With the holidays coming up and everyone spending a bit more time indoors, we have decided to partner up with Ashley from @forkprin to share a Danish holiday pastry recipe alongside some tips from her unique lifestyle combining the concept of hygge, veganism, and American traditions.
Please introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your blog and what you do
I’m originally born and raised in New York, but I moved to Copenhagen, Denmark in my early 20s and have been living here for around 6 or 7 years. By day, I work as a senior copywriter and content creator for a hearing care company, but in my spare time, I love developing vegan recipes and re-creating non-vegan classics!
Can you tell us more about the hygge concept and how you connect this Scandinavian concept to your American Christmas traditions?
Hygge has become a buzzword that’s blown up around the world within the last 5 years or so, but it originates in Denmark and is so ingrained in the country’s local culture, society, and traditions. It basically means to create a cozy, comforting atmosphere, but it’s so much more than that. It’s a way of life here.
Because the winters are dark, cold, and long in Denmark, the Danes put a lot of emphasis on making this “hyggeligt” (adjective for hygge), like going HARD with all the cozy elements. They use the darkness and stillness of the winter months to their advantage by creating an atmosphere that’s like giving you a big warm hug. Some things that stand out most to me are all the places (even the city sidewalks) that are embellished with tons of candles, and the many cafes with blankets for you to use. But having a night in with friends, a good meal, and games can also be something that creates a sense of hygge.
Being far away from family/home can be tough sometimes, so I’d say to hygge is also a great remedy for homesickness :)
What was the best lifestyle lesson you’ve learned while living in Denmark?
That life should be lived slowly and intentionally. Like slowing down and remembering to celebrate life every day. The work/life balance and maternity & paternity leaves here speak for themselves. Health and taking care of yourself is so much more than just eating well and exercising - it’s about slowing down and making space for purely just existing. Oh, and pastries. Make lots of space for pastries ;)
On your blog and social media, you share a lot of vegan food adaptations. Where do you find inspiration for that? Will you share a hygge Christmas recipe with our audience?
I find inspiration in many things, but a biggie is my family and upbringing. My mom and grandma were/are great cooks, and I fell in love with their comforting dishes growing up.
My boyfriend, Rasmus, said to me once, “People have a hard time being open to eating vegan because their food is tied up in their childhood memories. A really good meal can give someone that sense of comfort because it brings them back to that familiar place.” When I decided to go vegan after learning that I could live a more compassionate, ethical, and healthy lifestyle through adopting a plant-based diet, I wanted to show people that they don’t have to give up the meals that give them that feeling of “home.” Those flavors and textures can be recreated using 100% plant-based ingredients.
I absolutely will be sharing a bit of (veganized) hygge with you! I love recreating Danish classics (and fooling other people with them) since vegan variations are quite limited here. This time of year, the Danes eat something called “Æbleskiver” which are cute, Christmassy pancake-like balls topped with powdered sugar and dipped in jam. You can find the recipe below!
Do you have any sustainable kitchen tips for our readers?
Eating a plant-based diet as much as you can is my number one tip. By going vegan for a month, you save 30 animal lives, 620 lbs (281 kg) of carbon dioxide emissions, 913 square feet (85 square meters) of forest, and 33,481 gallons (126,739 liters) of water.
Of course, it goes beyond that though, like choosing to source your produce as locally as possible (preferably small farmers that grow organically). Say you live in Denmark like me, choosing the local Danish kale over fancy greens from Spain would be the move to make! Also, be mindful of how much you’re buying while grocery shopping (this comes from someone who used to unintentionally throw out rotting produce from their fridge like it was their part-time job). Be realistic with your purchases!
And last but not least, I’d recommend using eco-friendly kitchen products whenever possible/accessible for you, like natural soaps and sustainable towels and linens (wink wink). Buy from honest brands that want the best for you, your family, and the world. That’s why I love MagicLinen so much!
What first made you slow down and start your journey to a more conscious and sustainable lifestyle?
It started when my sister worked at Trader Joe’s in high school. She used to come home with a new, organic product every day and talk to my family about why it’s so important for us and the planet. I’ve always loved animals, the ocean, and the outdoors so much but I finally started putting the pieces together. What I did had an impact on nature and society?! *Mindblown*
Learning about the role I played in it all became my new obsession. So I went on to study sustainability and started being mindful about how I lived my life. This also meant looking inwards, and figuring out that positive change starts from within. In order to create a better world, I have to better myself. Whether it’s about the planet, your job, or your relationships, you simply cannot pour from an empty cup.
It’s a journey, and I’m far from perfect. I struggle. In fact, my mental health has been the antagonist of my story since I was a kid. But, as I always silently remind myself… “little by little.”
Speaking of little, it’s time to make these little hygge holiday cuties!
Vegan Æbleskiver | RECIPE
A little bit about æbleskiver: They are essentially pancake balls topped with powdered sugar and jam. You can only find them this time of year.
Besides the country's plethora of delicious pastries, Denmark (especially Copenhagen) is known for its magical Christmas markets where vendors sell crafty handmade items, Christmassy souvenirs, and lots of gløgg (aka mulled wine). But these markets are also THE place to find æbleskiver.
But as a vegan, I'm never able to have them since traditionally they contain buttermilk, butter, and eggs. In my opinion, though, you can veganize everything and anything. About a year or two ago, my favorite vegan ice cream shop in Copenhagen, Nicecream, became the first place in the city to start serving vegan æbleskiver (and with a side of ice cream, *drools*).
I've been working on perfecting my own recipe while still trying to stay true to the traditional ingredients. Yes, I even veganized the buttermilk.
...and I think I nailed it.
Ready to try this cute little Danish delight?
First and foremost, here's the equipment you’ll need:
1. A æbleskiver pan. If it’s cast iron, make sure it’s very well seasoned beforehand. You can learn how to season your pan here.
2. A chopstick, wooden skewer, or other thin wooden stick in order to turn your æbleskiver as they cook.
- 2 cups unsweetened soy milk
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons ground flaxseed
- 9 tablespoons water
- 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/3 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cardamom (optional)
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 3 tablespoons vegan butter, melted, plus extra for pan
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Toppings: powdered sugar and a side of jam (raspberry, cranberry, strawberry, black currant, or a mixed berry jam works great)
- For the "buttermilk": In a bowl or measuring cup, combine the soy milk and lemon juice. Stir until well combined. It will start to thicken on its own and take on the same consistency as buttermilk.
- For the "eggs": In another small bowl, combine the ground flaxseed with the water. Stir until well combined and let sit for 10 minutes.
- In a large mixing bowl, mix together all dry ingredients.
- In a separate bowl, mix together the wet ingredients including the buttermilk mixture and egg mixture. When the dry and wet bowls are thoroughly mixed, combine the two. The batter will be a little thicker than pancake batter.
- Heat the pan on medium heat and brush a little vegan butter in each cup. Fill each cup 3/4 quarters of the way.
- As soon as the æbleskiver begin to bubble, use your wooden skewer or chopstick to pull them up on one side, flipping them over halfway. The batter will start to fill up the bottom of each cup. Continue cooking, turning the æbleskiver again to let the batter fill what will be a spherical ball shape.
- Cook all sides until golden brown. Transfer to a plate or drying rack to let cool for a few minutes.
- Serve with a dusting of powdered sugar and your jam of choice. Enjoy!