Daring Bakers Challenge – Christmas Stollen

Daring Bakers Challenge – Christmas Stollen

Christmas Stollen Slices

Christmas Stollen

The 2010 December Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Penny of Sweet Sadie’s Baking. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make Stollen. She adapted a friend’s family recipe and combined it with information from friends, techniques from Peter Reinhart’s book………and Martha Stewart’s demonstration.

I have never made Stollen, but having spent several years living  in Germany I have had some good ones and was quite happy to give it a try.  I pretty much followed the recipe provided by Penny with a few minor changes.  I opted to make my own citrus peel (lime and orange), substituted dried cherries and Kirsch for the raisins and rum (just not a raisin fan) and added some extra cinnamon to the batter and a layer of cinnamon and sugar while rolling to make it a little sweeter.

Step 1

Orange and lime peel

Lemon and Orange after boiling

I followed the recipe from Harvest to Table for the Citrus Peel.  First peeling the fruit and boiling several times, then boiling with the sugar/water.  It was a little more candied than I recall them usually being, pretty crunchy, but it tasted good and actually gave a little texture to the stollen.

Candied Citrus Peel

Step 2 – the Stollen

As I mentioned, I followed the recipe provided with the following exceptions:





Lime and Orange Zest




Making the dough

Following the recipe I mixed the dough, using the dried cherries/Kirsch instead of the rum and raisins, using lime and orange for the zest (that’s what I had on hand) and using an extra teaspoon of cinnamon.  I didn’t add the candied citrus in deciding to put it in just before rolling to make more of a ribbon effect (although it really wasn’t that obvious I could have just mixed it in.)



Dough after kneading


After kneading, it was set off to rest overnight.


Dough Rolled flat


I then rolled out the dough.  It probably should have been a little more squared off  but it turned out fine with a little squeezing during the circle shaping.  Sprinkled it with the chopped candied citrus peel


Sprinkled with candied citrus peel


and about 1/2 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon of cinnamon


Dough sprinkled with candied citrus peel, cinnamon and sugar


Next I rolled the dough.


Rolling the dough


I have to admit because of the extra cinnamon it was quite brownish and a little pointed due to the more rounded (rather than rectangular) shape the dough was in and daughter and I had a small giggle fit after we determined that the rolled up dough looked pretty much like one of those giant alien slugs from the movies.  Fortunately it’s looks improved after forming it into the circle.  I should have taken the suggestion to use a bowl for the center as it would have made it easier.


Dough shaped into a circle


Then the cuts to make it wreathlike – again daughter had comments on a few of the misshapen “leaves” but after a little rising they were all pretty good looking!


Ready to rise




Ready to bake



Finally, baked, then the butter and powdered sugar sprinkling, add some cherries in the middle and it was done!


Ready to serve






More Holiday Gifts – Cherry Almond Lime & Honey Biscotti

More Holiday Gifts – Cherry Almond Lime & Honey Biscotti

Cherry Lime Biscotti dipped in chocolate

Here’s another recipe that is great for holiday gift giving.  I am really not that fond of biscotti, maybe because I’m not a dunker or maybe because I prefer everything sweet, but these are a big hit with the rest of the family and those I have given them to as gifts.

Biscotti and cocoa

This one takes a little time but is worth it.



2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 t baking soda

1 t baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

2/3 sugar

3 eggs

2 tbsp lime zest

3 tbsp honey

1/2 t almond extract

1/2 cup chopped dried cherries

1/2 cup chopped sliced chopped almonds


Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a small bowl.

Whisked eggs

Mix sugar and eggs using the whisk attachment until they are a light lemon color.  Add the lime zest, honey and almond extract.

Mix in the dry ingredients just until combined then add the dried cherries and almonds.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Dough for first baking

Split the dough into two equal parts and place on an oiled cookie sheets, shaping the dough into roughly a 13 x 2 inch log.  Bake, rotating the pans once half way through, until golden and just beginning to crack, about 35 minutes.

After first baking

Cool for 10 minutes and lower the oven to 325 degrees.


Slice the biscotti on the diagonal in about 1/2 slices.

Ready for second baking

Place back on the cookie sheets. Bake for about 15 minutes until crisp and lightly browned, turning each cookie over half way through the baking.  Cool on a wire rack.  Store in an airtight container and they will last at least a month.  If you like, they can be dipped in melted chocolate.

Holiday Gifts – White Chocolate Popcorn

Holiday Gifts – White Chocolate Popcorn


White Chocolate Popcorn




Here’s another really easy one, great to do with the kids!


White Chocolate Popcorn Ingredients




1/3 cup unpopped popcorn

1 12 oz pkg white chips

1-2 Tbs vegetable oil (optional)

2 crushed candy canes, nuts, M&M’s, etc (optional)






Set out a large cookie sheet sprayed with vegetable spray.

Pop the corn into a large bowl.

Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave, start with 30 seconds, then stir and do 15 more seconds and another 15 if needed.  Even when melted, the white will sometimes keep its shape so make sure to stir to check, otherwise you might burn it.   If the chocolate seems to thick to pour, add 1-3 Tbs of vegetable oil until the consistency is pourable.

If you are adding anything like nuts or candies, add to the popcorn in the bowl.  Pour the white chocolate over the popcorn, mixing as you pour.  A large fork works better than a spoon so you don’t pick up so much of the chocolate and you can separate the popcorn.


Mixing in the white chocolate



Mix quickly, then spread in an even layer on the cookie sheet as it will harden quickly.


Spread on cookie sheet to harden

Once the chocolate has hardened, break it up and put in a holiday container for gifts or in a serving bowl for snacking.  It will get soggy so keep it sealed up until you are ready to use it.  Sealed it will keep very well for several weeks.








