Today, Sam and I went to Pärlans; a swing-era inspired confectionary shop and cafe in Södermalm, Stockholm, to find out the true meaning of a 'fika.' For those Non-Swedish folk who are unfamiliar with the term, read along while we explain to you what the lovely ladies at Pärlan had to say about the tradition and an addition called the 'Fika Horn.'
Our visit began with a wonderful cup of coffee paired with one of their beautifully wrapped, and incredibly delicious caramels. Sandra, an employee since the shop's beginnings led us through the history of the shop, its somewhat unintentional function as a cafe, and the necessities of a fika station in every Swedish work place.
"Fika in the workplace," Sandra explained, "usually occurs in the morning and afternoon, and can last around 10-20 minutes. I had a job a few years ago at a government office, and initially, was somewhat reluctant to take the position due to my worries that office work could be quite boring. To my surprise, it was one of the most fun jobs I have had. What made it such a great workplace was this thing they called the 'fika horn.' Anytime anyone was taking a fika, and wanted company he/she would honk the horn, and whoever could take a break would join for a cup of coffee. This, of course, brought the office much closer together and increased communication because although some of the talk during fika was personal, it all gravitated to conversations about work and the projects people were involved in."
After our fika with the owner of Pärlans, we got a tour of their confectionary, and were lucky enough to sample as many caramels as our much caffeinated hearts desired.
Caramels with bourbon vanilla and sea salt250 g Sugar170 g Glucose syrup80 gram Salted butter200 ml Heavy cream1 teaspoon Sea salt1 Bourbon vanilla podHeat the cream and the butter in a small saucepan with the vanilla and sea salt until the butter has melted. Keep warm while you cook the syrup.In a medium, heavy duty saucepan heat the glucose with the sugar, and cook, stirring gently, to make sure the sugar melts smoothly. Cook until the syrup reaches 175ºC and turns golden.Remove the saucepan with the syrup from the heat and gently stir in the warm cream and butter mixture.Put the saucepan back on medium heat and cook the mixture to 124ºC.Pour the mixture into a pan lined with buttered foil and wait a few minutes, then sprinkle sea salt on top. Let the caramel set in room temperature for at least 6 hours. Once set, slice the bar of caramel with a knife into squares or rectangles.
Tack to the wonderful ladies and gentleman at Pärlans!