Basically it is a ball made up of oats, cocoa, sugar, coffee and butter, rolled tightly into little golf ball size balls then covered in either pearl sugar or desecrated coconut. Not only are they incredibly simple to make they are more or less a staple in the Swedish diet, and you can find them in every shop, kiosk, cafe or home.
Originally they were called negerbolla, literally translated into English is ‘negro balls’, which at the time was not considered a racially charged word, but rather it was derived from the Latin word niger meaning black so it really meant blackball (a literal description of what they looked like!).
However as Sweden began to open its door to more and more immigrants from around the world and especially sub-saharan Africa, many Swedes felt that the word was no longer appropriate and should be changed to the more politically correct word of chokladbol (chocolate ball). It is my impression however, that the everyday Swedes vehemently opposed this, as they believed that it was in fact the politicians who were creating a racial problem where there really was none.
To add to the confusion, it turned out that chokladbol was not really allowed to be used either, as technically there is not enough chocolate in it, so then people started calling them havrebol or oatmeal ball, some people even started calling them kokosbol (coconut ball) – in the end, no one really knows what to call the damn thing!
I remember working in a cafe once in Sweden where one of my colleagues was from British Guiana but of Indian descent. It used to really amuse him when people would come into the cafe and try to order one of these balls, but would get so flustered and start fumbling as to what to call it, as they didn’t want to offend him – until he came to the rescue and said (in Swedish obviously) would you like a negerboll? This would always get him to chuckle, and he didn’t really understand what the problem was – back in British Guiana and in fact throughout Latin America – if your black your nickname was El Negro, or if you were of Asian descent you were El Chino – in fact if your fat your nickname is El Gordo (fatty)!
Call them what you want – but at the end of the day these little bad boys are so damn good and so easy to make that even I, who am prone to mistakes when it comes to the sweeter side of cooking managed to pull them together! It will literally take you 10 mins from start to finish!
Negerbollar (make 5-8 pieces)
- 100g butter, room temperature
- 100ml sugar
- 1 tbsp vanilla sugar (Not essential, if you want you can add few drops of vanilla extract)
- 3 tbsp coco
- 400 to 500ml of oats
- 2-3 tbsp cold coffee
- ½ tsp salt
- A plate Pearl sugar or desecrated coconut to coat the balls
Mix the butter, sugar, vanilla sugar together well. Stir in the cacao, oats, coffee and salt and combine well.
With your hands get a spoon full of the mixture and make a tight golf size ball with it.
Roll the ball into the sugar or coconut – and then pop them into the fridge for a while.
And there you have it!
Unfortunately I could not find any coconut or pearl sugar for the balls, so mine are slightly naked (no pun intended) however taste just as good.
And here I leave you with a clip from a very famous Swedish comedy called Sune’s Sommar which demonstrates the humorous side of this whole affair: