Christmas Treats - Indian Style! {Recipes}

2011 Dec 21 - by Preeti
Christmas is a few short days away and if you're wanting to add a touch of Indian spice to your holidays, here are a few recipes to perk up the dark days.

In Sweden, we use a lot of Indian spices during the holidays. Because Sweden was a poor country until recently, Indian spices were restricted to Christmas, since it is time of year to spend with your family and splurge a little.

Every Indian and spice lover can make these cookies and treats at home. The spices you need are:

Cinnamon - powder and sticks

Cloves - powder and whole

Saffron - Spanish saffron is the best quality

Cardamom - powder and whole pods

Nutmeg - powder or whole

Star anise - pieces

Rose syrups & jam - our tradition of Indian style truffles

The truffles, saffron buns, and gingerbread cookies are also perfect Christmas gifts to your friends or treats at a holiday party. What Indian doesn't love saffron!

Holiday treats à la Indian Style

Saffron buns

Scandinavia mulled wine

Gingerbread cookies

Cinnamon Rugelach


Swedish Saffron Buns

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1 cup melted butter

1/2 tsp. saffron threads, finely crumbled (or 1 tsp. powdered saffron)

1 cup milk

3/4 cup sugar

1 tsp. salt

2 pkg. dry active yeast (4 1/2 tsp)

6 -6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

raisins to decorate

1 egg + 1 tablespoon milk for brushing the buns - can omit

1. Heat the butter and milk in a saucepan until warm to touch. If you have a thermometer, it should be around 36-37 degrees but no more.

2. Crumble saffron threads into melted butter/milk. Let sit for 15-30 minutes to an hour. This intensifies the saffron flavor and cools the butter/milk down if it was too hot.

3. Crumble the yeast in a large bowl. Pour a little of the warm milk mixture in bowl and mix until all the yeast has dissolved. Mix in the rest of the liquid. {If the liquid is too warm it will kill the yeast. Hence I go for the lukewarm method - just warm to touch. And cold liquid will also kill the yeast.}

4. Combine the yeast with milk and butter with sugar.

5. Begin adding the flour a little at a time and work the dough until smooth. Add more flour until it stops being sticky. The dough should be soft to touch.

6. Cover the dough with a moist paper towel (to keep the dough from drying out) and let rise at room temperature, about 45-60 minutes.

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After letting dough rise.

7. Place the dough on a floured surface and knead it a few minutes. Again, the dough should be light and fluffy to the touch.

8. To make it easy to keep the roll sizes even, divide the dough into 25-28 pieces.

9. Stretch out dough into a "snake" (long piece) and then twist the ends towards the center. One end is twisted clockwise, the other counterclockwise.

The buns should look like giant letter "S"-ess. Put them on a sheet that is lightly greased or lined with baking paper.

10. Press the raisins in the two centers and then let ferment additional 15-25 minutes to double the size. This second rise should not be forgotten!

Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F).

11. Whisk up an egg with a tablespoon milk and brush the buns with the mixture. You can also skip this if you want to keep the buns vegetarian.

12. Bake in middle of oven about 5-10 minutes until they become golden brown. Watch them carefully so they do not burn! Don't leave the kitchen, these buns are fast cooking and require no more than 10 minutes to bake.

13. Remove the buns and let them cool on a grate. Yummy and hot, they're ready to eat now!

Enjoy the saffron buns with a glass of milk or glögg.



Nordic Mulled Wine - Glögg

Glögg - Swedish Mulled Wine

1 bottle red wine - makes 10 glasses

1-2 cups rum (dark is more flavorful)

1 cup sugar

Spices:

1 Star anise

4-10 Cardamon pods or 2 tsp Cardamon powder

3-4 Cinnamon sticks broken into pieces or 1 tbsp Cinnamon powder

4-5 Clove pieces or 1 tsp Clove powder

1 inch piece Ginger - smash or chop into little pieces to make easier to diffuse

1/2 small Bitter Orange

1/2 tsp Nutmeg - can skip

2 tsp Dark chocolate Powder - can skip

Raisins and blanched almonds - for each glass. A surprise yummy in every cup!

1. Mix the wine, sugar, and all the spices and put on medium low heat. Keep the rum for later.

2. For the first 5-7 minutes, stir so the sugar dissolves.

3. Put on low heat for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally so nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan.

4. Add the rum and increase the heat to medium. Stir for another 10 minutes. Do not let this boil or you'll end up with non-alcoholic glögg (unless that's what you're looking for!).

5. Strain the wine and serve hot with a few pieces of raisins and almonds in each cup.

To make non-alcoholic versions, you can use a good apple juice (no artificial sugar) with just 1/4 cup of added sugar or a grape juice.



Spicy Gingerbread Cookies

2 tbsp ground cinnamon

1 tbsp ground ginger

1 tbsp ground cloves

1 tsp ground cardamom

½ tsp allspice

1 tsp of salt (omit if using salted butter)

1/2 tbsp baking powder

600 gram flour

150 gram unsalted butter (salted butter is fine) - room temperature but not melty!

125 gram regular white sugar

75 gram brown sugar

1 small egg

the peel of one lemon - microplane works magic to take the peel off

150 ml golden syrup (molasses)

150 ml heavy cream (30-40%) - room temperature

1 tsp vanilla

1. Mix dry ingredients (spices, baking powder, and flour) and put aside.

2. In a medium sized bowl, beat brown sugar, white sugar and butter on medium low until creamy. Add eggs and continue to beat until soft and creamy. About 3-5 minutes.

3. Add in the lemon peel, molasses, and heavy cream to butter, sugar, eggs mixture and continue to beat until golden and creamy.

4. Fold in the wet and dry ingredients together with a hand whisk. The dough will be sticky but still doughy.

5. Wrap the dough in saran wrap or a large ziploc bag. You'll be thankful because after chilling in the fridge for several hours, the dough will be near rock hard.

6. Let chill in the fridge for at least 3-4 hours. When ready to roll out, remove half the dough and leave the rest in the fridge. If the dough becomes soft, it will not bake properly.



Cinnamon Rugelachs

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Rugelachs are vegetarian friendly because they contain no eggs. They are a popular dessert at Jewish Sabbath dinner but also during Hanukah. No matter, these cookies will wow your family and friends.

This recipe is from my mom who learned how to make them from a friend of hers.

1 cup (125 grams) flour

1/2 cup (113g) butter - room temperature

4oz (113g) cream cheese

Filling

1 tablespoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons brown sugar

Makes around 16 rugelachs. Preheat oven to 350F (180C).

1. Mix all ingredients with a mixer.

2. Cover with wrap or store in a ziploc bag and refrigerate for 3-4 hours.

3. Find a large table surface to roll out the dough. You should dust the surface and the roller with flour so nothing sticks.

4. Roll the dough in a large circle, about 1/8 inch thick (1-2mm), similar to rolling a pie shell.

5. With the filling mixture of cinnamon and brown sugar, cover the whole dough evenly.

6. Use a sharp knife to cut the dough in "pizza slices". You should be able to make 16 rugelachs.

7. Roll each cute "pizza slice" starting from the wide end. The narrow end remaining on the outside can be brushed with a dash of milk to help make it stick to the cookie.

8. Place cookies on a baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Done!


Enjoy your cookies and cupcakes with milk or wine and a dash of happiness. Serve on a cookie tray and show off your baking skills.

Happy holidays!

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