Today I have some ultra-cute nutcrackers for you guys made from sugar cookies with royal icing. Yes, they do require a bit of work, but for me that’s the best way to relax. Especially since you can make each step on a different day (like make the dough, bake, decorate), which I find super convenient. I love the fact that these cookies keep and will look great in any cookie box. You can also wrap them individually and give them as a gift to somebody. What do you say? You can of course use other cookie cutters, such as ugly sweaters and the like…
Today I have the honor of introducing to you Colombian Christmas, rituals, and customs. Of course I am going to introduce to you typical Colombian recipes for Christmas as well. I by no means consider this extensive and is more based on my personal experience. As a German I can say though that Colombian Christmas is happier, louder, and more carefree than German Christmas. Maybe it has to do with the fact that Germans usually meet with their nucleus family; during these short winter days you need to be at home behind closed doors. Colombians, on the other hand, are found travelling in large groups to relatives, Christmas celebrations can start at 30 people or more, you may encounter a birthday cake for Jesus and see Colombians dancing Salsa happily. Of course the food plays an important role as well. Usually you will find a large amount of people being involved in some food preparation as it requires many hours of labor. By the way, New Year’s Eve is not that different from Christmas, usually Colombians will visit one side of the family on Christmas, and the other on New Year’s. Prepare yourself for eating large amounts of food. But let’s first get started with Christmas in Colombia!
Do you want to make a Colombian happy during the holidays? I have a very simple solution for you, just make him or her natilla, this is an easy milk custard, which doesn’t require you to turn on the oven. Natilla is, and this was confirmed by many Colombians, beside the deep-fried cheese balls buñuelos THE most Colombian Christmas snack. Yes, you read right, Colombians don’t necessarily have a main dish they associate with Christmas, instead it is the snacks, which are served beforehand which are dear to them. The most common ones being said milk custard named natilla or the buñuelos, which are deep-fried cheese balls. These are served throughout the season and on the 24th the very latest.
I am not the conventional German cookie maker. Yes, of course I have all the traditional German cookies on my blog, such as vanilla crescents, cinnamon stars, gingerbread aka Lebkuchen and Linzer. However, my favorite cookies, even during the season, are usually not the traditional Christmas cookies. I usually prefer cookies you can eat all year round. Many German cookies are based on some version of sugar cookie or even pie crust, if you are looking for tips how to deal with this type of sugar cookie, check out this blog post. I also have one full blog post on how to freeze leftover egg yolks and egg whites. If you are looking for some different cookie, below list may be for you. I usually make a full plate with different cookies and many times one of the below cookies was declared the favorite from the receiver of the cookie plate.
Today I am introducing a fast espresso parfait, which is served with cranberry sauce. In case you are looking for a festive dessert you can prepare in advance for Christmas, this may be for you. Since it is frozen, it is up to you to decide when to make it. Also, you can make the cranberry sauce up to two days in advance. I think it is perfect for Christmas as you will have one less thing to worry about. The creamy espresso parfait is delicious on its own, however, if topped of with the tangy cranberry sauce, you have a winning team. Let’s get started!
Have you ever heard of Pfeffernüsse aka German spice cookies? I live in the south of Germany in the city Munich. Once I asked in a bakery whether they sold any and they look at me as if as were from Mars. So I checked, since there are so many German dialects, maybe they use another word in Bavaria, but no, I quickly learned that they are also called Pfeffernüsse here. However, they seem to be more common in the north of Germany, the Dutch and Danish also have similar versions. The handwritten recipe book from my grandma contains about ten different recipes. Many of her recipes contain peppermint extract and this one is closer to gingerbread or German Lebkuchen. Pfeffernüsse literally translates as “pepper nuts”, probably they are called “nuts” because they are the size of walnuts. At least the ones I grew up with are rather small.
Guys, it was so, so much fun baking, decorating, assembling, and also filming this gingerbread house (video further down below). You can’t imagine how wonderful this was. Probably because this year is different and so I needed to relax even more than usual. I dare say that I have become a gingerbread expert over the years. You need to know that I always decorate our tree with gingerbread, I also make tiny gingerbread houses you can actually place on your mug every year. I have learned a lot making gingerbread over and over again. And today I am going to share with you how to make this gingerbread house from scratch. You will find a recipe for a sturdy house, lots of helpful hints and tips, a recipe for royal icing and a video showing the entire process. I have traditionally made a gingerbread house for the first of advent for several years. I just love when the entire apartment smells like cinnamon and other spices throughout December. So let’s get started!
Snickerdoodles are America’s answer to German cinnamon stars! I love snickerdoodles and I find it super exciting every time a German tries one and declares it the new favorite cookie. Snickerdoodles are easy to prepare and are similar to how sugar cookies are created. You will need cream of tartar for these beauties to stay soft and puffy. The recipe does not require any chilling.
These German vanilla crescents are prepared with real vanilla to give them maximum flavor. This is a classic Christmas cookie very popular in the German-speaking countries. So we are going to add vanilla not only in the dough, but also in the dusting. They are called vanilla crescents for a reason.
Cookie boxes are my thing! I love shipping cookies to friends and family during the season! I have been doing this for years. And since this year is so special and you may not be able to see everybody you hold dear, how about shipping a cookie box instead? This post will let you know which type and size of box to choose, which cookies are best to ship with lots of recipe suggestions, how you make your cookie box look nice and give it a personal touch and how your cookies make it safe and sound without breaking or going bad. Let’s have a look:
#1 Which box is best to ship cookies?
It may sound counter-intuitive, but I do prefer rectangular boxes, even if round cookie boxes seem so much more common here in Germany. I find rectangular boxes so much better as you can easily create smaller compartments by cutting out some carton (yes, you can use an old cornflakes box) and by placing them inside your cookie box to create smaller compartments. So stacking the cookies becomes much easier as each has its small compartment and is protected even better. You probably could create something similar with a round cookie box, but I am very bad at this. This is not to say that you can’t use round boxes, but as stated, for shipping rectangular boxes are better.
A tin can will work best and can be found in German stores during this time of the year. Once I even bought a cookie box already filled with cookies in a grocery store and replaced those with my own homemade cookies. So you can go with tin, thick carton, or wood. Paper is not thick enough, you may only use it if you want to wrap single cookies in some extra containers.
The size is also tricky, they shouldn’t be too small as you won’t be able to put in any cookies (and they fill up much faster than you think), but also not too large. I would suggest about 17-20cm in diameter and 8-10cm in height for round cookie boxes, these are the ones I liked a lot. For a rectangular box again height should be between 8-10cm, the largest I shipped was 17cm in width and 20cm long.