Make It: Honeyed Pear and St. Germain Granita

Honeyed Pear and St. Germain Granita // stirandstrain.comOnce November rolls around I usually am kinda over apples and my obsession of fruit goes to the pear. While a lot of recipes call for spiced pear that and spiced pear this, I thought I’d turn to some lighter notes and make something slightly boozy, and good enough to eat. Actually, you can eat this; it’s dessert.Honeyed Pear and St. Germain Granita // stirandstrain.com

While I hear reports of snow hitting ground in some cities, Los Angeles still is having a personality crisis and can’t decide whether it wants to be Fall or Summer. It’s a perennial problem. So, I made a dessert that encompasses this contrast: Fall flavors encapsulated in a frozen dessert.Honeyed Pear and St. Germain Granita // stirandstrain.com

Following along similar veins to that apple-packed cocktail from a few weeks ago, I went ahead and packed this boozy dessert with pears: fresh pears, pear liqueur, and bubbly pear soda. Then I added some honey and St. Germain. I know that St. Germain gets thrown into cocktails much like salt gets thrown into everything, but have you stopped and just tasted it by itself lately? I forgot how rich it was, with beautiful notes of honey and spice, as well as the floral element it is known for. I wanted to bring this bottle back out after a brief hiatus and pair it with an ingredient that would accentuate those notes: like a pear.Honeyed Pear and St. Germain Granita // stirandstrain.com

St. Germain was actually one of the first bottles of liqueur that I bought when I was trying to add more “fancy stuff” to my home bar years ago. I remember traveling to this high-end liquor store in Pasadena and having to ask the clerk if he’d ever heard of it. Well, duh, of course he had. I forget what I made with it that first time around, but besides the unique taste, I also bought it in part because of the fancy looking bottle. You’ll still see those purchases in my home bar now; I’m a sucker for great packaging.

Now, this dessert requires a bit of hand-holding. However, if you start it early enough in the afternoon, you will be rewarded with a delicious treat by night. And by hand-holding, you’re mainly sticking a fork in it every few hours or so.Honeyed Pear and St. Germain Granita // stirandstrain.com

Ok, let’s begin.

2 heaping cups cubed pears
1/4 cup Pear Liqueur
1/2 cup St. Germain
1 cup water
1 cup Sipp Summer Pear Soda*
1/4 cup honey (note: heating up the honey in the microwave for 15 seconds makes it pourable)
1-1/2 ounces freshly squeezed lemon juice

Combine all ingredients in a food processor (or blender) and blend until smooth. Pour into a 9 x 13 baking dish and move to the freezer. About every hour, run a fork through the mixture until it forms ice chunks or until you’re happy with the consistency. Store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Lots of pear flavor with strong notes of honey. The boozy aspect of this comes through, but I don’t find it off-putting, it’s just another layer to the dessert. The elderflower is subtle, and gives this a slight earthiness. Overall, just sweet enough. If you can adjust the honey based on your own preference (taste the mixture in the food processor first before freezing to make any adjustments).

Hey Guys! If you want to get your hands on your own Sipp Sodas, stayed tuned this week for another giveaway on the site!

 

*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.

Fall Cocktail Roundup

For those few of you who have a job that gives you a 3 day weekend starting today, lucky you. I’m pretty sure that last time I had that Monday off I was in college… a long time ago in college. But let’s not focus on that for now. Even if your weekend is only two days long, or even one, I’ll also give you guys an excuse to drink a good cocktail. Here’s a roundup of my Fall favorites.

