Whenever asked what is the thing I miss the least about Italy, my home country, my first answer is always the climate. Summers are too hot, winters are not snowy enough, and it’s generally too humid year round. There is only one small fraction of the year in which I miss the region I’m from – Piemonte, in the north-west – and that is around the second week of October, when the autumn colours explode under the best shade of blue the sky can get. Other than that, I don’t like the climate in Italy.
Actually, one of the reasons why I moved to Sweden is definitely the climate. It’s never too hot, never too humid. As chilly as I like it. And I love the passing of seasons in Northern Europe! Summers can be a bummer, I take it. June and November can be the most disappointing months especially if you don’t like rain. But nothing beats the awakening of nature and the explosion of green that occurs in May. Or the perfect blend of wintertime beauty with a decent amount of daylight hours you get in late February. August is a pretty awesome month, too. And I have even come to appreciate the beauty found in short days in December. Sweden has the perfect climate for me. Every year has me spending four months anticipating winter and four months anticipating summer and anticipation is my favourite feeling. Ever since September I’ve been dreaming of the snow and now it’s here. This is the view outside my window:No better time to make a typical wintertime candy that all Swedish people rightfully love: ischoklad. Ischoklad, literally “ice chocolate” consists of chocolate pralines served in tiny aluminium forms. During this time of the year it is quite common to find those moulds at every store (it’s like saffron, typically seasonal), so during my latest grocery haul I picked up a package of those myself. Making ischoklad only requires two ingredients, really, so once I got the moulds I decided it was time for me to finally try to make this Swedish wintertime delicacy.Ischoklad (makes 20):
- 100 g milk chocolate
- 50 g coconut fat
In a pot over simmering water melt the coconut fat and the chocolate and stir to combine. It should not reach boiling temperature, this is why it’s best to bain-marie. Once melted, pour the content of the pot into every aluminium mould. For the sake of taste and decoration I have sprinkled a couple of salt flakes over a few of my pralines. If you want to do the same, chill the pralines for 5 minutes before adding the salt to prevent it from sinking in the liquid chocolate mixture. Then I went out to photograph my ice chocolate on ice and some snowflakes fell on the pralines, decorating those that didn’t get any salt.The pralines need to be chilled in the fridge until firm, about one hour. To speed up the process, I put mine in the freezer for the first 15 minutes (and then I took them to -2°C to photograph them). They should be served chilled, but not frozen! What is so special about ischoklad is that chilled it will have the firm texture of a chocolate praline, but once in the mouth it will melt almost immediately. This is due to the fact that coconut oil melts at 24°C, so the warmer climate of the mouth makes this praline melt instantly. This melting will also give out a cooling effect, hence the name of “ice chocolate”. It is definitely a very pleasant feeling.For this batch of ischoklad I have used the Swedish milk chocolate by the brand Marabou. Together with the Norwegian Freia, it is my favourite milk chocolate out there. My boyfriend has never been a huge fan of milk chocolate, but he loves this one. I prefer milk to dark chocolate, so for me Scandinavian milk chocolate is an absolute bliss. Ischoklad made with milk Marabou is the closest I have ever tasted to the filling of Lindor pralines by Lindt – the milk chocolate one, obviously, the one wrapped in red – something that I thought I’d never be able to recreate at home. (For the record, I love Lindor pralines.)My third Christmas since I moved to Sweden is approaching and I have only now started to explore more of the Swedish Christmas desserts beyond pepparkakor. This is the year of the saffron bun and of the ice chocolate. Couldn’t be any sweeter.