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.

 



Dessert Cocktails with Kerrygold S'Mores, Whoopie Pies, and Cookies and Cream Oh My!

Dessert Cocktails with Kerry Gold Irish Cream // stirandstrain.com

This post was made in partnership with Kerrygold Irish Cream. Recipe and ideas are my own.

We’ve been posting some decadent cocktails and boozy treats over on our Instagram these last few months and now we’re rounding them up here on the site so you all don’t have to go searching all over the place to find them. We did two cocktails: a S’Mores Campfire Cocktail and a frozen blended Cookies and Cream cocktail. And also created a boozy Cold Brew and Chocolate Whoopie Pie situation that we’re still craving.

Dessert cocktails have their place alongside their more serious cousins, and sometimes we just want a treat, right?! Each photo below will pop open the recipe in a separate window. Have a favorite? Let us know! You can always tag your creations on social with #stirandstraindrinks so we can check out what you made.

Dessert Cocktails with Kerry Gold Irish Cream // stirandstrain.com

Cookies and Cream Frozen Blended Cocktails

Dessert Cocktails with Kerry Gold Irish Cream // stirandstrain.com

Cold Brew and Kerrygold Buttercream Whoopie Pies

Dessert Cocktails with Kerry Gold Irish Cream // stirandstrain.com

Campfire S’Mores Cocktails

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!

Holiday Entertaining: What Type of Appetizer Am I The 30 Minute or Less Wine & Appetizer Pairing

Holiday Entertaining: What Appetizer Am I Quiz? 30 Minute or less wine and appetizer pairing // stirandstrain.com

This post was made in partnership with Sonoma-Cutrer Wine. Recipe and ideas are my own.

No one wants to show up at a party this holiday season to find their host has given up on life and left just one type of appetizer out for everyone. But it happens. Don’t be that person.

Instead, cater to the 4 types of appetizer people. Yes folks, there are 4 types: classic appetizer person, fun appetizer person, bold appetizer person, and casual appetizer person.

Holiday Entertaining: What Appetizer Am I Quiz? 30 Minute or less wine and appetizer pairing // stirandstrain.com

Please don’t give me the side-eye when I say you should make 4 separate appetizers! See that bounty of food? Looks good doesn’t it? Looks like someone slaved away in a kitchen all day planning the perfect party bites to serve with their wine. But what if I told you all these dishes could be made in 30 minutes or less for YOUR Holiday Wine Pairing Party? Maybe you’d say, Elana, giiiiirrrrlll that couldn’t possibly be true. Or maybe, Elana, SIGN ME UP LET’S DO THIS.

I like your style friend. Let’s talk about a 30 minute or less Holiday Wine Pairing Party.

Holiday Entertaining: What Appetizer Am I Quiz? 30 Minute or less wine and appetizer pairing // stirandstrain.com

Today we’re in the kitchen with Sonoma-Cutrer pairing their Russian River Valley Pinot Noir and Les Pierres Chardonnay with these four different kinds of appetizers. Before you begin to pair some food with the wine, it’s helpful to know your wine. Have a few sips. What do you taste here?

Russian River Valley Pinot Noir: blackberries, jam, vanilla and tobacco aromas with a silky, round flavor of spices and tart cherry fruit flavors.

Les Pierres Chardonnay: bright lemon aroma and subtle spicy aromas bursting with citrus flavors, spice and mineral notes.

Both of these wines are super food friendly, but for the perfect bites, I’m going to help you pair the right foods with them. However, let’s start with YOU first. What type of appetizer person are you?

Holiday Entertaining: What Appetizer Am I Quiz? 30 Minute or less wine and appetizer pairing // stirandstrain.com

Holiday Entertaining: What Appetizer Am I Quiz? 30 Minute or less wine and appetizer pairing // stirandstrain.com

Classic (pairs with the Chardonnay): you’re wearing a sport coat or a LBD to this holiday party. And you like your appetizers to sound like an appetizer, but elevated. Smoked trout? Herbed cheese? It’s familiar yet different, and you’ll take 6.

Casual (pairs with the Pinot Noir): you’re not wearing a tie and 7pm start time is just a suggestion. A spoonful of marinated mushrooms to walk around and nibble on that only took 5 minutes to make? Sure, that’s cool.

Bold (pairs with the Chardonnay): so you went skydiving this morning and wore white after Labor Day. You need a savory twist with the world’s hottest pepper cheese to snack on and then tell your friends about.

Fun (pairs with the Pinot Noir): sparkly yoga pants are totally party pants and ugly holiday sweaters are the only appropriate sweater to wear this time of year. Just don’t double dip your Pigs in a Blanket in the cranberry mustard sauce or it’s a party foul for you.

