Make It: Bourbon Salted Caramels No corn syrup recipe!

Make It: Bourbon Salted Caramels // stirandstrain.comThis post was made in partnership with Truvia®. Recipes and ideas are my own.

The last of the Halloween decorations made their way back into the garage this week. The hold outs were the two trick or treat buckets still filled with candy that were slow to empty. Of course, all the good stuff went immediately. And when I say that I mean that my husband and I ate a good portion of the better candy immediately after the kids went to bed. Then there were the thousands of lollipops, off brand candy, and miscellaneous stuff thrown into the buckets that hung around too long. So those got chucked and the buckets, to my children’s surprise, mysteriously disappeared along with all the rest of the decorations by morning.

Make It: Bourbon Salted Caramels // stirandstrain.comThis holiday always symbolizes quantity over quality, and while I type that out I feel like that’s a lot of holidays now. So that got me thinking about how I can make some little changes for the remainder of the holidays this year to show quality, and thoughtfulness, in the gifts given to others. And for me, one way I like to show that is with handmade gifts.

Make It: Bourbon Salted Caramels // stirandstrain.comI’ve teamed up with Truvia® to craft some special holiday treats that can be used for hostess gifts, stocking stuffers, welcome gifts for out of town guests, or a special treat for someone “just because.” I feel like there’s always someone in your life who could use a little treat for that very reason. I come from a family who are makers. On both sides there are artisans, farmers, photographers, builders, crafters, seamstresses, and my grandfather and uncles can build a classic car from the ground up. Making something, crafting it with your hands, and sharing it with others is very important to me. But you don’t have to build a car. In fact, today I’m making caramels.

Make It: Bourbon Salted Caramels // stirandstrain.comBourbon caramels! Quality treats, but for adults only. These little packages of deliciousness come together fairly quickly but require some stirring and a watchful eye. The hardest part is waiting overnight for them to set. The sweetness comes from Truvia Brown Sugar Blend, a blend of stevia sweetener (the sweet leaves of the stevia plant) and brown sugar, for 75% fewer calories per serving than regular brown sugar. You still get that deep, rich caramel flavor that brown sugar imparts, and the bourbon not only adds a little kick, but it also brings its own vanilla and spice flavors to the caramels.

Make It: Bourbon Salted Caramels // stirandstrain.comSo I think it’s time to get in the kitchen and make some treats!

A few notes on making the caramels:

  • Yes, there’s not a lot of volume here, but trust me, you will need a larger pot than you think for when the mixture boils later. Once the dairy is added it boils up but that’s normal!
  • Cream of tartar! Why is it here? Good question! Because corn syrup is not used in this recipe as it is in most caramel recipes, we need something to inhibit the formation of sugar crystals. Corn syrup is an invert sugar that does just that (honey is as well and sometimes you will see recipes call for that but I’ve heard conflicting opinions on how well it works) but cream of tartar introduces an acid to the mix that also will help inhibit those sugar crystals to form and give a smooth texture to your caramel.
  • Since we’re using Brown Sugar Blend it will be hard to tell when the mixture has started to burn, other than smelling it and you don’t want to get to that point. The last 50°  when waiting for your mixture to hit 350° goes rather quickly (getting to 300° usually takes awhile) so stay nearby watching the thermometer or using an instant read thermometer with an alarm for when it reaches temperature.
  • This is a bourbon forward recipe. Feel free to cut back to a 1/2 ounce for a more subtle flavor.

Make It: Bourbon Salted Caramels // stirandstrain.comBourbon Salted Caramels

Adapted from Busy in Brooklyn

2 cups Truvia Brown Sugar Blend
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup water
1/3 cup heavy cream, room temperature
3 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
1 ounce bourbon of your choice
3/4 teaspoon flakey sea salt

Line an 8×8 baking pan with parchment paper so that the paper comes up the sides of the pan.

In a large pot, combine the Brown Sugar Blend, cream of tartar and water and set over low heat. Whisk continuously until the sugar dissolves completely, around 5-8 minutes. If sugar crystals appear above the surface of the syrup, wipe down the sides of the pot with a damp pastry brush (I keep a bowl of water nearby with a silicone pastry brush).

