December 10, 2018

Feuerzangenbowle


Feuerzangenbowle and Glühwein are German traditions that long have been a part of my family’s Christmas celebrations.  Glühwein is warmed mulled wine. Feuerzangbowle is an amped up version of glühwein, where a rum-soaked sugar cone is set on fire and dips into mulled wine.  
People are always drawn to sit around the Feuerzangenbowle because it is spectacular.  It brings people together to talk, laugh, and enjoy one another’s company.  That’s what this season is all about!
Feuerzangenbowle is prepared in a bowl suspended over a small burner.  The bowl is filled with dry red wine, mulling spices, orange quarters, and juice from a lemon.  A metal grate sits on top of the bowl to hold the sugar cone.  The sugar come is soaked with rum and then lit, which results in melting and caramelizing.  The burner keeps the wine warm.
The rum needs to be at least 151 proof to burn properly.  Make sure to use a dry red wine.  You can sometimes find Glühwein at wine stores during the Christmas season; the bottled Glühwein makes a great base for this, but I still like to add the other spices and ingredients to boost the flavor.   (Try to find the Nuremburg bottled one; there are many with German labels made in Italy, which are not as good.)
Nothing can compare to the mulling spices from Williams-Sonoma. They have such a wonderful aroma.  (For a non-alcholic drink, add a jug of apple cider to your crock pot with these mulled spices, and your home will smell like a cozy Christmas heaven!  Add mulling spices to a sachet or mulling space ball so that you do not need to use a strainer.)
I found the Feurzangenbowle online through a specialty German seller on Amazon.  It is made of a special glass.  If you don’t have the Feurzangenbowle bowl and heater, you could also use a big pot over the stove.  If you can’t find a grate and sugar cone, you will still have a delicious mulled wine without it.
I am happy that Feuezangenbowle is now part of my annual Christmas party.  I look forward to enjoying the festive magic of this special tradition.  Get [the sugar cone] lit, and get merry!
Feuerzangenbowle
Yields 8-10 servings

Ingredients:
2 bottles (750 ml) dry red wine
One large orange, quartered with peel 
Juice of one lemon
1/4 cup dried mulled spices 
500 ml rum, at least 151 proof 
1 sugar cone  

Directions:
Pour the wine into the bowl. Add the orange peel, lemon juice, and the mulled spices.  Light the burner and place the bowl over the burner. Allow the mixture to heat up but do not bring to a boil.

Once the wine is warm, add the grate over the bowl and place the sugar cone on top.  Pour rum over the sugar cone and light it.  The melting sugar is dropped directly into the bowl.  Pour enough rum over the sugar cone so that it is all melted while burning, repeat if necessary.  As soon as the sugar is melted and burned, the Feurzangenbowle is ready to serve.

Source: Family Tradition!

December 9, 2018

Cinnamon Chocolate Fudge


Fudge is a Christmas season must!  If you are not a baker, give fudge making a try. It is easy and always a hit.  You could make up a variety of different fudges and put together tins for gift giving.  Check out my recipes for Grammy’s Christmas Fudge (my favorite) and peanut butter fudge.

This creamy fudge only has 7 ingredients, which are likely in your pantry.  The addition of cinnamon gives a nice spicy contrast to the richness of the chocolate. Eating cinnamon is supposed to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and dark chocolate had anti-oxidants, so this is basically health food.

Cinnamon Chocolate Fudge
Yields about 40 pieces (depending on size)

Ingredients:
1 14 oz. can of sweetened condensed milk
1 lb. bittersweet chocolate chips (60% cacao)
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
3 tbs. butter
1/2 tsp. salt

Directions:
Line a 8 x 8” baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium glass bowl or stainless steel bowl, add all ingredients.  Place the bowl over a pot of simmering hot water.  Mix until the ingredients all melt.

Pour the melted mixture into the lined pan and refrigerate overnight. Cut into pieces the next day.

Source: Giada Di Laurentiis

December 8, 2018

Stollenkonfekt (Bite Size Stollen)


Stollenkonfekt is the cookie version of stollen, and I think it is even more delicious than stollen!  

Stollen is a fruit bread with almonds, dried fruit, and often marzipan, though I think the marzipan makes it too sweet. The outside of the bread is coated in confectioner’s sugar.  These cookies bring in those same ingredients (minus the marzipan). Blanched chopped almonds, dried fruit, and classic stollen spices are mixed into a butter cookie dough. After baking, the stollen cookies are dipped in butter and then coated in confectioner’s sugar.

The spices make the cookies’ flavor more bold the next day.  This is a great cookie to go with afternoon tea. It will also be easier to plate on a cookie platter compared to a loaf of stollen.

To blanch whole almonds, place them in a small pot of boiling water.  Let them sit for about five minutes, and then remove them from the water.  The almond skin will be very loose and can be pushed off easily by your fingers.

