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Food and Drink For Members

The best sweet treats you should be able to identify if you live in Norway

Robin-Ivan Capar
Robin-Ivan Capar - [email protected]
The best sweet treats you should be able to identify if you live in Norway
Norway has a rich heritage of baking and eating sweets and pastries. As a result, numerous traditional Norwegian desserts and sweets are highly favoured in the country. Photo by: CC BY-SA 3.0 / Jonathunder

Sweets are serious business in Norway, and sweet buns (boller in Norwegian) are basically the unofficial national dessert. But how familiar are you with other sweet staples that millions in the country have grown up eating?

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Norwegians have a major sweet tooth and often indulge in sweet treats. With a long tradition of baking and consuming both sweets and pastries, there are many traditional Norwegian desserts and sweets that are wildly popular in the country – especially when it comes to special occasions.

If you've spent anywhere north of six months living in Norway, you should be able to identify most of the sweets in our guide. However, in case you haven't been able to get your hands on some of these sweet delicacies, we recommend you do so as soon as possible. You can thank us later.

Lefse

Lefse are a popular sweet snack and are often enjoyed after a hike or walk. Photo by: Robin I. Capar

1. Lefse (Norwegian flatbread with sweet toppings)

Lefse is a traditional Norwegian flatbread often made from potato or regular flour (depending on the region), butter, and milk (or cream). It is very popular in Norway and is often served as a day-to-day dessert (you can buy it in most stores and bakeries year-round), but it is also commonly eaten on special occasions like Christmas, weddings, and other celebrations.

While some people eat it plain (personally, it tastes a bit dry and too buttery to me without toppings or a glass of milk) or with a variety of toppings, such as jam, whipped cream, chocolate spreads, cream cheese, sugar, and cinnamon. Some people even opt for a salty version, for example, by adding smoked salmon to their lefse.

Note that there are significant regional differences in how people prepare and eat lefse, so make sure to try this sweet snack in different parts of the country if you get the chance.

It's always a good idea to enjoy lefse with a cup of coffee after a good hike! Personally, I make sure to do that after climbing Mount Fløyen in Bergen, as a café at the top of the mountain serves lefse with brown cheese (burnost in Norwegian), whipped cream, and several jams.

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Kransekake 1

The kransekake is one of Norway's most popular celebration cakes. Photo by: CC BY-SA 4.0 / Lorie Shaull

2. Kransekake (an almond-flavoured celebration cake)

If you have ever been to a Norwegian wedding or confirmation, you have likely come across the kransekake, a tower-shaped cake made by stacking multiple rings of dough - consisting of almonds, egg whites, and a lot of sugar - on top of one another.

The cake rings are stacked in decreasing size from the bottom to the top, which forms an elegant cone-shaped cake tower. The rings are also often decorated with white icing and small Norwegian flags.

Kransekake is widely known as a celebration cake, so don't be surprised if you find it at most big family events.

Maybe it's just a personal preference, but just as with lefse, I prefer to have kransekake with some coffee or milk, as store-bought versions also tend to be a bit dry for my taste.

Baking amateurs who make kransekake on their own often use cake forms when they bake the cake on their own, as they help you get the ring sizes just right.

Gingerbread cookies

As a dessert, pepperkaker are usually eaten during Christmas time in Norway. Photo by Kelsey Weinkauf on Unsplash

3. Pepperkaker (gingerbread cookies)

You can often tell that the Christmas season in Norway is underway when you start smelling the sweet aroma of gingerbread cookies in the air (a second sign is that stores start selling premade gingerbread cookie dough).

Pepperkaker come in all shapes and sizes, from small hearts, discs, stars, and animals, to more sophisticated creations such as gingerbread houses (Bergen has a long tradition of putting up a Pepperkakebyen exhibition, which, each year, houses the largest gingerbread town in the world).

As a dessert, pepperkaker are usually eaten and offered to guests during Christmas time. These sweets are simple to make, especially if you opt for the premade dough, which only needs to be cut into shapes and then baked in the oven.

You can also prepare your own dough by mixing together flour, ginger, cinnamon, sugar, and cloves.

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Cinnamon buns

Skilingsboller are eaten after lunch or in the afternoon as a snack. Photo by David Köhler on Unsplash

4. Skillingsboller (Norwegian cinnamon buns)

No need to tiptoe around it – Norwegians are a nation of sweet bun (boller in Norwegian) aficionados. There's a variety of boller all around the country, but the skillingsboller – a Norwegian take on the cinnamon roll – is most closely associated with the country's second-largest city, Bergen.

Skillingsboller are a circular pastry made from a mix of flour, sugar, cardamom, milk, yeast, eggs, butter, and, on occasion, chopped almonds.

After the base of the bun has been baked to a nice golden brown, Norwegians tend to put butter and additional sugar on the pastry while it's still smoking hot.

Traditionally, skilingsboller are eaten after lunch or in the afternoon as a snack along with a hot beverage, but you'll find Norwegians devouring them at virtually any time of day on most city centre walks in Bergen or Oslo.

Due to their popularity, you'll be able to find them in many bakeries, cafes, and stores in Norway.

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Kvæfjordkake 1

As a very luxurious cake, the kvæfjordkake is reserved for special events. Photo by: Kjetil Ree / CC BY-SA 3.0

5. Kvæfjordkake (a sponge cake with meringue and almonds)

We're wrapping up this roundup with a cake proclaimed "Norway's national cake" by viewers of the Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) in the early 2000s – the kvæfjordkake. It also bears the nickname of "the world's best," that is, verdens beste.

This is another popular dessert often served during special occasions like weddings and Christmas. Essentially, it's a multi-layer sponge cake with meringue and almonds filled with (vanilla or rum) custard and whipped cream.

As a delicious and luxurious cake, it's no wonder that it's reserved for events such as confirmations, weddings, and birthdays.

The kvæfjordkake is slightly more popular in northern Norway than in the rest of the country, but you shouldn't have trouble ordering it from larger bakeries across the country.

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