When the Brown Sugar Blend dissolves, clip an instant-read thermometer to the side of the pan so that the heat sensor is immersed in the sugar (if using a thermometer with a wire string, do not immerse the string). Raise the heat to medium-high and bring the syrup to a boil, whisking until bubbles begin to form, then stop stirring. Continue cooking the Brown Sugar Blend without stirring, brushing down the sides of pot if crystals form.

When the syrup reaches 350°F (this took about 20 minutes for me) remove it immediately from the heat and add in the heavy cream and butter. The mixture will start to bubble up at this point so use caution.

When the mixture settles, stir with a silicone spatula until smooth. Return the pot to the stove and boil until the mixture reaches 248°, around 30 seconds to 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat, add the bourbon and salt, stir to combine.

Pour the caramel into the parchment-lined pan and bang it on the counter a few times to remove any air bubbles. Let the caramels set for 6 hours, or overnight, in a cool, dry place.

Once set, caramels can be cut out to desired shapes and wrapped in parchment paper. Will keep at room temperature for up to two weeks.

Make It: Bourbon Salted Caramels // stirandstrain.com

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!

Make It: Angostura Amaro Chocolate Truffles

Make It: Angostura Amaro Chocolate Truffles // stirandstrain.comThis post was made in partnership with The House of Angostura. Recipe and ideas are my own.

This past holiday season I discovered the insanely delicious and ridiculously easy recipe that is the chocolate tart. Folks, if you can melt some chocolate in a bowl, stay with me here because it’s about to get even better.

Add amaro to that chocolate and BOOM: adult dessert nirvana.

Make It: Angostura Amaro Chocolate Truffles // stirandstrain.comWhy am I using so many superlatives here? Because I feel like I stumbled upon a recipe that really is that easy and that tasty. And the best part is that this recipe is easily adaptable too.

Showing up a Valentine’s Day with a giant chocolate tart might be OK, but it’s not the norm. No one wants to stare down at an empty pie tin knowing how much damage they’ve done. They want vague numbers, they want… chocolate truffles.

How many truffles did you start with? Who cares! They’re all gone, but you swear you only ate a couple. Truffles are magic like that. And they’re even more magical with the addition of booze.

Today we’re showing you all another way to incorporate some boozy goodness into your food with this Angostura Amaro Chocolate Truffles recipe. They require a little more work than a tart, but handing over a box of handmade truffles to someone shows how much you care about them.

We teamed up with Angostura this month to highlight cool ways you can use their products in your food and as well as drinks. For the truffles, we paired the chocolate with their Amaro di Angostura. The amaro has a sweet and slightly spiced flavor profile that isn’t too heavy on the bitter. It adds a nice richness to the chocolate but doesn’t overpower it. We think you’ll like them a whole lot!

Ready to roll? Let’s make some truffles!

Make It: Angostura Amaro Chocolate Truffles // stirandstrain.comAmaro Truffles

227 g (8 ounces) 64% chocolate, finely chopped
80 ml (⅓ cup) heavy cream
30 ml (1 ounce) Amaro di Angostura
Pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
Cocoa powder for dusting

In a double boiler set to a simmer, add chopped chocolate and pour cream over the top. Stir constantly to combine until glossy and no chocolate chunks remain. Whisk in Amaro di Angostura and cayenne pepper if using. Refrigerate for at least two hours, and up to overnight. Once firm, scoop out desired truffle size and roll into a ball. Roll in cocoa powder. Truffles will last, refrigerated, up to 2 months.

If you’d like to learn more about Angostura and their products, please visit them at www.angostura.com

Make It: Angostura Dusted Popcorn

Angostura Dusted Popcorn // stirandstrain.com

This post was made in partnership with The House of Angostura. Recipe and ideas are my own.

Whether you want something different for snacking during the big game (*ahem*, like this Sunday!), or if you’d like a little pink-tinted treat when you’re watching a movie just for two, Angostura Dusted Popcorn checks all the boxes. Super easy to put together but a snack like none they’ve seen before!

