Homemade Boozy Gift Round Up

Everyone loves receiving a homemade gift of the food variety. Even more so when it tastes good! Here’s a quick round up of some of my favorite items to make and give.

Make It: Mocha Pecan Rum Balls // stirandstrain.com

Mocha Pecan Rum Balls

 Kiss of Fire Aperol Jellies // stirandstrain.comKiss of Fire Aperol Jellies

Fernet Branca Jelly // stirandstrain.com

Fernet Branca Jelly

Make It: Meyer Lemon Bitters // stirandstrain.com

Meyer Lemon Bitters

holidayspicesyrups1

Holiday Spice Syrups

Vanilla Bourbon Caramel Sauce // stirandstrain.com

Vanilla Bourbon Caramel Sauce

Angostura Brownies // stirandstrain.com

Luxardo Cherry and Angostura Brownies

Jameson Whiskey Truffles // stirandstrain.com

Jameson Whiskey Truffles

Molasses, Cocoa Nib & Black Strap Rum Cookies // stirandstrain.com

Molasses, Cocoa Nib & Black Strap Rum Cookies

Chocolate Roundup for National Chocolate Day!

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that National Chocolate Day falls so close to Halloween. Whoever is coming up with these “holidays”, and I think it quite possibly could be a food blogger, is making it easy for me to come up with roundup posts at least once a month. Hey, mostly it means I get to re-introduce some older posts you all might not be familiar with. Like some of these:

Chocolate Rye Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

The Chocolate Rye Cocktail

Chocolate Smoked Porter Beer Mousse // stirandstrain.com

Chocolate Smoked Porter Beer Mousse

Angostura Brownies // stirandstrain.com

Angostura Chocolate Luxardo Cherry Brownies

Chocolate Chili Mint Vodka Fizz Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Chocolate Chili Mint Vodka Fizz Cocktail

Bake It: Piña Colada Baked Doughnuts

Piña Colada Baked Doughnuts // stirandstrain.comDid you know the song Do You Like Piña Coladas is about a couple who decide  to cheat on each other just to find out that the anonymous person they were talking to was actually each other? Kinda makes the idea of drinking one of these a tad sleazy. I’m not making you a Piña Colada today; not one you can drink anyway. You’re going to get one you can EAT.

I have a love/hate relationship with all these food holidays and designated “weeks” “days” and “months”. It’s OK, I guess, to celebrate meatballs or Velveeta, but doughnuts? I’m getting on board with this one… if only because it gives me another excuse to bake for this site.Piña Colada Baked Doughnuts // stirandstrain.comPiña Colada Baked Doughnuts // stirandstrain.com

On twitter, there are a hefty amount of bakers, food bloggers, etc. that I follow. And why not? I like food. At some point this week I picked up on the hashtag #doughnutweek and realized that it culminated with this Friday being national doughnut day. Now, lately I will look for any excuse to make doughnuts. And before you go thinking I’ve got a fryolator out on my back porch, I mean baked doughnuts. The easiest, fastest, marginally-better-for-you-version of the regular doughnut. So I decided I’d add one more recipe to this pile; except my recipe would have rum in it. Naturally.Piña Colada Baked Doughnuts // stirandstrain.com

I’m not even sure why I thought a Piña Colada doughnut would have to be it. Maybe it was that dang song I had stuck in my head. But that was pretty much my first thought about what doughnut to would make an appearance on the site. So here you go folks, let’s bake.pinacoladadoughnut-6

Coconut Doughnuts

Adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction
yields 6-8 doughnuts
1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
scant 1/3 cup (59g) granulated sugar (I used Zulka Pune Cane Sugar here*)
1/4 cup (60ml) Coco Lopez Coconut Cream (or sub full fat coconut milk)
1/4 cup (60g) Greek yogurt
1 large egg
2 tablespoons (30g) unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon amber rum

Pineapple-Rum Glaze

6 tablespoons powdered sugar
1-1/2 teaspoon amber rum
2-1/2 tablespoons pineapple juice

Toppings

1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
2 tablespoons pineapple pieces

