Customs employees given ‘pirated’ iPods for Christmas

The iPod-esque MP3 music players given to Swedish Customs (Tullverket) employees for their annual Christmas failed to impress the rank and file – and may be illegal.

Customs employees given 'pirated' iPods for Christmas

Disappointment set in quickly for many customs employees upon discovering that what they thought were shiny new iPods emblazoned with the Tullverket logo were in fact simply knock-off copies of the popular Apple music players.

“Embarrassing. Our job is the stop the spread of things like this,” one employee told the Aftonbladet newspaper.

Officials from the Swedish Consumer Agency (Konsumentverket) are now looking into whether the gifts may be illegal.

“At first glance, I couldn’t tell the difference from an iPod,” said Consumer Agency lawyer Marek Andersson to Aftonbladet.

“If I’d been a lawyer for the company with the rights, I would have reacted.”

Agency spokesperson Anette Malmberg explained that Tullverket had hired another company to procure the gifts and never would have knowingly distributed illegal knock-off iPods to employees.

“This isn’t something we’ve imported ourselves,” she said.

“We assume that the company which delivered to us did so in the correct manner.”

Now customs employees may have to give back the pirated iPods altogether.

“It’s both embarrassing and ironic that people in our organization don’t have a better understanding of this. One of missions is to hunt down pirated goods,” said another customs employee.


How to make Swedish apple tart with cardamom

It's apple season in Sweden, and there are few things better than this apple tart with one of Swedes' favourite spices.

How to make Swedish apple tart with cardamom
Apple tart with cardamom. Photo: John Duxbury/Swedish Food


– To produce a light, flaky pastry, try to be confident when handling it and pat it into a round as quicly as possible. Don't handle it too much or the heat of your hands will melt the butter and the pastry will become elastic and chewy, not crumbly and short.

– If you don't fancy lemon zest in the pastry, try another dry ingredient such as vanilla seeds or even more cardamom.

– If possible, use mandelmassa (Swedish almond paste) which you can buy in specialist stores or online. If you can't get any you can use marzipan and omit the sugar from filling or you make your own. For our recipe click here.

– Chill the mandelmassa before using as that makes it easier to grate.

– I usually peel the apples, but, as shown in the photo at the top of the page, you can leave the skins on if you prefer.



250g (2 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour, plus extra for dusting

50g (2/5 cup) icing sugar (confectioner's sugar)

125g (½ cup) butter, cut into small cubes

1 small lemon, zest only

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 tbsp milk

Almond paste filling

150g (5 oz) Swedish almond paste, chilled

50g (¼ cup) butter, softened

2 tbsp caster (superfine) sugar

1 tsp vanilla sugar

1 egg

1 egg yolk

1 ½ tbsp plain (all-purpose) flour


1 tbsp lemon juice

3 richly flavoured eating apples, such as Cox's

6-8 green cardamom pods

2 tbsp caster (superfine) sugar

3 tbsp apricot jam, mixed with 3 tablespoons of water


1. Make the pastry by putting the flour and sugar in a food processor and giving it a few whizzes to sift them. Add the butter and whizz for 10-15 seconds until the mixture resembles fine bread crumbs.

2. Add the lemon zest and process for a second to mix.

3. Add the egg and milk and process for a further 20-30 seconds or until the pastry clings together.

4. Using a lightly floured work surface, gently form the pastry into a round disc. Wrap in clingfilm and chill for about 30 minutes.

5. Pre-heat the oven to 180C (360F, gas 4, 160C).

6. Roll the pastry out and use it to line a 22 cm (9 in) pie dish. Trim the pastry so that it only comes part way up the dish. Prick the base lightly with a fork and bake for ten minutes.

7. Whisk the grated almond paste, butter, sugars, egg and egg yolk together with a fork until evenly mixed. Add the flour.

8. Spread the almond paste mixture over the pastry.

9. Add a tablespoon of lemon juice to a bowl of water. Peel and core the apples. Slice thinly into the bowl of water.

10. Drain and dry the apple slices. Arrange them in overlapping concentric circles, the outer circle should lie one way, the next circle the other way.

11. Break open the cardamom pods using a pestle and mortar. Discard the shells and then grind the seeds until you can't be bothered any more!

12. Mix the ground cardamom with the sugar and sprinkle over the apples.

13. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the apples are golden brown. If you prefer a caramelized flavour, increase the heat to 220C (425F, gas 7, 180C) for the last five minutes or pop the tart under the grill, but keep a close eye on it to avoid it becoming too burned, although I like it caramelized to the point where the edges of the apple are just beginning to char.

14. Melt the jam with three tablespoons of water, then brush over the hot tart. Serve warm for the best flavour.

Serving suggestions

– The pie is best served with lightly whipped cream or, as shown above, hemgjord vaniljssås (homemade vanilla sauce).

– The pie is definitely best served luke warm, but it can be easily reheated in a warm oven or in a microwave.

Recipe courtesy of John Duxbury, founder and editor of Swedish Food.