The Germans have a word for everything, and it’s usually miles long (only outdone by the Welsh language!). Of course, this time of year, theirs is not just a cookie, but a Weihnachtsplätzchen, a Christmas cookie. They do nothing by halves, as you’ll see from this photo of a 14th century building, just one of the gorgeous landscape photos in Christopher and Catherine Knuth’s The German Kitchen.
Their Coconut Christmas Cookies (Kokosmakronen) “are very typical German Christmas cookies, but they are very popular to eat the whole year round.”
4 egg whites
1 ¼ cups (250g) sugar
¼ lb (125g) dried, shredded coconut
3 ½ tablespoons (30g) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (optional)
Baking or edible wafers (½ in/4cm in diameter)
½ lb (250g) chocolate, melted, for decoration (optional)
Note: These cookies are baked on thin, edible baking wafers, known as oblaten. Edible baking wafers are a crisp, white wheat wafer similar to communion wafers. Check your local specialty store. You could also try edible rice wafers instead (available from cake decorating stores) or just grease your baking tray before placing the cookie mixture on to the tray.
Prepare a water bath by heating water in a shallow baking pan. In a bowl, mix egg whites and sugar. Place the bowl in the hot water bath and beat the eggs and sugar until the sugar dissolves.
Mix in the coconut flakes. Heat the coconut mixture to a temperature of 158°F (70°C), stirring frequently.
Remove from the water bath, add the flour, and mix again. If you like, you can add the lemon zest to this mixture. Let cool to room temperature. Preheat oven to 325°F (160°C). Place baking wafers on a baking tray.
Using a pastry bag with large tip, place little dough dollops on the wafers. Leave a little room, because the cookies will flatten slightly while baking. Bake for 10 minutes then open the oven a little bit and bake for a further 5 minutes. The cookies should remain light in color and just slightly browned.
If you would like, you can decorate the cookies with melted chocolate. Break the chocolate up into small pieces and place in a bowl over the water bath. Stir until it has just melted. Take the bowl out of the water bath. Dip the cookies into the chocolate to coat the top.
Copyright © 2013 Christopher and Catherine Knuth
Christopher Knuth is a professional chef, food writer, and restaurateur from Hamburg. Browsing this book is a total delight, if you’re a fan of German cuisine and its rich, meaty flavors, its generous use of fruits, and its brilliant use of vinegars and mustards. Doesn’t this sage pork in cider look delicious?!
Germany is a magical place. My husband and I oooh’d and ahhh’d and ate our way from its western border with France all the way to Berlin.
Whether it’s a cookie, a biscuit, a plätzchen, a biscotto, a galleta , a petit gâteau, something about these hand-held treats elicits a smile from just about everybody on Earth. For the next four weeks, each Tuesday, we’ll be sending out recipes to help you celebrate the holidays with cookies from around the world.
In Ireland, nobody really needs a reason to get together for “the craic,” their unique and wildly entertaining version of good conversation. If you want to loosen the tongues of your friends and family, try these Brandy Balls from Noel McMeel’s Irish Pantry.
“A cross between cookies and candy, these are a favorite among the old folks I know, and are becoming popular in a resurgence of ‘everything old is new again’ with my younger friends. These are just the right amount of festive for the holidays, and they’re easy to make.”
Makes about 50 balls
1 (6-ounce/ 170-gram) can evaporated milk
⅔ cup / 150 grams chocolate chips
1 pound / 450 grams packaged almond biscotti, crushed very finely
½ cup / 120 milliliters brandy or rum
10 ounces / 280 grams chopped walnuts (about 2 cups)
1 ¼ cups / 120 grams confectioners’ sugar, for coating
In the microwave or in a metal bowl set over a pan of simmering water, melt the evaporated milk and chocolate chips together, stirring frequently until smooth.
Remove the mixture from the heat and stir in the crushed cookies and brandy until well blended. With wet hands, roll the mixture into 1-inch / 2.5 centimeter balls, then roll the balls in chopped walnuts, then in confectioners’ sugar. Store, covered, in the refrigerator.
Copyright © 2013 by Noel McMeel
Irish Pantry is a beautiful book, perfect for giving to your Celtic-loving friends. Noel McMeel is a professional chef from County Antrim who brings us all the delectable morsels in Ireland’s larder: jams, jellies, spreads, cordials, condiments, cereals and porridges, pickled delights, and much more. The food photos are abundant, but anyone who loves Ireland will drool over the landscape photos, like this one.
It’ll bring back all the best times you’ve ever had over there, or persuade you you’ve got to make the trip.
Grab that wishbone and here’s hoping you get what you desire! Wherever you spend the day, share this William Faulkner quote with everyone you meet: “Gratitude is a quality similar to electricity: it must be produced and discharged and used up in order to exist at all.”
I’m very thankful for all the thoughtful comments on these holiday preparations. Hope they helped, and let’s hear it for a few days’ rest before anybody tackles Christmas!
Now that Thanksgiving is right around the corner and Christmas isn’t far behind, I’m imagining how beautiful The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Dessert Cookbook‘s Fruit Pizza with Shortbread Cookie Crust would look on the dessert buffet if it was topped with pomegranate seeds and thin slices of kiwi. I made that recipe back in August using blueberries and juicy nectarines (see photo above) and loved how the fresh fruit and buttery crust tasted with a thin layer of not-too-sweet cream cheese and sour cream spread. It looked so pretty too.
Thanksgiving at my house was for years a frustrating experience of delicious food served at less-than-optimum temperatures.
No room in the oven to warm the plates, a rush to get the food to the table, seconds–and thirds–desired quite some time after the first serving. And then…my husband’s brilliant idea changed everthing: he introduced me to the chafing dish!
Now’s the time to order one or more on-line; both serviceable and pretty ones can be had at the WEBstaurant Store for anywhere between $24.99 and $139.99.
Then grab the Sterno at the store before it runs out. We use chafing dishes for everything except the cranberry sauce which we like to be a delicious, icy blast against the warmth of the turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, and sides.
Here are a few tips from Denise Gee’s Southern Casseroles:
Chafing dishes are made to keep your casserole at a constant serving temperature–not to heat it up–so the food must be at the desired temperature before it goes in the dish (which itself should be hot before the food goes in). Make sure your food is cooked to 160°F beforehand and stays at that temperature after it’s in the steam pan.
Cooking fuel, a nontoxic and biodegradable mix of alcohol, water, and gel, burns for about 2 hours, which is the maximum length of time a dish of food should stay out anyway.
Keep the dish tightly covered to retain heat and keep food moist.
Stir the food occasionally to ensure that food is warmed evenly.
For safety’s sake, don’t leave canister flames unattended, and once they burn out, allow them time to cool before attempting to remove them.
Copyright © 2013 by Denise Gee. All rights reserved