December is Advent Calendar season in Germany, and this month I'll be sharing many of our traditional holiday recipes and activities.
Our girls love our wooden box Advent Calendar, which we fill each year with tiny treats.
This year I also made a simple paper Advent Calendar out of solid color gift tags with cut out numbers on the front side
and on the back side, I've written down a holiday activity - something to make or do - for each day.
On the first day, we hung our Advent Calendars, decorated a bit, got out our Christmas CDs, and made wassail - a homemade spiced punch with cranberry juice, fresh oranges, cinnamons, and cloves.
Wassail Cranberry Punch
4 1/2 cups / 1 liter cranberry juice
2 cups / 1/2 liter apple juice
2 Tbsp. raw sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
10 whole cloves
1 slice fresh ginger, peeled
1-2 small (organic) oranges, sliced
Combine all except for orange slices in a large pot and bring to a simmer. Let simmer slowly for 10-15 minutes. Serve warm garnished with fresh orange slices. This tastes wonderful and it makes your home smell festive too. A perfect hot drink for getting into the holiday spirit.
On Day 2, we made quick homemade cinnamon rolls, rich spiced hot chocolate, and we read one of our favorite Swedish Christmas stories from Astrid Lindgren, Christmas in Noisy Village.
Quick Homemade Cinnamon Rolls
2 cups / 260 g flour + a bit more for kneading
3 tsp. baking powder
pinch of salt
3 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 cup / 60 g butter
1/2 - 3/4 cup / 125 - 200 ml milk
1/4 cup / 60 g butter, melted
3 Tbsp. sugar, mixed with 2 tsp. cinnamon
Preheat oven to 400ºF / 200ºC. Grease or line a baking sheet.
To prepare dough, mix together flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a large bowl. Blend in butter with fingertips or a pastry cutter until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Pour in milk and stir with a fork until dough forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
Turn dough out on a floured surface and knead very briefly until smooth. Roll dough out into a large rectangle about 1/2 inch / 1 cm thick. Brush surface with melted butter, then sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
Starting at the long side, roll dough up into a spiral. Cut roll into 12 equal pieces and place on baking sheet.
If you have remaining melted butter and cinnamon sugar, you can brush the tops with butter and sprinkle with the sugar before baking.
Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden. They will puff up during baking. Serve warm.
These are so quick to make (no need to wait for a yeast dough to rise) and are a wonderful treat for a Christmas or holiday morning breakfast.
Rich Spiced Hot Chocolate
4 ounces / 100 g semi-sweet (50-60%) chocolate, chopped
4 1/2 cups / 1 liter milk
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 Tbsp. Kahlua, rum, or amaretto, if desired (for the adults :)
Combine all in a pot and heat slowly, stirring constantly until chocolate is melted. Whip with a wire whisk until all is well blended and serve hot in small cups. Yum!
Today was officially our holiday card writing day -
and we did manage at least to order our holiday postcards...
But we were also busy singing Happy Birthday to my grandmother in Tennessee who turned 96 today!
What are you up to this December? Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, I hope you are having a good time.
I'm sending you warm greetings from Berlin,