21 February 2011

Butter Shortbread with Cloudberry Cream – Recipe

Shortbread is so simple to make and is the perfect accompaniment to a reviving afternoon mug of builders' tea. I had always assumed shortbread biscuits were the sole preserve of the British, having originated in Scotland, so I was a little surprised to learn that there is a strong tradition of making shortbread across Scandinavia. In Sweden these biscuits are evocatively known as drömmar, or 'dreams' in English, while in Denmark pebernødder biscuits have a touch of cardamom and cinnamon in them and are popular at Christmas time. I haven't been able to find a definitive translation in Norwegian. The closest I can get to is småkaker av mørdeig, literally 'small cakes of shortcrust',  or smørkaker (butter cakes), so if anyone can shed some light on this I'd be very grateful.

I thought I'd add even more of a Scandinavian twist to these shortbread biscuits by making some cloudberry cream to serve alongside them. Cloudberries (molte in Norwegian) are quintessentially Scandinavian. These hardy berries grow across the Nordics and can survive temperatures as low as  -40°C. Cloudberries are somewhat elusive; appearing in late July they are gone by early August. They are also very difficult to cultivate and, as such, are considered a rare and expensive delicacy. My in-laws regularly go cloudberry picking near their home in the hills of Gudbrandsdalen every summer, jealously guarding the best spots (although they have promised to reveal their secrets to me someday). So why all the fuss then? Well, quite simply, the taste of cloudberries is extraordinary and unlike any other – sweet, with an intense floral aroma that is musky, exotic even. I like to eat them fresh, with a sprinkling of sugar, maybe a drizzle of cream too if you insist. As their season is so short it is most common to find cloudberries in jam form. Here I use cloudberry compote made by gently cooking cloudberries with sugar.

Ingredients (makes 8-10 biscuits)
For the shortbread:

  • 180g plain white flour
  • 125g unsalted butter
  • 55g caster sugar

For the cloudberry cream:

  • 200ml whipping cream
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 4 tbsp cloudberry compote

To make the shortbread biscuits:

  1. Preheat the over to 180°C
  2. Beat together the butter and sugar
  3. Sift in the flour and mix together; it will look a bit like breadcrumbs at this stage
  4. Turn out the mixture onto a work surface and combine to make a dough
  5. Roll the dough into a cylinder about 3-inches thick
  6. Slice the cylinder into biscuits ½-inch thick and place on a baking tray
  7. Prick each biscuits 3-4 times with a fork
  8. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until golden
  9. Once cooked, place on a wire rack to cool
  10. Before serving, dust each biscuit with some caster sugar

To make the cloudberry cream:

  1. Add the sugar to the cream and whip to form soft peaks
  2. Gently fold in the cloudberry compote

Serve with a big mug of strong tea.


  1. I'm Norwegian and in my family we call shortbread "mørdeigskjeks" or "mørdeigskaker". Not as snappy (or inviting!) as the Swedish alas!

  2. mm that sounds so yummy - i love short bread (used to live in Edinburgh) and cloudberries are lush, especially with whipped cream in a 'krumkake' for xmas :)

  3. Hei Siri, thanks for that. Seems like there are many name variations depending on family tradition. Amusingly, I had found one website which called them 'mørkaker', except they had replaced the 'ø' with an 'o' to give a VERY different meaning!

    Hei Heidi, ooh I love krumkake. My mother-in-law makes it at Christmas time. Never had it filled with anything, but sounds divine with whipped cream and molte.

  4. That looks perfect, I love cloudberries!

  5. I had the joyous experience of cloudberries as part of a fantabulous meal at Tvåkanten (http://www.tvakanten.se/) in Göteborg last weekend...I felt blessed. YUM!

  6. Hi Nordic Nibbler, how are you ?
    Your shortbread looks gorgeous ! Tell me, what camera do you use ? I like your photos very much. I sohuld have asked when we were at Helene Darroze.

  7. Hi Maria, cloudberries have to be one of my favourite things. I've heard their taste described as like a gentle Arctic breeze, which I thought was quite apt.

    Hi mclaughlin_aj, that place looks wonderful!

    Hello flyrobin, thanks! How are you? When I'm in restaurants I tend to use a small Canon S95, but for this photo I used a Nikon D40x dSLR with a 35mm f/1.8 lens - great for low light. So you saw Darroze got a second star then!