After a short break, my Eat Like a Local guest post series returns with an indulgent recipe for Swedish chokladbollar (chocolate balls) from fellow blogger, Alaine Handa of Travel with Alaine. These moreish chocolate balls take just 20 minutes to prepare, excluding resting time!
Although Alaine originates from Singapore , she’s lived all over the world throughout her life and after spending time in New York and while studying in Switzerland, she developed a love for chokladbollar.
Having spent the last few years perfecting her chokladbollar by testing her culinary creations on her friends and family, Alaine is now sharing her passion for chokladbollar with the world in her new cookbook, [Ad] In Search of the Best Swedish Chokladbollar: A Southeast Asian Falls in Love with Fika, released only yesterday.
Read on to find out more about Alaine and her new cookbook, in addition to an exclusive chokladbollar recipe that’s never been published before!
- 1 Alaine Handa – Sweden
- 2 Swedish chokladbollar
- 3 Speculoos Chokladbollar
Alaine Handa – Sweden
Tell us about yourself
My name is Alaine Handa and these days, I split my time between Singapore and Europe. This is what happens when one becomes a global nomad of sorts! I grew up as an expat kid and then became an expat myself. Now, I’m mostly mobile but I go back to Singapore a lot because that’s where my family generally resides these days. I’ve lived in Singapore, Jakarta, Los Angeles, New York City, Switzerland and Brussels. I’ve also spent a lot of time in Malta, Sweden, Finland, Australia and the United States. From everywhere and nowhere, really – definitely living up the title of global citizen!
I started dancing and performing almost as soon as I could walk and talk. I spent the majority of my life growing up in dance studios training in ballet, jazz, tap and contemporary with a little bit of hip hop, flamenco, and lyrical jazz thrown in. I spent my early adult years as a dance major in university and then as a professional dancer, choreographer and teacher in LA and New York City. That artist life feels like a lifetime ago!
As a child, I was always a picky eater and demanded only tasty food – luckily, my grandmother and my aunts were amazing cooks. There were many afternoons spent baking at my cousin’s house. I loved the smell of sugar, butter and flour mixed in together. I’m still a picky eater today and I still believe that mediocre food is a waste of calories! I’m also very much into making foods from scratch and repeating recipes until I get it right. My grandmother would cook everything from fresh ingredients, so I guess the inspiration came from her. There’s something tactile and soothing about making something from one’s bare hands. Food prepared and made with love always tastes the best.
I went to Les Roches hospitality management school in Switzerland for my postgraduate studies and loved being in the kitchen, as well as behind the bar. It was here that I started dreaming up crazy recipes for my favourite Swedish chokladbollar (chocolate balls), which I was already making every week for my friends! It took me a few years to perfect the right proportion of ingredients to get a consistent and good chokladboll.Fast forward a few years later to the present and I’ve now written a cookbook about Swedish chokladbollar and the concept of ‘fika’ (a coffee break – a time to reconnect and recharge). In my cookbook, there are around 30+ different recipesfor chokladbollar, from the healthy to the decadent. Today marks the official launch date of my cookbook, so I’m gearing up for a whirlwind to promote the book the in most creative ways possible and there will be dance, coffee, chocolate and maybe some workshops too!
My blog, Travel with Alaine is mostly made up of my personal experiences, interviews with people I meet, wine (another geeky passion of mine!), good food, being a global citizen, chokladbollar and art.
When did you begin blogging, and why did you decide to start a blog?
I actually started blogging about my experiences as a global citizen/adult and third culture kid since my live journal days, then later on Blogspot in 2009.
My actual travel blog was launched in 2015. I started documenting my travels because I had all these amazing travel experiences and wanted to tell my stories. Now, I’m really inspired to write about the people I meet along the way as well. I love a good personal narrative. On that personal note, I wanted to document some of my experiences so I don’t forget what I’ve experienced so far.
What’s the best experience you’ve had as a blogger?
I attended my first travel blogger conference this year in Rotterdam (Traverse) and met quite a number of inspiring bloggers (including Kacie!) I learned so much from them and want to continue writing and inspiring people to travel in a way that is meaningful to them. Not just for the ‘gram or for a blog post, or to hit that bucket list as fast as they can. Travel is also about the people you meet, the food you eat, the lifestyle you adopt and the time it takes to recharge. I love trying new foods and flavours when I’m on the road, but I also like to maintain a healthy balance.
What advice would you give to new bloggers who are just starting out?
Oh no… I’m feeling the imposter syndrome! I feel like I’m always learning the technical side of things in the blogging world; I’d say be yourself, and write with honesty and integrity.
Join blogger groups and meet-ups, because its important to create a human connection and community even if you’re a nomad.
Keep learning new tools and apply them one at a time. Its easy to get overwhelmed and bogged down. Do what you know best!
This chokladbollar recipe is literally fresh from the kitchen and it doesn't even appear in my book (I keep dreaming up of new recipes)! However, it summarises what makes my book a bit different; I’m inspired by my global experiences and have utilised flavours into my recipes in ways that I think can be enjoyed by the majority of people.
I love making chokladbollar because they're not hard to make, with a little bit of practice. Chokladbollar have a basis of oats, cocoa, butter, sugar, coffee, but you can experiment with the proportions of the ingredients, substitute ingredients (you can turn any of my recipes vegan, gluten-free, and sugar-free), and use locally sourced produce available in your local area.
In any case, important factors include the quality of ingredients and the temperature of the environment. Add more oats if your batter becomes too sticky, or add more liquid if it feels too dry and crumbly.
- 115 g oats
- 50g g raw brown sugar
- 3 g vanilla bean powder
- 50 g cocoa powder
- 20 g melted butter
- 100 g semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 30 g speculoos (spiced shortcrust biscuit)
- 30 ml cold black coffee
- pinch sea salt
- preferred garnish
Prepare your coffee ahead of time and set aside to cool.
Over a low heat, melt the butter until browned. Stir in the chocolate chips until they melt completely, then set aside.
In a large bowl, mix together the oats, sugar, vanilla bean, cocoa powder and sea salt.
Add the cold black coffee to the dry ingredients and mix well using your hands.
Add the speculoos and mix well with your hands, kneading the mixture until sticky and ready to be rolled into balls.
Using a tablespoon, take a scoop of he mix and place it in the palm of your hand. Form and roll into balls and set aside on a plate or tray. Repeat.
Dip and coat each ball into the melted chocolate mixture until fully coated.
Place your preferred garnish into a small bowl and sprinkle it over the top of each ball. This recipe uses melted chocolate and stroopwafels, but feel free to experiment with any toppings you like.
Let the balls set in the fridge for around an hour before serving.
The ingredient quantities listed in this recipe have been converted from millilitres using a weight to volume conversion calculator, to suit a UK audience. Normally, Alaine measures her ingredients using measuring cups and the quantities in her book are listed in millilitres.
Alaine’s cookbook, In Search of the Best Swedish Chokladbollar: A Southeast Asian Falls in Love with Fika was released only yesterday and is available to purchase from Amazon here: https://amzn.to/2A67p91