The big week has arrived: It's Christmas! Just typing the word makes me giddy! I've been cranking up The Oak Ridge Boys Christmas album (because that's what we do in my family) and planning a list of all the tasty goodies to consume on Friday.
Sure, Christmas dinner is a big deal, but in my family it's the desserts that are the main event. Every year, the dessert table is loaded with traditional treats, as well as new ones — complete with dad's chocolate pie and Aunt Debbie's banana pudding.
This year has been a little different for me and my husband as we've been traveling around Europe. It's been an incredible experience for many reasons, but one of my favorite parts has been witnessing all the different kinds of Christmas traditions.
From St. Lucia in Sweden to Christmas markets in Germany, we've seen (and tasted) a lot of awesome stuff! With that in mind, I thought I'd share some scrumptious holiday desserts with you — from new ones snagged on our journey to old favorites!
St. Lucia Buns
Photo: Woman Sconed
Every year on December 13th, Sweden celebrates St. Lucia Day or the Festival of Lights. It's a beautiful event where young children dress in white robes, wear a crown of candles and sing songs in honor of St. Lucia.
This day also happens to have its own sweet: St. Lucia Buns. They're delicious and truly original. I've never tasted anything like it! The recipe below is from SimplyRecipes.com.
3/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
1 teaspoon plus 1/4 cup white, granulated sugar
One 1/4-ounce packet active dry yeast
3 1/2 to 4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
The seeds from 3 cardamom pods, ground (optional)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup of sour cream
2 large eggs
For glaze, one egg
1. Heat the milk, saffron, and 1 teaspoon of sugar together in a small pot until the milk is steamy. Remove and stir to dissolve the sugar. Let it cool until it's warm to the touch.
2. Sprinkle the yeast over the saffron-infused milk and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes until foamy.
3. In a bowl, whisk together with a mixer 3 1/2cups of the flour, remaining 1/4 cup of sugar, salt and ground cardamom (optional).
4. Make a well in the center of the flour and add the yeast-milk saffron mixture, the eggs, the butter, and the sour cream. Mix the ingredients until well incorporated.
5. Switch to the dough hook of your mixer (if you don't have one, knead by hand). On low speed start to knead the dough. Slowly add additional flour, a tablespoon at a time, kneading to incorporate after each addition. Do this until the dough is still a little sticky to the touch, but doesn't completely stick to you.
6. Make the dough a ball and place in a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap. Let sit in a warm place for 1 to 2 hours, by then it'll have doubled in size.
7. When the dough has doubled in size, gently press it down and knead it a couple of times. Break off a piece and form it into a ball roughly 2 inches wide. Roll the ball out into a snake shape. Next, curl the ends in opposite directions to form the infamous "S" shape (seen in picture above). Place on a lined baking sheet and repeat with the rest of the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot for 30 minutes to an hour, or until the dough shapes double in size.
8. Preheat your oven to 400°F (205°C). Brush some beaten egg over the tops and sides of the uncooked buns, and then place raisins in the centers of the "S" spirals. Place in the oven and cook for about 10 to 11 minutes (turn them halfway through cooking to get them even). Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes before eating.
German Waffles with Chocolate Drizzle
While in Berlin, we stopped at a beautiful Christmas market in the well-known Alexanderplatz. We enjoyed the lights and music and above all, the deliciousness of a German Waffle smothered in melted milk chocolate.
I'd never had this dessert before, and let's just say, my mind was blown. I snagged this recipe from AndCute.com. The added chocolate drizzle is of my own concoction.
1 stick soft butter
3/8 cup of sugar (weird measurement, but it's the exact right amount)
½ package vanilla sugar or 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup flour
2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 to 1 cup of water
For chocolate drizzle: 1 Milk chocolate bar (preferably German). German brands that we sell in the states are usually Milka or Lindt. You'll also need a double-broiler or an improvised one like I use (aka a glass pyrex bowl that fits into my small saucepan).
