As the weather cools down and the holidays get closer, I always look for recipes to make that will keep me warm and that are also festive. Two of my favorite things to make this time of year are vin chaud (hot or mulled wine) and bonhommes de pain d’épices (gingerbread).
When I think of either of these, I immediately think of my boyfriend’s family who comes from the Alsace-Lorraine region of France. Both of these treats are traditionally served in this area around the holidays. Go to the Christmas markets in Strasbourg, and you will be surrounded by people selling pain d’épices in all different shapes and sizes and stands offering hot wine by the cup from their huge kettles. The first time I had vin chaud, in fact, was homemade in my boyfriend’s mother’s kitchen. Now, both of these have become a part of my holiday repertoire (thanks to the recipes shared with me by my boyfriend’s mother).
To spread some holiday cheer this season, check out these two recipes. They are perfect for a gathering of friends or family. The heavenly, wintery smells of cinnamon and cloves that fill your kitchen after making one, or both, of these recipes will be enough to put you and everyone around you in the holiday spirit!
(hot or mulled wine)Preparation: 5min
Cook: 5min 1 bottle of red wine (Bordeaux, Bourgogne, or Pinot noir work best) 250g of brown sugar 1 orange, cut into slices + the zest 4 cinnamon sticks 3-4 whole cloves a pinch of ground nutmeg a small piece of fresh ginger, cut up (can substitute a pinch of ground ginger)
Combine all of the ingredients into a pot on the stove. Bring to a gentle boil and let simmer for 5 minutes. When hot and all the sugar has dissolved, serve in mugs. Use a strainer to remove the larger spices. Serve with a piece of orange or cinnamon stick in each cup.
Bonhommes de Pain d’épices
(Gingerbread men cookies)Preparation: 30min
Rest: 12h500g sugar 500g honey
125g almond flour
3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Zest of 1 lemon
10g baking soda
5 tablespoons rum
150g sliced almonds
Heat the sugar in a pot with 25cl of water and bring to a boil. Boil until large bubbles begin to appear. At the same time, heat the honey. When hot, add to sugar mixture.
Mix together in a large bowl the prepared sugar-honey mixture, butter, flour, almonds, spices, lemon zest, baking soda, rum, and salt. Leave somewhere to rise overnight (about 8-12 hours).
The next day, preheat the oven to 200°C (th 6-7). Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper. Make a ball out of the dough. If necessary, add a little flour. Quickly roll the dough out to a 5mm thickness on a floured surface. Use cookie cutters to cut shapes in the dough. Place cookies on the prepared baking sheet and, if you like, decorate with the sliced almonds. Cook for 5 minutes or until golden brown and cooked all the way through.