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 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 spicers 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 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 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 middle. Bake for 40 minutes on 293º F. Brush with melted butter.
Just had to include this recipe from irishcentral.com in honor of our upcoming trip to Ireland:
Celtic apple crumb with Irish whiskey cream sauce
With Kerrygold products reaching record sales in the US, we thought it was high time to explore some recipes using the beloved Irish butter and cheeses. Made from the milk of grass-fed, never hormone-induced, Irish cows, Kerrygold ultimately yields a product that has a rich, golden texture and smooth, creamy flavor.
“Apples have always played an important part in Irish folklore, tradition and diet, so it’s no surprise to find apple desserts in great supply and variety. This apple crumble, sometimes called ‘apple crunch’ when the apples are first cooked to soften them, is flavored with a respectable dose of Irish whiskey and topped with a buttery oatmeal crumble. Serve it with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, or Irish Whiskey Cream Sauce” said Margaret Johnson, Irish food expert and cookbook author.
Johnson uses Kerrygold Irish butter to make this crumble. The butter, churned from the milk of grass-fed cows that graze in Ireland’s lush pastures, has a creamy richness and a remarkably golden color from the beta-carotene in the grass. It is the preferred butter of many seasoned bakers.
- 1/3 cup water
- 2 tablespoons Irish whiskey
- 1/2 cup golden raisins
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4-5 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
- 6 tablespoons Kerrygold Irish Salted Butter
- 1 cup quick-cooking (not instant) Irish oatmeal, such as Flahavan’s or McCann’s brand
Irish Whiskey Cream Sauce
- 1 cup heavy (whipping) cream
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons Irish whiskey
To make the filling, in a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the water and whiskey to a boil. Stir in the raisins and vanilla. Remove from the heat, cover, and let stand for 1 hour, or until the raisins have absorbed most of the liquid.
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Butter an 8- or 9-inch square glass baking dish. In a large bowl, toss the apples with the sugar, cinnamon and ginger. Stir in the raisins and cooking liquid and arrange in the prepared pan.
To make the crumble, combine the flour, brown sugar and butter in a food processor. Pulse 4-5 times to form coarse crumbs. Stir in the oats. Sprinkle the mixture over the fruit and bake for about 40 minutes, or until the topping is golden and the apples are tender. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Irish Whiskey Cream Sauce
In a deep bowl, beat the cream with an electric mixer on high until soft peaks form. Dissolve the honey in the whiskey. Fold the honey mixture into the whipped cream and spoon over the crumble.
Recipe by Margaret Johnson, Irish food expert and cookbook author; recipe adapted from her Puddings, Tarts, Crumbles, and Fools cookbook; recipe provided by the author.
For more delicious recipes, visit the Kerrygold USA website.
Here is another mouth-watering recipe from irishcentral.com
An Irish twist on a traditional apple pie…
Avoca’s Irish Apple Pie with Blackberries
Avoca Handweavers @avocahandweavers
Of all the sweet pie variations, we think the combination of Bramley apples and gorgeous seasonal blackberries with a hint of cinnamon is the best. (Note: Bramley apples are a British variety not commonly available in the US. Common substitutes are Mutsu/Crispin, Granny Smith, Gala. Caster sugar is known as Super-Fine in the US)
Pre-heat oven to 340ºF
- 8-10 large Bramley apples
- 12oz blackberries
- 8oz caster sugar (depending on the tartness of the apples)
- 2 tbsp cold water
For the pastry
- 1 lb butter
- 4 oz caster sugar
- 26 oz plain flour
- 2 medium eggs
For a coeliac pastry (Gluten Free)
- 24 oz rice flour
- 12 oz butter
- 3 oz caster sugar
- 2 egg yolks
- 2-4 tbsp chilled water
For the filling
Lightly grease a pie plate or loose-bottomed tart tin.
Peel and thickly slice the apples, then place in a heavy saucepan with cold water and sugar and cook gently on low for 5-8 minutes or until the apple is just starting to soften.
Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool slightly while you make the pastry.
For the pastry
Beat the butter and sugar together until very soft and pale in color, about 8-10 minutes.
Once the mixture is softened, tip in all the flour and very carefully mix until the butter and sugar have absorbed the flour.
Add the eggs and continue to mix for 2-3 minutes or until you have a very smooth dough. This is quite a sticky mix, so place a little extra flour on the work surface, remove the pastry from the mixer and gently roll it in the flour to make two balls, one slightly bigger than the other, that will be your base.
Cover in cling film and refrigerate for up to 1 hour, no longer or it will become very difficult to roll.
Remove the dough from the fridge and on a lightly floured surface roll out the pastry into 2 discs, line the tin with the larger one pressing it down firmly in to the edges, leaving some pastry overhanging (you can trim later).
Then fill with the fruit mixture adding the blackberries and some extra sugar with cinnamon if desired.
