Friday, December 16, 2011

Caramel Pudding (Karamellpudding) and a Norwegian Christmas

Six years ago, we hosted a terrific exchange student for a year from Norway named Maren. She was a senior in high school at the time and now she’s halfway through law school in Bergen, Norway (I’m a proud mama!).

As December rolled in, we shared Hanukkah with her, and she shared her Norwegian Christmas traditions with us. Our boys had never had a Christmas tree before, so it was their chance to go out with Maren and pick out a tree from a Christmas tree farm that sets up near our house. We walked through the rows of trees, enjoying the scent and beauty of the evergreens and searching for just the right tree -- we chose a Norway Spruce of course, and had fun decorating it with Norwegian flags and lights. It was truly a beautiful tree.

Maren also told us about all the festive dishes she enjoyed at this time of year, such as risgrot (rice porridge), seven kinds of cookies, lefse with brown cheese and butter, lynogtordenkake (a layered yellow cake with meringue and cream) and other tortes and puddings. I was in heaven hearing about all these wonderful treats. It was clear ... we had to have a party!

Maren’s mother, Yngvil, sent family recipes and Maren and I began shopping and baking. In the days leading up to Christmas, Maren’s family also mailed little Advent gifts for Maren, Sam and Isaac to open.

On the evening of the party, seventy friends crowded into our little house. I should probably mention 90% of our guests were Jewish! Well, Maren led the way and I must say it was a Fantastic Party! The table overflowed with cookies, tortes, cakes, cheeses, breads, herring salads and a gingerbread house. Children licked candy canes, we all kissed under mistletoe and the air was filled with talking, laughing, good cheer and shouts of “L’chaim” and “Gledelig Jul” (OK, only Maren was saying “Gledelig Jul”).

My favorite dessert from the evening was karamellpudding, or caramel pudding. Custard is a weakness of mine that I happily embrace! Maren’s family serves this dessert on Christmas evening and it is delightful. It’s a flan-like pudding with a smooth, silky texture and lightly sweet flavor. It needs to be prepared the day before to have time to chill overnight. Serve it with whipped cream and some fresh berries.

Eating a spoonful of this festive dessert just now I let out a deep sigh. It brings back such warm memories of the famous Jewish Norwegian Christmas party and the year our family shared with Maren. Lots to savor!

We are heading out for Australia now to learn about how they celebrate Christmas. Wishing all of you a Happy Hanukkah, a Gledelig Jul and very Merry Christmas, mates!

Caramel Pudding (Karamellpudding)
From Maren’s mom, Yngvil
Serves 4-6

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
2 1/2 cups whole milk
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Whipped cream for serving

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Pour 1/2 cup sugar into a loaf pan and place it over low to medium heat until it melts and turns light golden brown. Watch it closely so it doesn’t burn. When melted, tip the pan to swirl it around and cover the bottom. Wear oven mitts and be very careful. Set the pan aside. The sugar will harden and possibly crack.

In a medium sauce pan, stir together the milk and 1 tablespoon sugar. Heat it over medium high heat to just a boil. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Whisk the eggs and vanilla together. When the milk mixture has cooled, whisk the eggs and vanilla in. Pour it into the loaf pan and set the pan in a larger roasting pan. Pour boiling water into the roasting pan until it reaches halfway up the loaf tin. Bake for about 2 1/2 hours, until the pudding is set.

Remove the pan from the water bath and let cool. Cover and chill overnight. When ready to serve, run a knife around the edge carefully to loosen the pudding. You can set the bottom of the pan in some warm water if needed to loosen the bottom. Place a serving platter (one with a lip or that is wide enough for the sugary syrup that will come out) over the loaf pan and flip to unmold it. Serve with whipped cream.


  1. Looks delicious. You just got the Ladies seal of approval, they walked past my computer and saw the photo of that flan and both said together "mmmmmmmmmm that looks good!"

  2. Do you know I am sitting down to review a recipein my Ojakangas baking book -- I'm going to make the Danish apple cake for a Danish-style open house tomorrow. They do have wonderful treats! Have you ever visited Bergen? We went there in '07, it was pretty much overcast the whole time (you're in Seattle, so no prob) but really charming, and such a fascinating history. Law school, hmmm?
    Anyway that pudding looks great and what a great memory!

