Thursday, December 23, 2010

Daring Bakers: Christmas Stollen

On the Daring Baker's website there was a lot of discussion about what the December recipe would be this year. It is always something for the Christmas season and a lot of people seem to fear the possibility that someone would pick fruitcake. It turns out there are a lot of fruitcake haters out there. Well this year they did - sort of. They pick stollen. Stollen is a traditional German fruitcake - but it is more of a bread than a cake since it is made with yeast. Traditionally stollen is shaped more like a loaf (supposed to represent the baby Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes) but we were to make ours in the wreath form you see above.

Well I am not a fruitcake hater. When I grew up my grandmother would make fruitcake every Christmas. I think it was pretty much a traditional southern fruitcake and I still enjoy it when I can get it. I have never made one myself though so I was excited at the thought of making the Stollen this month. The Stollen can be pretty easy to make if you use all store-bought ingredients but I decided to make a few of them.

I have not got out the candy thermometer in a while but I needed it twice for this recipe. The first thing I made was the candied citrus peels. These taste a lot better than anything you would buy and I used this recipe to make them.

The second thing I made was some marzipan. Marzipan is a traditional filling for a stollen and it was something I wanted to experiment with so I decided to make some. My father doesn't like the almonds that are in a traditional marzipan so I decided to experiment and use pecans in place of the almonds. I have never heard of anyone making pecan marzipan but I figured it was worth a try. I used this recipe - as a starting point. Instead of grounding the pecans I just processed them in the food processor. I think that left them a little course and it ended up not being quite as much of a paste as a normal marzipan but it worked great in the stollen.

The only other modification I made to the recipe was that I used raisins, blueberries, cherries, and cranberries instead of just raisins and I also used a mix of cherries and pineapple in place of the glace cherries. I also substituted some course chopped pecans for the almonds.

The resulting stollen was fantastic. It looked beautiful in the wreath shape. It is a nice deep brown color and with all the powdered sugar on top it looked and tasted fantastic. I really liked the pecan marzipan - I like almonds but I think the pecans were really good in this. It is a heavy bread but nowhere near as heavy as a traditional fruitcake.

I thought it tasted pretty good but a week or so after I made it I made the discovery that elevates this above a traditional fruitcake for me. Like any fruitcake this is supposed to store well. Like a normal bread it does start to get a little dry after a while. Well many people had posted that it was normal to eat it toasted and normal to put butter on it. Well toasted with butter was incredible - like a good cinnamon raisin toast - only better. I was going to be saving some for Christmas to share with the family but I have finished off half the loaf (the other half went to a pot luck) myself. I still enough of the citrus peels and marzipan for another so I think I will try making a smaller loaf - maybe in the traditional shape so I can bring it to Christmas dinner at my mom's.

Thanks to Penny at Sweet Sadie's Baking for this months challenge. It was good to get everyone to try out a fruitcake - some found they liked it (an some found out they really didn't). Also thanks to Audax at Audax Artifex - He provided a lot of hints and I used recipes he provided for the citrus and marzipan. If you have not checked out his blog - do it - he takes all of the daring kitchen challenges to a whole new level. I think he has made at least 4 completely different stollen for this challenge.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Snow Cream

This is a little bit of a departure from most of the posts I do but it it something I have been wanting to do for a long time. The name of the blog is A Cooking Dad and most of the posts focus on the cooking - this one focuses on being a dad (but still a little cooking thrown in).

One good food memory I have from my childhood is snow cream. This is probably
a foreign concept to most of you - I have never heard of anyone else making it. I found three main variations on the Internet. One version is made with eggs, milk, sugar, and snow. The second is sweetened condensed milk and snow. In the third you actually make a custard and mix it with the snow. I don't really know how my grandmother made it. I think she may have actually made a custard and mixed it with the snow. I'll have to try to figure out what the official family recipe is, but for now, I just made the version with the sweetened condensed milk.

Before I describe how it tastes let me say this recipe is more about fun than tasting good. This is not going to taste like Hagen Daz if that is what you are expecting. It is not as creamy as ice cream but the texture is not bad. The taste is pretty much the taste of sweetened condensed milk. In the future I think I will try some of the other version as I think they may taste better - but the project was a success. My son had a ton of fun gathering the snow to make ice cream and it tasted great to him.

Snow Cream
Serves 4

  • 1/2 can (7 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Snow - I used about 6-8 cups of fresh, light and fluffy snow
  1. Mix the sweetened condensed milk and vanilla.
  2. Gather the fresh snow. Pour the condensed milk mixture over the snow and stir until well combined.
Note: Watch out for the yellow snow!