The final weekend of November and three in December find the grounds just off Stockholm's city center filled with visitors, looking for that special crafted decoration, a miniature Santa, specialty food or out for a stroll through the museum grounds. The recipes below are Skansen's contribution to your Swedish Christmas in America — a selection of recipes that truly represents the spices, the tastes and the distinct smells of a traditional Yule season. See more about the museum at www.skansen.se (English language version available)

Anise – Christmas Bread
25 grams (about 5 teaspoons) fresh yeast
2 cups water for the dough
3 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon anise
1½ cups wheat flour
3½ cups rye flour

Warm the water for the dough — it should be lukewarm. Put the water in a large bowl, and stir in the yeast until completely dissolved. Add oil, salt and anise. Work in both flours and knead until dough is shiny and smooth. Let is rise under a towel for 45 minutes. Work the dough and turn it into a loaf. Put on a baking plate, cover with the towel and let rise 30-40 minutes.
Preheat oven to 475°F. Bake for 10 minutes, then lower temperature to 400°F and bake for another 40 minutes.

Lemon toffee
7 tablespoons butter
8 ounces heavy cream
1¼ cups sugar
4 ounces light syrup (corn syrup can work)
1 teaspoon vanilla
Peel of 1 lemon

Melt butter in a saucepan. Add cream, sugar, syrup and vanilla. Bring to a boil uncovered. Stir occasionally. Let boil for 15-30 minutes depending on the thickness of your saucepan. The mixture is done when it passes the soft ball test.* Add the lemon peel. Pour the mixture on an oiled baking plate, let cool and cut in small pieces. Wrap in pretty paper and store cool.

Ginger – saftglögg
2 cups black currant juice
2 cups apple juice
3 cups water
¼ cup raisins
1 small piece of ginger
5 cloves
almonds
1 cinnamon stick
Mix ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil, then turn down heat and let simmer for 30 minutes. Serve with almonds and raisins.

Cinnamon – chocolate truffles
Yield: 20

4 ounces heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter
4½ ounces cooking chocolate
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon cardamom
cocoa

Bring the heavy cream to a boil in a saucepan. Break the chocolate into smaller pieces and put into the cream along with the butter, and let melt on low heat. Stir cinnamon and cardamom into the butter mixture. Remove from heat and let cool, then put in fridge. Let sit in the fridge until the mixture is sticky. Stir a few times. Make balls out of the mixture, roll these in cocoa. Put the balls on a tray and keep refrigerated until hardened.

Cardamom – cookies
3/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup flour
2 teaspoons cardamom
2 teaspoons baking powder
Garnish:
2 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400°F. Cream butter and sugar in a big bowl. Add one egg at a time. Then add flour, cardamom and baking powder. In another bowl mix dry ingredients and add them into the egg batter, work into a dough. Divide the dough into 6 parts, about 16” long each, put them on an oven papered baking plate and flatten them a bit. Mix sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle on top. Bake for 10 minutes. While they’re still warm, cut the 6 parts diagonally into cookies, 1 inch wide.

Cloves – Ginger Snaps
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup syrup
2/3 cup butter or margarine
1 egg
1 teaspoon ginger
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon cloves
2 teaspoons baking soda
3-4 cups flour

Put sugar, syrup, butter and spices in a saucepan and bring to a boil on low heat. Remove from heat and let cool. Then stir in the egg. Mix baking soda and flour and stir into the spice mixture. Work into a dough, and let the dough rest in the fridge over night. Roll out the dough on floured table and shape with cookie cutters or make parts for a ginger house. Let bake 8-10 minutes at 350°F.

Frosting
Mix 1½ cups confectioner’s sugar, one egg white and 2-3 drops vinegar in a small bowl. Add some food coloring if you would like your frosting a color other than white. Pour the frosting in a pastry bag and decorate the cookies.

Saffron – "Lussekatter"
Yield: 40

1 gram saffron
3/4 cup sugar
7 tablespoons butter
2 cups milk
50 grams (3½ tablespoons) yeast
1 cup kesella (Ricotta or drained cottage cheese)
½ teaspoon salt
7 cups wheat flour
raisins for decoration
1 egg beaten for brushing

Carefully crush saffron with a sugar cube in a mortar. Put a little of the milk in the mortar. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Pour in the rest of the milk and heat until lukewarm. Put the crushed saffron into the milk mixture.
Crumble the yeast into a big bowl and stir it with a little of the milk mixture until the yeast is completely dissolved. Add the rest of the milk mixture, kesella, salt and sugar.
Add most of the flour, saving a bit for later. Work into a dough and let rise under a towel for 30-40 minutes.
Work the dough on a floured surface. Divide into two parts and roll them out lengthwise. Divide each length into 20 pieces and roll them out to about 10” long, make them into “S” shapes. Let these S-shaped buns rise on oven papered baking plates for 30-40 minutes. Preheat oven to 450°F. Decorate with raisins and brush with the beaten egg. Bake for 5-10 minutes.

