carolyne_june 12Asbach Uralt is the brandy of brandies, but in Ontario the LCBO has delisted it. Although it is unique and the only one I have used for more than 30 years, try your own favourite brandy and I am sure you will still enjoy the results.

Stollen is as old as history itself, and it is said to have originally been made as a symbol of the Christ child wrapped in swaddling clothes. Stollen can be made as bare or as elaborate as the budget permits, having only raisins in during lean years and being plumped up with fruits of all description in the fat years. But don’t skimp on the brandy, for its subtle flavour enhances the actual flavour of this country-German fare in an incomparable fashion.

This recipe is produced entirely in metric. Every kitchen should have a small scale.

I played with some of my yeast doughs as I tested them over the years, and decided on one to turn into Stollen, my way. There’s a multitude of variations, as different provinces create their own versions all over Europe.

If you do not have a heavy-duty mixer, old-fashioned (strong) wooden spoons, bowls and hands will certainly suffice; you will just have a little more work to produce the finished product. If you are a bread maker anyhow, you will understand, and will appreciate the exquisite texture of this dough. If you own another machine, adapt the directions to those accompanying your equipment.

Asbach Stollen

1 c candied mixed peel

1 c mixed red and green candied cherries, cut in half

55 ml Asbach Uralt Brandy (or your favourite brandy)

½ c fresh, slivered almonds, unblanched

¼ c freshly shelled and chopped walnuts (really the shelled ones have a different taste)

Soak fruit in 55 ml brandy for 2-3 hours prior to making recipe. Sliver nuts with food slicer attachment of your kitchen machine or with a very sharp knife (cautiously).

1 (8g) pkg dry yeast

200 ml warm milk

3 g sugar

350 g flour

80 g sugar

60 g softened sweet butter

1 warmed egg, beaten (let egg come to room temperature, then stand it in a cup of warm, not hot, water for a few minutes). Always cook or bake with eggs at room temperature for best results (even when you are doing hard cooked eggs).

Measure 200 ml milk into a beaker. Heat this milk but do not boil. In a warm dish, place 3 g sugar and 100 ml of the milk (reserve the rest). Stir well to dissolve sugar. Add dry yeast and give a little stir. Set timer for 15 minutes. When timer rings, stir yeast mixture well. It will have puffed up in the dish and will deflate when you stir.

In the meantime, place flour, sugar, softened sweet butter and the remaining warm milk into the large bowl of the kitchen mixing machine (not a food processor), along with the beaten egg.

Add yeast mixture and set machine in operation, using the dough hook. Mix for about five minutes on low/slow speed.

This mixing process actually kneads the batter for you, so at this point batter will have left the sides of the bowl and will be a turning blob on the dough hook. Dough will be very pliable and somewhat shiny looking.

Place dough in a warm glass or baked enamel bowl and cover with a clean towel. Allow to double in size in a warm, draft-free place. (About 1 – 1½ hrs).

Dredge fruit and nuts in a few grams of flour (just enough so fruit doesn’t stick together). Sprinkle fruit with a couple of grams of salt and a few drops of natural real almond flavouring (don’t use artificial flavourings). A friend brought me a terrific brand of vanilla and almond flavouring from her trip to Aruba, and I kept it for really special recipes like this one.

Knead fruit mixture into punched down dough, adding only a small amount at a time. Knead for several minutes, but don’t handle the dough unnecessarily. Don’t force dough; knead it gently.

With a rolling pin, gently roll dough on very lightly floured board, into a large oval shape about 1 cm thick. Fold dough off-centre lengthwise, plumping it up a bit near the centre. This creates a ridge down the off-centre midpoint. Brush with a little sweet butter and place on a well-buttered cookie sheet. Cover and put in a warm place to double in bulk.

Bake at 400 F for about 40 minutes. Remove and place on rack to cool. Brush with butter again while still warm. After Asbach Stollen is (absolutely) completely cool, sprinkle with icing sugar, sifted over top. Store in a sealed air-tight plastic bag. Store for a few weeks in a cool place. All the flavours meld during the wait-time and create a whole new scent that is irresistible. Serve, sliced, with all your other Christmas goodies. The scent of the brandied fruit will stay with you as a reminder to make this a seasonal favourite.

Served with a plate of mixed cheeses, a few green grapes and perhaps accompanying your favourite wines or sherry, your guest table will be the talk of the town.