The Private Club Cocktail // stirandstrain.comPrivate Club Cocktail

The Royal Affliction Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

The Royal Affliction

Spiced Pumpkin Bourbon // stirandstrain.com

Pumpkin Spiced Bourbon

The Golden Hour Cocktail // stirandstrain.comThe Golden Hour

Honey Vanilla Hot Toddy // stirandstrain.com

Honey Vanilla Chai Hot Toddy

MxMo: Vegan Cashew Milkshake with Quick Infused Vanilla Bourbon

Vegan Cinnamon Cashew Milkshake with Quick Infused Vanilla Bourbon // stirandstrain.com

Mixology Monday LogoI was never a milkshake kinda kid. Also, cereal milk was vile to me. An ideal treat growing up was either bizarre exotic fruit (to which my mother “treated” us to starfruit and kiwis until we learned about processed sugary goodness) or peanut butter cups once I hit grade school. Now I feel I cheated myself out of half a lifetime of milkshake goodness. So naturally I am making up for missing out on them in full force, now that I can either drive myself to get one, or in this case, make one. One that is kinda unconventional, and well, has booze in it.

This month I hosted the online gathering of cocktail enthusiasts (in this case an all-inclusive term since we have everyone from the novice to the seasoned bartender here) called Mixology Monday and gave everyone the theme of NUTS. You can read the original post here for more info. Last time I hosted the overachiever in me kicked in and I came up with a couple of fun cocktail ideas. This time around, life threw me a curveball so you guys only get one entry. It’s not even a cocktail, but as you might have guessed from the intro and title, it’s an adult milkshake. But hey, I made the damn milk from scratch!Vegan Cinnamon Cashew Milkshake with Quick Infused Vanilla Bourbon // stirandstrain.com

Like many of my posts, this recipe has multiple steps and takes several days to do. So feel free to swap out the cashew milk for a milk of your choice, or better yet, an ice cream and milk of your choice. The vanilla bourbon though is too good to pass up, so just make a larger batch and keep it around for later use.Vegan Cinnamon Cashew Milkshake with Quick Infused Vanilla Bourbon // stirandstrain.com

Cashew-Oat-Cinnamon Milk

slightly adapted from Joy the Baker

1-1/2 cups raw cashews
3 cups of water for soaking
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 cups filtered water
3 tablespoons honey

  • Place raw cashews in a clean bowl and top with 3 cups of water. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit overnight, or for 8 to 12 hours. Once soaked, drain the cashews and run under cool water until clean and the water runs clear. Set aside.
  • Grind oats in the spice grinder until oats turn into a fine powder. If you don’t have a spice grinder, you can also grind oats in the blender.
  • Combine oats, cinnamon, cashews, filtered water, and honey in the bowl of a blender. Cover tightly and blend on low speed, increasing to high speed, until smooth.
  • Place a fine mesh strainer over a large bowl lined with a single layer of cheese cloth. Pour half of the cashew mixture into the fine mesh strainer. With a spatula, work the liquid through the strainer. Continue to strain the milk until all of the liquid has passed through the strainer. Solids can be discarded.
  • Set milk aside if continuing, or transfer to an airtight container until ready to use.

The Milkshake

(makes 2)

2 cups cashew milk (recipe above)
4 ounces Four Roses Yellow Label Bourbon
1 large Vanilla Bean, organic if possible
cinnamon and luxardo cherry for garnish

  • Measure out 1-1/2 cups of the cashew milk and freeze into cubes 4 hours up to overnight.
  • In a small sauce pan, combine the bourbon and vanilla over medium high heat. Bring to a simmer and then reduce heat to low, covered, for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and continue to steep for an hour. Strain mixture and set aside.
  • In a blender container, combine bourbon, frozen cashew milk and cold cashew milk. Blend well for one minute (more or less depending on the power of your blender) until the cubes are broken up and the consistency is slushy but not solid.
  • Transfer to two glass, top with a sprinkle of cinnamon and a cherry.

Aroma of cinnamon and vanilla with hints of earthiness. Wonderfully nutty flavor with just a hint of the bourbon. I upped the sweetener from 2 tablespoons of agave to 3 of honey because I wanted an additional amount of sweetness here, but it’s still not overwhelmingly sweet. If you prefer this even more dessert-like, might I suggest some bourbon salted caramel sauce?

Can’t wait to see everyone’s submissions for this month! And as always, a big thanks to Fred for keeping MxMo going, and for letting me host again.

