copyright 2009, Maria Liberati
Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas in Europe with the Christkindlmarkts of long ago that still exist today. I love to discover new ones . This year I did just that by stopping by the Christkindlmarkts of the Northern Italian towns of Bolzano, Merano, Bressanone, Brunico, Vipiteno- are 5 cities in Northern Italy with 5 different styles of celebrating the festivities of the Christmas Season. This typical Nordic tradition in Middle Europe of the Christkindlmarkt (that began in Germany in the 14th century) continues till January 6th in the Alto Adige regions of Italy. The markets are filled with Christmas decorations and gifts. The main scents are of cinnamon and spices, of the wood burning in the mountains and sweet gingerbread, of vin brule (hot spiced wine). And the tastes? Many sweet gifts for the palate, the typical ‘zelten’ with candied fruits, apple strudel, homemade cookies known as ‘Lebkuchen’ and a type of sugar cake soaked in rum known as ‘Feuerzangbowle’. These sweets represent the classic and genuine recipes from Christmas markets of the past but updated for modern tastes. This year these sweets were made in 5 different shapes each one representing something special from each of the 5 cities:
*little angel for Bolzano
*lamb for Bressanone
*star for Brunico
*bell for Merano
*tower for Vipiteno
These sweets were sold exclusively during this year’s Christmas Markets and in Limited edition collectables. And with the purchase of the homemade ‘Lebkuchen’ a donation was made to a new project called”Francisville-The City of Mystery” for the Francesca Rava Foundation that will be used aid the children in Haiti.
Here is a recipe, for traditional ‘Lebkuchen’. You can use these cookies as ornaments and cut into different shapes.
3/4 cup honey
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp of powdered cocoa
1 tsp cinnamon,
1 tsp coriander
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of ground cloves
Peel of one dried lemon and 1 orange chopped finely
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
- 3 tablespoons of milk
1. Heat honey, sugar and butter in top of a metal double boiler until sugar is almost totally melted. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.
2. Add in egg, cocoa and spices,dried orange and lemon peels, blend well. Sift flour and add in. Mix with wooden spoon till blended into a smooth dough.
3. Dissolve baking soda in milk and add into this the dough. Blend in with hands till the dough is smooth.
4. Let pasta rest at room temperature overnight or for at least 24 hours.
5. Place dough on well floured wooden board. Roll out to about 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes. If you want to use these as tree ornaments, place a hole in the top so that a ribbon can be strung through when cooked.
Cover a cookie sheet with parchment or baking paper and arrange the cookies on the sheet leaving some distance between each of the cookies. Bake them in oven preheated to 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes, or until golden.
For more info on the Christkindlmarkets you can also go to www.suedtirol.info
Have you ever made Lebkuchen, do you have a family recipe for Lebkkuchen you want to share? Post them here…