Desserts from our travels…
Spiced and nutty in flavor, these traditional German Christmas cookies taste like soft gingerbread. The best-known are Nürnberger Lebkuchen, which are often presented in ornately decorated tins or boxes. Sometimes, Lebkuchen are baked and decorated as ornaments.
- ½ C (118 ml) honey
- ½ C (118 ml) molasses
- ¾ C (151 g) brown sugar (packed)
- 1 lg egg
- 1 T (15 g) lemon juice
- 1 tsp (3 g) lemon zest
- 2¾ C (340 g) all-purpose flour, plus flour for dusting
- ½ tsp (2 g) baking soda
- 1 tsp (2½ g) ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp (2½ g) ground cloves
- 1 tsp (2½ g) ground allspice
- 1 tsp (2½ g) ground nutmeg
- ⅓ C (80 g) candied citron, diced
- ⅓ C (40 g) hazelnuts, chopped
- 1 C (192 g) granulated sugar
- ¼ C (59 ml) water or milk
- ½ tsp (2.5 ml) vanilla extract
- ½ C (65 g) confectioners’ sugar
- Sliced almonds
- Candied citron or ginger diced
- Melted chocolate
To make the cookies, combine honey and molasses in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Stir in brown sugar, egg, lemon juice, and zest. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and all spices. Stir in molasses mixture. Stir in citron and hazelnuts. Cover; chill overnight.
Preheat oven to 350°F (167°C). Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
Dust flour on a hard surface, roll out a small amount of chilled dough to ¼-inch (6 mm) thick. If the dough is sticky, use more flour. Using a 2-inch (5 cm) cookie cutter or a glass dipped in flour, cut dough. Transfer to prepared baking sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Meanwhile, make icing (below). Transfer cookies to a cooling rack. Brush with icing while still hot. Decorate with almonds, candied citron or ginger. Or if you prefer, you can drizzle with melted chocolate when cookies are completely cool. Store in a sealed container.
To make the icing, heat sugar and water or milk with vanilla in a small saucepan, but do not boil. Remove from heat. Stir in confectioners’ sugar. If icing becomes crystallized, reheat and stir in water or milk as needed.
Garnish and serve with coffee or tea. It also goes great with Gluhwein (Drinks and Libations)
German Christmas bread goes by many different names in Germany: Stollen, Dresden Stollen, Strutzel, Striezel, Stutenbrot, or Christstollen. The traditional German Christmas Cake is a colorful collection of nuts, raisins, currants, candied orange and lemon peel, traditional spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, mace or cloves, brandy or rum, and lots of butter.
While on our Rhine River cruise we were treated to a cooking demonstration on the preparation of this traditional pastry and were provided with this recipe.
Recipe from the Grand Circle Cruise Lines Pastry Chef
- 21 oz Raisins
- 2 shots of Rum or Brandy
- 35.2 oz Flour
- 2 cups of Milk
- 1 oz Dry yeast
- 8.8 oz Butter
- 7 oz Sugar
- 0.07 oz Lemon peel
- 0.035 oz Nutmeg
- 3.5 oz Almonds, chopped
- 3.5 oz Lemon, diced
- 3.5 oz Orange, diced
Soak the raisins in rum overnight. Soak yeast in warm milk and sugar, mix with 1/3 of flour. Let rise for 10 minutes in a warm place. In bowl mix all dry ingredients: salt, nutmeg, lemon peel and the rest of the flour. Add melted butter, yeast mixture and make a thicker dough. Add one at a time: diced lemon & orange, raisins, and almonds. Rest the dough for 1 hour. Split dough in halves. Each half shape with hand and pleat both sides towards the middle. Bake for 40 minutes on 293º F. Brush with melted butter.
Australian PannaCotta Lamingtons
We have not been yet but, this recipe alone increases my bucket-list desire to go to Australia.
(MAKES 25 LAMINGTONS)
Recipe by Nadine Ingram
10 ½ ounces butter
10 ½ ounces superfine sugar
5 eggs, beaten
10 ½ ounces self-rising cake flour, sifted twice
5 fl ounces milk
4 leaves of gelatin
4 ¼ cups pure cream
7 ounces sugar
1 vanilla pod, scraped
1 pound frozen raspberries or strawberries
10 ounces sugar
Juice of one lemon
14 ounces good-quality chocolate (don’t skimp on this)
3 ½ tbsp butter
½ pound icing sugar
3 ⅓ fl ounces milk
7 ounces each of desiccated, shredded, and chipped coconut (or 21 ounces of any one)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 8 x 12-inch cake pans and line them with greaseproof baking paper.
2. Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy.
3. Add the beaten eggs gradually until fully blended.
4. Fold in the flour and milk alternately until the batter is smooth. (This can be done with a mixer on low speed.)
5. Pour the batter into the cake pans.
6. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes, until the middle of the cake bounces back when pressed with your index finger.
7. Remove from the oven and cool.
1. Soak the gelatin leaves in cold water to soften.
2. Place the cream, sugar, and scraped vanilla pod in a saucepan. Stir and warm over low heat until sugar is dissolved.
3. Remove the gelatin leaves from the water and squeeze any excess water from them with your hands.
4. Remove the cream mixture from the heat and add the gelatin leaves. Whisk well until all the gelatin leaves have melted.
5. Strain through a fine sieve and leave at room temperature for an hour.
1. Place the berries and sugar in a saucepan and stir on low heat until sugar is dissolved.
2. Add lemon juice and increase heat until mixture reaches a rapid boil. Stir occasionally to ensure it does not stick to the bottom of the pan. This takes about half an hour.
3. To test the jam for setting, place a small amount on a saucer and put it in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
4. Check consistency, and turn off the heat once the jam is set.
1. Once the sponge cakes have cooled, pour equal portions of the pannacotta over the cakes.
2. Refrigerate overnight.
3. The next day, spread the jam over one of the cakes and layer the other cake on top.
4. Cut the sandwiched cakes into 2½ x 1½ inch pieces.
5. Put the lamingtons back in the fridge while you prepare the chocolate icing.
6. Place all icing ingredients except coconut in a bowl over a pan of boiling water and stir until smooth and all sugar has melted.
7. Pour one-third of the chocolate onto a flat tray.
8. Remove the lamington pieces from the fridge, place them on the flat surface of the chocolate, and spoon chocolate over the top and down the sides.
9. After letting the chocolate set slightly, press the lamingtons into the coconut bits.
10. Keep refrigerated in a sealed container until ready to serve.
Easy Apple Strudel – Viking Cruise Lines
Made popular in the 1700s by the Hapsburg Empire, today apple strudel is considered the national dish of Austria. The oldest strudel recipe on record was handwritten in 1696 and can be found at the Viennese City Library.
- 1 sheet (1/2 box) frozen puff pastry dough, thawed
- 1/2 C sugar
- 1/4 C walnuts, finely chopped
- 5 T raisins
- 1/2 tsp lemon peel, freshly grated
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 2 or 3 Pippin or Granny Smith apples (approx 3 C chopped)
- 1 T toasted plain dry bread crumbs
- 2 T butter, melted
Preheat oven to 400F. On a very lightly floured, plain weave kitchen towel, lay out puff pastry dough. Lightly flour top and gently roll out to a thin rectangle about 14″ x 17″, sealing any tears in the dough. The dough will be quite thin; do not over-handle. Set aside, keeping the dough on the towel. Peel, core and chop apples into small chunks. Toss with sugar, walnuts, raisins, lemon peel, and cinnamon. Lightly brush dough with 1/4 of the melted butter. Sprinkle with dry bread crumbs. Add apple mixture in the center of dough, leaving a 1-inch margin around the filling.
Fold in 1 inch along three sides of the dough, leaving 1 long side unfolded. Moisten all folded edges and remaining flat dough edge lightly with water. Using the towel to assist you, roll the dough toward the unfolded edge, enclosing the filling. Press gently but firmly on bottom seam and sides to seal.
Using the towel as a sling, transfer strudel seam side down to a cookie sheet; gently remove the towel. Brush lightly with the remaining melted butter, and prick sparingly along the top with a fork. Bake about 30 minutes or until golden brown. Cut crosswise into 12 pieces and serve warm with vanilla ice cream or a vanilla custard sauce.
Makes 12 servings.