Holiday Gifts – David Rocco’s Pesto

Holiday Gifts – David Rocco’s Pesto


Pesto gift packaged



Here’s a great, simple recipe for pesto from David Rocco.  Once you’ve made the recipe, place it in festive jars or plastic tubs for gifts (keeping a few for yourself of course).  In case you haven’t noticed, I like David Rocco and if you haven’t had the chance to watch his show on the Cooking Channel you really should.  It is not the typical cooking show.  He travels around Italy and cooks with lots of different people in their kitchens and restaurants as well as his apartment.  You get to see a lot of scenery and interesting people with some  Italian history, not just a studio kitchen.  His recipes are simple and delicious and generally quite traditional.

The pesto will last well in the fridge, or can be frozen.  Adding equal measures of the pesto to heavy cream (1 cup to 1 cup for a pound of pasta) makes a wonderful quick pasta sauce.  Just warm the cream and pesto in a saucepan while you cook the pasta, then serve with extra cheese.  You can also add some leftover chicken, chicken strips or shrimp.


Strawberry Peach Bread and Strawberry Lavender Jam

Strawberry Peach Bread and Strawberry Lavender Jam

ImageI know it’s been a long time, I’ve moved to a new job in Dallas so I’ve been mostly without my kitchen (or any kitchen at all for a while) and suffering some serious withdrawal symptoms.  I really miss my big kitchen and all my cooking supplies that just don’t fit in my apartment here.  I’m going back and forth though, so I do get to visit my stuff!
There is one big advantage to being in Dallas, they have a wonderful Farmer’s Market that goes for several blocks.  During my first visit, I of course went crazy and bought way too much.  I found a spice vendor and since I didn’t have any here, I just had to get one of each of my favorites, including some really fragrant lavender, cinnamon and vanilla beans.  Then a flat of strawberries and some great peaches, some vegetables . . .
First I made chocolate dipped strawberries, then strawberry lavender jam, then with just a few strawberries and peaches left, I made a bunch of mini-loaves of quick bread.  I took a basic recipe and exchanged the sugar for just a little maple syrup to keep it from being too sweet because I topped it with some almonds, brown sugar and some of the strawberry jam swirled in.
Strawberry Lavender Jam
1 lb. strawberries
1/3 cup lemon or lime juice
1 lb. sugar
2 teaspoons dried lavender
1 teaspoon butter
Mash the strawberries with a potato masher if you like chunky or with a hand mixer or blender if you like smooth, add the juice, sugar and lavender and cook in a large pot over medium to high heat stirring occasionally until the temperature reaches 220 degrees and the jam starts to thicken.   The butter should keep it from foaming too much, but if too much forms skim it off with a spoon.  To test, place a plate in the freezer for at least 15 minutes.  Spoon a couple drops of the cooking jam onto the cold plate and see if it sets up.  If so, it is ready to use, freeze or can, if not keep cooking sometimes it takes a while.
Strawberry Peach Bread
1 cup oil
3 eggs
1 cup diced peaches
1 cup diced strawberries
¼ cup maple syrup
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3 tsp cinnamon
½ cup strawberry lavender jam
½ cup slivered almonds
¼ cup brown sugar
Mix together eggs, oil, sugar and fruit.  Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon.  Pour into one large or three mini-loaf pans.  Pour the jam on top, swirling it gently with a knife, then sprinkle on the nuts and brown sugar.  Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes.

Holiday Gift Recipes – Hot Fudge and Honey Caramel Sauces

Holiday Gift Recipes – Hot Fudge and Honey Caramel Sauces

Hot Fudge and Honey Caramel Holiday Gifts

Today is kind of like a rerun  but not quite – it seemed like a good time to redo my favorite holiday gift recipes, Hot Fudge Sauce and Honey Caramel Sauce as both make excellent gifts.  To make it easier, here is the giant size hot fudge recipe.


The ingredient measurements for the holiday gift giving (10 pints) are:

6 cups heavy whipping cream

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups butter

1 cup light corn syrup

4 cups sugar

1 cup water

4 1/2 lbs (72 oz) good quality chocolate chips or finely chopped chocolate.   Nestles works fine and I use it sometimes for the big batches, but the better the chocolate the better the results

3 Tbs vanilla

Other than the ingredients, the big difference between this and a small batch is that because of the volume, it will take much longer for the sugar to caramelize, maybe up to 1/2 hour so don’t be discouraged that it doesn’t happen right away.

Butter and Cream

1   Combine cream, butter and salt in microwave safe bowl with a spout and heat until butter melts (approx. 2 minutes). Place the chocolate in a large heat proof bowl, a metal mixing bowl works really well.

Sugar, corn syrup and salt

2   In large sauce pan over medium heat, cook the sugar, corn syrup and water stirring until the sugar dissolves.

Coming to a boil


3  Increase the heat and bring to a full rolling boil then cook until a dark amber color, up to 30 minutes.  Swirl the pan a little if you must, but don’t stir or it may crystalize. Watch very carefully towards the end because the sugar can go from perfect to burnt in a few seconds.

4   Take the pan off the heat and slowly, very, very slowly, add the warm cream into the sugar, stirring briskly.  As the cream starts to cool the sugar, you can begin to pour more quickly.  This really works best with two people, one to pour (barely a drizzle at first) and one to stir.  When the cream hits the hot caramelized sugar, it will bubble up and steam so watch your hands and if you don’t pour slowly and stir quickly, you’ll get lumps.  If you were making caramel, you would stop here.

Caramel sauce poured over chocolate

5     Pour the hot caramel mixture over the chocolate and mix until smooth.  I pour through a strainer to catch any small lumps of caramel that may have formed.