With the weather turning colder here in Detroit and Christmas preparations underway, we can’t help but reminisce over our favorite European Christmas markets. Starting the last week of November and continuing through to New Year’s, Christmas markets pop up in squares all over Europe, from big cities to tiny villages. The real magic begins after dark when you can peruse stalls filled with sugar-roasted almonds, wooden toys, and smoked meats, all with a steaming mug of Glühwein (a hot spiced wine) in your hand. There is always some form of entertainment for the kids – usually a carousel, though we’ve seen a ride-on train, an ice skating rink, and camels! We found the perfect way to experience a city during this time of year was to tour the main attractions during the day and soak up the Christmas market atmosphere and delicious treats that evening before heading home.
Since moving back to the States, we have tried to recreate some of our favorite Christmas market foods at home, namely crêpes, Glühwein, and chimney cakes.
We’ve found making crêpes so much easier since we started using a crêpe spreader. Our method involves making them two at a time on a pancake griddle, but if you were making these with enough frequency, it would be worth acquiring a crêpe griddle like the professionals. Our current favorite crêpe recipe can be found here.
Here’s how we make our Glühwein:
1 bottle dry red wine (we use 1/2 merlot, 1/2 cabernet sauvignon, both Charles Shaw from Trader Joe’s)
200 ml (about 7 oz.) water
1 orange, sliced
1 lemon, quartered
1 cinnamon stick
5 whole cloves
3-4 tablespoons of brown sugar
1 anise star
3 oz. rum
Combine all ingredients in a crockpot (or on the stove) at low heat for at least 2 hours. After 2 hours, start sampling and once the flavors are to your liking, scoop out the spices and fruit and serve.
We’re still in the experimental phase on our Chimney cakes. Not having the traditional cooking implements has made baking them more of a process. They look a train wreck, but taste delicious. The best recipe we’ve tried is from Hefe und Mehr.
Fantastic as enjoying the food and memories at home can be, there simply isn’t a substitute for the magic of a Christmas market. We were thrilled to discover that there are several Christmas markets in the Detroit area! Here are two we’re particularly excited to check out.
Ann Arbor KindleFest (UPDATE: Here’s what we thought!)
- Location: Ann Arbor Farmers Market
- Friday, November 30th, 2018 from 4-10 pm
- Location: Shain Park
- Friday, November 30th, 2018 4-9 pm (Tree Lighting at 6 pm)
- Saturday, December 1st, 2018 10 am-9 pm
- Sunday, December 2nd, 2018 10 am-4 pm
We’ll report back after a thorough sampling of the food and ambiance. 😉 It’s not too late to do some research and make plans! Look in your area to see if something like this is available near you.