Boozy Sparkling Cider Float

Last year while at Minnesota Renaissance Festival, Porter and I tried sparkling apple cider floats for the first time.

It was nice… refreshing while still being “seasonal”. The bright flavour from the sparkling cider constrasted the rich creaminess of the ice cream well.

So of course we went home and made our own. A little less G-rated, our home version was made with our Homemade Hard Apple Cider. SO good!

This year we did it again, but played with the ingredients a little. Instead of using hard apple cider, we used a complimentary liqueur. Very tasty, and a really fun take on a childhood tradition of rootbeer floats… as my husband pointed out:

“Like growing up on hamburgers, and then having an Apple Chicken Burger with Basil and Gouda… really similar base, and has that nostalgia … but wow this is cool and different. I’m trying not to say ‘it tastes like fall in a glass’, because I think I could easily overuse that phrase, and it kind of makes me want to punch myself in the face.”

Enjoy!

Boozy Sparkling Cider Float

2 oz Apple or Maple flavoured Crown Royal*
Sparkling apple juice / apple cider
1 large scoop vanilla ice cream**

Pour Crown Royal into a tall mug. Add sparkling juice/cider, filling the glass a little more than 2/3 full. Stir gently.

Add ice cream scoop, serve immediately

* Not a fan of whiskey? You can use other alcohol here too! Sour Apple pucker, butterscotch schnapps, cinnamon schnapps, Whipped Cream Flavoured vodka… if it’s a flavour that’ll taste good with apples, go ahead and do it! Or, skip this ingredient and just use hard apple cider.

** We tend to use a good quality French vanilla ice cream, but have fun with it. Cinnamon, caramel, salted caramel…

Interested in boozy culinary experiments? You’ll LOVE my first cookbook, The Spirited Baker!

Combining liqueurs with more traditional baking ingredients can yield spectacular results.Try Mango Mojito Upside Down Cake, Candy Apple Flan, Jalapeno Beer Peanut Brittle, Lynchburg Lemonade Cupcakes, Pina Colada Rum Cake, Strawberry Daiquiri Chiffon Pie, and so much more.

To further add to your creative possibilities, the first chapter teaches how to infuse spirits to make both basic and cream liqueurs, as well as home made flavor extracts! This book contains over 160 easy to make recipes, with variation suggestions to help create hundreds more! Order your hard copy here, or digital edition here.

Hoppy Citrus French Macaron Recipe

Today’s post is a great example of how unbelievably spoiled my husband is at times 🙂

Last week, I was craving macarons. As there was nothing open / nearby, I decided to just make my own. I find that commercially made ones don’t have enough flavour, anyway.

So as I was deciding what kind of macarons I wanted to make, somehow the subject of cooking / baking with hops came up. I hadn’t done any hop recipe development in a while – the Hoppy Citrus IPA Glazed Wings and Hoppy IPA BBQ Sauce recipes were the last I’d done up, and that was during the harvest last fall – our current hop growth is already starting to threaten our entire side yard, this season!

Anyway, I ended up developing two separate hop flavoured macaron recipes yesterday. These were especially made for my hop head husband, who really believes that “The more bitter, the better!”. Hops, chocolate, whatever – that’s his thing.

This first recipe uses Centennial hops, known for their citrussy notes. Cascade hops would also work well, especially if you’re less into the bitterness – Cascade has all the flavour of Centennial hops, but with less bitterness.

If SUPER hoppy IPAs aren’t your thing, you’ll probably want to cut back the hops to about 1 Tbsp worth. I’m not a huge fan of hops on their own, and these are only slightly too bitter for me – the filling really balances it out. The bitterness builds and leaves a nice aftertaste.

As a final note, I recommend you read my first post about making macarons if you are at ALL intimidated by the idea of making these: The Easy Way to Make Macarons. The only change I’ve made since then, is that I sifted the ingredients together, on account of the hop leaves. They turned out perfectly!

Oh, and I did eventually get to put on a batch of macarons for ME, after all of this hop macaron craziness 🙂

Enjoy!

