I just had family visiting from my hometown of Pirmasens, Germany, and it was such a treat having them stay with us. Christmas is probably the time I miss living in Germany the most.
Therefore, it is important to me to continue those traditions I grew up with, with my family here in New Jersey. Like the Adventskranz (advents wreath) and Nikolaus (and hoping Krampus will stay away). One thing I cannot recreate, though, is going to a Christmas market like the ones typically found in German towns. There you can buy traditional ornaments, candles and other crafts and, of course, be seduced by the wonderful aromas of Glühwein, hot chestnuts and grilled sausages. In Germany, we are big on drinking Glühwein around this time of year, because on a cold and dark winter's night, nothing— and I mean nothing, will warm you up like a hot cup of mulled wine.
So, it shouldn't come as a surprise that this post is very German-inspired, right? It's got all the good stuff I look for in a German Christmas dessert - gingerbread, Glühwein and vanilla sauce. Christmas is the time to surround yourself with family, close friends and treat yourself to some good comfort food. After all, Christmas only comes around once a year! And just because of that, you will find a little butter and sugar in this recipe. But do not worry, I didn't go crazy.
Enjoy and Merry Christmas everyone!
Gingerbread Nut Crumble with Glühwein Pears and Vanilla Sauce
for the gingerbread nut crumble :
16 ounces of Glühwein, store-bought or home-made (see recipe above)
1/2 cup of raw honey
juice of one lemon
4 pears, such as anjou or bosc
4 ounces of store-bought Gingerbread cookies
3 ounces of hazelnuts
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup of white whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
5 tablespoons of butter, room temperature
1 cup of blueberries
for the vanilla sauce :
1 large egg yolks
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, or 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup of 2% milk
1/2 cup of full-fat yogurt
1 tablespoon of cornstarch
2 tablespoons of apricot jam
2 teaspoons of sugar
make it :
Sprinkle the cornstarch over 3 ounces of milk in a small bowl and whisk to dissolve. Add the sugar and egg yolk and whisk well. Scrape the vanilla seeds into the remaining milk, stir in the yogurt and apricot jam and bring everything to just a simmer in a medium sauce pan. Gradually whisk the egg yolk mixture into the milk and let the sauce come to a full boil, whisking often. If using vanilla extract, stir it in now. Strain through a wire sieve into a bowl. Let sauce cool and chill in the fridge until ready to use.
Combine the wine, lemon juice and honey in a sauce pan over medium heat. Once it starts boiling turn to low-heat and simmer the concoction until half has evaporated. In the meantime peel the pears and cut into 1 inch slices. Add the pears to the wine mixture, cover and simmer for about 5 minutes, or until the pears are soft. Set aside and let cool a bit.
Preheat the oven to 350°.
Place the gingerbread cookies and hazelnuts in a food processor and process until finely crumbled. Transfer the mixture into a medium bowl, add the butter, flour, cinnamon and sugar and knead into crumbles.
Spoon the pears and blueberries on a baking sheet lined with parchment and distribute the crumbles over the fruit. Bake in the oven for 15 - 20 minutes.
Take the fruit crumble out of the oven, spoon onto plates, drizzle some vanilla sauce on top and around the crumble and dust with some powdered sugar. Voila!
Tip : prepare the vanilla sauce a day ahead, just to make your life a little easier during the festivities.