Since my family stopped exchanging gifts at Christmas, food has taken on more importance. This is that one time of the year when you can rationalize buying those fancy Spanish sardines in olive oil, some of that aged-to-perfection, sliced-paper-thin jamón ibérico, that sublime, creamy raw goat cheese from France. Expensive yes, but hey, it’s Christmas.
Of course, it’s also a time for baking. This year I’m making Mexican Wedding Cakes, Chocolate Hazelnut Crinkle Cookies, Coconut Stars, and Pecan Sandies. (Notice that all those cookies contain nuts!) I’m also making this stollen, a recipe that comes from Leslie Snidal, my friend in Nova Scotia who makes it every Christmas, as her mother did. It is baked earlier in December, wrapped up well and frozen, then warmed in the oven on Christmas morning to be served with a cup of hot coffee well before the real breakfast preparations begin.