Hoppy Citrus Macarons Recipe
(Makes 20-24 cookies)

1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 cup finely ground almonds *
2 Tbsp finely ground dried hop leaves – Centennial or Cascade**
3 large egg whites
4 tbsp white sugar
Green gel food coloring, if desired

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.

Mix together powdered sugar, ground almond meal, and hop powder. Sift through a wire strainer, discarding any large pieces. set aside.

Mix egg whites and sugar in a *very clean* metal mixer bowl. It is very important that not only is the bowl and whisk attachment VERY clean, but that no specks of egg yolk are included with the egg white. The presence of any egg yolk or grease on your bowl or whisk will prevent the egg whites from properly whipping up. This is the only “rule” you really need to be concerned about!

Affix your bowl to the mixer, and whip eggs on high until stiff peaks form. The whites will be pillowy, thick, and marshmallowy. When you remove the whisk from the meringue, it should leave a very definite “peak” – if the tip flips over a little, that’s ok. Add a small amount food coloring, if desired, whisk in.

Dump bowl of dry ingredients into the meringue. Use a wooden spoon or spatula to gently stir the mixture until everything is well incorporated and very thick.

Once mixture is fairly uniform, beat it until it’s still thick, but oozes a bit. You don’t want to beat it till it’s fully RUNNY, but you’d like it to settle back into place if you remove some and drop it back into the mix. It’s better to under-beat it than to over-beat it.

Spoon macaron batter into a pastry / frosting bag with a 1/4″ or so opening – whether a metal tip, or just the end cut off the bag.

Pipe ~ 1.25″ – 1.5″ rounds onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. If the batter isn’t running all over the place, there’s no real worry about placing them close together – I’ll leave an inch or so between the rounds.

Pick up the sheet of piped cookies, and rap it against the counter a couple of times to dislodge any air bubbles.

Bake cookies for 13-16 minutes, or until they lift easily from the parchment. (Undercooked macarons will stick). Remove from oven, cool to room temperature, and prepare the filling.

Orange-Lemon Buttercream Filling

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 Tbsp Orange zest – about 1 orange worth
1 tsp lemon zest – about 1 small lemon worth
1 Tbsp orange juice
1-2 cups powdered sugar

Whip butter until smooth. Add zests and orange juice and mix until incorporated.

Slowly add 1 cup of powdered sugar a bit at a time, until incorporated completely. If mixture seems too thin, add a bit more powdered sugar, continuing to mix until thick (but spreadable!) and smooth.

To assemble Macarons

Spoon or pipe about a Tablespoon worth of filling onto the flat underside of one cookie. Top with the underside of another cookie. (Rounded sides facing out). Holding cookies by the edge, twist gently to force frosting out almost to the edge.

* Finely ground almonds may be referred to as almond meal” or “almond flour”, depending on where you find them.

** I like to use a spice / coffee grinder to get dried hop leaves down to a fine powder – even my mini food processor doesn’t work so well, just blowing the leaves around in the bowl. Blitz to a fine powder, then measure.

Fan of hops? You’ll LOVE my latest cookbook, Hedonistic Hops!

Hops are prized for their ability to impart varied, complex flavours to beer… but did you know they can also be used culinarily? While hops may seem like a bizarre or exotic item to cook with, it’s the same as using other herbs and spices in your kitchen… you just have to know what to do with them. Appetizers, main dishes, beverages.. even desserts can be uplifted with hops!

Even those who are not fans of beer will love the unique flavours that various types of hops can bring to their plate. Floral, earthy, peppery, citrusy… Cooking with hops is a great way to expand your seasoning arsenal!

Interested in boozy culinary experiments? You’ll LOVE my first cookbook, The Spirited Baker!

Combining liqueurs with more traditional baking ingredients can yield spectacular results.Try Mango Mojito Upside Down Cake, Candy Apple Flan, Jalapeno Beer Peanut Brittle, Lynchburg Lemonade Cupcakes, Pina Colada Rum Cake, Strawberry Daiquiri Chiffon Pie, and so much more.

To further add to your creative possibilities, the first chapter teaches how to infuse spirits to make both basic and cream liqueurs, as well as home made flavor extracts! This book contains over 160 easy to make recipes, with variation suggestions to help create hundreds more! Order your hard copy here, or digital edition here.