Angostura Dusted Popcorn // stirandstrain.comAngostura Dusted Popcorn

25 g tapioca maltodextrin (available online and on Amazon)
30 g olive oil
10 g Angostura Bitters
3 g kosher salt
popcorn

Combine olive oil, angostura bitters and salt in a small bowl, whisking to combine. In a food processor, add into the largest bowl the tapioca maltodextrin. Place the cover on, begin pulsing and slowly pour the oil and bitter mixture through the feed tube. Continue pulsing until all the liquid is absorbed and powder is fluffy. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and pulse a few additional time to combine. Mixture will keep in an airtight container, in a cool, dark place for up to two weeks.

Pop popcorn using your desired method. When finished popping and still hot, sprinkle Angostura dust over the popcorn. Enjoy!

Make It: Homemade Shimmery Peppermint Liqueur

Make It: Shimmery Peppermint Liqueur with Everclear // stirandstrain.comThis post was made in partnership with Everclear. Recipe and ideas are my own.

Peppermint liqueur and I have a bit of a… sordid past if you will. It was definitely a favorite of mine when I first discovered it among the contents of a family friend’s liquor cabinet. But now with time in-between us, a lot of time, I can revisit this old favorite of mine and class it up a bit for my current tastes. And that means making my own.

Make It: Shimmery Peppermint Liqueur with Everclear // stirandstrain.comSo, I definitely am a little obsessed with holiday DIY projects. In my mind, friends and family look forward to this time of year as I bestow copious amount of boozy concoctions on them. This year is no exception.

Make It: Shimmery Peppermint Liqueur with Everclear // stirandstrain.comFriends, if you really want to impress someone with a DIY gift, make it sparkle. Seriously. “Hey, I made you some Peppermint Liqueur.” “Thanks.” “Oh, but look, it also sparkles and kinda looks like a lava lamp!” “OMGEEEEEE THANKS!!!”

Make It: Shimmery Peppermint Liqueur with Everclear // stirandstrain.com

Make It: Shimmery Peppermint Liqueur with Everclear // stirandstrain.comSee, they’re going to love it because it looks like you spent a great deal of time researching and making this spectacular liqueur. You win the holidays. And no one will need to know it took you less than 15 minutes to make a big batch and divvy it up among bottles for gifts. It will probably take you longer to drive to Target, park, pick out some cute holiday cards, stand in line, drive home, and write a special note to attach to the bottles. And don’t forget some ribbon!

Make It: Shimmery Peppermint Liqueur with Everclear // stirandstrain.comIf you’re short on time, but want to give something special for the holidays, this is IT. Today I partnered with Everclear to help you folks win holiday gift giving with this super easy, Shimmery Peppermint Liqueur. You all know that I love using Everclear for my infusions, tinctures and bitters, and today it’s the base for this liqueur. Starting with a higher proof means I can adjust the ABV as I see fit. Maybe I want to go a little higher on one batch, a little lower on the next; I get to decide. Everclear also has a neutral taste so just the delicious, invigorating peppermint taste comes through, not notes of grass or potatoes, or, I dunno, tree bark.

Once you make this, you’ll definitely want to store it in some clear, air-tight bottles because NO ONE can resist holding it up to some light and swirling it around. NO ONE. Maybe stick some fresh greens and some ribbon on the outside and your gift is done.

Note: make sure you buy NON-TOXIC, EDIBLE luster dust. There are some luster dust products that are for decorative use only and not intended for consumption. Don’t buy those. Read the label. Also, do not put your head directly over the warm syrup when adding the peppermint extract. Any steam will send the extract right into your eyes! And it might sting!

Make It: Shimmery Peppermint Liqueur with Everclear // stirandstrain.comNow, let’s make some liqueur!

Shimmery Peppermint Liqueur

1-1/2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1 teaspoon natural peppermint extract (more or less to taste)
1 cup Everclear
1/2 teaspoon luster dust, pearl color (see note above)

  • In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stir together the sugar and water until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and add in peppermint extract and Everclear. Stir everything to combine.
  • To create shimmery effect, sprinkle luster dust in the bottom of the container you’ll store the liqueur in. Pour in the peppermint liqueur. Seal, and shake well to combine. Luster dust will settle to the bottom after awhile so shake well before serving.

