Monday, December 30, 2013

Spicy Fireworks Chocolate Truffles for New Year's Eve

This is my last post of the year so I am suspending Macaron Monday's just for today and going out of 2013 with a big sparkly BANG. Having some significant time home here in Germany, I have been sorting though all my baking accoutrement, spices, ingredients, decorating supplies, etc. Until I found it a few days ago, I had forgotten about a certain very large bag containing many many many different colors of disco dust.


For the upcoming New Year's Eve celebration, I made chocolate truffles. Chili pepper and cinnamon were both liberally used to create a lovely spicy candy. A pleasant flavor explosion party in your mouth.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Coconut Pomegranate Ice Cream

This ice cream is perfect for the holidays. Creamy white custard studded with jewels of pomegranate seeds, it tastes and looks a little extra special.

I get way too excited when I see pomegranates in the super market. I love their flavor and can't resist adding a few seeds to glasses of champagne or prosecco at holiday time.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Poinsettia Cookie Platter,Gingerbread Cookie Gift Tags and & Merry Merry

Wishing everyone a wonderful Christmas!  Here in Germany we celebrated Heligabend yesterday with a big family dinner and presents. Today is a veg out day.

I've been taking cooking lessons from my mother-in-law, making the family's favorite Christmas recipes and recording them. Will be hard to wait a whole year to post them! 

I also had several cookie decorating sessions with my twin nieces. Fun! For my mother-in-law who has an endless stream of visitors, I made this quick poinsettia cookie platter. An amazing idea by the ueber talented Sweet Sugarbelle. Her instructions are here. This lovely platter was was so easy to do and in creating it, I polished off leftover cookie dough and a lot of the leftover royal icing. 

My version used metallic gold dragees to cover the middle cookie and I also used edible red sparkle sugar on half of the leaves cuz you know I can't resist the sparkle. I can't want to do this again next year in different colors but I might have to do some experimenting with spring flowers as well. 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Macaron Mondays: Allspice Macarons with Cranberry Cream Cheese Frosting Filling

I'm spicing it up with allspice on this Macarons Monday. Macaron Monday is something I started without fanfare on this here blog and am going to try to stick to for awhile.  I guess I am in denial because even Paris based David Lebovitz has declared the French macaron passé. Regardless, I keep experimenting, dressing them up in outfits and pushing flavor boundaries and you readers seem to enjoy it. So as long as we all still want to pull up seats at the macaron table, it's on.

I made this flavor combination for the holidays  last year several times. each time they were gobbled up by guess or taken to parties before I had the chance to photograph them so they went on the list again this year. 

I just love allspice and experimenting adding it to different recipes, from cookie dough to chocolate ganache. I mixed some leftover cranberry sauce into a cream cheese frosting recipe adding another layer of flavor and a pop of color.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Spicy Gingerbread Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Whenever I make gingerbread cookies, no matter what recipe I am using, I double the spices, add cardamon powder and sometimes even chili or cayenne powder. I like my gingerbread cookies to bite me back when I bite into them.

When I created this ice cream, I tried to mix together a sassy spice blend to add  gingerbread flavor that wouldn't distract from the ice cream itself.

I used the mellower milk chocolate chips instead of semi sweet not to pile more on the palate. I think it came out great. However,  next time I would reach for the chili and cayenne to push the spice bar even higher. Because that's how I do things.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Treats of Christmas Past Roundup

We just arrived home to Germany yesterday.  Jet lag be damned, I am so excited to be back in my kitchen, visit the weihnachtsmarkte and soak in the magic that is Christmas in Deutschland. Last year we we spent the holidays at our house in Pennsylvania. It was our first Christmas there and it was snowy, picturesque and lovely. 

Even though it was wonderful, I was missing Germany so I  posted a roundup of German Christmas treats. This year, here are some of the not Germany specific Christmas treats previously featured on this here blog.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Macaron Mondays: Nutmeg Macarons with Eggnog Ganache Filling

These were born out of an epic white chocolate/eggnog truffle fail. Last year after several attempts to make eggnog truffles,  I stashed the goopy unmanageable results in the back of the freezer and forgot about it until a recent clean out.

After defrosting the mixture and a tentative taste test, I found out the mixture was still tasty but alas, still too goopy to form truffles. So I resurrected it as a French Macaron Filling. Of course nutmeg flavored shells came to mind and a perfect holiday French Macaron flavor was born.

Tasty, spicy and sweet, I can imagine sitting cozy around a December  roaring fireplace chewing on these with a hot cuppa something.

For extra punch, you can add rum to the eggnog ganache. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Turkish Delight Ice Cream

A few month ago ago, we had a lovely colleague visiting from Istanbul and she brought with her several boxes of Turkish Delight. We do a lot of business with Turkey so there's usually a fair amount of Turkish delight floating around the office. However, we hadn't seen any in a couple months so everyone pounced on it.

