Going into this new year, one of my goals is to not get hung up about posting things seasonally. For one as I work full time it is almost impossible to have the time to research let alone execute recipes in any sense of the word. For two, I do not wish to add to anyone’s stress level, including my own, by thinking “I read/posted this now so it has to be done this year.” The only time that urgency is involved is when ALDI gets its limited stock in. Get it before its gone is my motto. The most important reason to not be hung up about posting to preempt a season is to encourage me to seek the near future.
I have been mentally in survival mode, living minute to minute. And while it is true that we are not guaranteed the next day, never mind the whole year, we can rob ourselves of the joy of anticipation by putting unhealthy stress on the now. I nearly killed myself this year and was so worn out we almost didn’t have Christmas at all. When Summer gets here it will be so short that it would feel like a crime to rush through it stressed out about getting recipes accomplished. So with these thoughts in mind, I am looking at the blog now, not so much to plan the current season, but to germinate ideas for the next & preserve the undertaken culinary adventures.
So let’s have a look at this holiday platter, shall we?
~selection of store bought & homemade traditional German Holiday treats. From left to center: Lebkuchen & vanilla/ Lebkuchen & dark chocolate, Butter spekulatius, Almond stollen. In front: Waldmeister sugar cookies.
ALDI has changed it’s packaging for a good deal of the German imports thus the Lebkuchen was late getting here. I have to confess, when it didn’t get here with the rest of the Christmas snacks I was so bummed I didn’t want Christmas to come at all. It came late. And it was delicious!
Lebkuchen: covered in a vanilla ice or a dark chocolate and sitting atop the traditional oblaten (unconsecrated eucharist host material) is probably THE most quintessentially German Christmas cookie. The most widely known and the only legitimately authentic Lebkuchen comes from Nüremberg. If it isn’t labeled Nüremberger, it isn’t worth eating. Or a huge fine for commercial bakers who claim authentic and don’t have the burgermeister meisterburger seal of approval. As it should be. I’ve had some that has done no justice to the reputation of German baking. These from ALDI are the real deal. Only the packaging has changed so as to not freak out the general American populace.
Butter Spekulatius: These gems are made from a rolled dough and mold pressed into the shapes of a peasant woman and peasant man. I am linking to the madhausfrau’s site for the downlow on her trip to market. German cookies are rich with spices. I believe what we get is calmed down for the wimpy American palate so ours were a creamy butter flavor with a snappy break. There are very delicate and don’t survive the shipping well. And they certainly do not survive the ride home when you forget that these delicate gems are in the car. Oopsie!
Based on a Dutch recipe, the cookies are made similarly to Springerle. No, I am not brave enough to attempt those either. But I so want to! They really do melt on your tongue and dunking them is a bad idea. The cookie is so thin that the least bit of moisture makes it fall apart completely. But they are a mouthful of heaven!
Stollen: I think everyone’s Oma made this. I actually have several friends who posted their successful stollen endeavors on facebook this year. I’ve had stollen in the past. It was awful. A rum soaked fire going down with a medicinal aftertaste…. no thank you! I am not a boozy person. And I think that the cheap rum used to make this in the past was the culprit. Also, a 7 year old is not really supposed to enjoy the booze fueled Holiday adventures that were the 1970s. That bad stollen taste never left my mouth. So when ALDI gets these in, I avoid them.
Lesson learned for the new year: Never let a past experience be the only experience. Aside from the realization that tastes are different from childhood to adulthood, there must be an understanding that there are bad bakes and good bakes. These weren’t good bakes. These were AWESOME bakes! The dough is based on a brioche recipe so it wasn’t heavy in your stomach. The filling was a combination of golden and dark raisins, nuts, and almond paste with a HINT, I repeat, a HINT of orange peel. While the loaf was heavy in the hand, it was definitely delicate going down. And moist. I know, people hate that word. But moist is so much better than coarse and dry. Each slice was velvety smooth!
Waldmeister Sugar Cookies: Skeptical of the execution but excited for the results, this was the best sugar cookie I ate all season.
Come back for the next post to see how this cookie was made.