Friday Finds

You’ve still got time to make a batch of iced gingerbread cookies! For some inspo, check out these little beauties:

By Yvonne of Fraulein Klein:

gingerbread icing

By Julie of Shoots Knits and Leaves:

gingerbread icing

By Amanda and Aaron of Pickles & Honey:

gingerbread icing

By Eva Blixman via Roomdeco:

gingerbread icing

By Kinga of Green Morning:

gingerbread icing

Happy weekend!

Fruzsi

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Friday Finds

This year I’m seriously considering a minimal festive decor with more greenery and less everything shiny, starting with the Christmas wreath. Who even said it has to be circular, right?

By Marij of My Attic:

minimal wreath

By Leesa of The Makers Society:

minimal wreath

By Rachel of Made From Scratch:

minimal wreath

By Fleur McHarg via Vogue Australia:

minimal wreath

By Francesca of Fall For DIY:

minimal wreath

Happy weekend!

Fruzsi

 

Mulled Wine Season Is Here

mulled wine season title

It’s holiday season, y’all! But it’s cold and it’s getting dark early and has been very windy for a couple of days now too, and these conditions call for a little extra pampering. Cozy up, light a few candles and switch your well deserved glass of vino to a steaming cup of mulled wine!

I’m hoping to make you love this drink as much as I do, which is a tall order because I like it a lot. And I really mean a lot: come the first cool-ish breeze in early September, right until I disgrace myself by still drinking it in April, I don’t stop making it and I’m here to share how it’s done.

But first, a little history. Although some say it was Hippocrates himself who invented it (and recommended as remedy for various medical conditions – I like the guy’s thinking!), the practice of mulling wine was more likely introduced by the Romans.

As a matter of fact, their reasons were rather practical. Providing the proper conditions for making wine was, well, haphazard those days, so there was a good chance wine would go stale. Trying to save it and make it enjoyable drinkable, strong spices were added to coat the vinegary, sour taste and there you go, mulled wine was born.

Greek or Roman, one thing is for sure: we did not start drinking spiced wine just yesteryear. Luckily, we also got way better at wine making since, so mulling is not to mask unpleasantness any more either. Spiced wine is here to warm and cheer you up!

Several varieties spread and become popular throughout the continent, in my country for example, hot wine was already a Christmas staple in the era of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. Since this cold weather favorite is so well-known in Europe, it would be foolish to pick any recipe and call it the original. What we can safely say is that it’s done by heating wine with sugar and spices.

White, red and rose are all accepted, choose according to your preference. There is one rule you’d be wise to follow though: while you most definitely shouldn’t alter a very expensive bottle this way, quality is important. So no, you can’t make lousy wine any better by adding fragrant stuff to it. Another myth busted, sorry. The rule of thumb is to use wine you’d be willing to drink straight.

And now, adjust the sweetness to taste, and pick your spices. I mean, I’m not really being helpful here, am I? Ok, I’ll give you my secret recipe (shhh!), then some alternatives and additions you can work with to create your own personal favorite.

Oh, just one more thing! I may start a riot with this among mulled wine enthusiasts, but I do add water to the wine. I promise this won’t dilute or ruin your drink. You should know me better than that anyway!

mulling spices

Mulled White Wine

  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

1 bottle (750 ml) dry white wine

1 cup (250 ml) water

3 tbsp granulated sugar

1 cinnamon stick

8-10 cloves

Directions

Heat ingredients in a pot with the lid on. When liquid comes to a rolling boil, your mulled wine is ready to serve. If you’re making the drink in advance, fish spices out a few minutes after turning heat off (they tend to make the taste bitter if soaked for too long).

Mulled Red Wine

  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

1 bottle (750 ml) dry red wine

1 cup (250 ml) water

3 tbsp granulated sugar

1 cinnamon stick

8-10 cloves

6-8 allspice

1 star anise

Directions

Heat ingredients in a pot with the lid on. When liquid comes to a rolling boil, your mulled wine is ready to serve. If you’re making the drink in advance, fish spices out a few minutes after turning heat off (they tend to make the taste bitter if soaked for too long).

mulled red wine in mugs

Instead of simple granulated sugar, you may use brown sugar, honey, or even maple syrup to add depth to the flavor.

