One bite and Sweden prevails. Maybe you taste punschrulle, the marzipan log with a chocolate cap. Or possibly you sample a slice of princesstårta, the ethereal layer cake piled high with whipped cream and topped with a regal rose. Most likely, you eat chokladboll. One bite of this sweet, chewy, chocolate-y oat-based truffle and you realise that Sweden contains more than just Ikea, Larsson and meatballs. It contains everyday life the same as everywhere else.
Chokladbollar are Sweden’s generous coconut-dusted contribution to the no-bake sweets pantheon. Made from oats, butter, sugar, cocoa powder and a splash of coffee or whiskey if you’re preparing them for adults. The recipe resembles a child’s project: pour, stir and shape the resulting mess like you used to make Play-Doh cookies. Although they’re easy to make at home, chokladbollar dot café pastry displays, 7 Eleven sweet cases, and grocery store check out queues. They are the ultimate fika, coffee break, companion; less sticky and more satisfying than a cloying cardamom bun.
While Sweden proudly displays their love for chokladboll, no-bake sweets are an international language for which each country possesses a unique dialect. America talks rice krispie treats; the UK banters rocky road; Italy expounds salame al ciccolato; France discourses roses des sables. While these desserts occasionally appear in bakeries, the home kitchen is their true domain. But not in Sweden, where chokladbollar are as common at the grocery store as in the fridge. This isn’t surprising. After all, chokladbollar pair well with dark winter skies and look meticulous enough to please Queen Sofia. If each country has their own no-bake, super-rich dessert that reflects their nostalgic tastes, Sweden’s chokladboll demonstrates the nation’s paradoxical combination of austerity and opulence.
Fortunately, chokladboll are easy to make in your own kitchen and taste regal alongside your non-Swedish coffee. So let’s go: grab your oats, about a cup or so will do — we only need a small batch. Then get your butter, cocoa powder — the good stuff only, please, no Hershey’s here — and coffee (because we can). You’ll need some sugar, grab it from the out-of-the-way shelf it lives on in your pantry. Now, combine. Rub the butter into the oats and pour in the sugar and the cocoa powder. Toss them with reckless abandon into flaked coconut or pearl sugar if you’re fancy. It’s messy; you might want to grab an apron if you haven’t done so already. But they’re good. They’re oh-so good. Not right now, of course. Like all no-bake treats, chokladbollar need to rest so that the oats become soft and chewable. Slap the formed truffles in the fridge and wait. Listen to Robyn, read about Max Burger, ogle pictures of the royal family. By now a few hours should have passed. Go to your fridge, get your cookies, brew some coffee and eat.
Sweden’s refined treats may woo the palate with delicate textures, interesting flavours and plenty of sweetness, but it’s their no-bake chokladboll that effortlessly negotiates borders, allowing anyone with a mixing bowl to understand better understand this Nordic nation. There’s a reason they dominate pastry cases in the country: they are a simple comfort, small enough to be enjoyed frequently and rich enough to steel you against the dark winter. Their ubiquity only makes them more appealing, a reminder that you’re never too far away from the comforts of home. In Sweden you can rest assured a chokladboll is only a few paces away and, along with it, is the warmth and the reassuring taste of nostalgia.