I will have a recipe for stollen coming soon!

Stollenkonfekt (Bite Size Stollen)
Yields 36 cookies

Ingredients:
7 tablespoons/100g butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon/80g granulated sugar
1 cup/250g quark or Greek yogurt
Grated peel of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon dark rum
2 1/3 cups, scooped and leveled, plus 1 tablespoon/ 300g all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup/75g blanched whole almonds, chopped
1 cup/150g dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, etc.)

For the topping:
7 tablespoons/100g unsalted butter
13 tablespoons/100g confectioners’ sugar
3 tablespoons vanilla sugar

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silpats, and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, and baking powder.  Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and cream together until fluffy. Add the quark, grated lemon peel, vanilla extract, and rum; beat until well combined.

Add to the quark mixture and beat together until just combined. Stir in the almonds and raisins.
    
Form the dough into 2-inch balls.  Place them on the prepared baking sheets, leaving 1 inch between them.  Bake for 30 minutes, or until the stollen bites are a pale golden brown.
   
While the stolen bites bakes, make the topping. Melt the butter in a small saucepan.  Place the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla sugar in a small bowl and whisk to combine.

Let the finished bites cool about three minutes, so they aren’t too hot to touch.  Dip each bite into the melted butter, and then toss in the confectioners’ sugar mixture and place back on the baking sheet to set.  

They are best if allowed to rest for 3 to 4 days before serving. Just before serving, dust the bites again with a fresh layer of sifted confectioners’ sugar. 

Source: Luisa Weiss’ Classic German Baking

December 7, 2018

Gedeckter Apfelkuchen (Glazed Apple Cake)




Gedeckter Apfelkuchen is a popular German glazed apple cake.  It has a shortbread-like pastry crust and is filled with a chunky cinnamon apple filling, and then topped with the same shortbread crust. After baking, the cake is glazed.

I used a mix of apples for it, Granny Smith, Crisp, and Honeycrisp, to keep a sweet, tart flavor.  Boiled apple cider extract amps up the apple flavor, so I put a spoonful of that in, too.  You can find boiled apple cider extract from King Arthur Flour. I added vanilla to the crust because I love the subtle sweetness vanilla brings.   

This cake does remind me a little of apple pie. Add some whipped cream, ice cream, and or a glass of milk to go with it, and you are set!


Gedeckter Apfelkuchen (Glazed Apple Cake)
Yields 1 9-inch cake

Ingredients:
2 1⁄3 cups, scooped and leveled, plus 1 tablespoon/300g all-purpose flour
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3⁄4 cup/150g granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
11 tablespoons/150g butter, softened 
1 egg
6  apples (2 pounds 10 ounces/1.2kg)
1/44 cup lemon juice plus 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup/75g raisins
1⁄4 cup/60ml plus 2 teaspoons water
3⁄4 cup/75g confectioners’ sugar

Directions:
Combine the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl. Slice the butter into cubes and add it into the flour mixture. Using a pastry cutter or your hands, combine the butter into the flour until the butter is no longer visible. Add the egg and vanilla, and knead the dough until smooth. Alternatively, you can combine all of the items in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. After the dough is done, remove from the bowl, and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour or up to a day.

Next, peel, core, and quarter the apples.  Cut them into slices 1⁄8 to 1⁄4 inch thick and put into in a large pot. Add the 1/4 cup lemon juice with the cinnamon, raisins, and the 1⁄4 cup of water. Cover and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring periodically. Cook the apples for 15 to 20 minutes, or until soft and relatively broken down. Remove then pot from the heat.

Now, preheat the oven to 350°F.  Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper. Take two-thirds of the dough, pat it evenly into the springform pan, and form a 1-inch rim at the edges. Return the remaining dough to the refrigerator.  Prick the dough in the pan evenly all over with a fork. Line the dough with a sheet of aluminum foil and fill the pan with pie weights, rice, or dried beans. This is to help the crust stay flat.  Bake for 20 minutes, or until the crust starts to firm up but is not yet brown. Remove from the oven and  remove the aluminum foil and pie weights; leave the oven temperature.

Then, add  the apple mixture evenly into the shell and smooth the top. Roll out the remaining one-third of the dough between two pieces of plastic wrap until slightly larger than the pan. Trim the edges of the circle and gently transfer the circle to the top of the cake, laying it over the apple filling. Tuck in the top crust and cut off any excess.  Put the pan back in the oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and slightly puffed.
Remove the pan from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes while you prepare the glaze. Mix the confectioners’ sugar with 2 teaspoons of water and 2 teaspoons of lemon juice until smooth. Brush the glaze over the still-warm cake and then let the cake cool completely before serving. 
Source: Luisa Weiss’ Classic German Baking  
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