Almond Cake – Viking Cruise Lines
- 1/4 lb unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3/4 C sugar
- 1 C almond paste
- 3 eggs
- 1/3 tsp baking powder
- Pinch of salt
- 1/4 tsp almond extract
- 1 T Kirsch or Grand Marnier
- 1/4 C cake flour
- Confectioner’s sugar
- Fresh raspberries
Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8″ springform pan with baking parchment or butter and flour it. Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add almond paste; beat well. Add eggs one at a time, beating for a minute or two between each addition. Add baking powder, salt, almond extract, and liqueur; stir to combine well. With a spatula, gently fold in flour making sure not to overmix. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 35 -45 minutes or until golden brown and toothpick comes out clean; make sure you don’t under-bake. Cool slightly on a cookie rack. Dust with confectioner’s sugar and garnish with fresh berries.
Cook time: 35-45 minutes.
Makes 10-12 servings.
Viking – Flourless Chocolate Cake
This dense moist cake is like a giant chocolate truffle – crunchy on top with a deliciously fudgy center. This extremely rich treat is so simple to make that it’s popular all year round. And you can serve it to your gluten-free friends without any apologies. You can make it in advance, then take it out of the refrigerator an hour or two before serving because it tastes even better the day after you make it.
- 6 T unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2/3 C walnut pieces
- 3/4 C & 1 T walnuts, chopped
- 8 oz dark chocolate, chopped
- 3 T unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 C granulated sugar
- 4 lg eggs
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- Chocolate shavings
- Raspberries with sauce
Preheat oven to 350. Grease an 8-inch springform pan with a small amount of butter and set aside. Place 2/3 C of walnuts in work bowl of a food processor and pulse until coarsely ground. Set aside. Place chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and heat on high in a microwave at 30-second intervals, stirring between intervals, until chocolate has melted and is smooth. Set aside. In a medium bowl stir together cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Continue beating until mixture has turned pale and creamy, about 5 minutes. Spoon in chocolate and vanilla and beat until just blended. Fold in ground walnuts, chopped walnuts, and cocoa powder mixture. Pour into prepared springform pan and bake until cooked through, about 35 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Run a small knife around the edge before releasing sides of springform pan. Serve at room temperature and garnish with chocolate shavings and raspberries in raspberry sauce.
Makes 8-10 servings.
Holland America Chocolate Chip Cookies
Cruisers know that there’s something special about fresh baked cookies onboard a ship. This recipe by Chef Wolfgang Wasshausen from Holland America Cruise Line lets you bake amazing chocolate chip cookies right at home!
- 2 cups all-purpose flour (you can use Nutritious Flour Blend in this)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg
- 3 tablespoons water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 1⁄4 cup canola oil
- 1⁄2-3⁄4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Heat the oven to 375*F. and grease baking sheets well(or spray with cooking spray). Combine the egg, water, and vanilla. Blend brown sugar and oil in a large bowl at low speed. Add the egg mixture and beat until smooth. With the mixer on lowest speed, add 1/3 of the flour mixture at a time until all of the mixture is added, scraping the bowl well after each addition. Stir in the chocolate chips. Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls onto baking sheets. Bake cookies at 375 degrees F for 7-8 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on the baking sheet for 1 minute, and then move to a cooling rack.
Norwegian’s Sinful Chocolate Obsession
For the cakes:
- 2 lbs semisweet chocolate
- 4 1/2 oz butter
- 12 egg yolks
- 4 oz sugar, separated
- 4 egg whites
- 1 tbsp rum
- 8 oz heavy cream
- 2 oz almonds, toasted
- 2 oz pistachios, chopped
For the ganache:
- 2 lbs dark chocolate couverture (or best-quality dark chocolate), finely chopped
- 32 fl oz heavy cream
- Melt chocolate and butter together.
- Whip yolks and 2 oz sugar together. Combine into chocolate butter mix.
- Whip whites together with 2 oz sugar and rum to volume. Combine into chocolate butter yolk mix.
- Whip the heavy cream and fold into the mixture; fold in nuts.
- Pipe or spoon into individual cake dishes or ramekins, and top with a cardboard disk to act as a base once flipped out. Freeze. (This recipe makes enough batter for 10 individual cakes.)
- Make ganache: Bring the heavy cream to a simmer. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate; allow one minute before stirring to blend. Strain and cool.
- Remove cakes from ramekins and plate with desired garnishes; Norwegian’s chefs use raspberry sauce, vanilla sauce, mint sprigs, whipped cream, and chocolate shavings. Top cake with ganache.