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

Southern Comfort Glazed Ham Recipe

Last week, we celebrated Thanksgiving. Well, the first of two, anyway – the joys of being a 2-nationality marriage! Last week was Canadian, then we celebrate US Thanksgiving in November. Life is good 🙂

Anyway, we decided to have a ham for Canadian, turkey for American this year. For the ham, we were trying to pick out which whiskey we wanted for my usual ham glaze – we didn’t have any Jack Daniels, and my husband’s usual whiskeys are too peaty.

I had a crazy idea: what about Southern Comfort? The fruitiness of it would work well with the flavours of both the ham, and my usual glaze ingredients.

…it was fantastic! I made a HUGE ham, using the leftovers for a big batch of French Canadian Pea Soup, one of my ultimate favourite comfort foods. (Just be sure to cut off the “crust” of the ham you’ll be using in the soup – I’m not big on mixing the flavours of the glaze into it!)

Enjoy!

A note on Southern Comfort: Southern Comfort is a spirit that is tends to be distilled from – in part – fermented wheat. While it doesn’t cause a reaction in MOST people with gluten sensitivities – and the leading Celiac associations have deemed it gluten-free – a few experts disagree. If you have noticed a reaction, or just want to play it extra safe, it could be a good idea forgo it in favour of juice, rum or brandy.

Southern Comfort Glazed Ham

1 fully cooked smoked ham
Whole cloves, optional
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, grated
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1/2 cup southern comfort
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 cup pineapple juice
1/2 cup packed brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Carefully slice 1/2″ deep cuts across top of ham, spaced about 1 1/2″ apart. Cut another series of 1/2″ deep cuts crosswise to the first set of cuts, creating a diamond pattern all over the top surface of the ham. If you like, push a whole clove into each spot where the cuts intersect – I usually don’t bother, though. Place ham in roasting pan, along with about 1 cup of water – this will prevent the drippings from burning.

Follow the directions on the ham for baking – usually about 15 minutes per pound. Set your timer for 40 minutes less than the recommended baking time.

About 20 minutes before the timer goes off, prepare the glaze:

Heat oil in a medium saucepan. Cook onion and garlic in heated olive oil, until onion starts to go translucent. Add remaining ingredients, whisking until smooth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, simmer for 5-10 minutes.

When the timer goes off, spoon half of the glaze evenly over the top of the ham, return to the oven for 20 minutes.

At the 20 minute mark, spoon remaining glaze over the ham, continue cooking for 20 more minutes. Remove from oven, allow to sit for a few minutes before slicing and serving.

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE my latest cookbook, Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Hoppy Citrus IPA Glazed Wings

Eek, it’s been over a week since I posted my Hoppy IPA BBQ Sauce Recipe… guess I should get to posting the other deliciousness that resulted from that day in the kitchen!

While the BBQ sauce was kind of a last minute “Ooh, you know what we should try making?” thought, these wings were a recipe idea I’d been tossing around in my head for a WHILE. We were actually in the grocery store buying ingredients to make these, when having the idea to make BBQ sauce!

I’ve said it before… I’m not a fan of drinking beer, but I do LOVE it as an ingredient. That BBQ sauce was amazing, Jalapeno Beer Peanut Brittle is probably my favourite brittle ever, and I frequently use beer as an ingredient in soups, fondues, sauces, etc. In these wings? Completely fantastic! The flavours went together so well, complex but coherent, and definitely unique. It was sweet and savoury with a little heat and a little bit of bitter hop bite – perfectly balanced, and so, SO good.

Let me share what the hop heads had to say about it, though:

“I would first like to say, I love hops, the more hoppy the beer the better. I however have never had anything really made with hops beyond a hop candy sold from my local brewing supply shop. I was excited for my first dive into cooking with hops, also nervous, I had never really heard of anything besides a tasty beverage made with hops.