This is great on its own, but if you’re looking to use it in a drink, here are a few suggestions:

  • Spike your Hot Chocolate
  • Stinger Cocktail
  • Peppermint White Russian (you’ll need to experiment on this one but I think it could be a winner)

 

For more information on Everclear and their Make It Your Own Campaign, please visit them at makeityourown.com

Make It: Fennel Liqueur

Make It: Fennel Liqueur // stirandstrain.com

This post was made in partnership with Everclear. Recipe and ideas are my own.

For years, whenever I ate out at an Indian Restaurant, I somehow overlooked the self serve bowl of seedy bits by the cash registers. Maybe I did notice, but not having a clue as to what it was (or thinking to even ask), it fell off my radar. And then I met my husband, who is half Indian, and going out to Indian restaurants with his mom became a whole new experience. Besides getting stuff not on the menu, or having food cooked a particular way (hello extra spicy!), I began to notice the unspoken ritual at the end of the meal. A small spoonful of those seedy bits, poured into a palm, and eaten, or rather, crunched on.

Make It: Fennel Liqueur // stirandstrain.comThose seedy bits were usually fennel seeds, plain, sometimes with brightly sugar coated seeds, other times a mix of those and aniseed. Each restaurant had its own mix. It was not usually presented to the diner. It would sit quietly at the register, or sometimes at the end of a buffet. It was a ritual that didn’t need to be spoken of, one just consumed it. I learned it was to help digestion, fennel seed naturally helping in that department, with the potential to cleanse one’s breath after a meal.

Make It: Fennel Liqueur // stirandstrain.comSo I began to try a spoonful after a big meal (a little too much that first time), and I think it did help digest the meal a little quicker, and easier, than if I hadn’t eaten any. And today I thought I’d turn towards making a liquid version of this helpful digestif: Fennel Liqueur.

Make It: Fennel Liqueur // stirandstrain.comMaking this liqueur is easy, but takes some time. I’ve made a smaller batch to cut down on the steeping time, and also because I make a lot of infusions and don’t need so many full size bottles. I’d imagine if you’re trying this out for yourself you’d like to keep the sample down to a manageable size as well.

For the base liquor I’m turning to Everclear, one of my favorites for infusions and when I’ll be cutting the strength of the ABV down. Everclear has a clean, neutral taste so there aren’t any surprise flavors when I’m making an infusion. With the higher ABV, it also means that after cutting the infused liquid I will not end up with a watered down liqueur.

Make It: Fennel Liqueur // stirandstrain.comThe liqueur is just sweet enough, as the fennel itself has its own sort of sweetness along with that slightly numbing anise flavor. The aroma is exactly as you’d expect: strongly fennel. After a few sips I do feel like it’s helping move the meal along, as a proper digestif should.

Here are a few ways to use the liqueur:

  • over ice with a squeeze of lemon
  • with a splash of dry orange curaçao and tonic water
  • neat, in a tiny glass, pinky up

Make It: Fennel Liqueur // stirandstrain.comFennel Liqueur

~72 proof
*Note: if you’d like to make a larger batch, adjust sugar as needed to your tastes. 

1/2 cup fennel seeds, lightly crushed
16 ounces Everclear
16 ounces water, filtered
10 ounces granulated sugar

  • In a sterile, air-tight glass jar, combine fennel seeds and Everclear. Seal, shake to combine, and let sit, giving a shake every day or so, for 2 weeks.
  • After 2 weeks, taste and if the fennel flavor is strong enough for your taste, strain the seeds out through a fine mesh strainer, reserving fennel infused Everclear. Discard seeds. Set liquid aside.
  • In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine sugar and water. Stir to dissolve sugar. Once dissolved, remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
  • Once cool, combine fennel infused Everclear with the simple syrup in a new airtight container. Store in a cool, dark place. For optimal flavor, use within 6 months.