  • For the toppings: Heat oven to 250°F. In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, add shredded coconut. When it starts to brown, start stirring so nothing burns and all the coconut gets browned evenly. This should take about 5 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside. Place pineapple pieces on a cookie sheet lined with parchment or a silpat, spread so none are touching. Bake to dehydrate for 3 hours, turning with a spatula every hour. Turn off heat and let rest for an additional hour. Remove from oven and cool in an airtight container.
  • For the doughnuts: Heat oven to 350°F. Spray doughnut pan with nonstick spray, or, if your pan is nonstick, this is optional (I never need to add anything to my pan).
  • Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, and granulated sugar together in a medium bowl. Set aside. Whisk the Coco Lopez, yogurt, and egg together until smooth. Add the melted butter and rum, whisking until fully combined. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Do not overmix. The batter will be very thick.
  • Spoon the batter into the donut cups. (I also used the trick mentioned in the original recipe where the batter is spooned into a ziplock, one end of the bag snipped off, and the batter piped into the doughnut pan. This is a pretty good trick)
  • Bake for 9–10 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned. Allow the donuts to slightly cool before glazing.
  • For the glaze: Combine sugar, rum and pineapple juice in a small bowl. Using a small whisk or form, stir until all sugar has been dissolved. Add dehydrated pineapple to the glaze.
  • Assembly: When doughnuts have cooled slightly, dip into glaze and then dip into toasted coconut shreds.

These doughnuts are SO moist. Not too sweet and super coconut-y. If you’d like to make these kid friendly, just take the rum out. It’s not like they’re going to miss it (or at least I hope not). The pineapple pieces stay in place if you stick them in the glaze first and then dip the doughnuts in. Also, dehydrating the pineapple is totally optional. They taste great fresh too. And if you want to completely skip the toppings and just eat them straight out of your pan, you can do that too. It’s doughnut week after all. Piña Colada Baked Doughnuts // stirandstrain.com

*Zulka Pure Cane sugar is an all natural, vegan, non-gmo and minimally processed sugar. Items generously given gratis and appear here because I like them. For more info on sponsored products, affiliate links, and gifted booze, please visit the About page.

Bake It: Molasses, Cocoa Nib and Black Strap Rum Cookies

Molasses, Cocoa Nib & Black Strap Rum Cookies // stirandstrain.com
Santa gets cookies and a cocktail at our house.

Panic. Panic is setting in as I look at the calendar and realize that Christmas is in two weeks and I haven’t even sent out cards yet. But I did make a batch of holiday flavored cookies and my house smelt amazing the whole time. That should be all we need during the season, houses filled with the smells of cinnamon and ginger. And rum. Cookies should have rum in them too.

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2013

And I did that for my first time participating in the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap.

Secret Ingredient: RUM
Secret Ingredient: RUM
Molasses, Cocoa Nib & Black Strap Rum Cookies // stirandstrain.com
More secret ingredients: cocoa nibs

But you’re a cocktail blog! I know! But sometimes there are food goodies on here and this was for charity and also: I love cookies.

Fresh grind your cardamom please.
Fresh grind your cardamom please.

Right from the beginning of this challenge I knew I wanted to make molasses cookies. They ship well and combined with Black Strap Rum they are filled with deep, dark, molasses-y goodness. So that’s what I sent. Of course there was a hiccup; the first batch accidentally got much more cardamom then they should have and ended up in the garbage. Seriously guys, a little cardamom goes a LONG way. The next batch however was perfect: nicely spiced, smelled divine, and they were edible. The 3 recipients also got a couple extra cookies thrown in because they ended up being smaller than first anticipated and I am nice like that.Molasses, Cocoa Nib & Black Strap Rum Cookies // stirandstrain.com

Let’s get to the baking!

