It is a secret dream of mine to tour the Christmas Markets in Europe. I've been sent information from various travel companies about the tours that are offered during the month of December, featuring enchanting photos.
For anyone who loves craft fairs and flea markets, imagine sipping hot cider or rich milky hot cocoa with marshmellows, smelling fresh gingerbread cookies, all bundled up with knitted mittens, and scarves. Imagine the scent of fresh pine, the lights lit, and walking up and down the cobblestoned streets with visible breath taking in all the beautiful hand made works of art and Christmas decor laid upon red velvet fabric and jingling bells abound.
I will even go so far as to say, it has been a far fetched fantasy to marry at the Linderhof Castle in the Black Forest, near Munich, Germany.
Linderhof in Winter
Linderhof in Autumn
The photo taken in the winter, has made a winter wedding seem quite magical, followed by a German honeymoon touring the Christmas Markets.
Travel Intelligence has listed the Top 10 Christmas Markets in Europe:
One thing I love about December is receiving gift baskets at work from other companies. Although, they are more sparse these days with the economic slowdown the past couple years, we still usually manage to receive at least one gift basket from Harry & David, which typically includes their delicious pears around this time of year.
And how I adore pair tarts too. This mouth watering recipe from Reader's Digest caught my eye...
Hazelnut Pear Tart
Photo by: Rob Hagen & Dan Roberts
You will need:
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup finely chopped blanched hazelnuts
1/3 cup apricot preserves
2/3 cup chopped blanched hazelnuts, toasted
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons butter, softened
1 egg, lightly beaten
2-3/4 pounds pears, peeled, cored, and sliced
What to Do:
1. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and confectioners' sugar. Beat in vanilla, flour and hazelnuts. Press into a greased 11-in tart pan with removable bottom. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven; reduce heat to 350 degrees.
2. Spread apricot preserves over crust. In a bowl, combine the hazelnuts, sugar, flour, butter and egg. Spoon over preserves. Arrange pear slices over filling in a concentric circle, slightly overlappying slices.
3. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. Store in the refrigerator.