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.
These rum balls are different from what I grew up with. Mostly they’re like fudge chock full of nuts and aged rum. Then rolled around in coffee flavored jimmies. Do you call them jimmies? Apparently these are one of those regional food items that every part of the country calls something else. You may know them as sprinkles. Or.. I dunno. What else do people call them? I also grew up eating American Chop Suey which apparently only people from Rhode Island and New Hampshire eat.
There is no actual baking in this recipe. Yes, there’s a double boiler but all that is required of you there is to get some water hot and then stir for about 5 minutes. What I’m really saying here is don’t be afraid of the confection; it’s amazingly simple to make but looks super hard and that means people will fawn all over you for making this.
Let’s do this!
Happy holidays guys! I hope you try your hand at making these!
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:
I was introduced to the many uses of beer by an old work colleague of mine several years ago. He was the type making cheese and beer in his apartment before you started hearing about everyone making their own cheese and beer. He introduced me to beer ice cream floats and beer mousse among other other recipes. The beer mousse here is made from scratch (unlike the first version I ever tried using a can of powder. It was gross; don’t do it.) and it’s super easy to whip up, although you’ll need 3 bowls. Sorry. Ask your significant other or roommate to be on dish duty with promises of fluffy chocolate mousse with hints of smoky beer. Watch how quickly they wash those bowls.
Also, a big thanks goes out to Jackie a.k.a. the Beeroness, who helped me with this beer and chocolate pairing. She has a chart; go check it out. The beer that worked the best here was Epic Brewing’s Smoked Porter. The smokiness is more aggressive than Stone’s Smoked Porter, so take that into consideration when making this. I tried a few chocolate stouts too, and found it a bit redundant to put into chocolate. The best part is that you don’t use too much beer in the dessert, so when it’s done you can “pair” the rest of the beer with the mousse. It works.
Couple of tips: don’t go too stiff on beating the egg whites or the cream. I did that on the first batch and sadly it did not incorporate well into the chocolate and looked weird. Tasted great so I ate it all, but, alas, not photogenic. You also don’t need a double boiler to melt chocolate. A sauce pan with about an inch of water simmering with a heat-proof bowl over it works great (and is my way). If that doesn’t work for you, very carefully try the microwave version. You just need to watch that and melt in small time increments since it will easily burn.
Adapted from Chow.com
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips, callets, or chopped from a block, Kakao Berlin 64% Stuttgart used here
1/4 cup Epic Brewing Smoked Porter
3 egg whites at room temperature
3/4 cup cold heavy cream
- Fill a sauce pan about 2″ with water and place a heat-proof bowl over the top. When the water is simmering, add chocolate and beer. Start stirring to combine. You want the end result to look glossy. At that point remove from heat and set aside to slightly cool.
- In a separate bowl, beat the cold heavy cream until firm, but not stiff peaks form. A chilled bowl will help move this along. Fold the cream into the chocolate/beer mixture.
- Lastly, beat the egg whites until firm, but not stiff, peaks form. Fold in half of the eggs, and then stir in the rest gently.
- Chill mixture until ready to serve, at least 30 minutes.
*If you’d like some homemade whipped cream for this, beat together 1/2 cup of cold heavy cream, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1 teaspoon of superfine sugar until you reach desired consistency.
Not too sweet and richly chocolate with hints of the smoked porter. The mousse firms up quite a bit in the refrigerator and gets a more ‘dense’ consistency to it the longer it sits. So, if you want a more delicate, light as air dessert, eat it out of the bowl.
I’m taking a break from reading emails where everyone is telling me to get “what I really want”. I figured I would just make up my own mind and make the last gift guide on here this season “what I really want”.
What I really want, is to be able to buy Stranahan’s in California again since it’s been at least over two years since I could. I’d also like to picture myself as a cocktail, something with a giant straw umbrella hat would be fitting. An ice maker that makes crystal clear ice? In my bathroom?! Or wherever the hell I want?! And seriously, I could totally use a saber to cut open bottles of champagne. Now, if only I could get a year of Uber rides for free (while eating Gin & Tonic chocolate bars and a full punch set up in the back).
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!
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.
Have you seen those new bottles of already spiked alcoholic whipped cream? Are you as freaked out as I am? Why does this exist if it takes 10 minutes to make on your own? You don’t even need to put pants on.
8 oz. of cold heavy whipping cream
1 oz. of Amaretto
2 tbsp of sugar (I am using granulated and it dissolved just fine)
- Start whipping the cream and add in the Amaretto and sugar. Mix until medium/firm peaks form, around 5 to 7 minutes. For softer whipped cream, beat it less. The colder the environment, mixer, whisk, etc. is, the faster your whipped cream will whip up.
- When desired consistency is achieved (and you’ve taste tested, and maybe tested a few more spoonfuls if no one is looking), use right away or store in an air-tight container. Whipped cream will last 2-3 days in the refrigerator.
Concerned your whipped cream will taste too much of alcohol? Don’t fret, even with an ounce of Amaretto, this recipe yields more like 2 to 2-1/2 cups, and mixed throughout is more subtle than you think. Also, the cream and sugar help cut through the sting of alcohol to let more of the almond flavor of the Amaretto stand out. I added my whipped cream to a mug (an awesome Mayan tiki mug no less) of Mexican Hot Chocolate. The flavor of the Amaretto was a match for the earthy, spiciness of the drink. Adding a touch of nutmeg on top doesn’t hurt either. I imagine this would work just as well with Swiss Miss.
Don’t want hot chocolate? Sneaking a piece of cake during your bout of trying to be healthy? This is spectacular on spice cakes or just dipping cookies into. Or strawberries! Valentine’s Day is this week…
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)
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).