Baking & Dessert

By Lindsay Hunt | December 8, 2010

Photo: Lindsay Hunt

With the feast of St. Lucia coming up next week, I knew I wanted to make something from Sweden for my Baking around the Globe column.  Using saffron in baked goods is common for this holiday in Sweden, but it was a recipe for peppermint caramels, or polkagriskola, that enticed me.

Kola is a kind of semisoft toffee popular in Sweden, and I can now see why.  The buttery toffee is spiked with refreshing crushed peppermint.

For confection making novices, do not fear: this recipe is easy.  Follow my modified directions and revel in the delights of the candy you’ve made.  These peppermint caramels would make a great gift.  Divide your batch into four piles, (but make sure to save some for yourself), and use a nice tin or a cellophane bag to package them.  I guarantee that this gift will win you affection this St. Lucia Day or this Christmas.

Save the powder when you sift the peppermint candies to fold into whipped cream, or to create peppermint hot chocolate.  I am sure a shimmer of the peppermint dust on a bowl of vanilla ice cream would be nothing short of fairy dust.

Photo: Lindsay Hunt

Swedish Peppermint Caramels (Polkagriskola) Recipe

Servings: 64 squares


  • 4 oz hard peppermint candies
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup superfine sugar
  • 6 tbsp golden syrup or dark corn syrup
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 7 tbsp unsalted butter


1. Put peppermint candies into a plastic bag and crush them coarsely with the flat side of a meat mallet. Using a large sieve, sift candy pieces over a bowl, saving the powder; set candy pieces aside.

2. Line the bottom of an 8" x 8 " baking pan with parchment paper; grease parchment paper with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

3. Heat cream, sugar, syrup, and honey in a 6 inch diameter 2-quart saucepan over medium heat; stir until sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Bring to a boil and attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan; cook, without stirring, until mixture reaches 250 degrees, about 45-50 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the butter. Using a wooden spoon, stir until smooth, about 3-5 minutes. If the toffee fizzes when you add the butter, don't worry, just keep stirring.

4. Pour sugar mixture onto prepared baking pan and sprinkle evenly with peppermint candy pieces, pressing them lightly into toffee with the back of a spatula. Let cool completely; cut into 64 squares to serve.

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Whether it’s finding the best goat tacos in LA, spotting a well-worn vintage bag in Sweden, or interviewing the “crab man” selling seafood on a corner in Harlem, we tell stories seen from Chef Marcus Samuelsson‘s point of view. strives to create conversations about food, nutrition, culture, art, and design. We want to find Read More


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