Part I of the German Christmas cookie series!!
There will be 4 parts to this series. All recipes are property of Felix, as he transcribed them and decorated them at a very young age.
These are very delicate delicious vanilla sugar cookies.
- 300g white flour
- 250g butter
- 125g sugar
- 3 egg yolks
- 125g ground almonds
- 2 packets of vanilla sugar
- A few spoonfuls of powdered sugar
- Mix together the flour, butter, sugar, egg yolks, and almonds (do it with your hands).
- Leave the dough for 1 hour in the fridge.
- After an hour, take the dough out of the fridge, and form tiny little horns.
- Bake at 180c for 15 minutes (ish), or until they are slightly golden, but not too much.
- Once out of the oven, throw them 4 at a time, face down, into a bowl filled with vanilla sugar & powdered sugar.
- Set aside and let cool.
Armenian preserved walnuts are the biggest surprise of 2016. No one saw it coming.
It all started when I took a day off with a friend here in Brussels, to do a full pampering luxury day. We went to the spa, we relaxed, we went out for an 8 course lunch, we had cocktails. A little bit of everything.
At this fancy restaurant where we had our lunch, we had these walnuts for dessert. We. were. floored. We couldn’t help but ask the waiter how they made them. He pointed outside, and said ‘you buy them in a jar at the Polish store next door, they cost 5 euro.’ The mark up was criminal.
Jaws on the floor.
So since then, I’ve been on a quest to get back there, to buy my own and to recreate this magical moment. Thoughtful & generous Felix offered to drive me, and all of a sudden there we were.
The lady at the store was very interested about how I heard of them, and what I was going to do with them etc. She mentioned that they are delicious on fromage frais and I’ll admit I’ve done it and it’s incredible.
- 1 Jar of Armenian Preserved Walnuts
- Vanilla Ice Cream (or fromage frais)
- We don't really need a recipe here...
- I think it looks nice with the walnuts halved on top, and the most critical part is to drizzle plenty of the sugary syrup from the jar over the ice cream.
- Easiest dessert of all time.
Don’t hate on this until you’ve tried it. If you are making it for a dinner party wait until everyone has eaten it and then confess that the secret ingredient is tofu.
The only reason I made this in the first place is that I accidentally purchased silken tofu. I couldn’t think of anything to do with it so I just started googling.
This isn’t a sugary pudding. It’s a very chocolatey and very rich pudding with an absolutely perfect texture.
The only downside, if you are used to the kind of pudding that you heat, is that there is no film that gathers on top. Everyone loves that. Tough, this one is good, and good for you!!
- 14 ounces soft silken tofu
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/4 cup agave nectar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup fresh raspberries
- 2 tablespoons chopped pistachios
- Puree tofu, cocoa, agave and vanilla in blender.
- Pour into serving dishes.
- If you aren't satisfied yet, top with berries and nuts.
Made this for a wonderful weekend in the Ardennes with a great group of friends. Pure heaven.
It’s a firmer gingerbread, not a ginger cake, so keep this in mind. In fact it’s a bit Christmassy, so would be nice to make around the holidays.
Try it hot out of the oven with a giant slather of salty butter.
- 1/2 cup molasses
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 1 Egg
- 4 tablespoons buttermilk
- 2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 heaping teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 3/4 cup dried currants or raisins
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. and line the bottom of a buttered 8-inch round tin (2 inches deep) with parchment paper.
- Melt the molasses with the butter.
- Beat the egg with the buttermilk.
- Sift together flour, baking soda, ground ginger, cinnamon, brown sugar, and a pinch of salt. Mix in the currants or raisins.
- Add the egg mixture, then add the syrup mixture and mix well.
- Bake 10 minutes in the 375-degree oven, turn the heat down to 325 degrees F. and bake 35 to 40 minutes more.
- A few crumbs will stick to a tester when the cake is done.
Not much to say here. It’s a classic chocolate chip cookie.
I’m unable to find chocolate chips in Belgium so I always wind up chopping up a bar of chocolate instead. Of course I get impatient and wind up with giant chunks of chocolate, but that’s fine, these cookies are pretty adaptable.
- 2 cups/260g all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup/170g unsalted butter, melted
- 1 cup/190g packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup/100 grams granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon/15ml vanilla extract
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg yolk
- 2 cups/roughly 12 oz semisweet chocolate chips, or a dark chocolate bar, all chopped up by hand
- Preheat the oven to 325°F (165°C). Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.
- Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside. In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended.
- Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended.
- Stir in the chocolate chips by hand using a wooden spoon. Drop cookie dough 1/4 cup at a time (for giant cookies) or a tablespoon at a time (for smaller cookies) onto the prepared cookie sheets. Cookies should be about 3 inches apart.
- Bake larger cookies for 15 to 17 minutes, or 10 to 12 minutes for smaller ones (check your cookies before they’re done; depending on your scoop size, your baking time will vary) in the preheated oven, or until the edges are lightly toasted. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.
So the Germans are very specific about birthdays. It is strictly forbidden to wish someone a happy birthday before the day itself (unless you are actually intending to curse them).
As far as cakes go, there is only one option. There is only ONE German birthday cake: Marmorkuchen.
