Saturday, December 20, 2014

White Poinsettia Christmas Cookie Platter

I made a red version of this last year. It was such a hit, I had to make another. And of course I had to experiment with colors.

The idea comes from the brilliant Sweet SugarBelle. It's so simple to make but the wow effect is big. This cookie platter is a perfect homemade seasonal gift or a centerpiece for your holiday dessert table.  

You just use your favorite roll out cookie dough. I used a sugar cooke recipe but gingerbread or chocolate spice versions are also great flavors for the holidays.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

German Almond Fruitcake

Over the years, Christmas fruitcakes have been revered and reviled. However, this  mandel früchtekuchen, or Almond Fruitcake, one lives up to classic German baking standards and tastes just like Christmas.

The final result takes a bit of waiting time. The cake contains heavy cream which must be infused overnight with a mixture of spices. 

Consequently, this is not a recipe you can whip together on a whim. Once that is done, the cake comes together rather quickly the next day.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Macaron Monday: Anise French Macarons with Lingonberry Filling

I don't know why but I find these macarons Christmasy.

Maybe it's the spicy shells and the beautiful red lingonberry preserves. 

This Scandinavian cousin to the American cranberry tastes both tart and sweet.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Christmas Market in Beautiful Maastricht, Holland

Maastricht is a beautiful Dutch city, not as famous as Amsterdam or The Hague, but still it contains much Beauty, history and charm to offer visitors.

My husband first took me here several years ago right after Christmas and I was surprised to find the Christmas market in full swing. This is how I found out many Christmas markets in neighboring cities in Holland and Belgium remain open, some as late as January 5th. 

In Germany almost all Christmas markets close on December 23rd. So when prioritizing which ones to hit at Christmastime I opt for the ones I want to see in Germany first knowing that if I don't get to the ones in the neighboring countries I have another shot after Christmas.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Baked Apple Cookies

These Baked Apple cookies or Bratapfel Kekse are the perfect addition to your holiday cookie platter. 
I love this German recipe. Who doesn't love the concept of a baked apple in a cookies? The raisins are soaked in a rum sugar mixture for several hours before adding them to the batter. 

I used gala apples in this recipe, which are very sweet. If you would like the result to have a more tart flavor, I would suggest a more sour apple variety such as Winesap or Granny Smith.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Macaron Monday: Chocolate Marshmallow French Macarons with Candy Cane Frosting Filling

'Tis the season for Christmas flavored macarons. I got it covered with these three flavored beauties.

It's always fun to figure out how to pack more than tow flavors info a French macarons. For these. I used both cacao powder and marshmallow flavored oil in the shells. Then I added peppermint extract and crushed candy canes to the frosting filling

Friday, December 5, 2014

Christmas Market in the Caves in Valkenburg, Holland

Last year, we returned to our home in Germany to spend the Christmas holidays with our family. Like every magical Christmas spent in Germany, I visit as many Christkindlmarkts or Christmas Markets as I can. Some are the same, some are same same but different and some are just unique, like this one.

Singing Christmas Tree on the Left

Our home is very close to the Dutch and Belgian borders, especially Holland, so hopping back and forth between the two countries is easy and doable on a bicycle in good weather.

This beautiful little town of Valkenburg, clustered around the only hilltop castle (ruins) in The Netherlands is the self proclaimed "Christmas Center" of Holland. This charming excursion is an hour train ride away from where we live in Germany. Valkenburg means "Falcon Mountain". The town showcases live falconry exhibitions in milder weather.

Over the years, I've made several visits here in summer and spring but had never been in the dead of Winter. Iy had been on my list forever to check out Kerstmarkt Fluweelengrot, a most unusual Christmas market nestled in the caves beneath the castle ruins. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Apple Pie Spice French Macarons with Caramel Filling

Yesterday's Diary of a Mad Hausfrau's post space was dedicated to World AIDS Day so Macaron Monday was pushed to Tuesday.  

You didn't think I would let a week go by with out a new French Macaron flavor, did you?

Didn't think so.

So. As we say goodbye to Fall and head into Winter, here is one last Fall inspired French macaron creation to share before carrying on with the Christmasukah posts.

Let start with the Apple Pie Spice. What is it? Most of the time it is a mix of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and sometimes ginger and cardamon. Fragrant clove powder is also been known to find it's way in there. You can make your own or buy ready made. More fun to mix your own because you can customize it to your liking. Obvi.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Red Velvet Chocolate Truffles World AIDS Day 2014

Today is World AIDS Day and the official theme for 2014 is Focus, Partner, Achieve.

So, Instead of Macaron Monday,  the blog is red today with these delicious, sparkly Red Velvet Truffles that are perfect for the upcoming holiday season.

To read why I am so passionate about this cause, go here.

If you would like or need to get tested for the HIV virus,  The government has created a locator enabling anyone can find the  nearest location.

I made a donation today to AIDS Life Cycle. 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Munich Beer Cream

Here I am the day after Thanksgiving waiving an Oktoberfest style treat in your face. Late to the party much?

Called Münchener Biercreme in German, this unusual pudding-like dessert is flavored with a mild dark beer. The dessert itself contains no cream or milk, just gelatin to give it a pudding like consistency. However the addition of sweet whipped cream as a garnish on top, takes the flavor of the dessert to a whole new level. 

I used a "dunkel" or dark German beer for this recipe but you can experiment with other types of brews. Using a weissbier or a lighter colored and flavored beer would probably create a lighter flavored pudding. I am sure there are some non traditional, unusual flavored beers out on the market that would be fun to experiment with using this recipe. I've seen peach, coconut and creme brulee versions.