolks and whisk until smooth over low heat. Remove from heat and add ¼ cup of shredded coconut and stir until thick.

Preheat broiler. Spread the icing/frosting over the cake. Place it under the broiler until lightly caramelized. Remove from broiler and sprinkle with coconut. Allow to cool before cutting into squares.

Cinnamon Pear Cake with Vanilla Fudge Sauce

Ingredients for pear syrup
* 5 Bartlett pears, peeled and minced
* 3 tbsp. light brown sugar
* ¼ cup unsalted butter
* ½ tsp. ground cinnamon

Ingredients for the cake

* 1 cup self-rising sugar
* 3 medium eggs, lightly beaten
* 1 cup white sugar
* ½ tsp. baking powder

* 1 cup room temp. unsalted butter

Ingredients for vanilla fudge sauce
* ½ light brown sugar
* ½ cup light corn syrup
* ¼ cup unsalted butter
* 2 tsp. vanilla extract
* 2/3 cup heavy cream

Allow oven to heat to 350
Grease and line a 9-inch spring form cake pan.
Directions for pear syrup
Melt butter, sugar, and cinnamon in a saucepan on medium heat, stirring occasionally.
Put in pears and cook until tender and sauce coats the pears. Set aside to cool.

Directions for cake

Mix sugar and butter until creamy.
Add beaten eggs and a little flour, and mix.
Fold in remaining flour and baking powder and mix well.
Add pear syrup and mix until combined.
Pour into cake pan, smooth out the top and place in oven.
Bake 45 minutes until risen and golden.
Directions for vanilla fudge sauce
Add butter, sugar, and syrup to small saucepan. Bring to boil, stirring occasionally.
Stir in the vanilla and cream, take off heat, allow to cool. Sauce will thicken upon standing.
After cake is cooled, drizzle with fudge sauce.

Sticky Ginger Cake with Clementine Glaze

This is a favorite during the Christmas season. Serves 8 to 10. It doesn’t have the sickly sweet marzipan or sugar icing that most British Christmas cakes have. This Nordic alternative has festive flavors, colors, and just the right amount of sweetness to feel like celebrating.

* 2 medium eggs, beaten
* ½ cup butter
* 1/3 cup molasses
* ¾ cup dark brown sugar
* ¾ cup plain flour
* 1 ½ cup buttermilk
* 2 tsp. baking soda
* 1 tsp. cardamom, ground
* ½ freshly grated nutmeg
* ¼ cup whole wheat flour
* 2 tsp. cinnamon, ground
* 1 tsp. baking powder
* ½ tsp. sea salt, ground fine
* 2 tsp. freshly grated ginger
* For the Glaze
* 2/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
* Juice and zest of 1 clementine
* 1 lemon juiced
* For decorations
* 1 small pomegranate seeds
* Green raw pistachios


Allow oven to heat to 350. Lightly grease a 9 X 5 loaf pan

Allow the molasses, sugar, and butter to melt in a medium saucepan. Stir thoroughly and take off of heat. Let it cool a little. Add eggs and buttermilk.

Sift salt, baking powder, spices, baking soda, and flour in a bowl. Add liquid ingredients a little at a time, stirring thoroughly each time. Once evenly mixed, pour into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes. Cover with aluminum foil to prevent top from burning. Bake another 10 to 15 minutes until loaf has risen and feels firm to touch. A toothpick inserted comes out cleans indicates doneness.

Place cake on wire rack and cool.

To make clementine glaze. Mix together confectioner’s sugar, clementine juice and zest, and lemon juice until you have a sticky icing. It shouldn’t be too thin or the glaze won’t stay on cake.

Remove cake from pan and pierce top of cake in several places. Drizzle glaze over the cake and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and pistachios.

Saffron Buns (Lussebullar)

These buns also known as St. Lucia buns are from Sweden. These are normally eaten on St. Lucia’s Day which is December 13. They are enjoyed throughout the Christmas season now. Lussebullar can have many shapes. Some symbols are Christian: the church doors and crosses, others heaten. Lussekatter or Lucia’s cats are the most traditional. They can also be shaped as braided wreaths, hearts, or crowns.


* 2 tbsp. raisins

* 4 to 4 ½ cups flour

* 1 cup whole milk

* ½ tsp. salt

* 1 egg, lightly beaten

* ¼ cup lukewarm water

* 1 room temperature egg, lightly beaten

* ¾ cup sugar

* 1 stick butter, cut into pieces

* ½ tsp. saffron threads, crumbled

* 1 pkg. or 2 ½ tsp. active dry yeast


Heat oven to 400.

