Glögg, Two Ways

Christmas in Sweden…it seems almost like a match made in heaven…and it really is! One of the most beautiful and special parts about being in Sweden over the winter holidays is the plethora of cheery Christmas markets.

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You can’t help but get into the Christmas spirit while wandering around a Swedish Christmas market. Everywhere you look, there are twinkling lights, wooden stalls, and often times, snow. Handmade local crafts like candles, tomte (little santas), honey, jams, saft (Swedish concentrated juice), and ornaments are at every turn. At most markets, you can find a simply decorated, but still magnificent, Christmas tree standing tall in the middle of the market.

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Some of the markets are small and local, like the one Chris and I walked to last weekend. It was about a 20 minute walk along the water from our house and the whole way down we were surrounded by neighbors trudging through the wet snow, sometimes pushing baby carriages or walking with a cane. We got a few of our last Christmas presents for family (don’t worry guys, it is in the mail!) and a bottle of saft for ourselves. I was really excited to try this saft because it’s a flavor I’d never had (or even seen) before, but is native and traditional to the nordic countries – havtorn (or sea thornberry, in English). After looking it up, I was even more excited to discover it is packed with vitamins and antioxidants. Delicious and healthy – I’ll take it!

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We also went to a larger, more famous market at Skansen (a huge, outdoor museum in Stockholm). This market had dozens of stalls as well as local and traditional hot foods, like candied almonds, kolbulle (a delicious bacon pancake), and fresh donuts sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon (which we could not pass up!). There were kids dancing around the Christmas tree to traditional music and the whole atmosphere really warmed our hearts. We went to this market last year at Christmas, so we decided this is becoming our new Christmas tradition.

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There are tons of different markets you can go to, but this list breaks down the best ones to visit if you happen to be in Sweden this time of year.

Although each market is different, one thing you are almost guaranteed to find is glögg – Swedish mulled wine. The wine is sweetened a bit and infused with spices, such as cloves, cinnamon, star anise and ginger. Traditionally it’s served warm with peeled almonds and raisins in the bottom of the cup. Sometimes a bit of extra alcohol is added (don’t worry, I definitely did this in one of my recipes!). It is really the best antidote for the bone-chilling cold that you often have to face at at the Christmas markets. But it’s definitely worth it…

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I decided to be ambitious and experiment with not one, but two glögg recipes! The first one is a bit more traditional – red wine with star anise, cinnamon, cloves and ginger flavors. I added a bit of my own flair to this one by including the havtorn saft we bought at the first Christmas market, as well as some sliced blood orange (for flavor but also because they were so pretty!).

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The second glögg recipe is not traditional at all, which might actually be why it was my favorite one! For starters, I made it with white wine – not unheard of, but not common either. I also included some Absolut Pear vodka (see, I told you one of them would have an extra kick) which I soaked with cinnamon and ginger. Finally, I used pear saft as a sweetener and added dried apples and coconut in the bottom of each cup. Different and DELICIOUS.

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This is a perfect holiday drink (and also makes a good gift!) so I hope these two recipes bring you into the Christmas spirit… Merry Christmas / God Jul!

White Glögg with Pear, Apple and Coconut

  • Servings: approx. 12 small cups
  • Time: 3 days
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

This recipe calls for pear saft (Swedish concentrated juice). If you do not have access to saft, you can make a simple syrup using pear or apple juice instead. Just carefully boil the juice with a bit of sugar, until it condenses into a simple syrup. Glögg also makes a great gift! You can either make the glögg all the way through, then re-bottle it in the wine bottle… or you can give the infused vodka in a small jar together with an unopened bottle of wine, which can be made later! Either way, it should probably be used within a week or so.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Absolut pear vodka / 2.3 dl päron vodka
  • 1 cinnamon stick / hel kanel
  • 2-3 pieces raw ginger / rå ingefära
  • 1 bottle white wine / vitvin (I used a blend of Chardonnay/Sauvignon Blanc)
  • ½ cup pear saft / 1.2 dl päron saft
  • Dried apple bits / äppletärningar
  • Dried shredded coconut / riven kokos

Directions

  1. Add the vodka, cinnamon stick and raw ginger together in a jar
  2. Seal the jar tightly and store in a dark, cool place for at least 3 days
  3. Pour the bottle of wine into a pot on medium-low heat (you do not want it to boil)
  4. Add about ¼ to ⅓ cup / 0.7 dl of the infused vodka mixture, being careful to not let the ginger into the pot (you can add the cinnamon stick, if you want, it looks pretty and adds more flavor)
  5. Add the pear saft (or pear/apple simple syrup, see notes)
  6. Let the pot warm for about 20 – 30 minutes, until it is warm enough to drink
  7. Place dried apple bits and coconut in the bottom of each glass – fill with glögg and enjoy!

Traditional Glögg with Havtorn and Blood Orange

  • Servings: approx. 12 small cups
  • Time: 3 days
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

This recipe calls for havtorn saft (Swedish concentrated juice). The flavor is similar to peach and citrus, so you can use peach and orange saft blend instead. If you do not have access to saft, you can make a simple syrup using peach and/or orange juice. Just carefully boil the juice with a bit of sugar, until it condenses into a simple syrup. Glögg also makes a great gift! You can either make the glögg all the way through, then re-bottle it in the wine bottle… or you can give the infused port in a small jar together with an unopened bottle of wine, which can be made later! Either way, it should probably be used within a week or so.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup port wine / 2.3 dl portvin
  • 1 cinnamon stick / hel kanel
  • 2-3 pieces raw ginger / rå ingefära
  • 1 star anise / stjärnanis 
  • 5 cloves / kryddnejlika
  • 1 blood orange / blodapelsin
  • 1 bottle red wine / rödvin (I used Merlot)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar / socker
  • ½ cup sea thornberry saft / 1.2 dl havtorn saft
  • Slivered almonds / mandlesplitter
  • Dried black currants / torkade svarta vinebär

Directions

  1. Add the port, cinnamon stick, raw ginger, star anise, cloves and a few bits of blood orange peels together in a jar
  2. Seal the jar tightly and store in a dark, cool place for at least 3 days
  3. Pour the bottle of wine into a pot on medium-low heat (you do not want it to boil)
  4. Add about ½ cup / 1.2 dl of the infused port mixture through a strainer into the pot to avoid the spices getting in (you can add the cinnamon stick to the pot, if you want, it looks pretty and adds more flavor)
  5. Add the sugar and the havtorn saft (or peach/citrus simple syrup, see notes)
  6. Cut the blood orange into half slices, and add to the pot
  7. Let the pot warm for about 20 – 30 minutes, until it is warm enough to drink
  8. Place almonds and currants in the bottom of each glass – fill with glögg and enjoy!

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