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How to Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break

It’s hard not to regret all the tender butter cookies we’ve missed out on by not living in Sweden, where the sit-down-and-chat-awhile coffee-and-cookie break (fika in Swedish) is not only welcome in the workplace, but culturally mandated! #brbmovingtosweden

But there’s no need to buy a plane ticket – Ulrika Pettersson founded Unna Bakery right here in the States, in Harlem to be exact, in order to bring the traditional and elegant cookies of her heritage to a country that could stand to slow down and savor the moment.

Many of the recipes are the same that were once served at kaffereps, the 19th-century social custom of a ladies-only coffee gathering. Traditionally, it was de rigueur for hostesses to serve exactly seven cookies. Seven. Fewer would give the appearance of being cheap, and more could seem uppity. It was also assumed that a hostess would select the finest of tableware and embroidered linens. These rules, of course, were all unwritten.

Ulrika, a graphic designer by trade, didn’t worry about such conventions when she first made the cookies for her daughter’s birthday. The elegant treats took the edge off her homesickness for Sweden and impressed enough partygoers that she began Unna Bakery, using ovens in the Hot Bread Kitchen incubator space in Harlem.

The packaging – a modern nod to the beautiful lace tablecloths, vases of flowers and china patterns with porcelain stamps used at kaffereps – adds to the appeal. Made in small batches with mostly organic ingredients and no preservatives, Unna Bakery cookies are best to, as their box commands, enjoy now!

Ready to get your fika on? Brew a pot of coffee, and set out a plate of these stunners:

Chocolate Caramel Cookies
We try not to play favorites (especially among the Swedish cookie squad), but these made-for-dipping parallelograms (yay geometry!) sprinkled with pearl sugar made quite the first impression. The chocolate reveals itself more in depth than flavor while the caramel comes in the form of a golden syrup glaze made from sugar beets. Swedes teach subtlety in the yummiest way.    

Raspberry Cave Cookies
At the risk of slighting Grandma, these may be the tastiest version of a thumbprint cookie we’ve ever had. Sweet and tart raspberry jam nestled into a dainty but rich butter cookie? No wonder these are considered an obligatory fika inclusion. 

Vanilla Dream Sugar Cookies
Deceptively simple-looking, the Vanilla Dream is just that. Buttery yet light as air (baker’s ammonia is the secret), they almost vaporize on your tongue, leaving the warmth of vanilla and an overwhelming desire to abandon all social graces and eat the whole darn box.

Fika takes practice! Fantastick. 

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