Yields about 60 1″ cookies
Recipe inspired by Williams Sonoma

2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1/4 tsp. ground cardamom
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt
12 tbsp. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
1-1/2 tbsp. Cruzan Black Strap Rum
1/2 cup Valrhona Cocoa Nibs
1/2 cup white or clear sugar crystals

  1. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, cardamom and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer set on medium speed, beat together the butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Beat in the egg. Then beat in molasses, vanilla and rum. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture, mixing until blended. Cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight.
  3. Preheat an oven to 350° F.
  4. Cover 3 half sized sheet pans in parchment. Using a 100 size disher, scoop out cookie dough onto sheet pans. Once dough has been scooped, by hand round out scoops into balls, toss in a small bowl filled with the sugar crystals and flatten out the ball into discs about 1/4″ thick. Refrigerated for 20 minutes.
  5. Move the sheet pans directly from refrigerator into the pre-heated oven and bake for approximately 12 minutes.
  6. Remove from oven and let cool on sheets for about 10 minutes and then transfer cookies to a cooling rack.
  7. Once cool, cookies can be stored in an air-tight container at room temperature for up to one week.
Molasses, Cocoa Nib & Black Strap Rum Cookies // stirandstrain.comThe rum here accentuates the already present molasses. These are pretty much what I think of/what I want in a holiday cookie. They are fragrant with spices, not too sugary and are small enough that I can eat a handful without thinking twice. I hope all my recipients enjoyed their batches, and I hope that you try a batch this year.Molasses, Cocoa Nib & Black Strap Rum Cookies // stirandstrain.com

Bake It: Irish Whiskey Truffles with Baileys Crystals

Jameson Whiskey TrufflesThis year while thinking of a St. Patrick’s day cocktail I recalled a post on a website that made Irish Car Bomb cupcakes. They’re fantastic, albeit a lot of work, FYI. And as much as I wanted to do an Irish Car Bomb for the Low Rent Cocktail of the Month in March, I thought something less obvious would be better for my Irish Holiday. But something with Irish Whiskey all the same.jameson-truffles-1

So this month we’re ‘baking’ up the alcohol and throwing it into truffles. Chocolate Truffles can look amazingly elegant, but let’s not kid ourselves. They are chocolate we melt, let it get hard again and form into balls which we eat by the handful. Not as much work as those cupcakes but just as nice looking.

Taking it a step further I also dehydrated (as best as I could) Baileys Liqueur to keep with the Irish-ness of this alcoholic dessert. Initially I was going to fill the truffles with the Baileys until I saw this post on the Alcademic’s blog, where I learned about the world of dehydrating liquors for cocktails. Totally blew me away as I now had a new concept to play with.

Dehydrating the Baileys though was tough. Keeping the basic rules to follow from that post, I still ended up keeping it in the oven for about 36 hours at 170° and all of the liquid never fully dehydrated. However, enough did for a lovely crunchy topping to put on the truffles, so not all was lost. One change for the next time I dehydrate liquor (or a liqueur), is to keep it in a thinner layer. I found that the bottom liquid stayed gelatinous under the top crust that crystallized first. Best advice for any of you wanting to try this is to test several times to see what works best in your oven!

jameson-truffles-3I use a 1/4 cup of Jameson in this recipe. That might seem like too much, but the flavor becomes very subtle as it is mixed into the chocolate and cream. It is definitely there, but not blaringly WHISKEY. If you want more of that flavor, slowly try adding in more and tasting as you go. Keep in mind that the whiskey does not cook out, since it’s added in at the end, so let’s keep this dessert 21+.jameson-truffles-2 jameson-truffles-4jameson-truffles-7

Recipe adapted from Food Network
8 oz Extra Bitter Chocolate (Callebaut 70.4%), finely chopped
4 oz Semi-Sweet Chocolate (Callebaut 53.8%), finely chopped
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup Jameson Irish Whiskey

For Garnish:
1/2 cup Valrhona Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
Baileys Irish Cream, dehydrated and ground into a powder (see recipe below)

  1. Place chocolates in a medium sized heat-proof bowl. Set aside. In a 1-1/2 quart saucepan, heat cream on the stove until boiling and immediately pour the cream over the chocolate. Let sit for five minutes. Stir chocolate until smooth. If, like me, you did not chop your chocolate fine enough, you may need to create a double boiler (by placing your bowl of chocolate and cream over a sauce pan of simmering water) and reheat chocolate until fully melted. Try and chop it fine on the first try. Stir in Jameson. Mixture will look separated, however keep stirring until smooth- it will happen.
  2. Refrigerate for about an hour until firm but not rock solid.
  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a disher, or spoon, portion out the chocolate mixture into balls around an 1″ in diameter. I was able to get roughly 30 balls. Refrigerate again for 15 minutes. Pour cocoa powder in a shallow bowl.
  4. Take the truffles out and either toss directly into the cocoa powder as is using a fork to move around and coat the truffle, or smooth out the truffles into smooth balls and then coat in the cocoa powder. Coat the top of the truffles with ground Bailey’s crystals working quickly by hand. Your fingers will create some heat that might make the crystals warm and sticky. If you find this happening while you coat the truffles, refrigerate the mixture for 5 minutes and take back out again to finish.

