In the last years I tested several speculaas recipes without finding “the one”. I was searching for a recipe which yields tender but crisp cookies. But most of the time I ended up with cookies that where rather hard. And so Charlotte had my full attention when she posted the speculaas recipe from Ottolenghi & Gohs Book “Sweet”. “Terrific” she called them.
And so I had to try them instantly. I followed Charlottes advice to cut down the amount of sugar and made some small adjustments in the spice mixture as no one here likes anise. With my speculaas roller I cut the dough into speculaas which worked perfectly with this dough.
And in the end, when I sampled the first cookie, I was ready to chime in the choir: they are terrific! The only drawback is, that they seem to evaporate from my cookie bin much to fast. If they keep vanishing in this rate, I have to bake another batch before Christmas….
Honey is a stable in our pantry. There is no weekend breakfast without honey for me. Luckily we have some beekeepers in the family, so we are always well provided. Honey is although a delicious part of Christmas Baking, as for Turrón or Pepperkakror. And so I was hooked when I stumbled over a recipe of soft ginger bread in an old christmas cookbook.
and because I read a lot of using rye flour in such cakes lately I decided to modify it a bit and add some rye to the recipe. I tweaked the amount of liquids and spices as well a bit and was then very pleased with the outcome: The ginger bread is soft and fluffy and so delicious that is has to be hidden to survive until Christmas!
The more often I bake stollen bites, the more I love them. They are the perfect as late afternoon treats with a cup of tea. They are a perfect little Christmas gift for friends and colleagues. And they are perfect for testing new stollen variants in small scale.
The idea of a whole grain stollen grew in the last year somewhere in my mind. And as it happens so often I felt a itching in my fingers to try the variant. But I was absolutely unsure if I would like the flavour of whole grain flour at all in such a festive bread. And so I did a recipe test with half of the recipe of the stollen bites. After two weeks of resting I finally tested them last weekend and I was thrilled. The slight bitter and nutty tones of the flour harmonises perfectly with the spices and the sweet dried fruits. The flavour is deeper and more complex then of the white flour variant. And they stay as moist as the original, too. And I’m now sad that I made just half of the recipe…
There are nearly no good sides of being ill. But the flu that put me out of order beginning of December let me discover this terrific recipe and that is definitively a good thing. As I was dozing on the sofa the TV show “hier und heute” was running on TV. And with amusement – and bit of envy – I saw how the moderator nibbled one after the other of the beautiful cinnamon stars. His delighted face told more than hundreds of words how delicious they were- And so I put the recipe directly on my mental “to bake” list for Christmas. The recipe from Marcel Seeger was already downloaded and saved.
This weekend I was finally fit enough for baking cookies. And this recipe was on position one for testing. And after I eat the first cookie I knew why the moderator was so delighted. They are gorgeous, a new keep for my favourite list!
My plans for the first of advent were somehow different, but as I caught a mean cold I have to spent the day on the sofa instead of baking something delicious for Christmas. The only good thing is that I had enough time to browse through the unpublished recipes. I rediscovered the chocolate panettone I bake last Christmas but never published the recipe.
And so I used the time to publish it now, nearly a year later. It is a delicious twist on the classic recipe which combines the flavours of chocolate and citrus fruits. And just like the “normal” panettone this chocolate version is baked with sweet starter only which adds a delicious deepness to its flavour.
And with this last year’s delicious treat in my mind I begin to dream about what to bake for Christmas this year….
An ugly flu hit me and so my baking plans (Lusekatter, Kletzenbrot and rye flat bread) are nothing more then dreams at the moment. My stock of unposted bread recipes ran dry as well. Only a nice marzipan recipe – which fits well with Christmas – is left.
During the autumn holidays I was shopping in the “Stuttgarter Markthallen” and bought a small parcel of bitter apricot kernels. Bitter apricot kernels and bitter almonds contain hydrocyanic acid and just a few can endanger very small kids – so please store them out of children reach and not together with sweet almonds! The dangerous dosage are one bitter almond per kilogram body weight. So two for 200g Marzipan is no problem at all but if you feel unwell with using them you can use bitter almond extract instead, too.
The marzipan is easy to make with a food processor and so a good last minute Christmas present.
I tried this little Cookies some years ago when a colleague brought a bag of his moms christmas cookies when he came back from the Alsace. The bag was filled with beautiful and delicious cookies, like Linzer Ringe. And there was this rather plain, simple square cookies. But with the first bite I was in love. So plain they look so brilliant was their taste: a mixture of lemon and orange with a hint of almond was a great counterpoint to all the (delicious) vanilla and cinnamon Christmas flavours. And so I begged and begged and begged until the dear colleague brought a recipe when he came back from a family visit. I tested it and realized while making that it was for the second lemon cookie in the bag: Délices au citron – a good cookie, too but not the cookie I fell in love with…
And so I searched long and for some years. And finally I found a recipe that sounded similar: Orangenschnittli. I changed the recipe more and more, until it fits to the flavour I remembered. They need some days for ripening, as the flavour has to diffuse and melange for the perfect taste. But then this little cookies are a clear new favourite of my cookie plate: easy to make and so delicious!
Spelt is a favourite and so I was regulary asked if my Stollen can be baked with spelt flour, too. I answered “theoretically yes” and decided to bake a Stollen with spelt flour instead of wheat, too. I like to have a practical background for those answers.
The dough contains only minimal changes to the regular recipe: I used a mixture of sultanas and currants instead of raisins and I reduced the amount of yeast, too. And I replaced the wheat flour with spelt flour, of course.
After three long weeks of resting time we cut the spelt stollen for the first Advent. And it was as moist and mellow as a good stollen has to be. Maybe it is a bit more mellow then the normal recipe, but that was the only difference I recognize. The different spices are stronger then the slight spelt flavour and I doubt that I could tell the spelt and wheat stollen apart when blind testing. And so I can tell now with own experience: Yes, you can bake a spelt stollen!
Before we look back at the Blog year 2015 tomorrow, there is one last Christmas recipe I want to share with you. The little chocolate rounds are a delicious addition for the cookie plate and are a very nice little Present for everyone with a sweet tooth. And as they are easy to make they are a good last minute present as well!
For a good, shiny surface it is important to temper the chocolate. I do this by melting part of the chocolate, then adding the remaining part and then carefully heating it up to 30°C. This work best with a digital thermometer!
For the topping you can use what ever you like: dried fruits, nuts, candid fruits. I for myself prefer highly the variant with chopped (homemade) candid orange peel, as I like the contrast of sweet chocolate and the slightly bitter, fruity flavour of the Orange!
Upps, there was for a short time a blog post online which should be the last of the year. But there are still some recipes from my Christmas Cookie Plate waiting form which I want to tell you before the new year starts.
One of these are dark Nogat, Turrón de Chocolate. It is similar to the white nougat, but some additional chocolate is folded in before adding the nuts.
Turrón making is a exercise in multi tasking, and it makes sense to think about the process before starting. You need to have ready at the same time point melted chocolate, whipped egg white and the boiling sugar syrup at the right temperature. It helps to have kitchen machine for whipping the egg white or a second person who is willing to help. A sugar thermometer is a muss for this recipe as well, as getting the right temperature is essential for the consistence of the final product. To cold syrup will result in a not setting turròn while to hot syrup will starts to caramelize. It is a challanging recipe but the flavour is worth every trouble!