Drömmar is Swedish for “dream” and when used in culinary circles, the word drömmar is usually referring to Swedish cookies. I’m with them so far; dreamy cookies. Sounds good, right? Yeah. But the part where they lose me is the fact that they contain ammonium carbonate, which smells like ammonia.
Currently, it is produced by heating a mixture of ammonium chloride, or ammonium sulfate and chalk, to redness in iron retorts, the vapors being condensed in leaden receivers. The crude product is refined by sublimation, when it is obtained as a white fibrous mass, which consists of a mixture of ammonium bicarbonate, NH4HCO3, and ammonium carbonate, (NH4)2CO3, in molecular proportions; on account of its possessing this constitution it is sometimes called ammonium polycarbonate. It possesses a strong ammonium smell, and on digestion with alcohol the carbonate is dissolved and a residue of ammonium bicarbonate is left; a similar decomposition taking place when the polycarbonate is exposed to air.
Ammonia gas passed into a strong aqueous solution of the polycarbonate converts it into normal ammonium carbonate, (NH4)2CO3, which can be obtained in the crystalline condition from a solution prepared at about 30 °C. This compound on exposure to air gives off ammonia and passes back to ammonium bicarbonate. It has pH of 9.
As well as in smelling salts, ammonium carbonate is still used as a leavening agent in particular recipes, particularly northern European and Scandinavian. It can sometimes be substituted with baking powder, but the finished product will never be as airy and light as the original recipe. Icelandic loftkökur (air biscuits) for instance simply cannot be made with anything other than ammonium carbonate.
Oh yum. Decomposed urine. So yes, the traditional cookies are made with this substance, and from what I’ve read, it’s used primarily in cookies because they’re small enough that, and I quote, “the smell can dissipate during baking.” Lovely. In fact, they’re sometimes called “Swedish Ammonia Cookies.” Perhaps it’s me being a non-Swede, perhaps it’s my uptight American palate, perhaps whatever… but I just don’t think I’ll be using ammonia in my baking anytime soon. Ammonia is one of the smells I absolutely cannot tolerate. It makes me feel as if my brains are being burned out through my nose. Sorry, Sweden. Don’t take it as an insult, I’m not judging. I love Sweden & Scandinavian folklore; the Huldra, Fossegrimen, Kraken, etc. I also love the St. Lucia’s Day celebration and ever since I was a kid & first heard about it because one of my American Girl dolls (Kirsten, the Swedish pioneer who’s apparently long ago been discontinued, I had the first 4 dolls back when I was a kid & AG was interesting, about girls throughout history, and actually taught kids something, not just a shitty Mattel buy-out like it is now), I was in love. I’m not a fan of Swedish meatballs, though, I have to say.
As far as other ingredients of these “ammonia” cookies go, there are conflicting opinions: some say coconut isn’t traditional, some say the almond flavoring isn’t traditional. I say tradition be damned- I like the sound of a coconut/almond confection (sans ammonia). So I adapted Ina Garten’s coconut cupcake recipe (one of my favorites!) and an almond flavored frosting into what I call Drömmar cupcakes. I was inspired to do this by a trip to Ikea where I bought adorable red, black & white cupcake liners called Drömmar baking cups, and when I Googled “Drömmar” it opened up the world of the ammonia cookie to me. Amazing. You learn something new everyday.
I scaled the Ina recipe down because it’s excessive to make 30-40 cupcakes for an average Tuesday. Half the recipe makes more sense. The whole recipe makes like 35 cakes. I’m not kidding. So this is ½ of Ina’s original recipe. Due to the larger scale of these liners (they’re a bit taller and not as wide as regular ones) I used a bit more batter in each so I got exactly 18. If you’re using regular liners you might end up with a few more. In the past, I’ve halved the recipe and ended up with as many as almost 2 dozen. Who the hell knows what I did. Whatever. Either way, these are some really good cupcakes. If you like coconut, I suggest you try them. If you really don’t, then you could always omit the coconut and you’d still be left with a mighty delicious cupcakes.
Ingredients for proper drömmar-ing:
- ½ pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 ½ cups flour
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 3 eggs
- teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup buttermilk
- 4 ounces (½ cup) shredded sweetened coconut
The process to get drömmar-ed:
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well.
- In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In 3 parts, alternately add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk to the batter, beginning and ending with the dry. Mix until just combined. Fold in 2 ounces of coconut.
- Line a muffin pan with paper liners. Fill each liner to the top with batter. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until the tops are brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove to a baking rack and cool completely.
Ingredients to get frosted:
- ½ cup butter, softened
- 4 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar
- ¾ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoons almond extract
- 6-7 tablespoons milk
Directions to get frosted:
- Cream butter in mixing bowl until fluffy. Beat in confectioner’s sugar 1-2 cups at a time with mixer. Add the extracts.
- Add milk 3 tablespoons at a time until the desired “frosting” consistency is achieved.
- Frost cakes when they’re completely cooled.. and enjoy!
I put dark chocolate cocoa covered almonds on top after frosting, but really, do whatever you choose. I just thought it was appropriate, but what do I know.
Pre-frosting. See how pretty the liners are?
As far as the liners go, I was really pleased with the quality. You get 65 liners for .99 cents and they weren’t crappy quality at ALL. The color stayed really nice even after baking, and although they didn’t keep quite as lovely as the Sutton papers, for .99 cents you can’t beat ’em. No complaints here. I’ll definitely be buying more of these to have around. As you can see, the cupcakes didn’t reach the top. They’re tall liners! They’d be great for muffins.
This is one of the last cupcake recipes before the Halloween ones start. Isn’t that exciting? I love Halloween. Oh hey- speaking of tricks & treats, there are just a little over two days left to enter my giveaway (on the East coast anyway)! So make sure you get your asses over there and enter… NOW! There are 8 amazing prizes at stake, and it’s really easy to enter.