Visions of Sugar Plum Fairies

Crushing It

Photo Courtesy of Mango Studios

It’s Nutcracker season. Instead of going Tutu Pink with the decor, try this jeweled red for the Christmas season. Red translucent chairs stand out among the shades of red and pink in this Nutcracker event. Additional adornments include the wrapped poppers at each place setting, ballerina figurines in the roses, and bold red drapery at the dessert table.

 Tip Courtesy of Style Me Pretty

Marzipan Stollen


Photo Courtesy of Yvonne Ruperti

Marzipan, the name of a character in the Nutcracker, combines perfectly with a traditional German Stollen



1/3 cup (3 ounces) milk

1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 ounces) plus 1 tablespoon bread flour, divided, plus more if needed
1 tablespoon bourbon
1/2 cup (3 ounces) raisins
1/4 cup (1 3/4 ounces) plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 large egg yolk
3/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted butter, softened, divided
4 teaspoons finely chopped orange peel from one orange (see note above)
1/3 cup (3 ounces) sliced almonds
3 1/2 ounces marzipan
For the Glaze:
4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup (4 ounces) confectioner’s sugar


Heat milk in small saucepan over low heat until just warm. Pour into bowl of stand mixer and whisk in yeast and 1 tablespoon bread flour. Set aside for 30 minutes. In same unwashed saucepan, gently heat bourbon and raisins until warm; set aside.

Add 1 1/4 cups bread flour, sugar, and egg yolk to yeast mixture. Mix with dough hook at low speed just until mixture begins to come together, about 1 minute. With mixer running, add salt and then slowly add butter to incorporate. If dough seems too wet, add up to a few tablespoons more flour. Continue to mix until a soft, smooth dough forms, about 8 minutes. Mix in raisins, orange zest, and almonds until just incorporated.

Form dough into a ball, place in a greased bowl, cover, and let rest in a warm place until dough has risen by about 50 percent, 1 to 2 hours.

Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Place dough onto lightly floured work surface and press into an 8- by 10-inch oval. Using rolling pin, press a trench lengthwise into the dough about 1/3 from the bottom.

Roll the marzipan into a log to fit the length of the stollen. Place the log on worksurface and flatten with a rolling pin to about 1/2 inch thick. Place the strip of marzipan into the trench in the dough.

Lift the bottom portion of dough up and over the marzipan to seal it inside, being sure not to fold it so far as to make the edges meet (this will form the hump on top of the stollen). Gently press top of stollen with rolling pin to seal, leaving the hump of dough on the top. Carefully transfer the stollen to the parchment-lined baking sheet, loosely cover, and let rest in a warm place for about 45 minutes.

Bake until golden brown and just cooked through, 25 to 30 minutes. Do not overbake or your stollen will be dry.

For the Glaze: Brush stollen immediately with half the melted butter. Sprinkle with a coating of confectioner’s sugar. Brush with remaining melted butter and sift 1/2 of the remaining confectioners’ sugar over the top. Let cool. Sift with remaining confectioners’ sugar and serve.

Arabian Coffee

Photo Courtesy of Lizz Schumer

The exotic dance of the Arabian coffee dancers evokes those rich deep dark notes. We think this drink, called Architects and Kings is fit for the Rat King.

3/4 ounce Rittenhouse rye
3/4 ounce Luxardo Amaro Abano
3/4 ounce Laird’s Bonded Apple Brandy
1/2 ounce demerara syrup (see note)
2 dashes Angostura bitters
4 ounces hot coffee
Garnish: Whipped cream (handmade preferred)


Combine the rye, Amaro Abano, apple brandy, demerara syrup, and Angostura bitters in a small saucepan and stir. Heat until steaming, but do not allow to boil.

Heat serving glass by running under hot water and wiping dry. Pour the mixture into the glass and add hot coffee. Top with a dollop of the whipped cream. Serve hot.

Notes: To make demerara syrup, combine 1 cup demerara sugar and 1/2 cup water in a saucepan and stir. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves. Demerara syrup will keep refrigerated for one week.

Jingle all the Way

Photo Courtesy of Mall of America


Even venues can have their ow even tech. The Mall of America now offers a chatbot just for the holiday season. And it’s on multiple platforms, powered by Amazon Alexa. The bot helps shoppers know where to go and how to find things that interest them. This can be used for events and conferences that have a large footprint as well, by using historical data and answering the FAQs event-goers may have.


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