I refused eating my share for a few days, then I had the sense to grab a couple of handfuls before the boxes became pathetic empty shells containing woeful remains of powdered sugar. Instead of scarfing the candy down, I cut each piece into smaller nuggets and threw them into a delicious creamy vanilla ice cream custard to see what would happen. I loved the result and I saved this post for closer to Christmas because of how festive the ice cream looked.

There were several varieties and I used a bit from each flavor. This is not the easiest ice cream to eat but wow is it good.  The Turkish delight of course hardens with the freezing and can be a bit tough to chew but it makes for an unusual flavor and it looks to pretty too. I found if I let the pieces melt in my mouth a bit, it was not problem and well worth the extra effort.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Macaron Mondays: Lebkuchen Macarons with Quince Filling

Lebkuchengewuerz is very popular in Germany over the Christmas holidays. It's a spice mix that is a milder form of gingerbread flavors and also include small amounts of anise and fennel.

Some interesting facts  on the spice combinations that make up the mix from wikipedia:

There is no set mixture which makes up Lebkuchengewuerz, instead every baker is free to make up their own. One, traditional mixture is called "Neunerlei" mix, which stands for nine spices which are the perfect praise of God: The Holy Trinity, the three elements (earth, air and water) and the three spheres, Earth, heaven and hell.

When I see these little packets in the stores around Christmas time, the hoarding begins and I always stock up my USA kitchens with some of these.

I've used them in candy, cookies, ice cream and even in hot beverages like cocoa and mulled wine. S0 of course it was time for a French Macaron test drive.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Visits Of Christmas Markets Past - Freiburg, Germany

This is the last post in my series. This week we have already visited markets in  Cologne, Germany and Colmar France.  Stay tuned later in the month when I will be back in Germany and looking for new interesting markets to cover.

Freiburg, a beautiful university city straddling the Dreisam river, is only 40 minutes from Basel, Switzerland by train which explains it's good weather. Located on the edge of the Black Forest, Freiburg is also known for it's vineyards.

Walking into town from the train station, I passed the beautiful Columbi hotel, bordered by a park..Even though it looked serene and picturesque, someone had left a box of disposable needles at the edge of the park. Hmmm...

The Christmas market is spread out over three areas, the Rathausplatz (city hall square), Franziskanerstrasse and at the Kartoffelmarkt (Potato Market). Unique items to buy are delicious vinegars, syrups and liqueurs made from fruit from the Black Forest. Also straw shoes  (also pictured at the top of this post) worn in days gone by are still made and sold. They have a popular use as house shoes.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Visits of Christmas Markets Past - Colmar, France

Over the many years I lived in Europe, I have visited countless Christmas markets in many different countries. Last December I posted a little series on this here blog that turned out to be pretty popular among you readers.  The posts highlighted markets in Strasbourg, France, Basel, Switzerland and Munich, Germany and were cycled from an expat blog I used to author.

This year I picked three more cities for your viewing pleasure.  We've already visited the many markets of  Cologne, GermanyI will be traveling home to Germany for a few weeks over the Christmas and New Year's holidays. Undoubtedly there will be more holiday posts from there. In the meantime, I thought I would kick off the season with three more of my favorite past visited places to haunt Christmas markets.

The medieval town of Colmar is almost a 40 minute train ride from Strasbourg. Although it's much smaller, it boast five picturesque Christmas Markets. When I was reading up on the history of the city, I read that Charles the Fat held a diet there in 884. Whaaa? 

After a bit of digging, I found out that the other meaning of diet is a political assembly. There was no dieting for me in Colmar. The markets were bursting with too many regional goodies to sample. Another city that went back and forth under German and French rule, both languages are spoken here.

Colmar has the driest climate in France (making it the Alastian wine capital) but of course it was pissing rain the day of my visit but I soon forgot about the weather because I was so charmed by this lovely city.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Visits of Christmas Markets Past - Cologne Germany

Over the many years I lived in Europe, I have visited countless Christmas markets in many different countries. Last December I posted a little series on this here blog that turned out to be surprisingly popular.  The posts highlighted markets in Strasbourg, FranceBasel, Switzerland and Munich, Germany and were recycled from my old expat blog.

Back  by popular demand, this year  I picked three more cities for your viewing pleasure.  I will be traveling home to Germany for a few weeks over the Christmas and New Year's holidays. Undoubtedly there will be more holiday posts from there. In the meantime, I thought I would kick off the season with three more of my favorite Christmas markets.

I lived in Cologne for a few years. At first, part time, as I was commuting between Munich and Cologne for work. Then Dr. B and I ended up living there full time.

There are a lot of great things to see and do when you are in Cologne. Although once described as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, Cologne was largely destroyed in WWII and not reconstructed to it's former glory like some other cities in Germany. There are some incredible pieces still left, like a Mikveh from the middles ages and the most obvious, the Cologne Dom, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Also worth mentioning are the Stumbling Blocks. These are found all around the city in front of houses where people who were deported by the Nazi lived. They remind me of putting a lost piece of the city back. Very moving.

I always said Cologne is a great place to spend a weekend. Now, since we live 45 minute outside the city, I like to go for the day to shop. Cologne has six main Christmas markets all very different, some unique.