Semla is a traditional Swedish pastry eaten on Shrove Tuesday, and every Tuesday in Lent thereafter. The University of Gothenburg Cultural Studies Department had a semla get-together this afternoon, where they discussed the role (hahahahhha see what I did there?) and history of this little bun, and then provided us with the Best Semla In the Land. No, seriously, this is a thing. Every year, a team of field experts gathers to judge and critique semlor from all over Sweden, and presents one with the title of Årets Bästa Semla. If the whole panda-handler career path doesn't work out, this is definitely the next-best thing. Anyways, the panel couldn't decide between the semla from a Stockholm bakery and that of a Gothenburg bakery (the rivalry continues), so instead of making a tough call, they oh-so-Swedishly just decided that there wasn't going to be a winner this year. So, technically, this is the second-best/tied-for-first semla in Sweden. Close enough.
This pastry looks totally innocent, but don't be fooled. The outside, as you can see, is a sweet wheat bun with cardamon spices baked into it. The inside of the roll scooped out and filled with marzipan paste (I've been watching Gilmore Girls ad nauseum the past few weeks, and just watched the episode where Emily and Richard bring back marzipan from...Belgium? Switzlerand? Anyways, the joke is that everyone is supposed to hate marzipan, but I don't understand why because it's super tasty); it is then topped off with a heavy swirling of whipped cream, the lid of the roll, and a dusting of powdered sugar. Voilà, semla! They were superbly delicious, but oh. my. god. so. filling. Also, so sugary. I could try a Semla Challenge where I attempt to eat two semlor in 15 minutes, but I'm pretty sure my teeth would just pack up and walk out of my mouth and be all like "Kiss me before you betray me! ET TU, BRUTE????"