Make It: Fennel Liqueur // stirandstrain.com

Make It: Irish Coffee Jello Shots Two Ways

Irish Coffee Jello Shots 2 ways // stirandstrain.comProcrastination has gotten the better of me this week as we speed, much too fast for my liking, into the 3rd month of the year. March is looking to be the most jam packed month yet this year as I’ve said “yes” to maybe one too many events, my mother is in town, and we celebrate multiple birthdays, St. Patrick’s Day (I am a 1/4 Irish), and Easter. So of course, instead of working on projects, I’ve been covering my ears and eyes going NAH NAH NAH NAH NAH and making batches of brownies and spending copious amounts of time photographing my purse contents.

I did take the time to make you guys a little something special for St. Patrick’s Day though this year. I hope it makes up for those purse photos.

Irish Coffee Jello Shots 2 ways // stirandstrain.comIt’s like a cocktail, but you eat it: Irish Coffee Jello Shots.

Irish Coffee Jello Shots 2 ways // stirandstrain.comSo here’s the thing. I enjoy an Irish Coffee from time to time; like, a few sips and then I’m usually done. It’s a lot of hot coffee and I’m usually drinking it late in the evening when a giant hot coffee is not really what I want right then. I’m also usually drinking them at a party or an event and bless their hearts for trying, but the coffee is usually not very good either. To control this situation for myself, and hopefully for you all, let’s get a delicious coffee and miniaturize it with the right amount of booze and not force people to drink giant hot coffees at 8pm.

Irish Coffee Jello Shots 2 ways // stirandstrain.comI went ahead and created a straight up Irish Coffee version, garnished with the tiniest of lemon peel, and then bastardized it and went crazy adding in chocolate and Fernet Branca because I love chocolate mint anything including my coffee and for this one occasion, with my whiskey. Ooooh, I’m so crazy…

Irish Coffee Jello Shots 2 ways // stirandstrain.comThe original version of these has a strong, rich coffee flavor with a hint of whiskey at the finish. The cream is mixed in so you’re not trying to eat a delicate jello shot while whipped cream melts all over your fingers – gross. For the mocha-mint version, you get a lot of Fernet (a little goes a long way!) with a strong mocha finish and a more subtle whiskey punch at the end.

Irish Coffee Jello Shots 2 ways // stirandstrain.comIrish Coffee Jello Shots (Makes 24, 2/5 ounce shots)

2-1/2 ounces freshly brewed coffee, room temp
1 ounce brown sugar syrup (1:1 ratio)
1 packet of gelatine
2 ounces near boiling water
1/2 ounce heavy cream
2 ounces Irish Whiskey, Bushmills used here
lemon zest for garnish

  1. In a large mixing glass with a spout, pour in coffee and brown sugar syrup. Sprinkle gelatine over the liquid and let it sit for 5 minutes to bloom. Then pour in near boiling water and whisk to combine. Add heavy cream and whiskey and stir. Pour into molds (I like these hemisphere molds from World Cuisine) and let sit for 6 hours or overnight.
  2. To remove jello shots from rounded molds, carefully run a small spoon around the edge and slowly invert the mold to pop out the shot. If using square or straight-sided molds, run a butter knife around the edge and slowly invert the mold to pop out the shot. For other shapes or non-flexible molds, dip the bottom of the mold in warm water for 15 seconds, invert mold onto a baking sheet, and gently tap the mold to release the jello shot. Irish Coffee jello shots can be refrigerated for up to 3 days in an airtight container.
  3. Garnish with lemon zests and serve!

Mocha-Mint Irish Coffee Jello Shots (Makes 24, 2/5 ounce shots)

2-1/2 ounces freshly brewed coffee, room temp
1/2 ounce brown sugar syrup (1:1 ratio)
1 packet of gelatine
1/4 teaspoon cocoa powder
2 ounces near boiling water
1/2 ounce heavy cream
1/4 ounce Fernet Branca
2 ounces Irish Whiskey, Bushmills used here
chocolate shavings for garnish

