I can’t tell you how excited I am to be back in this space today. After months of planning, I’m relaunching Outside Oslo and having an amazing set of recipes to share with you in the weeks and months to come, beginning with this incredible featherweight Norwegian dessert. But first, here’s an update on what’s been going on behind the scenes.
I began the year with a commitment to myself. Rather than crafting my typical variety of ambitious achievement-based January goals, I drafted a plan to immerse myself in beauty and creativity: Enjoy words—write often and read good literature and poetry. Surround myself with more art—celebrate artists and their work. Be more creative—try my hand at painting and drawing and diversify my photography techniques. The goal was to revel in the beauty of this world and to nurture my creativity for the sheer pleasure of it, not necessarily to produce.
It seemed like a sort of creative spa experience. Sure, I would do my established work and show up in my life. But aside from that, I desperately needed a season of refreshment. I’ve been an achiever for as long as I can remember, and it felt radical to choose to bask in beauty without necessarily creating works for the world to see. It also turned out to be exactly what I needed.
In the six months since I last posted here, I’ve shed the feeling of overwhelm that had stifled my creativity for months. Focusing on health and nutrition has allowed me to find relief from an extended illness that had temporarily caused most foods to make me sick. Getting a sizeable tattoo of my late grandmother’s rosemaling last December inspired me to teach myself the traditional Norwegian art form, which is now one of my favorite pastimes. I’ve also gained renewed clarity on a major dream project and made a big step toward making it happen. And today I’m relaunching Outside Oslo.
Taking a step back can be one of the hardest things to do. But in reality I gained more traction from being gentle with myself and by letting go. These days I’m finding myself drawn to my writing, recipe development, and photography every single day, rather than being overwhelmed by it. My kids are enthusiastic about Mama’s working hours and usually clamor to be my sous chefs and assistant food stylists (and as a work-from-home mom, that’s no small achievement). I’ve rediscovered the creativity that has always pulsed within me, and I feel so much more like myself with it intact. To those of you who have followed Outside Oslo over the years, thanks for your patience and for sticking around. I can’t wait to establish a regular routine of sharing Scandinavian recipes with you here, beginning with troll cream (trollkrem).
The first time I heard about troll cream some years ago, I was mystified. The name seemed more linked to Scandinavian folklore than a traditional Norwegian dessert. (Keep in mind that the trolls I grew up with were not friendly candy-colored creatures that children play with today—they were grotesque and smirking figurines that loomed ominously in my grandparents’ basement.)
The essence of troll cream is unlike anything in the American dessert repertoire. At its simplest, it consists of lingonberries, sugar, and egg whites, which whip up into an ethereal pale pink cloud. Spooning up a bite, one might expect it to be almost the consistency of the finest chocolate mousse, but it’s infinitely lighter. I’d almost relate it to cotton candy, but without the cloying sweetness and sticky quality. With its impossible-to-compare nature, troll cream certainly lives up to its mythical name.
Growing up in a Norwegian-American family, I developed an early taste for lingonberries, along with almond, cardamom, dill, pickled herring, and all sorts of seafood. It wasn’t until I became an adult and visited Norway for the first time that I began to put the food of my youth into context. As I ate my way through that country, experiencing the hospitality that mirrored that of my Norwegian grandparents, I finally began to make sense of the food I had grown up with. I could see it for what it was—my family’s attempt at preserving our Norwegian heritage and showing love with every meal. Many of you have shared with me your stories about how you associate food with your loved ones as well. Regardless of your cultural background, I hope you enjoy the stories you read here on Outside Oslo and that you’re inspired by the recipes and hospitality you find within the blog. Thanks for reading and for cooking and baking along with me.
Whipped Lingonberry Troll Cream (Trollkrem)
The magic here is in the beating, and using a stand mixer will make quick work of this dessert. A hand mixer will also work but may require a little extra time. Since lingonberries can be hard to find in the United States, the recipe I’m sharing with you today features lingonberry preserves, which are considered a fine substitution for fresh or frozen berries. I’ve also seen a variation using fresh cranberries, but I prefer the distinct flavor and fragrance of lingonberries. If you’re lucky enough to live in a place like Seattle that has rich Scandinavian roots, you might be able to find the preserves at the grocery store, or at least a Scandinavian import store. For many, Ikea might be the closest source. When it comes to serving troll cream, you can certainly spoon it into bowls and enjoy it simply with a garnish of fresh mint leaves. I prefer a bit of contrast in desserts, and so I’d recommend serving it alongside Norwegian krumkaker or your favorite delicate buttery cookies.
1/2 cup lingonberry jam
2 egg whites
1/8 teaspoon freshly-ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Scandinavian vaniljesukker or vanilla extract
Mint leaves, for garnish
Fresh or frozen lingonberries, for garnish (optional)
Add jam and egg whites to a large bowl and beat vigorously until the ingredients have at least quadrupled in size, maybe even more–you’re looking for a pale, fluffy cloud. This should take at least four minutes using a stand mixer, longer if you’re using a hand mixer. Add the cardamom, cinnamon, and vanilla and beat it a moment more to combine. Garnish with mint and lingonberries if using, and serve immediately.