Black Honey

Black Honey Cocktail: the anti-Valentine // stirandstrain.comAt this point in the day you’ve probably had a fair amount of Valentine’s Day stuff shoved into your eyeballs. Let this post be your relief. Consider this your anti-Valentine.

Yes, I had a lot of drinks geared towards flowers and chocolate boxes this month, but when developing those, I always had in mind creating a polar opposite. True to form around these parts, I had the drink name hanging around in my head looking for a recipe to be paired with first. And then a recipe idea for the Serious Drinks site gave the name a place. Black honey had to be sweet but bitter, a contradiction to perplex the palate. Cynar and Smith & Cross to the rescue!Black Honey Cocktail: the anti-Valentine // stirandstrain.com

For the honey-cinnamon syrup

1/2 cup water
1/2 cup honey
4 cinnamon sticks, 2” long

In a small sauce pan over high heat, add ingredients and bring to just under a boil. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand for 30 minutes. Strain into an airtight container. Will keep for about one month refrigerated.

One tip for your syrup: heat your honey beforehand to make pouring a whole lot easier. 30 seconds in the microwave should do it.

And now the cocktail

2 ounces Cynar
1 ounce Smith & Cross Jamican Navy Strength Rum
3/4 ounce honey-cinnamon syrup (recipe above)
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice, from 1/2 a lime (Bearss lime used here)

Fill a mixing glass 2/3 with ice and pour in all the ingredients. Stir for about 20 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail coupe.

It’s a cocktail that confounds expectations. The initial funky aromas of rum, lime, and cinnamon suggest you’re about to have a fruity tiki drink. But your first sip is a mouthful of rich honey and rum’s smoky molasses-like flavor, before things drop swiftly into a forcefully bitter finish from the Cynar. You’ll continue to notice these three discrete periods of sensation every time you raise the glass for another gulp—it drives you to sip again and again.

Honey Vanilla Chai Toddy

Mainly due to losing that month in limbo in India and being sick, I’ve been finding it hard to believe that it’s Fall. Also, L.A. having 80+ temps lately isn’t helping. But a night of pumpkin carving, hot spiced apple cider and a smattering of Halloween-themed movies seems to have jolted my system back to normal. A post on a food blog I follow recently had this delicious toddy recipe that enlightened me to what some flavored teas can add to drinks. Maybe my mind is still lingering over some of the flavors of India as I decided a spiced chai toddy might do the trick for those chilly 70 degree gray L.A. days to come (I’m over apologizing to my east coast family that 68 is jacket and scarf weather. After 10 years here this is cold for me and warrants lighting the fire place).

So today I bring you a Honey Vanilla Chai Toddy. So easy you’ll want to double the batch and share. Or drink two really fast.

5 oz boiling water
1 teabag of honey vanilla chai (here I am using Celestial Seasonings, but you can also find just vanilla chai- in which case you’ll want to add a touch more Bärenjäger)
1/2 oz of Bärenjäger
1 oz of Rye Whiskey (Old Overholt Rye here)
1 cinnamon stick

Pour the boiling water over the tea bag in a smaller sized coffee mug or Irish coffee glass (I used a glass that holds around 7 oz of liquid). Steep the tea for 3 minutes and then remove the teabag. Pour in the Bärenjäger and Whiskey, stir gently to combine. Garnish with the cinnamon stick.

If you’re not familiar with it, Bärenjäger taste like the “cough syrup” my dad made for me as a child when my coughing kept him up and my mom was working second shift: honey and booze. I love how strong the honey flavor is, it’s almost like drinking it straight, just not as thick. This drink has many layers of flavors. The tea base has familiar chai flavors: cinnamon, ginger, cloves, cardamom, black pepper with the addition of vanilla and honey. The honey though here is then heightened by the addition of the Bärenjäger. Mmmmm…. and also some sweetness from the Rye. The ‘alcohol’ layer adds some bite, but struggles to keep afloat with all the spice action. But that’s ok, more reason to have another.

And when you’re done taking photos, just shove that stick in the drink.