A highlight of summers in Denmark: cold buttermilk-based soup with strawberries and crunched cookies
Koldskål is probably one of the most local Danish desserts or sweet dishes that I know. There is not even a translation to English that would make sense or come close to this delicious refreshing summer dessert (in German, Kaltschale is the corresponding word, but it’s not a common dish these days at all). Koldskål belongs to summer in Denmark, and once I tried it also fell for it. And of course the kids. They LOVE it. Nothing better than coming home from kindergarten in the afternoon and having a koldskål with crumbs of “kammerjunkere” on the terrace. And maybe some Danish strawberries that are sooo aromatic at this time of the year. Danes seem to eat strawberries all year long – even in Winter you can get strawberries and the nice-looking strawberry cakes in the bakeries. But with the beginning of June, when the first locally grown strawberries come to the market you really wonder how anyone can go back to the tasteless watery fruits in the winter…
But well, let me try to define koldskål for you – and of course also kammerjunkere which are a common koldskål topping.
Koldskål (pronounced kol-sgol)
Koldskål is a cold summer soup based on buttermilk, egg yolks and sugar. Most commonly flavoured with lemon and vanilla, it’s extremely common in the hot summer months (ok… we might have to redefine “hot”). It’s found in different flavours in all supermarkets in the summer, placed in the dairy section. Fun fact I found on Wikipedia: in the hot summer of 2007, production of koldskål rose to 1,7 million liters in one single week. This is quite a lot in a county with 5 million inhabitants! Koldskål is seldom consumed without any toppings. Cookie crumbs, granola or strawberries are probably the most common additions to the “cold soup”.
Just like koldskål, kammerjunkere are filling the supermarket shelves in the summer. There is quite a variety, I think the best description is a very dry, crispy cookie – often flavored with cardamom, but sometimes of a very neutral taste. The crispness is the key attribute – kammerjunkere are sprinkled over the koldskål, either crumbled or as a whole.
To be frank I have so far always relied on the supermarket versions. But I recently searched for recipes and found out how easy and quickly made it is, I decided to go for it make it myself as dessert for the next BBQ. And at that occasion also the kammerjunkere. That was a real torture test – as the guest were Danish…
One think is sure – the Danes like it sweet (sorry my Danish friends for all these generalizations… but please shout if you disagree!). The list of sweet (and tasty) things is long, starting from the famous Danish pastries to flødeboller (another hard-to-translate thing… foam kiss? chocolate marshmallow?). You should see the sweets section in the cinemas and would have no more doubt about how much they like sweets here. Hence, I was a bit careful and cut the amount of sugar in the koldskål recipe – with a great result: a not too sweet soup with a subtle sour taste of buttermilk.
Recipe for koldskål
serves 8 (quite a lot, but can be kept in the fridge for a few days)
- 2 l buttermilk
- 250 ml whipping cream
- 140 g sugar
- 4 egg yolks
- 1 vanilla pod
- 1 lemon
- Slice the vanilla pod in two and scrape out the seeds with a knife. Put both, the pod and the seeds into a large bowl.
- Add the zest of the lemon and its juice.
- Add all other ingredients and mix well.
- Put into the fridge a few hours before serving.
Recipe for kammerjunkere
for 40 biscuits
- 250 g flour
- 90 g butter
- 50 g powder sugar
- 1 egg
- 50 ml milk
- 1 tsp vanilla sugar
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp ground cardamom
- zest of 1 lemon
- Cut butter in small bits and crumble it into the flour mix.
- Add milk and the egg and knead well (I used the Kitchen Aid).
- The dough will get a homogenous, elastic consistency. At this stage, wrap in cellophane and put it into the fridge for 1 h.
- Pre-heat your oven to 200°C. Put a baking paper onto a baking tray.
- Form small balls of approximately 2cm diameter. Place on the tray and bake for 10-12 minutes (the kammejunkere will still be very light at this stage).
- Reduce temperature to 120°C.
- Cut each ball in two and place all halves back on the tray. Let them dry in the oven for 20-30 minutes. When they are dry and have a light golden colour, switch the oven off and keep the kammerjunkere inside for another couple of minutes.
- Keep them in a tin or a box until serving.
Serve koldskål, kammerjunkere and strawberries in separate bowls and let the guest create their own dish. That’s half the fun.
By the way – our Danish guests were very impressed 🙂