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

Crafting a Sweet Cocktail Kit

Crafting a Cocktail Kit with Truvia // stirandstrain.com

This post was made in partnership with Truvia®. Recipes and ideas are my own.

Halloween may have you thinking about those sweet treats filling up your jack-o-lantern buckets, but today we’re going to be talking about a different kind of sweetness…how we show a little sweetness to each other every day. And we’ve got a fun cocktail kit we’ll show you how to make when you want to give a little sweetness to a friend, partner, or yourself!

Crafting a Cocktail Kit with Truvia // stirandstrain.comWe’ve teamed up with Truvia® to find out “What motivates you to be sweet and kind.” Truvia and Upworthy.com are exploring what motivates individuals to be sweet. Some of the research might surprise you and they have a fun quiz you can take to find out what your sweetness personality type is too. There are four possible types: Purely Sweet, Reciprocally Sweet, Tactfully Sweet, and Graciously Sweet. Curious what kind of sweetness you are? Take the quiz and let me know! I am Graciously Sweet, which means I enjoy doing kind things with the goal of inspiring others to pay it forward. I admit I do love a teachable moment.

Crafting a Cocktail Kit with Truvia // stirandstrain.comSo, today I’m going to use this post as a teachable moment. I’m going to teach you all how to put together a simple cocktail kit to give to a friend, partner or yourself. This could be a thank you gift, a hostess gift, something to give for the holidays, or an extra special treat you can tuck away for yourself when you need a little self-care.

Crafting a Cocktail Kit with Truvia // stirandstrain.comTruvia Natural Sweetener packets now come with uplifting sweet phrases on each pack, the perfect little bit of sweetness to add to someone’s day. They are also a great size and amount to sweeten a cocktail with. Adding these single serve packets keeps everything neat and organized.

Ready to sweeten someone’s day? Let’s look at what we’ll need to create this cocktail kit.

Crafting a Cocktail Kit with Truvia // stirandstrain.comSmall box, tin, or basket
4 ounce amber bottle
1 ounce amber bottle
Whiskey of your choice
Aromatic bitters of your choice
2-4 Truvia Natural Sweetener packets
Label maker
Rocks glass
Mixing spoon
Jigger
Muddler
Index card and markers

For this cocktail kit, I’m putting together a Whiskey Old Fashioned recipe. For one reason, all the ingredients are easy to come by, and everything is shelf stable. Also, if your friend or partner is a novice when it comes to making drinks, this is super easy!

Crafting a Cocktail Kit with Truvia // stirandstrain.comFirst, find a container that will fit everything. A small box or tin works great. You can keep this simple by visiting a craft store or kitchen supply store to find small bottles and bar tools. Also, Amazon has lots of options. Label all the bottles so your recipient knows what’s inside and measure out the amount you’ll need for your recipes. You can choose to create 2 or more servings depending on the size bottles you get. Then create a recipe card with how much to measure from each bottle. You can optionally personalize the items too. Rocks glasses with initials are not hard to come by, and they show the person you went out of your way to find something unique. Finally, tuck the Truvia Natural Sweetener packets in the glass so they can see the sweet phrases on them. Package up everything and deliver to that special someone!

Crafting a Cocktail Kit with Truvia // stirandstrain.comI hope I’ve inspired you to show a little sweetness to someone in your life!

P.S. Coffee Old Fashioned

PS Coffee Old Fashioned Cocktail with Truvia // stirandstrain.com

This post was made in partnership with Truvia®. Recipes and ideas are my own.

Even though fall officially started last week, it feels like we’ve been in it for awhile now. Is it me, or is that certain pumpkin-spiced coffee drink arriving earlier and earlier each year? Now, while I LOVE all the pumpkin things, I really am not a fan of overly milky drinks (like those lattes). But I do love coffee, and it just happens to be #NationalCoffeeDay tomorrow, September 29! And what better way to marry pumpkin spice and coffee than to make a cocktail with them?!

PS Coffee Old Fashioned Cocktail with Truvia // stirandstrain.comWe’ve teamed up with Truvia® to create a Pumpkin Spiced syrup to use in the base of our coffee cocktail. It’s made with less sugar than what you’d get at your local coffee shop AND it’s made with real pumpkin too. So you end up with way fewer calories than a traditional sugar syrup. The Truvia Natural Sweetener comes in a spoonable jar for ease of use in the kitchen, and ½ teaspoon of Truvia Natural Sweetener is equal to 1 teaspoon of sugar. So you don’t need to drown your cocktail in syrup to get just the right amount of sweetness in there.