I made one for Felix’s birthday, and it was apparently absolutely perfect, the right texture, the right taste, the right consistency. Since then I’ve repeated the recipe twice and both times it hasn’t come out ‘just right’ according to the German experts.
I’ve always used the same recipe, so maybe you can help me figure out what I’ve done differently each time.
Regardless, this is basically a delicious pound cake with vanilla and almond extracts, very simple but perfect with a cup of coffee or tea.
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 1 3/4 cup sugar
- 4 eggs
- 2-3 tsp vanilla extract
- 2-3 tsp almond extract
- 3 1/2 cups flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 2/3 Tbsp baking powder
- 1 cup milk
- 3 Tbsp sugar
- 3 heaping Tbsp cocoa
- 3 Tbsp milk
- Cream softened butter and sugar together. Beat in eggs, vanilla and almond extract.
- In a separate bowl, sift together flour, salt and baking powder. Add this mixture to the butter mixture alternating with the 1 cup milk.
- In a separate bowl, mix together 3 Tbsp sugar, 3 Tbsp cocoa and 3 Tbsp milk. Add 3-4 heaping Tbsp of white dough to this cocoa mixture.
- Put 1/2 of white dough in a greased & floured bundt pan. Smooth chocolate dough evenly on top. Add the remaining 1/2 of white dough on top.
- Use a fork to fold the chocolate through the white dough.
- Use a rubber spatula to flatten out the top so that it bakes evenly.
- Bake at 350 degrees F for approximately 1 hour.
- If you realize that the top is browning too much, cover it with foil. Do not shorten the baking time nor turn the heat down.
These cookies are legitimately like a dream.
They are painfully difficult to describe.
Picture a combination of a sugar cookie with a texture you just can’t identify- it’s melt in your mouth yet crispy. The secret is an ingredient called bakers’ ammonium, which you can find in pharmacies sometimes, but it’s not that easy to come by. I found mine in Bulgaria during my last visit and stocked up big time.
Ever since the first day I tasted these I’ve been wanting to bake them. Thank you Diane for the recipe!!
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 1 teaspoon crushed ammonium carbonate (also called baker’s ammonium)
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
- Sift together flour and salt.
- Beat together butter and sugar with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Beat in ammonium carbonate and almond extract until combined well. Mix in flour mixture at low speed just until blended, then stir in coconut. Form dough into a disk and chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm, about 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 300°F.
- Roll dough into 1-inch balls and arrange 1 inch apart on greased baking sheets.
- Bake cookies in batches in upper third of oven until pale golden around edges, 18 to 22 minutes. Transfer cookies to a rack to cool.
Every year as a kid, my mother used to make a dozen key lime pies for the annual Church spaghetti supper.
It’s really easy, and everyone loves it. Creamy, yet tangy.
I’m not aware of the availability of graham cracker crusts in Europe… so for my Belgian friends consider this a ‘lime custard’, which you can put into dishes and serve as a custardy dessert in tiny ramekins.
You can also add whipped cream on top. My pop loves whipped cream, and to be fair it does make a great decoration, together with a little shaving of lime.
- 1 Graham cracker pie shell
- 1 15oz Can sweetened condensed milk
- 1/3/80 ml Cup lime juice
- 1 Tbsp grated lime rind
- 1/4 Tsp salt
- Stir together the condensed milk, lime juice, lime rind, and salt.
- Stir until thickened (which happens as a reaction to the citrus and the milk).
- Turn the filling into the pie shell, and chill in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours before serving.
- Garnish with whipped cream and/or lime shavings.
Even someone without a sweet tooth can’t resist an oatmeal raisin cookie. Soft in the middle and packed with oats and raisins (obviously…) these are also on the more nutritious side of dessert.
- 1 cup/227g butter, softened
- 1 cup/200g brown sugar, firmly packed
- 1/2 cup/100g granulated sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 1/2 cups/192g all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 cups/255g oats, uncooked
- 1 cup/150g raisins
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Mix together dry ingredients (flour, baking soda cinnamon and salt). Set aside.
- Beat together margarine and sugars until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. Add in dry ingredients.
- Stir in oats and raisins; mix well.
- Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
- Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.
- Cool 1 minute on cookie sheet; remove to wire rack.
This is the most reliable cake ever. Think of it more as a giant marzipan cookie. The recipe is from Dorie Greenspan, a Connecticut native!! I can confidently say it’s the most reliable dessert you can make.
- 1 cup/ 225g sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
- Grated zest of 1 lemon
- 2 large eggs
- 1/4 teaspoon salt (a pinch)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
- 1 cup/ 226g all-purpose flour
- 8 tablespoons/ 113g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- A handful of sliced almonds
- Center a rack preheat oven to 350 F. Butter a 9-inch cake pan.
- Blend the zest and sugar together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and aromatic. Whisk in the eggs one at a time until well blended. Whisk in the salt and the extracts. Switch to a rubber spatula and stir in the flour. Finally, fold in the melted butter.
- Scrape the batter into the pan. Scatter the sliced almonds over the top and sprinkle with a little sugar. If you're using a cake pan, place the pan on a baking sheet.
- Bake the cake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until it is golden and a little crisp on the outside; the inside will remain moist. Remove the pan from the oven and let the cake cool for 5 minutes. Serve warm or cooled, turned out onto a serving plate.