  1. In a large mixing glass with a spout, pour in coffee and brown sugar syrup. Sprinkle gelatine over the liquid and let it sit for 5 minutes to bloom. After the gelatine has bloomed, sprinkle cocoa powder over the mixture. Then pour in near boiling water and whisk to combine. Add heavy cream, Fernet Branca and whiskey and stir. Pour into molds (like these!) and let sit for 6 hours or overnight.
  2. To remove jello shots from rounded molds, carefully run a small spoon around the edge and slowly invert the mold to pop out the shot. If using square or straight-sided molds, run a butter knife around the edge and slowly invert the mold to pop out the shot. For other shapes or non-flexible molds, dip the bottom of the mold in warm water for 15 seconds, invert mold onto a baking sheet, and gently tap the mold to release the jello shot. Irish Coffee jello shots can be refrigerated for up to 3 days in an airtight container.
  3. Garnish with chocolate shavings and serve!

Irish Coffee Jello Shots 2 ways // stirandstrain.comAre you guys into these? I have a few more ideas up my sleeve I’ll be rolling out over the next few months.

Make It: Eggnog Jello Shots

Make It: Eggnog Jello Shots // stirandstrain.comFor the longest time… I was afraid of eggnog. I don’t mean I would just turn my nose up at it, I mean, seriously, I thought if I had just a sip it would be the most horrible thing I ever drank and some unknown terrible thing would happen (like projectile vomit). Somewhere deep in my memory bank is a loop of a slovenly drunk man chugging eggnog from a carton and hurling all over the place. This was the image that my mind conjured up when I heard the word eggnog.

Make It: Eggnog Jello Shots // stirandstrain.comAt some point in the last 10 years I was convinced by some person that what I really needed was to make it from scratch and try the “real thing” and it would be a life changing experience. Maybe it was Alton Brown. At least, that was the first recipe I consulted when I made it for a holiday party a number of years ago.

Make It: Eggnog Jello Shots // stirandstrain.comAnd holy crapballs it was delicious. Like custard, but lighter, and drinkable and somehow nothing about it was what I was expecting. I think that I was preparing to drink a cocktail the consistency of pudding and have it taste of raw eggs.. this, this cocktail, and I say cocktail because there was copious amounts of liquor in it, it was so good.

Now, despite my complete transformation on the drink, there were still people at the party who were in the former camp and nothing I could say would convince them to try it. Nevertheless, the punch bowl of eggnog was emptied at some point, and found later under a desk. This told me that I’d made something pretty good.

Make It: Eggnog Jello Shots // stirandstrain.comI’ve made eggnog from scratch with raw eggs quite a number of times now and there are still those I cannot get to try even a sip (perhaps they too are seeing a drunk uncle puking up streams of the stuff). So this year I thought I’d try something different, something most people can’t resist. An edible cocktail.

Make It: Eggnog Jello Shots // stirandstrain.comInstead of an intimidating punch bowl, I’m trying out tiny bite sized shots of the stuff. These beautiful hemispheres might not get you sloshed, but they might just be the gateway into drinking the stuff. Why?

Because we’re using from scratch eggnog for the base. Yup: Raw. Eggs. In fact, you can whip up your regular eggnog for the party and then save some of the liquid to batch these up. Then maybe people will gradually move to the actual punchbowl. These taste JUST like the same eggnog and you don’t even have to garnish them. The nutmeg gradually sinks to the bottom while they’re setting, forming a lovely sprinkled top.

(And if you simple can’t do with the raw eggs, you can also use the store bought kind. See the note below.)

Make It: Eggnog Jello Shots // stirandstrain.comIf you’re curious about what mold to use, silicone is best for removing the jello shots. I used these mini hemispheres from World Cuisine, but you can use any shape you’d like. If you’d like to get really fancy, use a larger mold, and then serve in a tiny cup with a spoon.

Make It: Eggnog Jello Shots // stirandstrain.comHappy Holidays!

*Note: If you want to use store-bought eggnog or any of our flavor variations, start with 12 ounces eggnog. Pour half of the eggnog into a heatproof bowl and half into a small saucepan. Whisk 1/2 cup dark or spiced rum into eggnog in the heatproof bowl. Sprinkle 2 packets unflavored powdered gelatin onto the surface of the eggnog in the saucepan and let stand 5 minutes. Set saucepan over low heat and bring to just under a simmer, whisking constantly, until gelatin is fully dissolved; do not let boil. Remove from heat and let stand 2 minutes to cool slightly. Pour eggnog-gelatin mixture into the eggnog-rum mixture and whisk to combine. Proceed with instructions in Step 5.

