I was recently given a Swedish Rosette set by a Persian relative. She gave it to me so I could make the Persian pastry nan-e panjerehi, translated as “window bread” because of the tiny hole shapes in the pastry. It turns out that this most delicate of fried desserts is neither exclusively Swedish nor Persian.
After making the rosettes with my cousin, Mahin, I brought them to a dinner party, where one guest remarked that her Romanian grandmother used to make them. Her Italian husband said that he remembered eating the rosettes back in Italy. When I looked up the dish online to find out more about it, I learned that Mexicans eat a version of this very same dessert, but they call it buñuelo, or fritter. So, although the rosette likely originated in Sweden, there are different versions of it throughout the world.
The variations between recipes from one nation to another are small but significant. Mexicans dust their rosettes with cinnamon sugar, Romanians flavor them with almond extract, and Persians with rosewater and cardamom.
If you have ever made rosettes, you know that they are light as air, easy to eat, and challenging to make. First, you screw an iron rosette mold onto the end of a wand. Then you heat the frying oil in a pan, and dip the rosette into the oil to warm it up and coat it with grease so the batter doesn’t stick. Then, you dip the mold into the batter without submerging the top, and then dip it in the hot oil until it starts to loosen, at which point it must be shaken off. After cooking for a total of no more than two minutes in the pan, the rosettes must be removed and drained on towels, cooled, and then coated with a light dusting of powdered sugar.
This sounds like a lot of work for a few crisp bites of sweet, fried dough. But the truth is, mastering rosettes is a very satisfying challenge, it’s a fun activity that curious young cooks with small hands can participate in, and because it’s much easier to make rosettes with two cooks rather than one, making them with family or friends is a special way to bond. Did you ever make rosettes growing up, or are they a part of your family’s eating traditions?
Here is a basic recipe for Swedish rosettes, or struvor in Swedish, that I adapted from the website of Forever Swedish (http://www.foreverswedish.org/swedishcookies.htm), a Swedish heritage organization in Wisconsin. They are typically made at Christmastime. If you want to play around with the flavor of the batter, try adding half a teaspoon of vanilla extract, almond extract, or rosewater to the batter. You can also season the powdered sugar that goes on at the end with cardamom, cinnamon, or anise powder. This recipe makes 3-4 dozen rosettes.
- 2 eggs
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 cup milk
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup sifted flour
- Fat for deep frying (peanut, safflower, canola, or grapeseed oil)
- Confectioners sugar
Beat eggs with an electric beater until very light. Beat in sugar, milk, and salt. Finally beat in flour and continue beating until a smooth batter is formed.
Heat fat to 365°F, or until a one-inch cube of bread browns in one minute.
Heat Rosette iron in hot fat. Dip hot iron in batter so that the batter comes just short of the top of the iron.
Lower batter covered iron into hot fat and fry until delicately browned. If the rosette falls off the iron, fish it off with a fork when it is delicately browned. Drain on absorbent paper. When cool, sift confectioner’s sugar over the rosettes.
Photos by James Rotondi