Next, brush the edges of the pastry with a little lightly beaten egg and then carefully lower the smaller of the two pastry discs on top of the fruit and gently press the two pastry discs together.
Trim the overhang, reserving the pastry trimmings. Crimp the edges with a fork or your fingers.
Brush the tart with some of the remaining egg wash and sprinkle an extra tablespoon of caster sugar on the top. If you are feeling artistic you can decorate with some simple leaves made from the pastry scraps.
Bake the tart in the pre-heated oven for 45-55 minutes or until the pastry is golden and the filling is bubbling. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10-15 minutes before serving.
Through its cafés, food markets and cookbooks, Avoca has led a revolution in Irish food, championing seasonal, locally-sourced ingredients and showcasing artisan food producers. It’s a passion born out of its roots in 1723 when Avoca first started weaving its world-famous throws & blankets – and nurtured still in its stores, homewares and fashion. Find more of the story at avoca.com.
Australian Panna Cotta Lamingtons
We have not been yet but, this recipe alone increases my bucket-list desire to go to Australia.
Panna Cotta Lamingtons
(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 panna cotta 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 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. Dough will be quite thin; do not over-handle. Set aside, keeping dough on 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 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 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 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 them move to 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 couvertures (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 mixture; fold in nuts.
- Pipe or spoon into individual cake dishes or ramekins, and top with a cardboard disk to act as 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.
Delicious Guinness Porter Cake
Guinness porter cake is traditionally supposed to be baked for St. Patrick’s day but as the fall days grow shorter we can think of nothing more comforting than a slice of porter cake and a cup of tea… or a pint of stout!
Okay! So Guinness porter cake might be a traditional recipe associated with St. Patrick’s Day but quite frankly, it should be eaten more than once a year!
And don’t forget to keep a bottle of Guinness stout on hand for the cook!
- 1 lb cream flour
- 8 oz sultanas (white raisins)
- 1/2 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda or bread soda
- 8 oz of sugar
- 8 oz Irish butter
- 3 eggs
- 4 oz mixed peel
- 1 lbs mixed dried fruit
- 1/2 tsp mixed spice (pumpkin pie spice mix)
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 2 oz almonds
- 1/2 pint of stout
- Sieve the flour, bread soda & spices into a bowl.
- Beat butter and sugar together for 5 to 10 minutes to a cream.
- Add eggs one at a time and continue to beat.
- Finely chop almonds
- Fold in flour mixture, sultanas, mixed peel, almonds, and mixed fruit.
- Add stout. Mix well.
- Turn in to a greased and lined 8-inch tin
- Bake in the center of oven ( 300°f) for 120 minutes.
- Check cake at intervals after 90 minutes.
- Let cake cool a little in the tin then stand on a wire tray. Cover with a tea towel.
Here is an interesting variation on the Porter Cake. This one is traditionally baked for Halloween and has fortune telling twist…
Traditional Irish Halloween Barmbrack
“This recipe makes a really beautiful moist loaf which is packed with flavor from the mixed spice and dried fruit, which sits overnight in cold tea and whiskey to soak up all the goodness. You can drop the whiskey if you wish but I think it adds another flavor kick…” – Donal.
Makes one 2lb loaf
- 10 oz plain flour
- 2 teaspoons of baking powder
- 13 oz packet of dried fruit mix
- 1 cup cold tea
- 1/5 cup of whiskey
- 4 1/2 oz light brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 teaspoon of mixed spice (pumpkin pie spice mix)
- A ring to place inside (more on this below)
- Place the fruit mix in a bowl and pour over the whiskey and cold tea. Allow to soak up the liquid overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 340-350˚F/ and grease a 2 lb loaf tin.
- Combine the flour, baking powder, sugar and mixed spice in a mixing bowl.
- Make a well and break in the egg, using a wooden spoon, mix the egg with the dry ingredients. Add a little bit of the liquid the fruit mix is sitting in and mix it through. You may not need all the liquid, you are looking for a wet dough.
- Then stir through the fruit mix until everything is thoroughly combined. Add in the ring (keep reading) and stir through.
- Spoon the wet dough into the lined loaf tin and place in the oven on the middle shelf and bake for 1 hour.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before removing from the loaf tin and placing on wire rack.
- Cover in cling wrap and tin foil and allow to sit for 1-2 days before cutting into it.
OK…So what’s with the ring?
Barmbrack is a popular Irish fruit bread that’s usually consumed around Halloween. It is also widely known as Barnbrack, and Bairín Breac. The loaf could be quite large and would be used in a fortune telling game of which there are many variants.
Traditionally, a series of items were baked into the loaf. It was then evenly sliced and whichever item was received in your slice was a glimpse into your future. Some common items and their fortunes were: A ring for love and marriage, a twig for a year of dispute, a coin for good fortune, or a piece of cloth for bad luck.
The only item typically used today would be the ring, indicating marriage to the lucky recipient. Just be careful when you bite into a slice of barmbrack. You may gain a spouse but you may also lose a tooth!