2 large eggs, separated
2-1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar (1.1 ounces; 28g), divided
3/4 cup (180ml) whole milk
1/2 cup (120ml) heavy cream
2 packets unflavored powdered gelatin (1/2 ounce; 14g)
1/2 cup (120ml) dark rum, such as Gosling’s, or spiced rum, such as Malahat Spiced Rum
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

  1. Place egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk and beat at low speed until frothy, about 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until they are about the consistency of shaving cream, about 90 seconds. Reduce speed to medium. With mixer running, add half of sugar and beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Scrape whites into a large bowl. Do not wash stand mixer bowl.
  2. Add egg yolks and remaining sugar to stand mixer bowl and beat at medium-high speed until pale yellow and ribbony, shutting off machine and scraping down sides of bowl with a rubber spatula as necessary, about 2 minutes total. Add milk and cream and mix at low speed to combine.
  3. Pour half of the yolk mixture into a small saucepan and sprinkle gelatin over the surface. Let stand 5 minutes. Meanwhile, add rum to remaining yolk mixture in stand mixer bowl and mix at low speed for 30 seconds to combine. Set saucepan over low heat and bring to just below a simmer, whisking constantly, until gelatin is fully dissolved; do not let boil. Remove from heat and let stand until cooled slightly, about 2 minutes.
  4. With stand mixer running at low speed, slowly pour gelatin mixture into the yolk-rum mixture. Gently whisk in egg whites until smooth.
  5. Strain mixture into a large measuring cup with a spout. Sprinkle in nutmeg and stir gently to combine. Carefully fill your molds with the eggnog. Refrigerate until set, about 8 hours.
  6. To remove jello shots from rounded molds, carefully run a small spoon around the edge and slowly invert the mold to pop out the shot. If using square or straight-sided molds, run a butter knife around the edge and slowly invert the mold to pop out the shot. For other shapes or non-flexible molds, dip the bottom of the mold in warm water for 15 seconds, invert mold onto a baking sheet, and gently tap the mold to release the jello shot. Eggnog jello shots can be refrigerated for up to 3 days in an airtight container.

Make It: Eggnog Jello Shots // stirandstrain.com

I originally posted this recipe on Serious Eats

Make It: Mocha Pecan Rum Balls

Make It: Mocha Pecan Rum Balls // stirandstrain.comIt’s that time of year where I put booze in baked goods and share the recipe with you!

This year I participated in the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap once again. I was so set on making rum balls (it’s another thing I’m getting to cross off the “to make” list) that I didn’t really think about how well they would transport across the country. So, if you’re reading this and you received a box from me… apologies if they were either melted/smooshed/etc… Hopefully that shouldn’t matter cause you thought they tasted so good you ate them anyway.

cookie swap

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

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

I’m keeping this post short. It’s the holiday season! You all have a million other cookie recipes to make (or gawk at).Make It: Mocha Pecan Rum Balls // stirandstrain.com

Let’s do this!

Adapted from Carla Hall’s Rum Balls

1/4 cup aged rum, Brugal 1888 used here
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate (70%), finely chopped
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup pecans, toasted and finely chopped
1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
coffee flavored jimmies for rolling

  1. Heat the rum in a small skillet over medium until reduce by half. Set aside.
  2. In a heat proof bowl, melt chocolate, espresso and butter over a double boiler (or if you don’t have one, a medium sized sauce pan with about an inch of simmering water with a stainless steel bowl on top will also work). Stir to combine.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in the pecans, rum, powdered sugar and salt until fully incorporated. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature. This can also be prepared a few days in advance and stored, covered, in the fridge. (If refrigerating, let mixture fully come to room temp before trying to scoop.)
  4. Portion dough into 1-inch balls and roll in sprinkles. Chill in an air tight container until ready to serve.

