“It’s The Mozart Chocolate!”

I had the opportunity to help pass out chocolate samples and make some custom chocolate bags for customers this weekend at a local grocery store just down the road from my home. There was a variety of chocolates to be sampled, along with cinnamon stars and some non-alcoholic glüh-punsch. But it was the chocolate that people were eyeing the most as they walked into the entrance of the store.

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One particular chocolate brand caught the eyes of several people walking past our samples. Just about every person who recognized the packaging and the image on the front all said the same thing, “I know that chocolate! It’s the Mozart chocolate!” If you are a chocolate connoisseur, you may recognize the red packaging or the famous face of the composer, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, then you know Reber Chocolate Specialties. And if you know Reber, then you know the Genuine Reber Mozart-Kugeln!3510-Mozart-Kugel It’s a delicious and exquisite piece of chocolate! The Reber Mozart Kugeln has a creamy hazelnut chocolate nougat filling with freshly ground almonds and pistachio marzipan, enrobed twice with milk and dark chocolate. If you have never had one, you need to go find one! It’s amazing! You don’t have to take my word for it, if you were with me on Saturday, you would have heard people raving to their family members about the Reber chocolates they enjoyed while visiting and traveling throughout Europe.

Above I added a stock photo of the Mozart Kugeln, and to show you that YES, it really does look like that on the inside, I shall provide you proof of my dissected confection! You can truly, actually SEE the milk chocolate under that top layer of dark chocolate!

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Reber has been around for 150 years making their confections of sophisticated taste. With a long history in Munich, Reber’s products are all made without artificial flavors, colors or preservatives. Reber uses the best ingredients for all their products, from fresh pistachios to the finest praline. It was so fun listening to people talk about where they were when they were enjoying their Reber chocolate! Some people found Reber in Germany or Austria and others found the delicious confections in airports and shops along the way. There was a woman from out-of-town visiting her parents and when she saw the Reber packaging, she immediately started sharing memories of her past adventures overseas and how she tried this chocolate and she absolutely enjoyed it. I have to say, I really enjoyed being a part of conversations of the people who came in and out of the store this past weekend! It’s really neat how something like chocolate or other food or beverage item can bring memories back to people.

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Reber has a variety of different chocolates to choose from besides the Mozart Kugeln, they do offer chocolate bars and other specialty chocolate pieces with varying fillings. There are many things to choose from when it comes to Reber! There is something to please everyone! Earlier this year I did talk about the Reber Fascination Box, that is a great gift to give anyone: boss, family or friend! So you have options to choose from when it comes to Reber! Perhaps you have never tried it – if you haven’t, it may become a new favorite! Perhaps you may pass this along to a friend, loved one or co-worker and maybe you’ll remind them of some special moments in their life!

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Christmas Markets of the United States.

Christmas Markets have become a popular place to visit during the Christmas season. What does a Christmas Market entail? And when did it begin? Widely popular all throughout Europe, Christmas Markets have had a long tradition of being an important aspect of the season. Taking a look back at some history, Vienna, Austria, was first to have “December Market” in 1298. As for the Christmas Markets opening in Germany, there have been different answers: Munich 1310, Bauzen 1384 and Frankfurt 1393. From there the Christmas Markets spread across Europe and beyond. Below is a photo from the Christmas Market in Nuremberg.

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Christmas Markets are also known as Christkindlmarkts, otherwise known as Christ Child Markets. This dates back to the days of Martin Luther where he wanted to take focus away from the Saints Nicholas and Martin. Before the 1530s, gifts were exchanged on December 6th (St. Nicholas Day) or November 11 (St. Martins Day). Martin Luther’s children received gifts on the 24th of December, from Christkindl or Christ Child, and as that continued some of the Christmas Markets called themselves Christkindlmarkts.

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I’d like to make sure we give credit to German Girl In America for a lot of the data and information that I shared here with you all.

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Christmas Markets have spread all across the United States and have gained popularity among larger cities. Just take a moment on Google and you can search the many markets across the States. I’ll list a few here:

Note that all the Christmas Markets have different operating dates, times and such. Do check out their websites prior to visiting and research what is available and open during certain times of the holiday season.

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These Christmas Markets offer a variety of seasonal treats, foods, candies and an assortment of gifts, festivities and fun for families and friends to enjoy. Have you been to a Christmas Market? If you have, what are your favorite things to do, to see, or to buy?

If you are searching for a Christmas Market near you, try looking at ChristmasMarkets.com to help you with your search!

The photos that are seen throughout this post are all under Creative Commons CC0 and were obtained by Pixabay.