PS Coffee Old Fashioned Cocktail with Truvia // stirandstrain.comNow, when I say I love coffee, I mean I love it. My last thoughts before going to sleep usually involve me thinking about how good that first cup of coffee will be in the morning. And I cannot start my day until I’ve at least had one sip of that invigorating elixir. Naturally, then, I also will put coffee in my cocktails whenever possible.

PS Coffee Old Fashioned Cocktail with Truvia // stirandstrain.comAn Old Fashioned cocktail is a satisfyingly simple drink, and if you’ve been on this site before, you’d know it’s also one of my favorite drinks to use as a base for a new creation. At its most basic, an Old Fashioned is just spirit, sugar and bitters, and even those elements can change into whatever you’re in the mood for. And I’m in the mood for pumpkins and coffee.

PS Coffee Old Fashioned Cocktail with Truvia // stirandstrain.comThere’s a myriad of ways you can infuse coffee into cocktails but today we’re going the quick and easy way with coffee liqueur. We’ll spend our time instead on making a rich, spicy pumpkin syrup that will make your house smell AMAZING when you’re warming it on the stove. The syrup doesn’t take more than 15 minutes to make, so don’t worry, you’ll have your cocktail in no time! And what a flavor bomb! Bourbon forward but with deep coffee aroma and sweet pumpkin and spices in the finish. And don’t forget those bitters—they balance out the whole drink and prevent it from becoming too sweet.

PS Coffee Old Fashioned Cocktail with Truvia // stirandstrain.com

P.S. Coffee Old Fashioned

2 ounces bourbon
1/2 ounce coffee liqueur
1/4 ounce Truvia pumpkin spice syrup (recipe follows)
2 dashes aromatic bitters
orange zest and cinnamon stick

In a mixing glass filled 2/3 with ice, pour in bourbon, coffee liqueur, pumpkin spice syrup, and bitters. Stir 20 seconds and strain over a large ice cube into a rocks glass. Garnish with orange zest and cinnamon stick.

PS Coffee Old Fashioned Cocktail with Truvia // stirandstrain.com

Truvia Pumpkin Spice Syrup

1 cup Truvia Natural Sweetener
1 cup water
2 tablespoons pumpkin puree
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

In a medium sized saucepan over medium-high heat, combine Truvia Natural Sweetener and water, stirring constantly until Truvia is dissolved. Add in pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice and ground ginger. Stir until everything is well combined. Let simmer until thickened, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit five minutes. Strain through cheesecloth over a strainer or use a nut milk bag (this one is my fav!). Syrup will keep refrigerated in an airtight container up to two weeks.

Sparkling Gin Lemonades with Rose and Violet Gelées

Sparkling Gin Lemonades with Flower- Infused Boozy Gelées for Easter Brunch // stirandstrain.com

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

This summer one of my best gal pals is packing up her family and leaving SoCal for humidity and real winters on the east coast. Boo. As much as I’d like to sit and cry about it, we’ve decided to go full on into crafting and get togethers as much as possible before she leaves.

Our biggest project together will be for Easter. This year we’ve decided the adults should have some candy fun too. So, we’ve come up with a fun brunch cocktail DIY that we can make, eat, AND drink. Intrigued? Read on!

Sparkling Gin Lemonades with Flower- Infused Boozy Gelées for Easter Brunch // stirandstrain.com

I’m not a giant candy fan, but I do love jelly candies. Jelly beans, pâtes de fruits, those weird orange slices found in the bulk candy section… all of them are favorites of mine. And, if you’ve been a long time reader you know I also love making edible cocktails in the “gelée” way. This week we’ve teamed up with Truvia Natural Sweetener, the zero calorie sweetener with natural sweetness from the stevia leaf that gives you that sweet touch without all the calories! The stevia-based sweetener is also twice as sweet as regular sugar, which means you only need to use half as much! Truvia also comes in several different varieties but today we’re using the zero-calorie Natural Sweetener for the base of our gelées and our cocktail syrup. Truvia Natural Sweetener dissolves crystal clear so there are no lumps, bumps, or crystals floating around in the gelées.

Sparkling Gin Lemonades with Flower- Infused Boozy Gelées for Easter Brunch // stirandstrain.com

Since we have three different flavors, the two gelées and the syrup for the cocktails, it’s easiest to start with one large batch of simple syrup then divide and conquer! If you want to have your own get together like us, you can assign your friends each a flavor station. I’m including some notes on batches below if you want to create more flavored edible cocktails than just the ones I’m providing.

