Well I’m preparing for this year Midsummer celebration here in Sweden by spicing vodka (snaps). I have made Akvavit and Black Currant which I know goes very well with the “matjes” (traditional midsummer herring). For my guests I want to offer a broad variety of “snaps”, so these recipes just give you a small amount of each. If you need more just double or triple the recipe.
My sister Anna’s Akvavit
one tablespoon caraway seeds
one tablespoon coriander seeds
one tablespoon fennel seeds
100 ml (½ cup) unflavored vodka*
Smash the seeds roughly in a mortar and pestle. Soak the seeds in a jar with vodka for 6-8 hours (if you keep it longer you will get a stronger essence). Drain and dilute with at least twice the amount of vodka.
This flavor works all year around, for instance its fantastic with Swedish Crayfish.
Black Currant Snaps
about 16 young leaves from a blackcurrant bush
200 ml (almost a cup) unflavored vodka
Rinse the leaves if necessary and soak them in a jar with vodka for 6-8 hours (don’t keep the leaves much longer as the vodka will taste too grassy). Drain and dilute to your taste).
This “snaps” is really refreshing and works perfectly for an early summer feast.
*You can use almost any unflavored vodka but I use Absolut, Svedka or triple-distilled Smirnoff.
In our summerhouse garden we eat breakfast on a hill of poppies. Unfortunately I can’t use these poppies to top this rich and flourless chocolate cake…
¼ lb (115 g) dark unsweetened chocolate
3 oz (90 gram) butter
1 cup (250 ml) sucanat
½ cup (125 ml) almonds, ground or finely chopped
1-2 tablespoons brandy or rum
poppy seeds, for the topping (optional)
Start by grinding the almonds. Melt the chocolate on low heat in a double boiler (I don’t have one myself so I use a stainless steel bowl on top of a saucepan of water) on low heat and stir occasionally. When the chocolate is melted add the butter, sugar and brandy. Stir over low heat. When the butter is almost melted add the almonds and stir until mixture is well blended. Turn off the heat and set aside. Crack the eggs and separate the yolks from the whites. Start to beat the egg yolks well before stirring them into the chocolate mixture. Whip the whites stiff and fold them lightly into the rich chocolate. Butter a 7-8 inches (18-20 cm) tart tin with a removable base or any cake dish you would prefer to serve it in. Spread the mixture and sprinkle a single layer of poppy seeds on top (this will give a slightly flavored crust on the top of the cake).
Bake the cake in the oven for about 25-30 minutes @ 290ºF (140ºC). It should be a little sticky when its done. Let the cake cool and serve it with whipped cream. This cake can easily be made a day before serving.
I will serve this cake for my Swedish midsummer celebration with fresh strawberries and bubbly wine. It will of course happen on top of my poppy seed hill. Happy midsummer!
This recipe is based on Elizabeth David’s chocolate cake, Gâteau Au Chocolat et aux Amanes from the book French Provincial Cooking. Elizabeth didn’t use poppy seeds and flavored her cake with both coffee and brandy.