Fruits like citrus slices, peeled apples, pears or dried plums can also be added to the wine. Don’t discard, eat them!

Add nutmeg, cardamom, ginger, black pepper, bay leaf, coriander, thyme, or chili to your wine for an unexpected twist.

Got a scraped-out vanilla pod lying around? Pop that in the pot too, there’s still plenty of flavor left in it!

Disclaimer: No animals or human beings were harmed in the making of the photographs, although the Fiance and I got quite tipsy by the end of the sesh. Everything for the audience!

Love,

Fruzsi

“Top view of spices on the table” photo featured in title image by dashu 83 / freepik

Pantry Staples: Gingerbread & Lebkuchen Spice

pantry staples gingerbread lebkuchen spice cover

Gift Idea Alert! I know, I know, it’s mid-November but you can never start too early if you want to take the stress factor out from holiday gifting. (OK, my Christmas shopping during summer sales might be a bit extreme, but you get the concept).

When it comes to presents, you can expect food favors from me, and as we approach festive season I will post delicacies that double as gifts to help tick some names off your list.

Today, I’m here to give you the ultimate winter classics: gingerbread spice and Lebkuchengewürz. Lebkuchen is also a gingerbread variety: the traditional German Christmas treat made with honey, spices, enriched with nuts and sometimes icing on top.

Gingerbread and Lebkuchen spices are similar, but not identical. Equally heavy on the cinnamon, while a traditional UK/US gingerbread blend has ginger, cloves (sometimes nutmeg and allspice is also added), Lebkuchen spice is more complex with coriander, star anise, cardamom and black peppercorn.

Both are versatile mix of spices perfect for baking the classic cookie, and can also be added to lots of other things. Basically, whatever you want to have a holiday flavor, let it be food or beverage.

Gingerbread spice is great in fruity sauces to accompany roasts, to sprinkle on a towering whipped cream mountain floating on your hot cocoa, on roasted butternut squash or carrots, adding to waffle batter, oatmeal, rice pudding, bundt cakes, crumbles, pies, to infuse honey and for making sugar syrups. Just to mention a few. 🙂

Stating hereby I have nothing against buying gingerbread spice at the store, since I usually have all the ingredients in my spice cabinet, I make it for myself. When I can’t get something like it happened with cardamom not so long ago, Kotányi Honey Cake spice mix (the one I used for my Festive Plum Preserve) or Bella Lebkuchen Spice from Aldi are tried, true & much loved replacement items.

bella kotanyi gingerbread spice mix

Wether your taste gravitates towards the Anglosphere or Germanoshere, all you need is 5 minutes of your life to pre-make these endlessly customizable blends to have at the ready for several rounds of holiday baking and gift-giving. Fragrant, warm and aromatic, gingerbread spice is the perfect pantry staple to transform any food into a festive treat.

You can buy ground ingredients, or for an even richer aroma, buy whole spices and grind at home in a mortar and pestle or coffee grinder.

gingerbread spice ingredients

A little tip for mixing the spices evenly that I’ve learnt on family sausage stuffing events is to measure everything into a plastic bag, twist to close (don’t press air out) and shake.

mixing spices for gingerbread spice

mixing gingerbread spice

Gingerbread Spice

  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

2 parts ground ginger

2 parts ground cinnamon

1 part ground cloves

Directions

  1. Mix ingredients well
  2. Store it in an airtight container in a cool, dark place

Lebkuchengewürz

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

2 tbsp ground cinnamon

2 tsp ground cloves

½ tsp ground nutmeg

½ tsp ground coriander

½ tsp ground ginger

½ tsp ground allspice

½ tsp ground star anise

½ tsp ground cardamom

½ tsp ground black peppercorn

Directions

  1. Mix ingredients well
  2. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place

Go on and get bakin’!

Love,

Fruzsi

*Disclaimer: I like and use the products mentioned in posts on My Chest of Wonders. What I write about such items represent my genuine and unbiased opinion, I am not being compensated in any way through sponsorship or gifts.*

“Store shelves with goods” illustration featured in title image © Redspruce