Hop wings! These little treats were deep fried chicken wings and drummies, they were covered lightly in a light orange glaze, they looked really good. My first bite was a great crisp feel followed by first a nice honey taste, followed with the fresh taste of citrus from an orange, it was then all combined at the end with the bitterness from the hop. Very much like a very good beer the taste had the distinct front, middle and end tastes you would expect. It was truly delicious!”Trevor

“These hop wings are delicious! The flavors explode in your mouth, with sweet honey and orange popping up first and the slightly bitter citrus finish with a little bit of spice. I tore through my wings super fast, this is an addictive sauce! It’s not simply a variation of another sauce or a replication of a commercial sauce, this stands out on its own so well. I love trying new flavors of wings, but this is one where I’d keep coming back to it over and over, it quickly became my favorite.” – Porter

An interesting note about my husband: He has some weird “top of the food chain guilt” thing going on. He doesn’t mind eating meat, he just doesn’t want to be reminded that it used to be an animal… so he hates eating food off the bone, etc. I think this is the first time I’ve seen him seem totally OK with eating non-boneless wings!

A note about hops: While we used fresh hops – as that’s what we had readily available – you can also use dried. Use about half as many, if you’re going with dried. Dried (and sometimes fresh, too!) hops are available from home brewing supply stores everywhere.

Hoppy Citrus-IPA Glazed Wings

Vegetable Oil for deep frying
4 lbs chicken wings & drummies
Salt
1 cup IPA of choice
1/2 cup fresh hops, divided (We used Centennial)
1 cup liquid honey
1 jalapeno, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
Juice and zest of 1 orange

Heat oil 375 degrees F. You can use a deep fryer, or a heavy pan. If not using a deep fryer, use a deep, heavy pot, filled to at least 3″ deep. Sprinkle chicken generously with salt, allow to air dry while preparing glaze.

In a medium saucepan, bring IPA and 1/4 cup of the hops to a boil. Turn heat down to medium-low, simmer until it has reduce to about half the original volume. (Just eyeball it!).

Once IPA has reduced, add honey, jalapeno, cloves, orange zest/juice, and a pinch of salt. Bring back up to a simmer, simmer for about 10 minutes. Add remaining hops, simmer for 5 more minutes. Pour glaze through wire strainer, discarding solids left behind. Return to pot and keep warm while preparing chicken wings.

Fry chicken wings in batches of about a dozen pieces each – allowing oil to come back up to temperature between each batch – until golden brown. (About 10-15 minutes per batch). Transfer fried wings to a large bowl, toss with glaze, and serve hot!

Fan of hops? You’ll LOVE my latest cookbook, Hedonistic Hops!

Hops are prized for their ability to impart varied, complex flavours to beer… but did you know they can also be used culinarily? While hops may seem like a bizarre or exotic item to cook with, it’s the same as using other herbs and spices in your kitchen… you just have to know what to do with them. Appetizers, main dishes, beverages.. even desserts can be uplifted with hops!

Even those who are not fans of beer will love the unique flavours that various types of hops can bring to their plate. Floral, earthy, peppery, citrusy… Cooking with hops is a great way to expand your seasoning arsenal!

Interested in boozy culinary experiments? You’ll LOVE my first cookbook, The Spirited Baker!

Combining liqueurs with more traditional baking ingredients can yield spectacular results.Try Mango Mojito Upside Down Cake, Candy Apple Flan, Jalapeno Beer Peanut Brittle, Lynchburg Lemonade Cupcakes, Pina Colada Rum Cake, Strawberry Daiquiri Chiffon Pie, and so much more.

To further add to your creative possibilities, the first chapter teaches how to infuse spirits to make both basic and cream liqueurs, as well as home made flavor extracts! This book contains over 160 easy to make recipes, with variation suggestions to help create hundreds more! Order your hard copy here, or digital edition here.

Hoppy IPA BBQ (“Hop-BQ”) Sauce Recipe

This past weekend, we finally got around to harvesting our hops. They’d grown *insane* this year, and it was a task that had been easy to procrastinate on. One look at the abundance of hops, twisted vines, and leaves everywhere… it’s hard NOT to say “eh… LATER!”. Luckily, one of our hop-head friends was willing to come help out, and we got it all done!

As the guys were picking and sorting hops, I was in the kitchen, busily developing from fresh hop recipes we’d conceptualized a while ago. It’s always exciting when we finally get to turn a crazy idea into reality! Both recipes we were looking to create turned out amazingly well, and we even ended up with a 3rd recipe. Well… half recipe, anyway. (Hard to look at 3 ingredients and like 30 seconds of work as a recipe, right?)

