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The taste of Christmas in Alsace

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It is impossible to visit Strasbourg, Capital of Christmas, without sampling some local specialities and sweets. At Christmas, tradition is at the heart of Strasbourg's households. Here are an overview of what you can expect and a few recipes to wait for Christmas.

Hot wine… but white!

The gourmet association "Tribu des gourmets du vin d'Alsace" of Alsace winegrowers and grape juice lovers shares with us their recipe for... hot white wine. Made from Alsatian white wine of course! To consume with moderation.

Recipe for hot white wine à l'Alsacienne

Ingredients:

  • 1 litre dry Alsatian white wine (important!), for example Sylvaner, White Pinot or Riesling
  • 1 orange and ½ organic lemon
  • 1 cinnamon stick and a few star anise
  • 10g sugar
  • 10 cl water (if needed)

Instructions:

  • Heat the white wine carefully and cover - never bring to a boil! - to preserve the aromas.
  • Once it is hot (70 - 80°C), add the sugar (about 10g per litre, depending on the taste and acidity of the wine). Be careful: too much sugar can affect the taste of the wine. Season to taste and add water if necessary.
  • Cut the orange and the ½ lemon into slices, then quarter them and add them to the hot wine.
  • Add the cinnamon stick and star anise.
  • Simmer on very low heat - and don't forget to cover! This is the key to preserving flavours.
  • You can keep the hot wine until the following day. However, you must remove the spices and fruits (if necessary, you can add more later).

"Bredele": the Alsatian Christmas biscuits

The bredele are also a must in Alsace for Christmas. According to legend, there are as many different recipes as there are Alsatians.
They are prepared during the Advent season with friends or family. Anyone who wants to respect tradition makes different varieties and keeps them in an old biscuit tin.

Cinnamon stars are one of the many varieties of bredele. Here is a recipe for you!

Ingredients:

For the dough

  • 250g ground almonds
  • 250g icing sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 egg whites

For the icing

  • 1 egg white
  • 160g icing sugar

Instructions:

  • Place all the ingredients for the dough in a large mixing bowl. It is best to start with the dry ingredients and add the egg whites last.
  • Put one night in a cool place.
  • Roll out the dough to a thickness of approx. 1 cm.
  • For the icing, beat the egg whites until stiff, then add the icing sugar.
  • Cut out small stars from the dough and coat with a fine layer of icing sugar. Let the icing dry a little.
  • Bake in a preheated oven at 170°C (convection oven) for approx. 10 minutes.

"Mannele"

These brioche shaped little men are made by Alsatian bakers for Saint Nicolas (December 6th). Sometimes they have two raisins or chocolate pieces for eyes.

Gingerbread

Since the Middle Ages, gingerbread has been a popular and precious pastry. The honey and spices necessary for its production are rare and expensive. In the 18th century, production was industrialized thanks to pastry moulds. In the mid-19th century, they were die-cut, then coated with sugar decorations and colour prints.