Holiday Entertaining: Beaujolais Wine and Cookie Decorating Party

Beaujolais Wine and Holiday Cookie Party // stirandstrain.comThis post is brought to you by Beaujolais Wines. Recipes and ideas are my own.

This holiday season I’m taking a step back from all the hustle and bustle, all the commercials and “must buys”, and taking a moment to spend time with family and friends in the most fun, totally seasonal, best way possible to celebrate the holidays: a cookie decorating party. But this party is for adults only. Why? Because we’re cracking open a bottle of Beaujolais to celebrate our nearest and dearest all while having some holiday fun.

Beaujolais Wine and Holiday Cookie Party // stirandstrain.comIf the idea of hosting a holiday cookie decorating party makes your palms sweat (I need how many cookies?!?!), even with a glass of wine, just hold on, because I’ve got some tips and tricks that will make this party a breeze!

Beaujolais Wine and Holiday Cookie Party // stirandstrain.com1. First, let’s talk about the wine. While you might think Beaujolais wine is best served slightly chilled in the summertime, it’s actually a great wine to have around the cooler winter months too. That’s because it goes well with just about anything; including cookies. If you’re thinking ahead towards all your holiday meals this month, try picking up a case to have on hand. Serve it at meals and keep a bottle handy for the random relative who stops by unannounced! And if you can, try and get a mixed case. That’s right! Beaujolais comes in red, white and rosé.

Beaujolais Wine and Holiday Cookie Party // stirandstrain.com2. Cookies. You have a couple options here when it comes to the cookies.

  • Are you someone who can whip up 4 dozen batches of cookies without blinking an eye? Then baking them all from scratch shouldn’t be an issue. Go you!
  • Pressed for time? Make half the cookies from scratch and buy the rest. Most grocery stores with a bakery will have unfrosted cookies on hand like sugar cookies. Personally, I am terrible at making sugar cookies so I bought mine. But I have a fantastic gingerbread recipe that makes solid cookies every time (see below). So I made those for the party.
  • You can always ask people to bring undecorated cookies too! There is probably a friend or relative in your life who likes to bake. Reach out to them for some help making cookies, they probably would love to bake!

Beaujolais Wine and Holiday Cookie Party // stirandstrain.com

Beaujolais Wine and Holiday Cookie Party // stirandstrain.com3. Decorations. With endless possibilities for decorating, limit yourself to just a few ideas. You’ll end up with less waste and won’t have a pantry full of half used sprinkles and sanding sugar to deal with the rest of the year. For my cookie party, I made one batch of royal icing and put scoops into smaller piping bags and mixed a few colors right in the bag. Again, if you haven’t the time to make icing, guess what? You can buy it and it will work just fine! For decorative elements, I kept it simple with some colorful sprinkles, red and green sanding sugar, edible silver balls, and some tiny edible gold stars I had left over from another cocktail project. You could go even less than this if you wanted, or just use icing and nothing else. We also had some filled cookies so I put out a bowl of raspberry jam that was in the refrigerator. You probably already have some things at home you could use!

Beaujolais Wine and Holiday Cookie Party // stirandstrain.com4. Plan your stations. Short on space? No kitchen table? No problem. Set up a cookie decorating space where people will have access to cookies, plates, napkins, and bowls for putting decorations in. Don’t forget the wine glasses and wine tags too! A kitchen counter is a great setup. I have a long buffet at home that people could grab everything they needed. Not enough room at the kitchen table? Set up a cozy holiday blanket on the floor for everyone to spread out on. Remember to tell guests to bring slippers!

Beaujolais Wine and Holiday Cookie Party // stirandstrain.com5. Packing it up. After all the fun your guests will have decorating cookies and celebrating the season with a glass of Beaujolais, remember to have containers ready for guests to bring their cookies home in. This could be as simple as a small paper bag, or pick up a bulk pack of gift boxes. Going this extra step shows your guests you’ve thought of everything and will save you the hassle of trying to find to-go containers at the end of the night for everyone.

I hope I’ve inspired you to create some new holiday memories in a fun and creative way! Cookie decorating should definitely be on your holiday party list this year. And don’t forget the Beaujolais! Cheers!

Beaujolais Wine and Holiday Cookie Party // stirandstrain.comGingerbread Cookies and Icing Recipe
Adapted from Bouchon Bakery

Gingerbread Cookies

Makes about 20 cookies

6-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2-1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. powdered ginger
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground cardamom
1 pinch dried cloves
3/4 cup butter, room temp
1-1/2 cups dark brown sugar
1 cup blackstrap molasses
2 eggs, room temp
1 Tbsp. vanilla

Combine all the dry ingredients, except the brown sugar, into a bowl. Whisk ingredients together until they are evenly combined.

In a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the butter and dark brown sugar together on medium speed until fully combined. Once the dark brown sugar is evenly incorporated into the butter, add the molasses and continue to mix the ingredients scraping the bowl down as needed. Add the eggs and vanilla, mixing on medium speed until ingredients are fully combined.