 

Let’s Talk About Stollen.

DSC_0095Do you know what stollen is? If you don’t, its basic definition is that stollen is a sweet yeast bread of German origin that contains fruits and nuts (Source: Merriam-Webster). And sweet it is! I’ve been nibbling on this Quickbury Christ Stollen and it’s yummy! I sort of feel like I’m doing something bad because it’s not December yet and we haven’t even had Thanksgiving yet, so to think about stollen – even eating it – this early before Christmas seems sort of wrong! But it tastes soooo good!

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Stollen can be eaten as is, or often times could be served with butter or preserves. I enjoyed my slice of stollen as is, plain, but every now and then some butter is nice with the flavor of the sweet bread! There’s plenty of flavor and the bread is by no means dry at all. Do make sure after you have opened your package of stollen that you wrap it up well to prevent it from drying out. I usually wrap mine in foil, nice and tight!

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Stollen should not be confused with fruitcake, they are two separate items! The main difference between stollen and fruitcake is that fruitcake is often soaked in rum or other spirits. You won’t find that in a stollen recipe!

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In some ways this reminds me of what Latvians bake called “Zeltene Maize” or a “Kliņģeris”. A sweet bread with raisins, fruits and/or other nuts and dusted with powdered sugar. My grandmothers used to make this bread and it was always delicious in the morning with a cup of hot coffee or tea. The kliņģeris is more of a Latvian birthday bread “pretzel” with powdered sugar and almonds on top. Very similar in the likes of stollen!

Quickbury is a company based out of Quickborn, Germany, which is north of Hamburg. They specialize in a wide range of cookies, breads, cakes and sugar-free edible items. During the Christmas holiday season, they produce a variety of traditional stollen and gingerbread. What makes Quickbury unique is that they are always expanding their assortment of products to meet the requirements and desires of their customers.

If you have not ever tried stollen or previous years have been a fruitcake fan, why not ditch the fruitcake and go for stollen this year? Stollen is perfect for those holiday celebrations when guests are around or perfect for adding to breakfast on those early Christmas mornings watching presents being unwrapped.

What else do you like about the holiday season? Are there any other favorite baked items, goods, treats that you long for when the holiday season approaches? Please share! Even better if you can share a photo or link! Post a favorite picture on our Facebook page or tag us in Instagram! Tweet and retweet with us on Twitter! There may be a special guest in the upcoming weeks traveling across Michigan, so stay tuned for Traveling Santa! Watch for other holiday ideas and fun on Pinterest!

As always, nibble on my friends!

Travels Through and Near Nüremberg.

While I wished I was along to take these photos, the photos throughout this post for today come from Monica, our Vice President at Gourmet International. As our team was traveling to Germany for the Anuga trade show in Cologne, they also happened to stop at the Wicklein Store in Nüremberg and at Riegelein in nearby Cadolzburg.

From one of my earlier posts, we shared that the famous German gingerbread or traditional Lebkuchen, as it is called, made by Wicklein, has arrived to the warehouse for holiday orders. The team stopped into the “Die Lubküchnerei”, the Lebkuchen Bakery. Here, one can enjoy the scent of festive spices and the fresh aroma of coffee with a tasty pastry. If visiting, and you want to learn how to bake Lebkuchen, they offer workshops! How cool is that! You get to learn how to prepare and bake Lebkuchen, take them home with you and more! Check out the website for more information. It is something you would have to plan and book ahead of time, so be sure to sign up in advance!

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Another stop on their travels in Germany, the team stopped at Riegelein to check out the chocolate shop and watch chocolate makers performing their work at “Chocothek“. Riegelein is known all across Europe and across the globe for its German chocolate products. They make wonderful chocolate figurines for every holiday: Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day – even New Year’s Day – and MORE! Riegelein is a family-owned company, started by baker and confectionery master Hans Riegelein and his wife Gerda back in 1953. The company, in 1998, has now passed down to the reigns to Peter Riegelein, marking the second generation running the traditional family-owned company. I don’t know about you, but looking at all those figures on display in the photos below are making me crave some delectable chocolate!

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Growing up, I recall my mom buying Riegelein chocolates during the holidays, most notably, Christmas time. The Christmas figures are what I recall from my youth, being stuffed inside my stocking or maybe mom had (or even still does!) put a little tray of mini Santas or St. Nicholas’ out on Christmas Eve for us to nibble nibble on! And I am quite sure it was a Riegelein Advent Calendar that my brothers and I were always eager to open every day leading up to Christmas! Now, who thinks that next time I should tag along…? Nibble hint, nibble hint!? (Tee hee!)