Tuesday, December 30, 2008


There is a tradition or a food that everyone links with a particular holiday or celebration. With my family, it's Rum Torte and Kipfels at Christmas. Recipes handed down from my grandmother Stella, they are forever linked with our celebration. So much so that, if I don't make them, I should just stay home. It's been said jokingly, but I am not going to test that theory.

The Rum Torte isn't fancy, just a rum soaked pound cake sliced very thinly and spread with even thinner layers of chocolate ganache boosted with yet more rum. There have been a couple of years where it is best not to let the kids have a slice.This cake improves with age, so I bake it a week before Christmas, allow it to sit at room temperature for a couple of days, then frost at least 3 days before we celebrate. Every year the question is asked," How many layers?" The most has been 17, this year just 14. I must be slipping. One year, when Grandma was still alive we each made one to see who was better at slicing thinly! I think she won, maybe I did, there was definitely a debate of what counted as a "layer" of cake.

Kipfels are a rustic cookie made from an unsweetened yeast dough rolled out with sugar and filled with a dollop of apple butter. My one regret is that I didn't get the apple butter recipe from Grandma before she was stricken with Alzheimer's. I do my best with a purchased product from Lancaster county, Pennsylvania. It's almost as good as hers.

This is how we remember our family members, by reproducing their recipes. Bring them, or else!

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