Sparkling Gin Lemonades with Flower- Infused Boozy Gelées for Easter Brunch // stirandstrain.com

The fun part of this cocktail is the tiny edible cocktail garnishes, but let’s not overlook the actual cocktail too! Brunch almost always means sparkling cocktails, and while you could easily pop open a bottle of bubbly, I like my brunch cocktails with a bit more character. An easy one to use as the base is to make sparkling gin lemonades. I always make a fresh batch of lemonade during the winter, because: hello, SoCal; lemons practically fall from the sky here during the winter/early spring. I like ginger lemonade but this cocktail is so versatile, any variation, or just plain lemonade, would work. Lemonade is also a great base for a cocktail because you have your sweet, sour and a touch of bitter. So all you need is the booze part! I’m including just a straight lemonade recipe below, but feel free to play with what you like. For the sparkling part, I like a sparkling water, but you could get extra fancy and pop that bubbly anyway to top these off. The effervescent bubbles meld the flavors of the lemonade and the herbal notes of the gin (use an American batch here, not a London Dry, so it’s not all juniper and a touch of a softer palate), and of course: bubbles = brunch.

Sparkling Gin Lemonades with Flower- Infused Boozy Gelées for Easter Brunch // stirandstrain.com

As for the gelées, and since it’s finally spring (!!!), I’m playing with the idea of flowers. There are a few ways you could incorporate flower aroma into your gelées, from making syrups to using flower infused spirits, but today we’ll use rose water and creme de violet to flavor them. I’ll be using the Truvia Natural Sweetener to make a simple syrup, and then will add the flavors to the divided batches. These firm up super quick, so if you make them in the morning, you’ll definitely be snacking on them come brunch time.

This Easter brunch theme has me feeling spring big time! I hope you all enjoy a few flowery gelées and a nice glass of sparkling gin lemonades. Cheers!

Sparkling Gin Lemonades with Flower- Infused Boozy Gelées for Easter Brunch // stirandstrain.com

Sparkling Gin Lemonade Cocktails with Rose and Violet Gelées (makes 2)

3 ounces American Style gin
2 ounces lemonade (recipe follows)
4-6 ounces sparkling water

rose and violet gelées for garnish (recipes follow)

In a shaker 2/3 filled with ice, pour in gin and lemonade. Shake 20 seconds to combine and strain into two rocks glasses filled with ice. Top with sparkling water and garnish with rose and violet gelées. Serve immediately.

Lemonade Recipe

1-1/2 to 1-3/4 cups simple syrup, sweeten to taste (see notes for big batch simple syrup)
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 cups water

In a large pitcher, combine simple syrup, freshly squeezed lemon juice and water. Stir to combine. Refrigerate until ready to use. Will keep up to one week in the refrigerator.

Sparkling Gin Lemonades with Flower- Infused Boozy Gelées for Easter Brunch // stirandstrain.com

Rose Gelée Recipe

1-1/2 cups simple syrup
2 packets gelatine
1 teaspoon rose water
1/2 cup vodka
pink food coloring, optional

  • In a small sauce pan, pour in simple syrup. Sprinkle gelatine packets over the simple syrup and let bloom for 1-2 minutes. Turn heat on high and bring to a simmer, whisking gelatine to combine. Remove from heat and stir in rose water and vodka. Add food coloring if using. Stir to combine and pour into a small baking tray or molds if using.
  • Refrigerate for two hours. You can then remove from molds, if using, or cut into shapes and garnish cocktails. *I used these mini cutters to make the shapes!

Violet Gelée Recipe

1-1/2 cups simple syrup
2 packets gelatine
1/2 cup creme de violet

  • In a small sauce pan, pour in simple syrup. Sprinkle gelatine packets over the simple syrup and let bloom for 1-2 minutes. Turn heat on high and bring to a simmer, whisking gelatine to combine. Remove from heat and stir in creme de violet. Stir to combine and pour into a small baking tray or molds if using.
  • Refrigerate for two hours. You can then remove from molds, if using, or cut into shapes and garnish cocktails. *I used these mini cutters to make the shapes!

Notes:

  • The gelées are best used within a few hours, discard after 24 hours.
  • The main ratio for making a gelée is 1:1 (one cup liquid to one gelatine packet). The only issue I have had in the past is with pineapple juice. You will need to cut it with water as the gelatine does not bloom and hold when there is just straight pineapple juice. You can vary the amount of alcohol (or make it nonalcoholic) but do not go more than 50% alcohol in your liquid ratio.
  • If using molds to make the gelées, use silicone, as there is no need to grease and they pop right out.
  • To make a large batch of simple syrup for all 3 recipes: combine 3 cups water and 3 cups Truvia Natural Sweetener in a medium sauce pan over medium high heat. Bring to just under a boil, whisking to dissolve Truvia. Remove from heat, whisk again. And cool to room temperature. Use immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container up to two weeks.

For more information on Truvia and all their products, please visit their site at www.truvia.com.