The consistency is very close to fudge with lots of crunchy bits from the pecans. While present in flavor, the rum takes a backseat and is pretty subtle. If you want more punch from the rum, then increase rum by a tablespoon before reduction.Make It: Mocha Pecan Rum Balls // stirandstrain.com

Happy holidays guys! I hope you try your hand at making these!

Make It: Meyer Lemon Bitters

Make It: Meyer Lemon Bitters // stirandstrain.comIt’s Tuesday, so I bet you’re already thinking about the weekend by this point in the day. So how about a fun DIY project to start planning? That involves doing something with all that winter citrus you have hanging out in your fruit basket? Making bitters might seem like a daunting task, but a lot of it is just sitting around waiting for it to be done already. Kinda like Limoncello (or Tangelocello). And, this recipe yields enough that you can bottle up and give away some as gifts. Those people will think it took you forever, but you don’t have to tell them how easy this is.

My recipe is based off of B.T. Parsons’ recipe found in his essential book on bitters, aptly titled “Bitters“. I made his version last year to the letter and enjoyed the results, however, I found that this year I wanted a version less sweet and delicate, and more bitter with richer citrus notes. So that’s what you’re getting here.

Make It: Meyer Lemon Bitters // stirandstrain.comA couple of tips to help you along the way: First, use a vegetable peeler to zest the citrus. Using a light hand while peeling will help keep the pith on the fruit and not on the zest (YOU want to control your bitterness in the recipe, not the fruit). Second, invest in some cheesecloth. A small amount of cheesecloth will go a long way in keeping unwanted particles from entering your final product, and you’ll find plenty of other uses for it in the kitchen. And lastly, if any of these ingredients have you scratching your head, they’re all available online.Make It: Meyer Lemon Bitters // stirandstrain.com

Adapted from the book “Bitters”
Yields approximately 18 ounces
zest from 4 meyer lemons
zest from 1/2 bitter orange (such as Seville)
zest from 1 lemon
2 tablespoons dried lemon zest (see note below)
1/2 tablespoon dried orange zest
4 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed
1 teaspoon dried ginger (do not use powder, see note on dried citrus)
1/4 teaspoon whole coriander
1/4 teaspoon whole white pepper
4 – 5 dried Dried Kaffir Lime Leaves
3/4 teaspoon gentian root
1/4 teaspoon whole fennel seeds
2 cups high proof vodka (I have access to 150 proof everclear in California, however, 100 proof vodka would also work)
1 cup water

  1. To make dried citrus, zest 4-6 large lemons (2 oranges or peel a 1″ nub of ginger and slice). Chop peel and lay on a baking sheet in an oven set at 250°F for 1 hour. Peel should be completely dry but not brittle. Dried lemon zest is also available commercially.
  2. In an airtight container, combine all of the zest, cardamom, ginger, coriander, white pepper, lime leaves, gentian root, and fennel seed. Pour vodka over the ingredients and seal container. Swirl to combine. Keep the container in a cool, dark place for two weeks, swirling mixture once daily. (I find it helps to set a calendar reminder also at this point.)
  3. After two weeks, strain out solids and set aside. Strain liquid through a cheesecloth to remove any particles left and transfer to an airtight container. Store in a cool, dark place. In a small sauce pan, combine solids with water and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Once boil is reached, turn heat to low and let simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Once cool, pour contents of the pan into a separate airtight container and let sit one week.
  4. After a week, strain out solids through a cheesecloth-lined fine mesh strainer. Add to the original liquid that has been set aside. Let sit at room temperature for 3 days and skim off any residue that accumulates at the top. Strain again if there is any leftover sediment and bottle into dropper bottles for storage.

Meyer lemons have a more pronounced floral aroma, as opposed to just a regular lemon, which tends to be more astringent. To pierce the perfumy nature of the meyer lemons, the kaffir lime leaves give a nice punch and aroma, while the bitter orange, fennel and spices create earthy undertones for balance.

I add a few drops to a Gin & Tonic, and they can be used as a sub for recipes using regular lemon bitters. Experiment and see what cocktails work for you!

*This recipe originally appeared on the Serious Drinks site.