Until next year.

I couldn’t help but post a farewell to the ladies at Bierberg Bakery. Each year a group of ladies come together in a tiny shop tucked away in German Village, Columbus, Ohio, to make Christmas cookies. These are the same recipes that the owner, Helen Bierberg Walsh’s grandmother brought over from Germany in the early 1900s.

The bakery opens from October 20th to January 1st each year. They make traditional German sweets like lebkuchen, hernchen, stollen and other favorites by hand, spending their hours roasting hazelnuts or dipping confections in chocolate and chatting, sometimes in English, sometimes German.

You can click above to hear Johanna explain how she finishes off Wilhelm cookies by giving them a chocolate bath. Walsh’s father Gustav (who Johanna calls “Gus”) came up with the idea of using old cookie tins to make “the chocolate pot.” There’s a total of three cookie tins. One large, overturned tin makes the base and has a door cut out of it where he placed a single lamp light (pretty much a light bulb attached to a plug-in cord). Then, another tin was welded onto the base tin. Within the top tin, a smaller tin sits welded inside, perfectly insulated. The top tin holds the melted chocolate.

I’ll admit, I gushed over the innovative chocolate pot. I mean, there are articles, books, classes devoted to how to properly temper chocolate to give it a rich sheen while not overcooking it. Try buying a chocolate temper machine and you’re looking at prices topping $400. Yet Gus’s device–complete with a two-pronged fork–do even better (they don’t even need a thermometer to check the temperature). As I marveled aloud about the chocolate pot, I asked to no one in particular, “I wonder how he came up with this?”

Johanna immediately responded, “He was German.” That seemed to say it all.

Until next year…

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