Scandinavian Coffee Culture
I am very, very much so Canadian, yes. Born and raised, all the great white north clichés ring true in my blood, the love of all things with maple syrup, the niceness – or so I’ve been told – and I often catch myself slanging the very distinguishable accent. However, my family originates from Scandinavia.
Until recently, I did not make the connection between my family’s mentalities, and our Scandinavian heritage. For instance, I grew up in a household where coffee time was basically a religious gathering, our day’s carefully divided not by time, or separated by meals, but by coffee breaks, inherently warranting the name “coffee time”. Coffee time, or the important social role of coffee in daily life, is very much so deeply embedded in Scandinavian culture.
This gathering is so much more than the drinking of coffee. Coffee time is always looked forward to as a break from daily tasks, a time to come together, to visit, to catch up, to make plans, and to chat about life.
One of my favorite ways to partake in coffee time is at one of my beloved aunt’s home. We gather there for coffee and amiable banter, but the underlying charm is in the definition of stopping by for “coffee”, meaning being greeted by an extravagant array of the most delightful cakes and pastries enjoyed alongside pots on pots of strong black coffee. I don’t know how she does it – having on hand the freshest and tastiest of baked goods, worthy of a bakery window – but regardless if it is a planned gathering, or an impromptu stopping by of family, she is always prepared.
I believe this charming way to spend time with loved ones is somewhat of a lost art. Though catching up with friends in a cozy local cafe, or girls night at a tapas bar over wine is lovely, the simple act of hosting coffee time, amid home baked sweets and freshly brewed coffee is so very underrated.
Rustic Date Squares
When picturing Scandinavian coffee time, I envision dark and chilly winter days, coming inside mid afternoon to warm by a crackling wood fire. Hot coffee and fresh baked goods awaiting to be enjoyed with your family and friends, to warm you from the inside out. These date squares are the perfect sweet treat, gluten free, oil free, plant-based and sweetened with nature’s sugars – maple syrup and of course, dates.
These are very nutrient dense, making them a perfect grounding, nourishing winter treat. Best served with a nice cup of strong organic coffee, enjoyed black like a true Dane, and extra points if you share with family and friends.
- 2 cups of pecans
- 1.5 cups rolled oats - to be ground into flour
- 1 cup rolled oats - whole
- 3 tbsp chia seeds
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- 2 cups pitted dates
- Preheat your oven to 350 and line a 8" x 8" baking dish with two pieces of parchment paper going either way.
- On a separate bare baking sheet, place your 2 cups of pecans in an even layer. Once oven is heated, toast your pecans for up to 10 minutes (they're ready when they're just browning and smell fragrant) don't let them burn!!
- After 10 minutes, remove and set on a cutting board to cool. Meanwhile, in your blender or food processor, process 1.5 cups of oats into a fine flour.
- In a small pot, add your dates and ½ cup of water, heat on medium high and bring to a low boil. Turn your burner down to medium, and cook your dates, stirring frequently, until you've formed a paste. This takes about 5 minutes. Set aside.
- Go back to your pecans, they should be cool enough, and chop them coarsely.
- In a large bowl, add your fresh oat flour, remaining 1 cup of whole oats, chia seeds, and chopped pecans.
- Mix together with your hands until all combined.
- Add in ½ cup of your prepared date paste into your flour mixture, and your maple syrup. Gently mix mixture together, you want a crumbly consistency, I find using your hands here works well..
- Once you have a uniform crumbly mixture, divide half out and put into your blender or food processor.
- Process no longer than 30 seconds, this will be your crust.
- Add blender mix into your parchment lined dish and spread out in an even layer, packing it down firmly.
- Using a spatula, spread your remaining date paste onto your crust layer.
- Finally, sprinkle the crumb mixture evenly on top of the date layer.
- Place in the oven and bake for 20 - 25 minutes, watching that the top doesn't burn.
- Allow to cool for 10 minutes before slicing into squares.
- Serve within 1-3 days or store in the freezer for up to 3 months.