Now you can help your guests choose which appetizer they are AND you’ll have a wine ready for them to drink it with. Ready to get cooking? Crack open some wine first and let’s go!

Holiday Entertaining: What Appetizer Am I Quiz? 30 Minute or less wine and appetizer pairing // stirandstrain.com

Holiday Entertaining: What Appetizer Am I Quiz? 30 Minute or less wine and appetizer pairing // stirandstrain.com

Smoked Trout with Dill and Chive Cream Cheese on Crackers

Yields about 25 crackers
1 8 ounce packet cream cheese, softened
1-1/2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
1 tbsp chopped chives
1 tbsp minced dill
1 8 ounce package smoked trout, shredded
crackers to serve, I prefer some with a little heft for this like oat crackers
Chives and Black Salt for garnish

Mix together softened cream cheese, lemon juice, salt, pepper, chives and dill. Set aside. Build your appetizer by spreading about 1-1/2 teaspoons of cream cheese mixture onto the cracker. Top with shredded trout. Garnish with chopped chives and a big flake of black salt.

Holiday Entertaining: What Appetizer Am I Quiz? 30 Minute or less wine and appetizer pairing // stirandstrain.com

Holiday Entertaining: What Appetizer Am I Quiz? 30 Minute or less wine and appetizer pairing // stirandstrain.com

Pigs in a Blanket with Cranberry Mustard Sauce

1 pack little sausages
1 container crescent rolls
1 tsp dried thyme
1 10 ounce package cranberries (fresh or frozen)
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tbsp water
Pinch salt
½ cup dijon mustard

To make the Pigs in a Blanket: Preheat oven to 375°. Lay out crescent rolls and sprinkle thyme over dough, lightly pressing thyme into the dough. Cut crescent rolls in thirds. Wrap around sausages, gently pinching the dough ends together. Lay Pigs in a Blanket seam side down on a sheet pan covered in parchment. Bake 12-15 minutes until golden brown. While Pigs are cooking, make the cranberry mustard.

To make the Cranberry Mustard Sauce: Combine cranberries, brown sugar, water and salt in a medium-high saucepan over medium heat. Stir to dissolve sugar. Lower heat to medium and continue to stir until cranberries release water and pop open, about 6-8 minutes, continue to stir until sauce has thickened slightly, another 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Stir in dijon mustard. Transfer to an airtight container and keep refrigerated up to one month.

Holiday Entertaining: What Appetizer Am I Quiz? 30 Minute or less wine and appetizer pairing // stirandstrain.com

Spicy Cheese Twists

Adapted from The Kitchn

2 sheets store-bought puff pastry, thawed
1-1/2 cups spicy cheese like ghost pepper, finely grated

  • Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment and set aside.
  • Dust your counter or cutting board with 1/4 cup of cheese. Unfold 1 sheet of puff pastry over top of cheese. Top with another 1/4 cup of cheese.
  • Roll out to 1/8-inch thick. Fold the pastry in half. Top with another 1/4 cup of cheese. Roll out again to 1/8-inch thick. I roll mine out about the size of a sheet pan.
  • Using a sharp knife, cut the pastry into long strips roughly 1-inch wide. Twist strips and gently stick ends onto parchment to prevent un-twisting. Repeat with next sheet.
  • Chill for at least 10 minutes or up to an hour (if you have time!).
  • Bake 15 to 25 minutes. Begin checking shorter straws after about 15 minutes, and longer straws after 20 minutes. Remove from the oven once they are puffed and crispy, feel dry to the touch, and are deep golden.
  • Cool briefly on the baking sheet and transfer them to a cooling rack or serving plate.
  • Serve warm or room temperature. Puff pastry straws are best served the same day they are made.

Holiday Entertaining: What Appetizer Am I Quiz? 30 Minute or less wine and appetizer pairing // stirandstrain.com

Simple Marinated Mushrooms

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
12 ounces small button mushrooms (if you want to make it fancier, use mixed wild mushrooms)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, crushed and minced
1/2 tsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1 bay leaf
½ tsp dried dill
1/2 tsp kosher salt

  • Heat olive oil in a medium frying pan over medium-high heat. Add in mushrooms when oil is warm and sauté 5-8 minutes. Remove mushrooms from heat and set aside.
  • In an airtight, nonreactive container (I like Pyrex bowls for this), whisk together red wine vinegar, olive oil, garlic, maple syrup, red pepper flakes, basil, oregano, thyme, bay leaf, dill and kosher salt. Add warm mushrooms into the bowl and toss with the marinade, covering the mushrooms. Let stand 15 minutes and serve. Mushrooms will develop more flavor the longer they sit and are even better the next day if you have the time!

For more information on Sonoma-Cutrer Wines, please visit them at: www.sonomacutrer.com


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

Irish Derby Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

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

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

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: 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).