Fastelavn is a Carnival tradition, or fasting celebration, that occurs on the cusp of lent and right before Ash Wednesday. Three days traditionally encompass the fastelavnsfeiring celebrations beginning with Fastelavnssøndag (Sunday) then followed with Blåmandag (Blue Monday) or Fleskemandag and concluding with Feitetirsdag (Fat Tuesday) or Hvitetirsdag (White Tuesday). You can read more about the history of Fastelavns here.
As celebrations kick off on Fastelavnsssøndag (Sunday), the scent of delicious sweet buns will fill the air. In Norway, it’s traditional to cut the buns in half and serve them filled with whipped cream. Sometimes a spreading of jam or custard will grace its interior as well. In Bergen, it was popular to serve the leftover buns drenched in cream and sugar the following day on Blåmandag “Blue Monday”. Other countries have their similarities and variations, such as almond paste and icing. It’s becoming more common to also see new flavors and takes on the traditional versions.
While I usually make the traditional fastelavnsboller with a dusting of powdered sugar on top, this year I wanted to make something a little more indulgent.
With some extra walnuts on hand, I thought they would make a lovely addition to a creamy custard to go inside the buns, giving a subtle nutty flavor and providing some texture. A little dollop of whipped cream was also welcome inside. The top of the buns needed a little something, so I dipped them in a chocolate glaze that oozes and then firms up in no time at all. The result is an incredibly rich and mouth-watering treat that certainly lives up to the purpose of this celebration.
Fastelavn Buns with Walnut Custard and a Chocolate Glaze (Fastelavnsboller med valnøtterkrem og sjokoladeglasur)
Makes 12 buns
For the buns:
- 1 ¼ cups (300 ml) lukewarm milk
- 1 egg
- 4 cups plus 2 tablespoons (500 g) sifted all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon (75 g) sugar
- 1 ounce (25 g) fresh yeast or 1/3 ounce (8.5 g) active dry yeast
- ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 stick (112 g) butter, cut into small pieces
For the walnut cream:
- 1/4 cup (55g) granulated sugar
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 tablespoons corn starch
- 2 cups (500 ml) whole milk
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup (100 g) walnuts, finely chopped
For the chocolate glaze:
- 1 ½ cups (150 g) confectioner’s sugar
- 4 tablespoons (25 g) cocoa powder
- 4 tablespoons milk
- 1 cup heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks
- Chopped walnuts, to garnish
In a small bowl, whisk together the lukewarm milk and egg.
In a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, combine the flour, sugar, yeast, cardamom, and salt. Add the milk mixture and knead on low for 8 minutes. Add the butter and knead on medium for about 5 minutes or until the dough is very elastic and somewhat moist. Transfer the dough to lightly buttered bowl, cover with a tea towel, and let rise in a warm spot for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 400˚F (200˚C). Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Divide the dough into 12 equal-size pieces and shape into balls. Place the balls of dough on the prepared baking sheet and let rise for 30 minutes.
Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown.
For the custard, in a large bowl, whisk the sugar and egg yolks together. Add the cornstarch and whisk until the mixture is pale yellow and thick.
In a saucepan, warm the milk and vanilla extract, stirring often, over low heat. Remove from the heat then steadily and slowly add the milk to the bowl with the sugar mixture, whisking constantly to avoid any curdling of the eggs. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan, add the walnuts, and cook over medium heat, whisking often, until it has thickened. Remove from the heat and cool completely.
For the chocolate glaze, in a wide bowl, stir the confectioner’s sugar, cocoa powder and milk together until well-combined. If you would like a thinner consistency, add a little more milk. If you prefer a thicker glaze, start with 2 tablespoons of milk until you’ve reached your desired consistency.
To assemble, cut the buns in half. Place some of the walnut cream on the bottom half, followed with a dollop of whipped cream. Dunk the tops of the buns into the chocolate glaze, covering them completely. Let some of the glaze drip off before placing back on top of the bottom buns. Sprinkle with some chopped walnuts. Serve right away.