The working title for Carolyne’s Gourmet Recipes cookbook is From Lady Ralston’s Kitchen: A Canadian Contessa Cooks. This kitchen-friendly doyenne has been honoured and referred to as the grande dame of executive real estate in her market area during her 35-year career. She taught gourmet cooking in the mid-70s and wrote a weekly newspaper cooking column, long before gourmet was popular as it is today. Her ebook, Gourmet Cooking - at Home with Carolyne is available here for $5.99 US. Email Carolyne. Scroll down to the comments at each recipe column. Carolyne often adds complimentary "From Lady Ralston's Kitchen" additional recipes in the Recipes for Realtors Comments section at REM.


  1. Gourmet Cooking with the REALTOR® in Mind (at Christmas time)
    Make it a “Croquembouche Christmas” … And say “MERRY CHRISTMAS to You,” on your most memorable yet buffet table…

    Seems like yesterday it was Hallowe’en “punkin” talk time with old REM url point of “real estate tips reference,” now I can’t believe I’m saying this, but it is only weeks till Christmas – again.

    For those who like to make a shopping list and get a head start on thinking what they might make to celebrate the season, Christmas, Hanukkah, and any other, you might find something here to help.

    Make a “Croquembouche Christmas buffet table” part of your seasonal entertaining. Read through some of these ideas and pick and choose what works for your gourmet Christmas holiday plans. Make one, or dozens. A little unusual perhaps, but read through completely before you decide. You will need strong skewers and cylinder tree forms, and your imagination. A whole chapter in the cookbook will be built around this topic, but a prior look-see is here now at REM, for your Christmas enjoyment, this year.

    Perhaps revisit other REM recipe columns using the page forward or back buttons at the bottom of each REM Gourmet Cooking page, to select a special treat to prepare for family, friends, and stay over guests.

    Here’s a holiday spirit older Gourmet REM column, including a Bitterballen Croquembouche:

    And a new collection to choose from:

    For your Christmas buffet ~

    An edible seafood tree – a different Croquembouche

    Make trees in multiple sizes. A fabulous treat and amazing visual for your buffet table.

    Cover a styrofoam cylinder with tinfoil. Using strong wood or strong clear plastic toothpicks, or for stronger pieces, use metal poultry skewers, stuck at an angle, add a few fresh basil leaves and a couple of fresh bay leaves, then cover the cylinder with gently sautéed in sizzling butter (just barely cooked), a sprinkle of dry thyme, cooled baby bay scallops, or the large ones; sea scallops. Drain well and pat dry with a fresh clean tea towel. Definitely do not overcook or the scallops will bounce like rubber balls and be not palatable.

    Leave a little toothpick end protruding from each scallop.

    Chop sun-dried tomatoes into fine dice. Or use roasted red pepper bits. Pinch the tomatoes or peppers onto the protruding toothpicks. Manzanilla olives with red pepper stuffing works nicely, too. Now you have a red and white and green “Seafood Christmas Croquembouche.”

    Repeat the procedure using sautéed medium large shrimp, shells on, just barely cooked, in mashed garlic butter. Rest the cooked shrimp on paper towel before mounting, to absorb moisture.

    Work your way around the cylinder, starting at the bottom, round and round, poking the toothpicks in the opposite end from the tails, and just slightly overlapping.

    You will need a lot of medium size shrimp, even for a small tree.

    Next, repeat again, preparing a new tree, this time using cold cocktail shrimp – medium large size.

    Now, make a “veggie-fruit Croquembouche,” again starting with fresh basil leaves. Dot the cylinder with equal size cherry tomatoes, all red, or a mix of red and yellow, that have been spritzed with olive oil and white balsamic vinegar, salt and ground peppercorns.

    Have the cylinder standing on a stable strong, well-balanced plate with a cotton napkin over folded paper towel, camouflaged, to catch any drips.

    Last but not least, a “marshmallow Croquembouche.” Again using strong toothpicks at an angle, make a white Christmas marshmallow tree. Sprinkle with red and green cookie decorating powder granules.

    For your buffet dinner table, you can even make a “butter ball tree.” Using a melon baller tool, scoop out round balls of butter, and poke each one with a toothpick. Decorate the butter balls tree with threads of fresh fragrant dill. This is a good use for your saved herb butter.