Dehydrated Baileys Irish Cream

1/4 cup Baileys Irish Cream

Set oven to 170°. Pour Baileys into a silicon container and place into oven. As mixture starts to solidify on top, break up top bits to expose all of the liquid. Test for doneness starting after 18 hours. Like I mention above, my mixture hit its wall at 36 hours as some of the mixture was more like a caramel and never dried out. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Break up all of the crystalized parts and, using a mortar and pestle, grind the mixture into a powder. Refrigerate in an air tight container until ready to use.jameson-truffles-5

By combining the extra bitter and semi-sweet chocolate, these truffles are not too sweet, but have a deep earthiness from the dark chocolate with a hint of sweetness and the subtle flavor of the Jameson. The crunchy bits of the Bailey’s on top provide a touch of caramel sweetness. Want to make this like an Irish Car Bomb? I bet they taste spectacular beside a pint of Guinness.

Bake It: Angostura Bitters & Luxardo Cherry Brownies

Sometimes we do this thing at my house where we’ve decided we want to be healthier and get rid of all the ‘unhealthy’ snacks in the house. So suddenly there is no more processed goodies about. We’re left with a container of unsweetened cocoa powder and a bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips shoved in the back of the fridge. All you bakers out there are rolling your eyes and saying ‘yeah, and?‘ right about now. What I’m left with is two main ingredients to make a whole bunch of desserts and unhealthy foods. The challenge though, is to actually make something from scratch.

I love to bake, but I don’t get to do it as much as I used to. Now I’m mainly focused on cocktails. Then I decided to marry the two.

When I realized there was nothing to snack on at the house I went in search for a quick and easy recipe I could throw together with not much effort but be satisfied with the end result. I remembered I’d seen on Shutterbean a pretty straightforward brownie recipe that would accomplish both goals. But I wanted to put my own spin on it. Also, I wanted something my husband would want to eat and that meant throwing some kind of fruit into it and getting the walnuts out (otherwise I’d be staring the pan down with no regrets). Lately he’d been on a cherry kick and as an afterthought, I figured I would stick a couple cherries on top. Then I spotted the bottle of Angostura bitters and I had an idea. My first batch had a 1/2 ounce, but I found I wanted the bitters to be stronger throughout the brownies. Then I threw in a whole ounce and it was magic.

(recipe adapted from Shutterbean.com)

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1-¼ cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1 oz. Angostura bitters
1 cup luxardo cherries (syrup drained off as much as possible)

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 8″ square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line bottom and sides of the pan with parchment.

Mix flour, salt, cocoa powder & baking powder together in a bowl. Set aside.

Place butter and chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl set over (not in) a saucepan of simmering water; stir frequently, until almost melted. Remove from heat; stir until completely melted.

Whisk in sugar until smooth. Add bitters and stir to combine. Whisk in eggs. Fold in cherries. Gently whisk in flour mixture until smooth (do not overmix).

Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached (they should form a ball when rolled between your fingers), 50 – 55 minutes. Cool completely in pan.

Use parchment paper to lift from pan; peel off and discard. Cut into squares (this is much easier to do with these brownies if you stick them in the freezer after they have cooled slightly for about 20 minutes).

I found that adding the bitters and the cherries made the batter a bit thicker and took more time to bake thoroughly. I would start checking on them at about the 50 minute mark and test every 5 minutes after. The end result is a fudgy brownie that has some super spicy notes from the bitters, and with the cherries, are reminiscent of chocolate covered cherry cordials. I decided to split the chocolate between semisweet and bittersweet to cut a bit back on the richness and try to highlight more of the spice. They really make a great holiday brownie too (I’ve now made this enough times over the past two weeks that I have the recipe memorized and could make them in my sleep).

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