Hygge (pronounced ‘hoo-gah’). The Danish word for the art of creating a sense of warmth, cosiness and fellowship in the smallest everyday moments.
There is no direct translation of the word into English, but from my eager reading around the subject, I have discovered that hygge is not limited to the fuzzy glow inspired by tea lights and woolly jumpers. Hygge is a mindset, a feeling. It is an experience or mood that cultivates a sense of togetherness and contentment.
Hygge is snuggling up by a toasty fire with a brandy and ginger and delving into a good novel.
Hygge is baking apple and cinnamon bread together on a wintery Sunday.
Hygge is drinking mulled wine and listening to jazz, surrounded by candles with your best friends.
Hygge is a long, steaming hot bath then jumping into new jammies and bed socks.
All these things are hygge and I love them all. It speaks to me, it sings to me! I now suspect that I have been unconsciously living the hygge way all this time, without ever realising it was a…thing.
So how did my discovery of this wonderful, Danish concept come about? It’s all thanks to my fabulous new loungewear, you see. Now I’m working from home on a regular basis, I have been acutely aware of my lack of suitable clothing (or ‘snugs’ as our family calls it). Rather than the restrictive nature of jeans and other real clothes, I had taken to mooching about at home in a pair of rather distressed, ankle-swinging pyjamas. This did not gone unnoticed by Tim. It did not go unnoticed by the postman, either. It began with a startled look, a slight recoil, a general mood of dissent, before bubbling over into full-blown protestations and outcry…Yes, the offending pyjamas had to go.
Full of determination, I began scouring the land for soft, beautiful, get-that-on-me-now loungewear. And then I found it. The most gorgeous range of loungewear, aptly named ‘Hygge.’
Hygge, hygge, what is this hygge? I wondered. And so my discovery began.
And so now, I am a Hygge Goddess. I am padding around at home nonchalantly in my new, softest grey cashmere lounge pants, patterned with tiny, creamy snowflakes. I am snuggling up in the cosiest new knit top and diving under thick blankets with abandon. I can practically breathe in the cosiness. Ahhh. Here I am, in my snug-cocoon.
There is one essential element missing to my hygge haven. The greatest bringer-together of all: delicious, tasty things. This occasion calls for only the cosiest, warmest, most indulgent of treats. Welcome, coconut hot chocolate with toasted coconut marshmallows.
Concocting this recipe was a sheer delight, as I am sure you can imagine. My recent ‘clean eating’ has awakened my tastebuds to the wonders of coconut, and while there is nothing ‘clean’ about this recipe, the creamy goodness of coconut had to feature.
The perfect hot chocolate for me has to be the thick, shiny, almost pudding texture of the hot chocolate found in one of the most hygge experiences of all – skiing, chalets and mountains. The depth of chocolate flavour in this rich, decadent hot chocolate has to be tasted to be believed. It is literally like sipping melted chocolate. Except this is even better, because mine is made with creamy coconut milk, which takes the experience to another level entirely.
Melted dark chocolate, vanilla, cinnamon and coconut milk. Poured luxuriously into warm mugs dipped in toasted coconut flakes. Served with big, pillowy puffs of toasted coconut marshmallows, laced with coconut liqueur. You can even put it in the fridge then eat it as a pudding.
Oh my, those marshmallows are something else. Nothing like the shop-bought type, these sweet, fluffy clouds of goodness will fully complete your sense of hygge bliss. The coconut liqueur adds an indulgent twist and is one for the adults, but the recipe can be made quite happily by omitting the liqueur too.
So, armed with loungewear, pillows, blankets, hot chocolate and marshmallows, let us all go forth and hygge.
- 200g desiccated coconut
- coconut oil, for greasing
- 5 gelatine leaves
- 250g granulated sugar
- 2 tsp liquid glucose
- 1 large egg white
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp coconut liqueur, such as Malibu
- icing sugar for dusting
- 3 tbsp icing sugar, plus a little extra for the hot chocolate mug glaze
- 125g dark chocolate (I used 70% Green & Blacks organic)
- 340ml coconut milk (from a can)
- ¾ tbsp cornflour
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- tiny pinch of sea salt
- Toast the coconut flakes in a pan over a low heat, stirring constantly to stop them burning. When the flakes are golden brown, remove from the heat and tip into a bowl.
- Line and lightly grease a square tin (16cm or 18cm) with baking parchment and coconut oil. Spread half the toasted coconut evenly over the base of the tin.
- Put the gelatine leaves in a large bowl of cold water, one by one. Leave to soak while you make the marshmallow mixture.
- Put the sugar, liquid glucose and 100ml cold water into a small, deep, heavy pan. Warm over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Then, turn up the heat and boil until it reaches about 125C on a sugar thermometer. (If like me, you don't have a thermometer, boil for about 10 minutes then drop a little of the mixture into a glass of cold water. If it sets into a firm yet squishy ball, it's ready.) Every so often, brush water around the sides of the pan with a pastry brush to stop the mixture crystallising at the edges. IMPORTANT: Do not stir the sugar mixture at all during this process, or it may crystallise.
- Just before the sugar is ready, whisk the egg white into stiff peaks in a large bowl.
- When the sugar is ready, pour it in a steady stream into the egg white whilst still whisking. Make sure it hits the egg whites before the whisk blades.
- Lift the gelatine leaves out of the water, squeeze out the excess water and add, one at a time whilst still whisking continuously, to the mixture.
- Next add the vanilla and coconut liqueur whilst still whisking. You will see the mixture turning shiny and thick. Keep whisking for about 10 mins until it’s very thick.
- Scrape the marshmallow mixture into the prepared tin and smooth over with an oiled pallet knife (spatula).
- Sprinkle over the remaining toasted coconut flakes, reserving a handful for the rims of your hot chocolate mugs.
- Leave to set (somewhere cool but not the fridge) for 2-3 hours or overnight, until set.
- When set, turn out on a chopping board, carefully ease off the baking parchment and cut into squidgy squares.
- The marshmallows can be kept in an airtight container for up to a month, or can be frozen to enjoy later.
- First make the hot chocolate mug glaze. Place a little of the icing sugar into a small bowl and add a splash of water. Mix until a smooth paste, about the same consistency as thick paint. Using a pastry brush, brush around the rims of your hot chocolate mugs. Dip the rims of the mugs into a bowl of your reserved toasted coconut flakes, left over from the marshmallows. Put to one side while you make the hot chocolate.
- Break the chocolate into small pieces and place in a bowl over a pan of hot water. Melt gently over a low heat, stirring all the time.
- Once melted, remove the bowl from the pan. Tip the water away from the pan and dry out. Pour the melted chocolate back into the pan and return to the hob over a low heat.
- Add a splash of the coconut milk to the melted chocolate and stir. Pour in the rest of the coconut milk (reserving a little for the sugar and cornflour paste) in a steady stream, stirring constantly, until completely smooth.
- Sift the icing sugar and cornflour into a small bowl and add the reserved coconut milk. Stir into a smooth, creamy-like consistency. Add to the chocolate mix, along with the cinnamon and sea salt. Stir until completely combined, shiny and smooth.
- Turn up the heat slightly and let the mixture thicken, for about a minute or so.
- Pour into the toasted coconut mugs and enjoy.