    Try freezing the butter balls, toothpick in, until firm, rock hard. Sprinkle with herbs – parsley, dill, and minced green onion.

    You can make “an ice cream tree,” but you will need room in your freezer to store the whole tree till serving time and you will need to work quickly to assemble the ice cream little balls, again made using the melon baller. Freeze the ice cream balls, rock hard, toothpick in.

    Just before bringing this dessert to the table, drizzle with melted chocolate. For a chocolate ice cream tree, drizzle with melted white chocolate, like snow on the dark background.

    Or for “another sensational fait accompli” ~ whip egg white till very stiff, and using a long spatula, spread uneven dollops of egg white over the ice cream tree. Then, using a handheld small gourmet torch, flame the egg whites here and there, creating tips. Only do the flaming, carefully, at the buffet table, when ready to serve, and move swiftly.

    Indeed ~ Make it a “Croquembouche Christmas” … And say “MERRY CHRISTMAS to You,” on your most memorable yet buffet table…

    From scallops and olives to marshmallows and ice cream…
    Check it out and use your own imagination; get creative and make your Christmas buffet table spectacular this holiday season.

    Each week when you shop, pick up a few keepables, and you will always be ready for spontaneous instant gourmet holiday get-togethers.

    ”Swedish meatballs tree,” anyone? “Maraschino cherries tree?” red, green, or red/green mix; cherry tomatoes: red, yellow or mix them together. Sugar coated grapes, purple and or green or a mix. Choose equal size fruit. Maybe even freeze the grapes.

    Strawberries, firm red juicy ones, (maybe even white or dark chocolate dipped?) all equal size; or, make equal size radish roses and make a “salad tree.”

    Slice “cucumber” with skins on. Overlap slices, starting at the bottom and build to the top, for a veggie salad tree.”

    You could build “a chickpea (garbanzo beans) tree,” but it requires patience. Insert sprigs of fresh rosemary. Build on a basil leaf tree, overlapping fresh leaves. They look like little ornaments. Dust with sweet red paprika.

    If you’re up to it, cook “Brussels sprouts” of equal size, drain well. Gently toss in butter. Peg the firm sprouts on a tree form, lined with fresh bay leaves, using metal skewers.

    Using a melon baller, scoop out raw potatoes. Boil the potato balls, gently, in salted cold water, till just barely cooked. Drain well and pat dry.

    Deep fry potato balls in really hot oil, just till crispy. Drain well, pat dry, and toss the potato balls in salt and parsley flakes. Build “a potato ball tree,” using metal skewers.

    Kumquats, back in the 70’s, were only available during the Christmas season. Each year I made enough Kumquat marmalade to keep the jam shelf stocked till the next year.

    Among other things I used the marmalade as a topper for roasted Rock Cornish Hens. Apply during last ten minutes in the oven. Otherwise the marmalade will burn. This is a great meal to serve at Christmas, instead of the traditional turkey.

    At other times to make an incredible dessert; the marmalade was terrific as a filling for crepes. A little like crepes Suzette. Flambéed with my precious Mampe Halb & Halb from the monastery (similar to Benedictine), and topped with a littleChantilly crème, a most spectacular but so simple, gourmet treat.

    Now kumquats are available in many ordinary supermarkets year round.

    Select perhaps three dozen kumquats in nearly equal size. Build a “candied kumquat Croquembouche Christmas tree.” Alternate idea: make candied kumquats. Drizzle the tree with melted semi sweet dark chocolate. (A little sticky but so worth it.) The fragrance in your home while poaching kumquats will rival the world’s best perfumes.

    * * *
    From Lady Ralston’s Kitchen: A Canadian Contessa Cooks ~ get ready for your very special Croquembouche Merry Christmas buffet table (pass it on)… ENJOY!!!

    Carolyne L ?

  2. Thank you for your understanding and for being such a good sport Carolyne. Your contribution to REM is greatly appreciated.

    John M

    P.S. My favourite food is baked eggplant. Something for your next column perhaps?

  3. Well Carolyne here is the scoop. I went out, bought all of the ingredients, came home, put on my apron and chef's cap and tried to make myself a nice Asbach Stollen according to your specifications. The end result was a disaster. Besides getting half of the flour on my face and arms, what should have been a Asbach Stollen turned out to look like something out of a horror movie.

    John M

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