Cowberry Yoghurt Muffins Parfait Style

Cowberries are also known as Lingonberries, a small tart fruit which is a staple in Northern Scandinavia, picked in the wild and used to accompany a variety of dishes.  If you’ve been to the IKEA cafeteria you’ve seen them as a sauce for the Swedish meatballs.   They are also grown in the U.S. Pacific Northwest, but not seen very often here in California unless in jam or preserves.

Having been an English major in college, I developed a fond relationship with wordplay, so you can imagine my delight at the other common names for the Lingonberry:  csejka berry, quailberry, beaverberry, red whortleberry, cougarberry, mountain bilberry, and even partridgeberry!

My best friend from college moved to Sweden 20 + years ago and one of our very closest family friends, Stig the mad genius carpenter, is a “Sami” (formerly known as a “Lapp”; from Lapland, Sweden), and I visited Sweden once many moons ago.  I love most things Swede, in homage to my friends and for 2 other reasons:  (1) meatballs; and, (2) open faced sandwiches.

This week it’s been cold cold cold, by Southern California standards, so I’ve been feeling downright Nordic.  In addition, last Sunday we had a wonderful pie at our favorite cafe that was made with jam and a layer of yogurt, and I’ve been wanting to re-create those flavors and textures since then.  So for this Fiesta Friday I dreamt up this cowberry muffin, parfait style.  It has a bottom layer of cooked lingonberries (or you can use jam), a layer of drained greek-style yoghurt mixed with an egg yolk and some flour for firmness/bakeability, and a top layer of bacon.  The muffin dough uses a combination of rye flour and coarse polenta mixed with a little more yoghurt.

I experimented with more use of natural light in my photos this week and would love your input on the different shots.  Believe me, the whole production did not bode well for my husband this morning, who during Lent does not eat until after 5 p.m., so as he calmly did his morning reading/meditation, I was scuttling baked cowberry muffins, halved and whole, around the house pulling up blinds, moving chairs, making all kinds of noise and trouble to snap my shots.

Natural Light, from above

Natural Light, from above

From Above, Instagram enhanced

From Above, Instagram enhanced

Side View, Natural Light

Side View, Natural Light

Side View, Instagram enhanced

Side View, Instagram enhanced

Whole Muffins, Natural Light

Whole Muffins, Natural Light

Natural Light

Natural Light

I Made a Mess, Instagram enhanced

I Made a Mess, Instagram enhanced

Here’s the Recipe:


1/2 cup lingonberries or lingonberry jam

1 Tbps cornstarch mixed with 1 Tbsp water

1 1/4 cup greek style (full fat) yoghurt

1 cup plus 2 Tbsp rye flour

1 cup coarse polenta

1 egg

1 egg yolk

1 Tbsp baking soda

1/2 cup water

8 slices bacon, cooked to 75% of how crisp you would normally like it

(Makes 4 large muffins)


1.  Gently warm 1/2 cup lingonberries, or lingonberry jam.  Mix 1 Tbsp cornstarch with 1 Tbsp. water and add to lingonberries.  Stir for 2 minutes then let sit for at least 10 minutes, or to cool.

2.  Mix 1 cup greek yoghurt (full fat) with 1 egg yolk and 2 Tbsp flour.  Set aside.

3.  Mix 1 cup rye flour and 1 cup coarse polenta and 1 Tbsp baking powder.  Add 1/4 cup greek yoghurt, 1 egg and mix well, and 1/2 cup water and mix well.

4.  Layer large silpat muffin molds or pour into muffin tin as follows:  2 large spoonfuls of lingonberry, 2 spoonfuls of yoghurt mixture, 2 spoonfuls of flour mixture, repeat layers but with 1 spoonful of each mixture.  Break bacon slices into pieces. Top with bacon.  Cover the tops of the muffins for the first 35 minutes of baking.  Uncover for the last 10 minutes of baking.  Let cool well before unmolding.



A little more history on this delightfully sour berry:

  • In Sweden and Norway, reindeer and elk steak is traditionally served with gravy and lingonberry sauce.

  • A traditional Swedish dessert is lingonpäron (literally lingonberry pears), consisting of fresh pears which are peeled and boiled in lingondricka (lingonberry squash) and then preserved in the pear-infused lingonberry squash and not uncommonly eaten during Christmas. This was very common in old times, because it was an easy and tasty way to preserve pears.

  • In Sweden and Russia, when sugar was still a luxury item, the berries were usually preserved simply by putting them whole into bottles of water. This was also a home remedy against scurvy.

  • In Russia this preserve had been known as “lingonberry water” (брусничная вода) and is a traditional soft drink. In Russian folk medicine, lingonberry water was used as a mild laxative.

