Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Christmas Baking

Our family seems to have developed a strongly entrenched tradition of Christmas baking. There's an expectation that we'll spend the weeks from late November to mid-December putting by double batches of at least six or eight recipes. There were years early on when I actually had the time. Lately I've been very grateful for the kids' assistance. This year it feels like we've cut corners. We haven't yet got around to the cashew brittle, and we've entirely dispensed with gingerbread and fruitcakes. But yesterday Sophie had trouble finding an empty tin for the last of the almond crescents, so I guess we've done okay . Here's what's in our cupboard:

Chocolate truffles
Chocolate rum balls
Chocolate-coated mint nougat
Christmas Strawberries (these are so gross, but the kids insist)
Candied fruit peel
Almond crescents
Orange shortbread
Seed crackers (these are divine -- I'll post the recipe soon)

Today was our Ethnic Cooking "Kitchen Club". We decided to visit Germany in the Christmas spirit. With vegetarians amongst us, focusing on Christmas baking whilst learning about German cooking seemed a good hedge. Schnitzel was unnecessary. We threw together an ordinary soup and salad for lunch, and spent the morning making our treats. Of course, we needed some glühwein to go along with it:

Glühwein

2 bottles of inexpensive dry red wine
3 cups of water
1 cup of sugar
1 lemon, thinly sliced
20 cloves
7 sticks of cinnamon

For full alcoholic punch, add the wine at the very end, just before serving, and just warm gently. If alcohol isn't the point, as it wasn't for us, mull everything together in a pot for 45-60 minutes, at a gentle simmer. Serve in mugs.

Pictured above, clockwise from right are Pfeffernuesse, Basler Leckerli (actually Swiss-German, but close, right?) and [Italian] chocolate almond biscotti, which we renamed biskotten in honour of the day. We doubled the black pepper in the pfeffernuesse and wished we'd added a bit more still. But they're very yummy and may join our roster of annual Christmas baking. We finished up with marzipan, made from fresh raw almonds, lovingly blanched and hand-peeled by Sophie and me last night, which was utilized by the kids mostly as edible playdough.

3 comments:

  1. Sounds like we're having similar sorts of experiences, Miranda. We've also got some Dutch/German baking going on, as well as the usual Truffle Frenzy, which we give as gifts. We made some killer coconut and cayenne ones this year (separate types, I should emphasize).

    I've seen those Lesley Stowe crackers, but never saw the allure, but I just might try your recipe. Thanks.

    cheers / sheila

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  2. Nicola9:36 pm

    Thanks for the gluhwein recipe - my husband has Swiss blood and I think I might just have to make some of this!

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  3. Those strawberry things really do look awful but I can imagine they have their own appeal.

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