It’s almost Christmas! You can tell by how many Christmas movies are currently added to some of your favorite streaming services, by the occasional fairy lights greeting you from foreign windows and by the fact that now Advent Calendars have joined the Christmas treats that have been hanging around the grocery stores since early September. Have I mentioned that the duck and I love Christmas? We do like Halloween, but having it not really be a thing in Germany means that we can start being excited about Christmas season even earlier than November 1st without feeling bad about it (not that we would).
Now that we’re way into November already, the duck and I finally decided to get our hands on some of those grocery store Christmas treats we only wrote about last year. Reviewing the whole baker’s dozen would have been too ambitious, at least for the 2020 duck and me, so we decided on Dominosteine, Stollen and Baumkuchenspitzen. Unlike most other super subjective taste tests that we’ve done in the past, neither of those treats are completely new to us. But since it’s been at least a year since we last had them and we are writing this in 2020, a year in which it wouldn’t be surprising if everything tasted slightly different, and since the duck and I are the ones making the rules on here anyway, we meekly present to you this year’s why-do-we-always-forget-that-we-are-super-particular-about-most-foods-and-on-top-of-that-terrible-at-describing-tastes – Christmas edition:
We could have easily eaten a baker’s dozen of treats but there is no way that we would have found the diligence to write about every single one of them
Since we wouldn’t test them all, the duck and I decided to at least keep the order in which we presented those three fairly German grocery store Christmas snacks back when we were still young and oh so naive.
When we described them last year, the duck and I recommended everyone try a Dominostein for German Christmas in a bite. And, because we wanted to set a good example, we decided to test one for today’s super subjective German Christmas treat taste test. Before I get into the taste testing, let me stress again that the duck and I think that Lebkuchen have a rather interesting taste, to put it mildly. And, while I’m writing about the duck and my weird tastes, I should probably also re-emphasize that we usually think that dark chocolate that contains less than about 70% of cocoa is too sweet for its own good, that fruity flavors with chocolate (especially dark chocolate) should look for a home somewhere far away from our tummies, as should some marzipan with (dark) chocolate. We also think that firm jelly-like textures should not be found anywhere near any kind of chocolate (which is why we’ve never managed to properly appreciate Jaffa cakes). Why am I telling you this, you may ask? Well, most people would probably either not have such specific tastes, or they would be smart enough to just not review something that appears to nicely combine so many of their weird taste aversions. The duck and I didn’t think about that when we picked our box of Dominosteine-to-be-reviewed. At least we did buy the smallest box that we could find (which, unfortunately, only came in one variety).
As we took the first bite of the one and only Dominostein we would eat this year the duck and I knew that we were supposed to taste a layer of marzipan on top of a layer of firm apricot jelly on top of a layer of Lebkuchen inside a dark chocolate case. All we tasted was sweetness. Too much of it. When we tried the components more or less individually, however, we could see how the flavors in a Dominostein could play together to to give less weird and particular people a quite nice taste of Christmas.
We are weird and particular, though, which means that, personally, the duck and I can only award 2/5 Christmas ducks (more than one because we actually don’t mind the individual tastes too much, except for the firm jelly, that, in our humble opinion, just sucks); objectively speaking, this could easily be in the area of 4/5 ducks (not 5, because it’s still suuuuper sweet, even objectively so, I’d say)! We still stand by last year’s recommendation of trying Dominosteine at least once for the taste of German Christmas. And, if you’re nothing like us when it comes to what qualities you do and don’t like in sweet treats, it’s quite likely that you’ll actually love them!
This is actually the first thing the duck and I bought after deciding to review some of last year’s baker’s dozen of Christmas treats. We love Stollen – last year we declared that it’s our favorite Christmas pastry! We’d eat it throughout the whole year if we could. But we haven’t. The last time we had Stollen was last year. And I think we didn’t even eat a whole (mini) one then. For this test we decided to go with a marzipan filled variety because that would give us more to review and the duck and I, despite having a weird on/off relationship with marzipan, always love it when it’s baked inside a Stollen!
The first thing that we noticed was that there was just the right amount of marzipan in the mini Stollen. Too much of it could have made this too sweet for us to fully enjoy. The dough itself is relatively dry and firm and has a fresh taste that probably comes from the lemon and orange peel inside. The raisins and marzipan add enough juiciness to make this an overall well-balanced Christmas treat in our opinion. Usually the Stollen itself is not too sweet with most of its sweetness coming from the dried fruit and the heaps of powdered sugar on top that make it a nightmare to cut after you’ve just cleaned your kitchen. This Stollen, however, is definitely on the sweeter side and almost a tad too sweet for us. Almost. Nothing will keep us from giving Stollen a collective 5/5 ducks (though this one was much closer to a 4), because we’ll always be in love with Stollen and already dread the time between mid-January and early November when it’s less accessible and acceptable to eat Stollen all the time.
Baumkuchen is pretty cool in the duck and my book/blog – maybe even as cool as Stollen. But, since we didn’t want to commit to a whole one, the duck and I remembered that we had sneakily taken photos of Baumkuchenspitzen, smaller pieces of chocolate covered Baumkuchen, at the store last year. We didn’t remember, however, that they exclusively seemed to come with some kind of alcohol added in. Well, a little alcohol is better than getting a stomach ache from eating a whole Baumkuchen. We knew we didn’t want to try orange liqueur, because we are wary when it comes to chocolate and fruit flavors, especially orange (why are Jaffa cakes?), so we went with the other variety we saw: Irish cream (which we also shouldn’t have picked, because of our doubtful relationship with cream. But, again, we forget).*
Since the duck and I generally aren’t fans of alcohol we were most nervous about trying this Christmas treat (though that nervousness should definitely have been directed at the Dominostein).
The layering, together with the Irish cream that each Baumkuchen piece is dunked in before it’s covered with milk chocolate, makes the Baumkuchen bites pleasantly moist. Fortunately, the Irish cream isn’t as creamy as we had feared, but it still has this milky aftertaste that we’re not fans of. The cake pieces themselves are pretty sweet but together with the milk chocolate the sweetness actually works? They also have marzipan listed as one of their ingredients which might be why they taste so much like Christmas, even though the dough appears to be very similar to plain white cake (never having eaten Baumkuchen when it wasn’t Christmas might also have to do with that assessment, though). All in all, we were surprised by how much we liked this variety of Baumkuchenspitzen. Minus one duck for the creamy aftertaste means 4/5 Christmas ducks – we might actually go and try another variety to see if we can get to a full 5 ducks that way…* After we had already bought our box of Baumkuchenspitzen we did discover that there was a third variety hidden in the depths of the Baumkuchenspitzen shelves: one with rum, which, compared to the other two varieties, sounds beautifully neutral.
Wow! So many words! It’s time the duck and I resume working on writing more succinctly. We’ve really given in to the laziness, it seems (also, when it comes to food, there are just so many things we feel the need to explain). We’ll try our best (which may or may not be enough) to keep it shorter next time!
What are your favorite seasonal treats to buy at the store?