Mix the milk and the butter in a saucepan on medium low heat, and stir constantly until all of the butter has melted. Set off of heat and mix in saffron. Put aside so it can cool a little.

In another bowl, mix the yeast into the lukewarm water and let proof about 10 minutes. When milk has cooled to lukewarm, stir in yeast, sugar, egg, salt, and 4 cups flour. Add the remaining flour as needed to make soft dough. It is going to be slightly sticky.

Knead dough on a floured surface until it has become elastic, should be about 10 minutes. Make sure you don’t use too much flour. Put the dough in a large bowl that has been greased and coat with the oil. Drape a towel over it and set is a warm area and let it rise to double its size.

Line a couple of baking sheets with parchment. Push down dough. Divide into 18 pieces. Divide each piece in half. Roll each half between hands until strand is 4 inches long. To make Lucia’s Cats, put 2 strands together lengthwise. Turn each end in toward the center to make 4 coils. To make golden wagons, lay one strand over the other to form an X. Turn the 4 ends toward center to form coils. Transfer buns to baking sheet a raisin firmly into center of coils. Repeat until dough is used up. Cover buns and let rise in a warm place until puffy. This should take 30 to 40 minutes.

Brush buns with beaten eggs. Bake until golden about 15 minutes.

Vanilla Cookies (Vaniljekranse)


* 1 egg yolk

* 3 ½ oz. ground almonds

* Pinch salt

* 1 cup butter, chopped

* 2/3 cup superfine sugar

* 1 ½ cup plain flour, plus more to dust

* 2 vanilla beans


Split vanilla lengthwise, scrape out the seeds. Sift the flour, sugar, and salt into a bowl. Cut butter into flour with pastry cutter or use fingers until mixture resembles crumbs. Add ground almonds and vanilla seeds. Add the egg yolk, work the mixture with your fingers until dough forms a ball. Kneed on lightly floured surface for 1 to 2 minutes, wrap in plastic wrap and chill overnight.

To bake, heat oven to 400. Roll the dough into logs each one measuring 2 x 3/8 inch. Curl them into a ring and press the ends together. Place on lined baking sheets. Bake for 7 minutes. Allow to cool. Can be stored for 3 to 4 weeks. These probably won’t last that long.

Jelly Roll (Rulltarta)

Try doing this jelly roll instead of a buche de Noel for your next Holiday feast. It will take less time and it’s just as delicious.


* 1 to 1 ½ cups lingonberry preserves or whatever jam you prefer

* 3 eggs

* ¼ tsp. ground cloves

* 1 tsp. cinnamon

* 1 tsp baking powder

* 4 ½ tsp. flour

* 1/3 cup potato starch

* ½ tsp ground ginger

* 2/3 cup sugar plus 2 tbsp.


Allow the oven to heat to 350. Take a 12 x 15 jelly roll pan and line it with parchment paper.

Break eggs into bowl of mixer. Beat on high for 2 minutes. Slowly add the 2/3 cup sugar and continue to beat for 3 minutes, until is has thickened and is pale.

In small bowl, stir together potato starch, cloves, ginger, cinnamon, baking powder, and flour. Fold this mixture and the egg mixture gently together until completel combined.

Pour batter in the pans and spread the batter out evenly Bake until puffed and golden about 15 minutes. When insert a toothpick it should come out clean.

While cake is baking, lay a sheet of parchment paper on counter. Sprinkle 2 tbsp. sugar over it. When cake is done, run a butter knife along edges to release it from pan. Invert the cake onto the sugar coated parchment paper. Working quickly, remove the parchment paper from the top of the cake. Spread with preserves.

Beginning with the short end, roll up to form a jelly roll. Let cool seam side down. Transfer to decorative platter.

Pepper Cookies (Pepparkakor)

Pepparkakor is a spiced biscuit. It is similar to gingerbread. They aren’t too sweet. They taste a little like caramel but they have some bitterness. You can punch a hole at the top and hang them on the Christmas tree. They keep fairly nicely. They will stay crisp for a long time. This recipe makes a lot of cookies.


* 2 tsp. ground black pepper

* 4 tsp. ground cardamom

* 4 tbsp. cocoa powder

* A generous ¾ cup corn syrup

* A generous ¾ cup heavy cream

* 4 tsp. ground cinnamon

* 2 ½ cups sugar

* A generous 1 cup soft butter

* 2 tbsp. baking powder

* 4 tsp. ground ginger

* Approximately 8 cups plain flour

* Royal icing, to decorate


Blend butter and sugar in mixer. Stir in cream, followed by rest of ingredients except the flour. Add flour until dough is no longer sticky, and stop. Knead it well. Let dough rest in refrigerator until next day.

