Friday, October 11, 2013

Throwing sweet Snowballs from Heidelberg

As a passionate and addicted traveler, I love to come back home each time with at least one travel story. Food is part of the history and culture of a place, as well as a honest cultural ambassador and getting more in touch with the local tastes is a lesson in tolerance opening the doors to a better understanding. 
During my last trip to Heidelberg, Germany, I noticed some big tasty looking balls in the windows of many 'Konditorei' in the central area, and even more tourists tasting them on the street so, after taking some pictures and having a look at some recipes, I knew what are all about.
The Snowballs (or, in German, Schneebaelle) are an original recipes more than 300 years old from Rothenburg am Taube, but popular in the whole Franconia-Bavarian region. At the beginning, they were prepared for special occasions - such as celebrations and weddings -, but the fast industrial revolution brought them on the daily tables of everyone that love their taste.
I was not lucky enough to be part of a live preparation experiment, but I did watch and read some recipes clarifying the main steps for preparing the snowballs. At the first and second sight, it is not difficult, but once ready you need to have teeth strong enough to bite them. 
The main ingredients are: eggs, butter (or butter cream), sugar, flour and - beware if you want to offer them to your children - plum schnapps. The dough is rolled out a couple of times and cut into little strips with a dough cutter. The strips are knitted several times in the shape of a ball. 
Traditionally, the balls were only dusted with powder sugar - hence the 'snow' associated with the balls, but it is hard nowadays to resist the temptations of different flavours and combinations, among which: Amaretto, Chocolate, Marzipan, coconut, nuts and almonds. 
In the relatively cold areas of Germany, it is said it can resist around 8 weeks without refrigeration, but probably such a calculation does not take into consideration the real temperatures of hot summers. 
My next challenge will be not only to write about them or to admire their round perfection in pictures, but to start preparing at least one snowball in my own kitchen.

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