Lifestyle Recipes travel

Experience European Christmas Markets at Home

December 13, 2020

Traveling to a European Christmas Market may be off the table for now but you can still enjoy some of the festive charm in your own home. Cozy lights, traditional decor and these yummy recipes will brighten up your holiday season and bring a touch of European cheer into your homes.

German Lebkuchen: The Original Gingerbread

These delightful cookies are a staple at almost every Christmas Market. Make individual cookies to give to family and friends (that are in your covid bubble) or cut out larger pieces to make a gingerbread house. Either way your home will smell amazing and festive. Here is my favorite recipe for gingerbread houses. Dough for that needs to be sturdy!

German Lebkuchen

  • Servings: 35 cookies
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Ingredients:

Dough:

  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 cup and 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup and 2 tablespoons and 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/3 cup and 2 tablespoons and 1 teaspoon dark molasses
  • 2-3/4 cups and 3 tablespoons sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

For the lemon icing:

  • 1 egg white, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1-1/3 cups and 2 tablespoons sifted confectioners’ sugar

Directions:

Day 1

1.) First, in a large bowl, beat the egg, brown sugar and honey until smooth. Stir in the molasses.

2.) In another bowl combine the flour, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves and allspice; incorporate into the molasses mixture.

3.) Cover or wrap dough, and chill overnight.

Day 2:

1.) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Grease cookie sheets or use parchment paper.

2.) On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/4 inch in thickness.

3.) Cut into the desired shape. Place cookies 1 1/2 inches apart onto cookie sheets.

4.) Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven, until firm.

Make the lemon glaze.

To make the glaze: In a small bowl, stir together the egg white, lemon juice and lemon zest. Mix in the confectioners’ sugar until smooth. Brush over cookies while still warm.

Swiss Rösti

Originally, rösti was the farmer’s breakfast in German-speaking Switzerland. It’s a simple potato pancake that can be filled with cheese, ham, onions or just plain. It’s warm and delicious and perfect for cooler days. This Recipe seems like the most authentic one that I could find and it tastes just like the ones we had in Zurich.

Gluhwein

This winter warmer is a must all season long, not just around the holidays! The origins of mulled wine go back to Romans, who brought wine from the South of Europe to the North as they were conquering it. During the winter months, they heated it up, added some spices and voila…deliciousness. Every Christmas Market has their version of this delicious mulled wine. This recipe will make your whole home smell like Christmas. If you want the cheat version buy Trader Joe’s Winter Wassail and warm with your favorite dry red wine, the cheaper the better. Instant Gluhwein!

Dried Citrus Decorations

Natural decorations seem to be just as plentiful as the glitzy lights at the markets. Dried citrus garland was everywhere and it smells so good. It’s a natural way to decorate both inside and outside of your home during the holidays.

To make a simple garland

1).  Preheat your oven to 200 degrees F.

2. Using a sharp knife, cut oranges in 1/4″ slices, removing the ends.

3. Lay them between sheets of paper towels or dishtowels and gently press to remove some of the juice.  Do not squeeze.

4. Spray cooling racks with a non-stick spray and place the orange slices on the racks atop baking sheets.  This allows for air circulation and speeds the process.

5. Put the trays in the oven and bake for 3 hours, flipping the slices over halfway through.  You’ll know they are finished when they are dry to the touch and the rind is darkened and firm. 

6. Let the slices cool and continue to dry for a few days on the cooling racks. They will harden even more as they dry.

7. Once dry, string your garland with some pretty ribbon, twine, make a swag….the possibilities are endless really.

Candied/Spiced Nuts Served Warm

You can smell these crunchy, sweet, tasty bits of goodness all over the Christmas markets. They are warm, which makes them a great way to warm up since the markets are COLD and they are also so, so delicious. These make a great gift, even during the time of Covid because they can be reheated in your oven before eating.

Spiced Nuts

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon each ground cloves ,allspice, coriander, cardamom & ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg, freshly grated is best!
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups almonds (if they aren’t salted, add about 1/4 teaspoon of salt in the with spices. Even if they are salted, you can add more salt to taste once they’re cool enough to taste.)

Directions:

1.)Line a baking sheet with lightly greased parchment paper and set aside. 

2.)Combine the water, sugar, and spices in a large pan.

3.) Bring the mixture to a boil. Keep an eye on it though, you don’t want it to burn!

4.)Add the nuts and vanilla. Lower to medium heat and continue stirring occasionally. When the water is gone, the sugar will get kind of sandy looking and dry. Keep stirring, watch closely! When you start getting a little bit of shiny glaze on your nuts, remove them from the heat and pour onto the prepared parchment covered pan. This take about 20 minutes or so.

Separate the nuts with a spatula as the cool so they don’t clump together!

I hope that you’re able to bring a little market cheer to your holiday season and maybe you’ll find a new tradition! Fingers-crossed that we’ll be able to visit a market in person next year but until then you can find me drinking Gluhwein by my own twinkle lights.

Cheers!

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