1. Cream the butter and mix in the sugar, vanilla sugar or extract, then add eggs.
2. Add flower and backing powder.
3. Add the water a little at a time until you have a more liquid-y dough.
4. Preheat your waffle iron and let the dough rest until the iron is hot. Grab a ladle and a cooling rack while you’re at it.
5. Depending on your waffle maker you need to grease with oil. Scoop one ladle full into the iron.
6. Close the iron and push down the lid for a few second to force the dough to spread.
7. Once the waffle is done, transfer to a cooling rack.
8.To make the drizzle, add some water to a saucepan (or double broiler). And turn the heat up.
9. Add the top half of the double broiler (or a bowl) and toss in chopped up pieces of your Milka bar. Continue stirring until it has melted.
10. Take your mixing spoon and drizzle the chocolate over warm waffles.
Photo: Pioneer Woman
This dessert is an old favorite! We make chocolate pie at my house for basically every holiday. Unfortunately, sharing my dad's secret recipe is a breech of his "circle of trust," but I found an equally delicious version over on The Pioneer Woman. Check it out below!
1 whole Pie Crust, Baked And Cooled (or Can Use Oreo Or Graham Cracker Crust. We use pre-made Graham Cracker crusts in my family. It's just easier!)
1-1/2 cup Sugar
1/4 cup Cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon Salt
3 cups Whole Milk
4 whole Egg Yolks
6-1/2 ounces, weight Bittersweet Chocolate, Chopped Finely
2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
2 Tablespoons Butter
Whipped Cream, For Serving
1. Combine the sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium saucepan. Stir or whisk together.
2. Pour in milk and egg yolks, and whisk together.
3. Stir over medium heat until the mixture just barely comes to a boil and starts to become thick, about 6-8 minutes (just keep an eye on it!) The second it starts to bubble and thicken kinda like pudding, remove it from the heat. Add the chocolate, vanilla, and butter, and stir until everything is beautifully combined.
4. Pour the pudding into the pie crust and place in the fridge to chill for 4 hours uncovered.
5. Cut into slices and serve topped with whipped cream (or nuts or chocolate syrup!)
For photo/video instructions, visit thepioneerwoman.com.
I'm not sure why Cinnamon Rolls became a thing in my family, but we have them every Christmas! And sure, you can go buy them from a roll at the grocery store, but it's just not quite the same.
As far as recipes go, this is going to be a bit more complicated, mostly because it's more time-consuming. But the end result is totally worth it! I found this particular recipe on Pinterest from LetsDishRecipes.com, and it's so good!
1. To make the dough, heat the milk in a medium saucepan until simmering and bubbles start to appear. Pour the milk into a bowl and mix with a dough hook.
2. Add the butter, sugar and salt. Mix on low speed until the butter is melted. Let the mixture cool until warm. Add the yeast and eggs and mix until combined.
3. Gradually add the flour until the dough clears the sides of the bowl. The dough should be soft and sticky. Knead for 2-3 minutes.
4. Transfer the dough to a large, lightly greased bowl. Cover with a clean kitchen towel or lightly greased plastic wrap and let rise until doubled (1 hour).
5. Roll the dough into a large rectangle, about 18×12 inches. Spread 1/2 cup softened butter over the dough.
6. Stir together the brown sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the dough. Pat it in slightly with the palms of your hands.
7. Starting with a long end, roll up the dough as tightly as possible, pinching the seam lightly to seal.
8. Using a serrated knife, cut the roll in half. Then cut each half in half again (forming four equal portions). Cut each of the four portions into three rolls – twelve cinnamon rolls total.
9. Place the rolls evenly spaced on a large, parchment-lined, rimmed baking sheet . If the ends have come free, carefully tuck them under the cinnamon roll. Cover and let rise until double.
10.Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake the cinnamon rolls for 18-22 minutes until light golden brown. Let the rolls cool for about 10 minutes before frosting.
11. For the frosting, whip together in a large bowl the cream cheese and butter. Add the vanilla, maple and salt and mix until combined.
12. Gradually add the powdered sugar and mix until thick and creamy. Add cream or milk a tablespoon at a time until the frosting is smooth and spreadable to your liking. Spread the cinnamon rolls with frosting.