If you live in Chicago and have walked around the Loop lately, you may have seen people with a very fancy mug in their hands. They are coming from the annual Christkindlmarket and are enjoying some hot mulled spiced wine called Gluhwein. That means the holiday season is officially here!
There are two different markets happening in Chicago this year: the traditional one in the Loop by the Picasso and a smaller one in the Wrigleyville neighborhood. Both markets have all the beautiful ornaments and traditional German food, and that favored Gluhwein. Did you know there are two versions of the hot mulled spiced wine? The red one is more popular, but there is a white version as well, and of course, they also offer a kid-friendly version, so everyone is taken care of! This year, we are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the market, which is truly special. I'm originally from Germany and I'm now celebrating 23 years here in Chicago!
Besides the Gluhwein, there are many different traditional German foods available at the market, such as bratwurst, potato pancakes, strudel and such.
During this time of year, I also enjoy a traditional Austrian dessert which is also very popular in Bavaria, where I grew up. This delicious sweet fluffy pancake is made with soaked raisins in rum, torn into bite size pieces, dusted with powdered sugar, and served with a sweet preserve. Plum is traditional but any preserve of your liking works.
It is called Kaiserschmarrn and goes back to Emperor Franz Josef of Austria, translated as “the emperor's mess!” It is a great holiday dessert, but can also be served as a light lunch.
I love this dessert because the ingredients are completely flexible. For example, if you don't like raisins, you can substitute apples or any other fruit, like I did in the photos below. Note that the recipe is the traditional one with rum and raisins. If you do use raisins, you don’t have to soak them in rum. You can use almond milk instead of dairy milk and add vanilla bean paste for more flavor.
I use the broiler to help the pancake rise and get it nice and golden brown. I would recommend leaving your oven open, and watching the pancake rise and brown so you can pull it out the second it is ready.
Kaiserschmarrn Dessert (Sweet Austrian Rum-Raisin Pancake)
Scroll down for a printable version of this recipe
Yield: 6 servings
Active time: 25 minutes
Start to finish: 35 minutes
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup rum
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, for cooking
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted for drizzling
1/4 cup powdered sugar, plus more for dusting
Plum preserves, for serving
1. Mix together the raisins and rum in a small bowl. Allow to soak for 30 minutes, and then drain the mixture and discard the rum. (I'm substituting apples for raisins so I skipped this step.)
2. In a medium-size bowl, beat together the milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla extract and salt. Gradually whisk in the flour to make a smooth batter. Stir in the drained raisins. (Or omit the raisins as I did.)
3. Heat a large nonstick sauté pan over medium heat, and add the 2 tablespoons of butter. (I added apples to the butter to soften them up a bit.)
4. Pour the batter into the pan, and cook for 5 to 6 minutes or until the pancake has set and the bottom is golden brown.
5. Carefully flip the pancake over, and cook for an additional 3 minutes or until golden brown.
6. Using a spatula or two forks, tear the pancake into bite-size pieces.
7. Drizzle in the melted butter, and sprinkle with the powdered sugar. Turn the heat up to high, and use a spatula to gently toss the pieces for about 5 minutes, or until the sugar has caramelized.
8. Sprinkle with additional powdered sugar, and serve with plum preserves.
Enjoy the holiday season, drink some Gluhwein, and join me for a virtual class in partnership with Christkindlmarket as I teach you another of my favorite German dishes: Traditional Pork Stew with Spätzle on December 17 at 6pm CST.