  • A traditional Finnish dish is sautéed reindeer (poronkäristys) with mashed potatoes and lingonberries, either cooked or raw with sugar. In Finland, a porridge made from the fruit is also popular.

  • In Poland, the berries are often mixed with pears to create a sauce served with poultry or game.

25 Comments on “Cowberry Yoghurt Muffins Parfait Style

  1. Those really do look good – what an interesting mix of flavours and textures. I hope your husband felt duly rewarded with a sample after tolerating all the commotion. As for the photos, they are all very good, but I like the ones with more shadow. Is that the natural light? I also think the one with the aluminum foil is so good. I never would have thought of photographing that, but it is a beautiful composition with a complete story in it.

    • Thank you Hilda, my husband won’t get his due reward until after 5 p.m. today but hopefully he will like it. I really appreciate the feedback on the photos . . . what a steep learning curve photography is for me!

  2. I love lingonberries, but I’m loving your use of them here:) Such a delicious and unique concoction you’ve assembled! Sounds like a perfect starter for the day…especially with the hint of bacon!

  3. I love lingonberries at Ikea! 🙂 I think I like the name red whortleberries even better! What a great muffin recipe…and the bacon on top is genius.

  4. These look great, Sue! My colleague uses the lingonberry jam from Ikea as part of a glaze in a tofu dish. It is delish!

  5. I love it when I get to try something new! And what you have created for us tonight is something new and wonderful! The textures look amazing. Also, I can totally relate to the whole, husband, photography thing! It sounds like my house when I am trying to get that perfect light and not disturb what is going on in the house. Thanks so much for bringing your yummy parfait muffins to FF! 🙂

  6. I also like the photos with more shadow, but they all look good! Now I want to get lingonberry jam from Ikea. Thanks also for the list of different names for this berry, really interesting read!

  7. I really like the third shot, the side view natural light. In general I think the natural light enhances the food more (despite disturbing the meditating mate). 😉

  8. I really like the natural light photos because they show your beautiful muffins very well. However, I find the Instagram enhanced photos really fun and evokes more mood. Plus, that fourth photo in particular (enhanced) really lets the bacon shine! Thanks for the background on lingonberries. I have had those meatballs with the sauce at IKEA before and never knew it was made with lingonberries.

    • thanks for your input, sometimes I get so discouraged when I visit other sites and see their photographs . . . and find out how much their equipment costs!!!

      • I’m not a photographer myself and love the ease of taking photos with my iPhone. I do get photo-envy when I visit other people’s sites, too. I know what you mean about the equipment. All I’ve done in the last year is buy two foam boards (a few dollars total) and use them to reflect natural light a bit. I’m debating about buying a light source for nighttime photos, since I cook mostly at night, but it’s hard to justify the expense. For now, I just brighten photos a bit on my computer.

      • thanks, that’s what I do minus the foam boards. good idea and I think I can splurge for that

      • My photos are far from professional but I saved up and bought a canon eos Rebel T3i at Costco for a very reasonable price. It was worth every penny. Best purchase I’ve made in a long time. The difference between my iphone photos and now still blow me away. I have no other equipment or tricks or lights. But a good camera makes a huge difference in picture quality, even for a total amateur like me. It’s a worthy expense and VERY fun toy 🙂

  9. Lovely use of lingonberries, and I bet the sweetness/tartness goes well with the bacon – yum! And Greek yogurt, which I love 🙂 I’m totally with you on the photo experiments (and baffling/disturbing my husband in the process!). I think I like the mood of the enhanced ones the best; the second pic, from above, is my favorite; it’s artful, inviting, and shows off the color/lushness of the lingonberries. I’ve recently discovered picmonkey – do you use this site? It’s free but has some useful enhancements I’m enjoying trying too. I’ve never used instagram so you’re way ahead of me – thanks for sharing!

  10. These look amazing! I’m definitely making these. I happen to keep lingonberries around for a sauce with rosemary and lamb chops. Very yummy and a nice change from currants (which I also use).
    And me with all this yogurt cheese that I’m forever looking for uses for. You’re an angel! 🙂

    I liked the natural photos best. Instagram filters always make things look so artificial and yellowed. The birds eye photos were a little disorienting. Frankly all the photos look delicious!!! And I agree the foil photo was so artistic and surprisingly beautiful.

    I always find flash to make things look worse. I need to learn to disable mine! Natural light wins on showcasing your gorgeous real food! Yum!

    • Why thank you and I appreciate your taking the time to give detailed input. For some reason, also, the word “disorienting” made me giggle!!!! I know what you mean!

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