While not wishing to offend, I have to admit that I am generally not very fond of Norwegian cakes. I find them generally either boring and dry or too creamy and unimaginative. It´s a subjective choice of course and my personal preference is for cakes that include an element of fruit in some shape or form, either that or anything that walks out of a French patisserie. Having said that, I do have a favourite and despite the fact that I understand they were created in Denmark by a patisserie chef who wanted to honour the grand dame of the theatre herself, they are a popular choice here in Norway too.
That said, if you look up the subject on the web, you´ll find a bewildering number of variations on the theme. So, given that when I finally get round to making them, they do always, despite their not always uniform appearance, seem to get eaten with surprising gusto and if I can make them anyone can – I love cooking I just don`t have the wherewithall or patience to faff around making sweet stuff that I know I will want more than six of and that demands precision and timing and usually generates tons of washing up and a messy kitchen – I thought I would share my recipe for them.
And the reason for doing so now (given that I usually only make them at Christmas) is that I made some last night to take to work today and to be honest everything that could go wrong did so. So, unlike the trend for recipes that are heavy on the photos, short on the all important stupid questions you often need to ask, this is going to be the other way round!
For this I use 250 g ground almonds, 200g icing sugar and three egg whites
- Now you can use ready ground almonds but I think that`s cheating so I have an almond grinder. Problem is when it says 250 g, does it mean 250g pre-skinned and ground or the finished result i.e how to regard the x per cent that gets lost in the nooks and crannies of the grinder and the puddle that inevitably escapes the bowl when you over-enthusiastically whip the grinder handle round? I believe it to be the net result, hence I weigh out about 280 g, boil them up in a shallow pan of water, let them bubble for about half a minute or so then drain and rinse quickly under a cold tap. You then need to skin and grind them but using two clean tea towels it doesn`t take long. Centre them in one, cover with the second and rub and squeeze them until all the skins have sloughed off. It`s the most time-consuming aspect of the job, and you´ll need to grind into a bowl relative in size to your grinder, but once you`ve done it, the rest is plain sailing and it does add to the satisfaction that you are making them properly from scratch.
- Transfer the ground almonds to another bowl and mix thoroughly with the icing sugar
- Put the oven on to 180 degrees C and cover two baking sheets with baking paper
- With an electric whisk, whisk the three egg whites (saving 2 of the yokes in a separate bowl) until soft, creamy and fairly stiff peaky
- Combine carefully with the almond and icing sugar mixture with a metal spoon
- Wash your hands in cold water and leave them damp – this will help you to form the patties for the base without the gunk sticking to your fingers (repeat underway, under tap as necessary)
- With a desert spoon as a tool, scoop out and form even balls the size of a decent Brussel sprout (this is important – too big and they will be too over-powering, two small and the base will be too hard) and place them with a little room to spread on the paper covered trays and slightly flatten the top. It will make loads.
- Bake in the oven for about 15 mins depending on your oven until they start to turn brown (a light caramel colour not a mocca tan)
- Remove from oven and remove from paper with a spatula while warm and (importantly, which I forgot yesterday) turn them flat side up to cool (which I also forgot to do) on a drying rack
While they were in the oven you can be making the cream filling – no need to rush though as it is a good idea to let them cool for at about ten good minutes so the filling doesn`t just melt and slide off (and yes, I started out with mine mountain side up and wondered why on earth the filling was sliding through the rack all over the work surface). For this you need:
75 g butter (slightly salted works for me)
100g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla sugar
2 egg yokes
1 dsp good cocoa powder
Now here I think you are supposed to use butter that has been aclimatising to room temp for a good hour or so beforehand, but who on earth remembers to start preparation that early? I just melt it gently in a pan and then simply combine all the ingredients in a bowl mixing until smooth and this takes about two minutes flat. This you then spread in small blobs onto the top of your macaroony bottoms, taking care to go as close and neatly as you can to the edges (if you fail to do this neatly don`t stress – I made a right pig´s ear of mind yesterday but they still tasted fine).
You are then ready for the last stage which is the chocolate topping. I guess you could put them in the fridge but I am always too impatient to get them finished so I just get on with the rest, to heck with the consequences.
The topping is equally dead simple. It´s just 100g good dark chocolate (decent cooking chocolate is fine though) melted in a bowl over a pan of simmering water and a spoonful of butter to soften. If, for some unfathomable reason, instead of melting, the chocolate just seems to coagulate (as again, mine scarily did yesterday, although how on earth you can get melting chocolate wrong beats me) add a touch of hot water from the tap and mix furiously, taking care not to scald yourself on the steam from the pan and equally careful not to slop hot water, with or without chocolate involved, into an open cutlery drawer you have opened in a panic to get another spoon with which to bash said chocolate into melted submission.
Once melted, drip, drizzle or sling (any way you like) the chocolate over the little cake thingies and place onto a sensible flat tray (again, don`t pick one with sloping sides – or everything will slide off) and put into the fridge to cool. They can then actually stay there until you are ready to serve them (within normal standards of houswifery reason). The creamy middle stops them going too hard.
I usually make mine the night before I want to serve them, but the very best thing about these is they can be made in advance and then frozen, only to be taken out just before you need them. They thaw in no time at all and can actually be eaten almost from frozen if you are that impatient/pressed for time (so I understand…).
So there you have it. I guess I should have taken a photo or two before they got scoffed but you can see the Meny supermarket version one at the top. I will take some next time I make them but don`t anticipate doing so again for a while.
Finally though what do they taste like? Well you have a slightly chewy almondy macaroony bottom with a very sweet but not unpleasant blob of contrasting chocolate butter cream (I believe the cocoa powder to be an important addition here mind) topped with a smooth layer of slightly bitter dark chocolate on top and they do, literally, melt in the mouth.
Lastly then, if you really have actually read all this – wow, thanks!