Holiday Recipes

The Berkshire County Historical Society will offer a free virtual tour of Herman Melville’s historic Arrowhead on Dec. 21 at 5:30 pm.

This special tour recreates some of this splendor on with a special virtual evening tour of Arrowhead decorated as it might have been during the Melville family’s residence. The evening includes season readings, 19th century holiday recipes and a look at objects from the BCHS collection that are not often on view.  This event is free, but pre-registration is required; call 413 442 1793 or email   

Herman Melville celebrated Christmas at Arrowhead in the late nineteenth century, a time that gave rise to new Victorian holiday traditions such as tree decorating, gift giving, Santa Claus, greeting cards, stockings by the fire, church activities, and family-oriented days of feasting and fun. 

As food was a big part of the celebration, below are a few recipes for you to try at home!



5 to 6 large baking apples, peeled and cored
1 cup sugar
2 quarts beer or ale
2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half, or 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
zest of 1 lemon
1-1/2 cups sherry or sweet red wine


Preheat oven to 400°F. Cut the apples into thick slices, and arrange in layers in a covered casserole dish, sprinkling a few teaspoons of sugar over each layer. Cover and bake for 30 minutes. (The apples will get puffy and soft.)

While the apples bake, combine the beer, spices, lemon zest, and remaining sugar in a large saucepan. Heat slowly, bringing just to a simmer. (Don’t let the mixture boil.) When it is hot, add the sherry and keep heating until the mixture reaches a simmer again, still not boiling. Place the hot baked apples in a punch bowl, and pour the hot wassail over them. Serve hot.

Courtesy of Almanac


Nesselrode Pudding


1/2 cup currants
1/2 cup raisins
5 egg yolks
3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
3 cups heavy cream
One 15 oz. can unsweetened chestnut purée (sold in most specialty markets) or 1 cup candied chestnuts, broken into small pieces
2 teaspoons vanilla


Soak currants and raisins in Cognac barely to cover for 1/2 hour. Drain, reserving the Cognac. Beat egg yolks either in a mixer or with a whisk for about a minute, then add 3/4 cup sugar and continue beating until the mixture is very thick, a light lemon color, and forms a ribbon. Set aside.

Heat 2 cups of the cream in a saucepan just to the boiling point, when small bubbles appear around the sides. Don’t let it come to a full boil. Beat the cream into the egg yolk mixture and return it to the pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until it coats a spoon thickly. Don’t let this mixture boil or you’ll have sweet scrambled eggs. Remove from heat.

Stir in either the can of chestnut purée or the candied chestnuts. Add the reserved Cognac, currants, raisins, and vanilla.

Whip the remaining cup of heavy cream until it begins to thicken, then add 3 tablespoons sugar, and continue beating until it is quite firm. Fold this into the chestnut mixture, making sure they are well combined and thoroughly blended.

Lightly oil a 1 1/2–quart melon or charlotte mold and fill with the mixture. Cover securely. Melon molds have a tight-fitting cover with a handle, and so do some charlotte molds. If yours does not, seal the mold with foil and Scotch tape. Leave the mold in the freezer for about 5 to 6 hours, or until frozen solid.

About 15 minutes before serving, transfer to the refrigerator. To serve, unmold it onto a chilled serving dish—you may have to run a towel, wrung out in very hot water, over the mold to loosen the pudding or dip the bottom of the mold in hot water for just a second, not long enough to melt it.

Garnish the frozen pudding with whipped cream piped through a pastry tube or with candied fruits.

Courtesy of the James Beard Foundation



Braised Red Cabbage with Cranberries


1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup packed brown sugar, divided
8 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups fresh or frozen cranberries, divided
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 medium head red cabbage, shredded (10 cups)
1 cup dry red wine or apple juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper


In a Dutch oven or kettle, heat oil and 1/4 cup brown sugar over medium heat. Add garlic; sauté for 2 minutes. Stir in 2 cups cranberries and vinegar. Cover and cook over medium heat for 3-4 minutes or until the berries have popped.

Add cabbage and wine or apple juice. Cover and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes or until the cabbage is tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in the salt, cayenne and remaining cranberries and brown sugar. Remove from the heat. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes or until berries are tender.

Courtesy of Taste of Home


This event is sponsored by Greylock Federal Credit Union.

Translate »
Book Now