Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Swedish Glögg Recipe

Like the U.S., the December holiday season in the Nordic region provides a warm welcoming of festivities, parities and general happiness. Without the indulgence of Thanksgiving and the availability of sunlight, November is a depressing month in Sweden (and most Swedes seem to use this time to flee south).

No idea why I bought a Swedish cookbook...
So as you can imagine, for the Ikea-loving, quiet and introverted Swedish culture goes, December is the winter month for letting loose (I'm told all hell breaks loose in the summer). Candles and Christmas lights line the snowy streets. Pepparkakor (gingerbread cookies) is consumed in mass quantities. And to say that glögg is their poison of choice would be an understatement.

"I was warned by some fellow Swedes at the beginning of December that, by the time January rolled around, I would be sick of Glögg. And I am. This past week, I had Glögg at work, Glögg for St. Lucia, Glögg for our Holiday Party, Glögg for our Holiday party dinner, and Glögg during a small Christmas party. I think my brain is swimming in Glögg..."
- Me, 12/16/2007, from an old blog post of when I lived in Stockholm

Glögg is essentially mulled wine. It's gløgg in Norwegian and Danish. Glögg in Swedish and Icelandic. Glögi in Estonian and Finnish. But all you need to know are these three things:
  • It contains wine.
  • It contains liquor.
  • It's served warm.
And like the whiskey-cider that we're used to here in the States, the warmth of the drink provides a false sense of sobriety security (you get drunk hella quick).

So here's my glögg recipe - graciously given to me by a Swede while I was living overseas. As she reminded me, making glögg isn't an exact science, so don't worry if you need to make a few substitutions.

  • 1 liter of a hard liquor mixture (Brandy + Whiskey + Southern Comfort, Rum + Whiskey + Southern Comfort) - the world is your oyster.
  • 3 liters of red wine (an inexpensive wine is fine and Target sells a great "vintage" box wine that seems to be the perfect size)
  • Christmasy Spices - Cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, and whole cloves
  • Fruit Zest - The peel of an orange and perhaps a few lemon peels
  • Raisins and blanched almonds (you'll want a few of each in the cup when you serve it)
  • Sugar to dissolve into the pot if its too strong

Create the Glögg Extract (1 week prior)
  1. Combine the hard liquor, Christmasy spices and fruit zests into a large sealable container
    1. If you're OCD, you can wrap the spices in cheese cloth for easy removal before serving
  2. Store in a dark cool place for one week

Glögg (Day Of)
  1. Combine the red wine and glögg extract (spices included) in a large pot
  2. Heat up the mixture (but don't boil it because you'll start to kill the alcohol)
  3. Serve
    1. The lazy way - Ladle around the spices when serving, toss in a few raisins and almonds
    2. The OCD way - Wrap all of the spices in a cheese cloth, throw in all of the raisins and almonds while you're heating up the mixture. Ladle the glögg, making sure to scoop up some of the raisins and almonds
Expert tips:
  • Soak the raisins a day or two ahead of time to make them really alcohol-fueled
  • Serve with Pepparkakor (gingerbread cookies) or Æbleskiver (Danish dessert, like our doughnut holes, but sweeter and much better)

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