  3. This looks wonderful! Very festive!

  4. Caramel Pudding sounds delicious! I loved reading about your Jewish Norwegian Christmas Party. :-)

    Like Sara, this time of year always makes me want to get out my copy of The Great Scandinavian Baking Book.

  5. This looks so pretty, it made me smile today :) x

  6. This sounds ridiculously delicious, although, I have to admit I was a little excited at the prospect of a herring salad recipe. Don't get me wrong, I'd eat several plates full of this tasty looking pudding, too.

    Have a wonderful trip to Australia. Don't forget to pack your sunscreen!

  7. What a lovely dessert!Looks so delicious and yummy and a lovely story behind it :)Thanks for sharing it Hannah!

  8. Thank you so much for posting this recipe. I intend to make this for New Years. My mom and Mormor made this every year for Christmas. They came to the US in the 40's with their cast iron Krumkake iron, and cookbook in Norwegian..and everything else they owned in a trunk. I haven't tried to make this yet...thanks for posting a recipe in English! My mother will be happily surprised! God Yul
    Kirsten Borghild Hormel...

  9. What a wonderful sharing of traditions! The pudding sounds delicious.

  10. I love your table! I read about you on will be following!

  11. what a delicious looking pudding :)

  12. It's great! And I'm glad you were introduced to some good Norsk eating! Another great dessert is Cloudberry Cream! Yum! We just got back to Canada from celebrating Jul in Norway, and now we'll have to go on a diet!
    Godt Nytt Aar! Happy New Year!
    Kaare Askildt
    Preeceville, Saskatchewan, Canada

  13. @Lisa (this litttle piggy)
    Thank you, Lisa! That's high praise from the Ladies - makes me happy!

  14. @Sara
    Thank you, Sara! I saw your Danish apple cake and drooled - I need to take a look at the Ojakangas book.

    I haven't visited Bergen yet but would love to. Maren's coming to Seattle this summer so we're very excited!

  15. @Brooke
    Thank you so much, Brooke! I hope you had a lovely holiday season.

  16. @Lauren
    Thank you, Lauren! I need to check out this baking book ... it sounds marvelous, especially for the holiday season! Scandinavian baking is truly delicious - I have a Norwegian book and could easily devour all the baked goods in it.

  17. @Molly
    Thank you, Molly! This pudding is truly delicious, and I enjoyed more than my fair share of it (the perils of being home alone with caramel pudding ...) I love a good herring salad, too - especially one with beets and apples. Mmm!

    Australia was amazing and I'd love to return! We packed sunscreen and ended up buying even more there - very intense sun - but no complaints from the sun-starved Seattle folks.

  18. @Soni
    Thank you so much, Soni! Maren is coming to visit this summer so we'll have more stories to share. :)

    Happy New Year to you!

  19. @kirsten
    Hi Kirsten - thank you for sharing about your family! It sounds like you've enjoyed some wonderful Norwegian foods (love the cast iron Krumkake iron, too!).

    I hope you and your family enjoyed the pudding. Happy New Year to you!

  20. @Karen
    Thank you, Karen! It is wonderful to each others' traditions. Maren's coming to visit this summer and I look forward to more sharing. :)

    Happy New Year to you!

  21. @jacqueline
    Thank you, Jacqueline! I appreciate you stopping by. The Plum Palate is a lovely blog!

    Happy New Year to you!

  22. @betty
    Thank you so much, Betty!

    I just checked out your blog and I look forward to reading more. Happy New Year to you!

  23. @Anonymous
    Hi Kaare - it sounds like you had a lovely Christmas celebration in Norway! I can imagine you ate some incredible treats. Maren also made Cloudberry Cream for us and oh that dessert, too. Maren is coming for a visit this summer and I look forward to more eating adventures with her.

    Godt Nytt Aar!

  24. What a lovely dessert!Looks so delicious and yummy and a lovely story behind it :)Thanks for sharing it Hannah!

    1. Thank you! It's one of my favorite desserts, especially since it was introduced to us by our sweet Norwegian daughter.


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