Turn the mixer down to low speed and add the dry-ingredient mixture in three equal batches, mixing until evenly combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle, then mix on low speed for about one more minute, just to ensure that all the ingredients have come together.

Form the dough into a block and cover in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until lightly chilled throughout.

Preheat oven to 325°F. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured work surface. Cut out the desired shapes and place onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.

Bake at 325 for 10 to 12 minutes. Cool on a wire rack before decorating with royal icing.

Beaujolais Wine and Holiday Cookie Party // stirandstrain.comRoyal Icing

Makes about 2 cups

1/2 cup pasteurized liquid egg whites
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp. lemon juice
Food coloring, fruit powder, or yogurt powder (optional)

In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or with a handheld electric mixer, mix the egg whites until soft peaks form.

Add sugar and mix until smooth. Add lemon juice and mix until smooth. Add food coloring or powder if desired, mixing until your ideal shade is reached.

Pipe the frosting onto the cookies using a pastry bag. Allow the icing to harden and store the cookies in a tightly sealed container at room temperature for up to three days.

 



Cold Brew Coffee and Kerrygold Buttercream Whoopie Pies

Dessert Cocktails with Kerry Gold Irish Cream // stirandstrain.comThis post was made in partnership with Kerrygold Irish Cream. Recipe and ideas are my own.

Growing up, any rich, chocolate cake that sandwiched a generous helping of frosting was a favorite of mine. Candy I could take or leave, but cake sandwiches… OH YES PLEASE. Now I get to make an adult version with Kerrygold Irish Cream laced buttercream and for extra pep: cold brew coffee cake. Whoopie Pies should not just be for kids, which is why I make my grown up versions ginormous; then you can catch a little bit of nostalgia with every bite.

Kerrygold Irish Cream & Cold Brew Whoopie Pies

Cakes (makes 5 cakes):
1/2 lb. butter
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup cocoa, dutch-processed
10 ounces all purpose flour
1/2 cup cold brew coffee
1/2 cup milk

Filling (this filling can be doubled if you want extra filling):
1/2 stick butter, softened
1/2 pound powdered sugar
2-1/2 tablespoons Kerrygold Irish Cream

To make:
Prepare the frosting by creaming together the butter and powdered sugar until smooth. Pour in the Kerrygold Irish Cream until incorporated. Filling can be kept refrigerated in a sealed container up to four days.

Next, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Make the cakes by creaming the sugar and butter together until smooth. Add in the egg and mix until incorporated. Next add in baking powder, baking soda, salt and vanilla extract. Mix until well combined. Sift in cocoa powder and mix until combined. Mix in 1/2 of flour and the cold brew, and then mix in second half of flour and the milk. Stir until just combined. Scoop out a 1/4 cup of mixture onto a sheet pan covered in parchment. You can fit 5 scoops on each sheet pan. Bake 16-18 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean from the center. Cool on sheet pan and then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling completely. Store in an air tight container until ready to use.

To assemble, spread filling on flat side of one half of the cakes. Top with second half of cake. Eat. Enjoy!

What You Should Be Drinking This Easter

We’ve got flowers, pastel colors and a few eggs. Here’s what you should be drinking on Easter this year!

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Sparkling Gin Lemonades with Flower- Infused Boozy Gelées for Easter Brunch

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Electric Pink Fields Rum Cocktail

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Fresh Passion Fruit Sour Cocktail

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An Isle Away: Rum Cocktail with Coconut Cardamom Foam

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Frozen Cucumber and Green Chartreuse Daiquiri Cocktail

Ok, so here’s some chocolate for you too…

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Angostura Brownies with Luxardo Cherries

Boozy, Edible Christmas Gift Roundup

Go the extra mile this year and make them something delicious for the holidays. Just make sure there’s booze in it.

Eggnog Jello Shots

Fernet Branca Jelly

Angostura and Luxardo Cherry Brownies

Meyer Lemon Bitters

Vanilla Bourbon Caramel Sauce

Mocha Pecan Rum Balls

Kiss of Fire (Aperol and Cayenne Jellies)

 
Holiday Spice Syrups

Your 2016 St. Patrick’s Day Drinking and Eating Guide (from the Stir and Strain archives)

Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone! Let me help you pick out what you should be drinking and eating today. I am a 1/4 Irish after all…

Irish Coffee Jello Shots 2 ways // stirandstrain.com

Irish Coffee Jello Shots

Bitter Irishman Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

The Bitter Irishman

Anise Cream Rye-Spiked Coffee // stirandstrain.com

Anise Cream Coffee

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The Irish Derby Cocktail

Jameson Whiskey Truffles // stirandstrain.com

Irish Whiskey Truffles with Baileys Crystals

And a few Green Drinks…

Frozen Cucumber and Green Chartreuse Daiquiri Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Frozen Cucumber and Green Chartreuse Daiquiri Cocktail

old tom's mistake cocktail

Old Tom’s Mistake

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

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Luxardo Cherry and Angostura Brownies

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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

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Chocolate Smoked Porter Beer Mousse

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Angostura Chocolate Luxardo Cherry Brownies

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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.