Heat oven to 350.

Roll dough to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut into shapes. Remember to punch holes in cookies that you want to hang. Arrange on parchment paper until all dough is used. Bake until golden.

Decorate with royal icing. Traditionally frame the cookie and make buttons, shoes, etc. You could write the family’s names on separate cookies.

Rye and Orange Cookies

This super-easy dough doesn’t need to rest or be kneaded. Even novice bakers can make these successfully on their first try.


* 2 tsp. orange zest

* 2 tsp. baking powder

* 4 tbsp. butter

* 2 tbsp. plain flour, sifted

* 1 ¼ cup superfine sugar

* 1 ½ cups rye flakes

* 2 eggs, lightly beaten


Allow the oven to heat to 350. Melt butter and mix with rye flakes in bowl. Stir in sugar and eggs. In another bowl, mix salt, orange zest, flour, and baking powder. Stir into the rye mixture.

Use two teaspoons to drop small mounds of mixture on to a parchment lined baking sheet, space them out well.

Bake for 10 minutes. Let cool before you transfer them to wire rack. You will have to bake these in a few batches. When cooled completely, place in an airtight container. Can be stored for 3 weeks. Makes about 35


Glogg is simply mulled wine. But it is so much more. Each Scandinavian country has their own recipe for Glogg. The best is by far Danish Glogg.

If you remember back to a time when you were a child playing outside in the snow. It was cold. You came inside and were chilled to the bone. What was waiting for you in the kitchen? A nice cup of hot cocoa. That warm fuzzy feeling you got? That was hygge.

For a broader definition, Glogg is basically liquid hygge. It will make you warm and cozy and all your problems will simply slip away.

For this recipe don’t go out and get the most expensive brandy, port, or wine. Use whole spices. They give it better flavor. You can even double or triple this recipe if you are having a large gathering or holiday party.


* 1 cup brandy

* 1 cup port

* ¼ cup honey

* 5 cloves

* 10 cardamom seeds

* ½ cup blanched almonds

* ½ cup raisins

* 2 cinnamon sticks

* 1 orange rind

* 750 ml bottle red wine


Add wine, honey, cloves, cardamom seeds, almonds, raisins, cinnamon sticks, and orange rind to a pot on the stove.

Let simmer at least 30 minutes. Do not boil.

When ready to serve, you can remove the spices if you want. You don’t have to. Add the brandy and port.

Ladle into mugs.


The difference between Gluhwien and Glogg is Glogg is considered a special holiday drink, where Gluhwien is an everyday drink to warm you up after a day of exploring.

Glogg leaves in the spices, almonds, raisins, etc. Gluhwein is made with a spiced syrup. Glogg is finished with port and brandy. Gluhwein is done with rum.


* Golden rum

* 750 ml red wine

* 1 orange rind

* ½ cup orange juice

* 2 cinnamon sticks

* 2 cardamom seeds

* 5 whole cloves

* 1 cup water

* ½ cup honey


Put orange rind, orange juice, spices, honey, and water in a pot.

Allow it to boil, then reduce the heat and allow it to simmer 30 minutes.

Remove spices and rind from syrup.

Add red wine.

Bring back to simmer.

Don’t boil.

Ladle into mugs.

Top with as much rum as you want.

Garnish with on orange twist.

Nordic Bramble

This makes 1 drink


* 7 oz. gin

* 3 oz. lemon juice

* A couple of blackberries

* Simple syrup

* A slice of lemon

* ½ oz. crème de mure


For the simple syrup bring equal parts sugar and water to a boil and let the sugar dissolve completely.

Shake together the lemon juice, gin, and syrup. Mix in crème de mure and the blackberries. Stir together.

Garnish with a lemon twist.

Nordic Blackcurrant Mojito

This makes 1 serving


* 7 oz. white rum

* 1 tsp. sugar

* ½ lime

* 4 oz. blackcurrant cordial*

* Ice cubes

* Soda water

* Fresh mint leaves


Muddle the mint leaves and the lime gently with some sugar to release the oils in the mint.

Pout in the rum and blackcurrant cordial, and mix.

Put in the ice and then top with the soda, and mix. Garnish with extra mint.

*If you don’t have blackcurrant cordial you can take a handful of blackcurrants and muddle them with 2 tablespoons sugar.


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