Anger Burger

My Mind on Swedish Cream and Swedish Cream on My Mind

Posted by Sunday on Sep 6, 2011 at 5:57 pm

As usual, I blame my mom.

It started innocently enough.  Her favorite bakery in Cannon Beach, Oregon serves cups of Swedish Cream in little plastic take-out containers, and since she’s a rabid predator whenever a vanilla cream of any kind is present, she bought some and wouldn’t shut up about it being the bestest dessert ever.  Thus began my trials.

Swedish Cream, it turns out, is essentially just panna cotta made with sour cream.  And panna cotta, as you know, is a creamy dessert somewhat like custard, but using gelatin to thicken instead of egg yolks.  Your mind is not yet blown, I understand.  But let’s go for a walk together while I explain this to you.

See, most custards and puddings are pretty soft, and custards in particular are quite rich, owing largely to the egg yolks.  They’re pale yellow and lush; think crème brûlée.  Which is why, upon tasting the Swedish Cream for myself, I was so shocked.

Swedish Cream, to begin with, is snow-white.  Not veering into blue or yellow, but perfectly, ethereally white.  It should really be served in clear glass dishes, but I don’t currently stock those at the Anger Burger kitchen, so you know.  Discount store white ramekins it is.  But the flavor, the flavor is something else: almost refreshing, it is tangy and sweet and mild all at once, with a distant, back-of-tongue fattiness from the dairy.  There’s nothing cloying about Swedish Cream, and you can and will want to eat much more of it than is probably healthy.

The flavor is so mild, in fact, that it’s nigh required to serve it with some sort of fruit coulis.  Just a little, and anything from mixed berries to apricots will work just fine.  You’re starting with a base of faintly vanilla-perfumed milk, after all, so it’s time to go crazy go nuts.

Of course, this is where things went awry with me.   Not the coulis – that’s amateur hour – but  the Swedish Cream itself.  I found several recipes, each with varying levels of, well, everything.  Some had yogurt.  One even used buttermilk instead of sour cream.  And there was nothing to do but just start making it, which of course I set about doing from the most complicated end of the spectrum thinking that something so delicious certainly couldn’t be simple.  I tried the yogurt and sour cream mixed together, I tried three different kinds of milk, I tried half gelatin and double gelatin.

Don’t be surprised, but I still refuse to believe that this best version – the simplest one – is still the best possible version.  There are some variations I haven’t tried yet, but we can only eat so many gallons of this stuff a day.  I realize I’m contradicting my earlier implication that you will eat all of it at once, but I admit that I’m getting older and dairy isn’t digesting like it used to.  Okay, it doesn’t have anything to do with age.  Let’s keep walking.

I’m still convinced some small quantity of buttermilk will end up blowing my mind the rest of the way, but in the meantime I’m sorry to introduce to you the reason you’re going to eat a 16-ounce tub of sour cream this week.

Swedish Cream
here is where you (and definitely my mom) may disagree with me: i prefer it made with whole milk so that it is just a little lighter, and just a little easier to eat a big cup of it in one sitting.  that being said, making it with half-and-half or even full cream will make, as you have rightfully guessed, a creamier, smoother and richer dessert.  my advice is: try it both ways.  you know, for science.

1 16oz container (2 cups) full-fat sour cream
2 1/2 cups whole milk, or half-and-half, or full-fat cream or any variation therein
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 packet of unflavored gelatin (see note)

*note: in the US, the primary brand for unflavored gelatin is Knox and it comes in little boxes containing four packets.  In grocery stores, Knox is always in the same general vicinity as the boxes of Jello.

  • In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and gelatin.  Stir these dry ingredients together.  Gently whisk in the 2 1/2 cups of milk (or whatever you are using) and then place on a medium burner.  Do not walk away.  Stirring often, heat the milk, sugar and gelatin mixture together until scalding, which is when it is not yet bubbling but too hot to put your finger into for longer than a quick dip.  Remove from heat, set aside and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
  • Dump the sour cream and vanilla into a medium bowl and using a whisk, slowly pour the milk mixture into the sour cream.  We are doing this only to ensure the milk and sour cream mix smoothly together, we aren’t tempering it or anything tricky.
  • Ladle the cream into individual serving dishes.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.  Serve with a generous puddle of fruit coulis, fresh fruit, mint sprigs and whatever else you find in the yard.

Fruit Coulis, the General Idea
this works with just about any fruit, though some might be grosser than others – i’d avoid banana, for instance.  don’t limit yourself to fresh fruit either, frozen fruit works just as well if not better, since we’re just blending it up anyway. you can also add a dash of liquor (Grand Marnier is lovely), or herbs (rosemary goes well with almost everything) or spices (the usual suspects).

1 cup fruit (thawed if from frozen)
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp lemon juice
fruit juice or water (optional)

  • In a blender or food processor, blend until smooth.  Taste for levels – if it is too sweet, add more lemon juice, and too sour, add more sugar.  If it appears too thick, add fruit juice or water one spoonful at a time until the sauce is as thin as you desire.
  • If you’ve used berries and you’re really not into seeds, strain the mixture through a tea-strainer or something similar.
  • That’s it, you’re done.
September 6th, 2011 | Make It So

5 Responses to My Mind on Swedish Cream and Swedish Cream on My Mind

  1. Kristina says:

    It’s funny you should post this, now. First, it looks fantastic, and second, it looks better than what I’m about to describe, and third, I just found something that involves milk and gelatin and bought it out of curiosity. And you’ve trumped it before I’ve even opened it!

    I was in the Hispanic foods section of a local market and saw a packet of gelatin based dessert, but, unlike the typical flavors of Fresa, Mango, etc., this one said “Eggnog.” Eggnog Jell-o? Say what? I picked it up and noted that the instructions called for nearly boiling heavy milk or creak and adding the contents of the gelatin package, which was a deep golden color. I imagined it would make a ghetto-style eggnog flavored milky Jell-o concoction, and at .59 cents, I decided to try it.

    And then I found this. Which is now on my mind, too. Like Windsong. I think the Eggnog goop will have to wait.

  2. GG says:

    Yep. Buttermilk pannacotta. Also, brown sugar buttermilk pannacotta. With toasted pecans and a drizzle of Tupelo honey.

  3. Joel says:

    Wow. Just tried this because I thought it’d be good to make for Thanksgiving. Really excellent. Also, not entirely unlike a no-bake cheesecake.

    I used 3/4 teaspoon of stevia powder instead of sugar, worked fine that way, too.

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