Homemade Mustard
1½ tablespoons white mustard seeds
5 tablespoons brown mustard seeds
4 tablespoons water
1½ tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon salt
1½ tablespoons vegetable oil
Crush the mustard seeds using a mortar and pestle. Pour the crushed seeds in a bowl and pour on the water. Set aside for 10 minutes to thicken. Stir in honey, salt and oil. The mustard should sit in the fridge for 3 days before it’s ready to serve.

Vanilla – Old-fashioned fruit salad
2 nectarines
2 pears
2 apples
1 cup water
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon cardamom
vaniljkesella

Core the fruit and cut in pieces. Mix water, sugar, vanilla and cardamom in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the fruit. Remove from heat and let cool. Refrigerate and serve with vaniljkesella.

Burnt almonds
1 cup sweet almonds
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup water

Put all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stir often with a wooden spoon. Reduce the heat and let simmer until the water has vaporized and the sugar is crystallized. The sugar will melt again and gather in clumps around the almonds. Keep stirring. Pour the almonds on a piece of grease-proof paper and separate them with a fork. Let them cool and harden.

Traditional Christmas cake
½ cup prunes, cut
½ cup berries
3/4 cup juice from a squeezed orange
3/4 cup butter
1¼ cup sugar
3 eggs
½ teaspoon baking powder
1½ cups wheat flour
butter and breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 350°F. Put prunes and berries in the orange juice, and let it steep for 30 minutes. Butter a round cake pan and sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time. Stir in the fruit and the juice. In a separate bowl mix the flour and the baking powder and add to the batter. Pour into the cake pan. Bake for 60 minutes. The cake is done when a toothpick comes up clean.

Knäck – toffee
Yield: 75
75 toffee molds
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup light syrup (corn syrup)
1 cup sugar
4 ounces almond slivers
2 tablespoons bread crumbs
2 tablespoons butter

Mix cream, syrup and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Keep stirring until the batter passes the soft ball test* (15 to 30 minutes depending on the thickness of your saucepan). In the meantime put the molds on a baking plate. Add the almonds, the bread crumbs and the butter. Distribute the batter in the molds and let sit till hardened. Keep refrigerated.

"Mandelmassa" – marzipan
3/4 cup water
3½ tablespoons butter
3/4 cup wheat flour
1-1/3 cups sweet almonds
2-5 bitter almonds
4 cups confectioner’s sugar

Bring to boil the water and the butter, and stir in the flour. Boil until the mixture is non-sticky. Blanche and peel the almonds and put them in a food processor and grind them to a meal. Sift and add the confectioner’s sugar. Stir the almond-sugar mixture into the boiled flour mixture. Work until you have a smooth paste. Color the paste with food coloring and shape into figures.

Ris à la Malta
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 cups cold risgrynsgröt (see rice porridge recipe, below)
3 oranges
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Whip the cream and stir into the risgrynsgröt. Peel the oranges and cut the wedges in pieces, mix with the risgrynsgröt. Add sugar and vanilla to taste. Mix carefully and refrigerate until you serve.

Risgrynsgröt (rice porridge)
3/4 cup short grained rice
1¼ cup water
1 tablespoon butter
½ teaspoon salt
3 cups milk
1 cinnamon stick
1 almond

Put rice, water and salt in a stainless steel saucepan. Add butter and bring to a boil, let simmer on low heat for 10 minutes. Add milk and the cinnamon stick. Stir. Bring to a boil again, but mind the porridge so it doesn’t boil over. Let the porridge swell a bit in the saucepan, covered and on low heat for about 40 minutes. Then bring to a boil again. If the porridge is too thin, let it boil uncovered for a few minutes. If too thick, add some milk. You can also sweeten it with a little sugar. Put in the almond. Serve with milk, sugar and cinnamon.

It is the Swedish tradition at Christmas to put one almond in the rice pudding when it is almost cooked. The legend holds that the person who gets the almond is the one who will be married the following year.

Porridge for tomten
The little tomte that used to live on each farm was a peevish fellow easily irritated. He didn’t like people who mistreated animals; he himself took great care of them, and as a thank you for his work, a big bowl of risgrynsgröt was put out for him each Christmas.

*Soft ball test
Before you start cooking, fill a small dish with ice water and set aside. After you have brought the recipe to a full boil for 4 minutes, dribble a few drops of the mixture into the ice water from a wooden spoon. After it cools in the water (about 10 seconds), you should be able to roll it into small ball with your finger tips. If you put it in your mouth, it will be slightly chewy. If it passes these tests, you are done and should remove the mixture from heat and add the remaining ingredients. Otherwise, cook for another 30 seconds and try the test again. Most of the time, cooking time will not exceed 5 minutes.

Looking for a guide to a Swedish Christmas?

– take a look at ‘God Jul - Recipes for a Swedish Christmas’ The book offers all of the traditional dishes, translated for the American home and modified to fit today’s lifestyle. 72 beautifully photographed and inspiring recipes cover herring and cold fish dishes, cold meat and hot dishes, vegetarian dishes, cheese and bread and of course yummy desserts.