This is my Hoppy IPA BBQ Sauce. Based with IPA and fresh hops, it has a wonderfully complex taste, while still being a legit BBQ sauce. I’ll let the guys give you their two (four?) cents on the sauce…

“This is a delicious sauce that has a great complexity. It starts out sweet with hints of orange and pepper then fades away with a delicious hop flavor…

.. I don’t think you need to be a hop-head to enjoy this, but if you are – like I am! – then this will be right up your alley. The flavors compliment each other so well and will taste great on almost anything. I’m pretty sure I could just grab a spoon and dig into the jar when nobody is looking.” – Porter

“Being a Midwesterner, I had never had any seafood with BBQ sauce on it, sure ribs or pork slathered in the stuff but never any fish, let alone shell fish. I have to say the smell and look of the shrimp looked amazing, nicely seared with a light brushing of sauce. I was excited for the first bite. It was fantastic, the tangy smokey flavor was certainly making a showing, followed by the hot spicy flavors I love in any BBQ sauce, then the hops took the end and merged all the flavors with that of the shrimp. Just like a good hoppy pint of joy, the front, middle and end were present. Maybe it was because of the addition of the hops that I noticed this more than I have in other foods as a hop head I always look for more of a flavor profile in my beer than I usually do my food, but its addition definitely added excitement, taste and enjoyment. I was so surprised and would definitely keep an eye out for more foods and recipes with hops to try.”Trevor

With the citrussy notes in this sauce, it worked ridiculously well on some grilled shrimp and scallops we made that night. It would also be great on pork and chicken, in particular – though I’m sure you could enjoy it on just about anything!

… and for those who don’t grow hops at home, they’re usually available for purchase at most homebrew supply stores – and they’re in season right now!

Hoppy IPA BBQ Sauce

1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 small red onion, grated or finely chopped
1 small jalapeno, grated or finely chopped
1 cup IPA of choice
1/2 cup fresh hops, divided (We used Centennial)
2 garlic cloves, pressed or finely minced
2 cups ketchup
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp fresh OJ
Zest of 1/2 or 1 orange
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp mustard powder

Saute onion and jalapeno in olive oil until translucent. Add beer, 1/4 cup of hops, and garlic, simmer for 5 minutes.

Add all remaining ingredients except for the 1/4 cup of reserved hops. Stir well, turn heat down to low, cover simmer for 1 hour – stir frequently.

Add remaining hops, simmer for 5 more minutes. Press sauce through wire strainer, discarding solids left behind. Chill until use.

Fan of hops? You’ll LOVE my latest cookbook, Hedonistic Hops!

Hops are prized for their ability to impart varied, complex flavours to beer… but did you know they can also be used culinarily? While hops may seem like a bizarre or exotic item to cook with, it’s the same as using other herbs and spices in your kitchen… you just have to know what to do with them. Appetizers, main dishes, beverages.. even desserts can be uplifted with hops!

Even those who are not fans of beer will love the unique flavours that various types of hops can bring to their plate. Floral, earthy, peppery, citrusy… Cooking with hops is a great way to expand your seasoning arsenal!

Interested in boozy culinary experiments? You’ll LOVE my first cookbook, The Spirited Baker!

Combining liqueurs with more traditional baking ingredients can yield spectacular results.Try Mango Mojito Upside Down Cake, Candy Apple Flan, Jalapeno Beer Peanut Brittle, Lynchburg Lemonade Cupcakes, Pina Colada Rum Cake, Strawberry Daiquiri Chiffon Pie, and so much more.

To further add to your creative possibilities, the first chapter teaches how to infuse spirits to make both basic and cream liqueurs, as well as home made flavor extracts! This book contains over 160 easy to make recipes, with variation suggestions to help create hundreds more! Order your hard copy here, or digital edition here.

Grownup Hot Chocolate & Hot Cocoa

The weather here has been pretty miserable for the last little while – TONS of rain, heavy winds, and pretty cold on top of it. Many of my friends have flooding in their homes, and I’m just super thankful we live up on the hill.

We spent yesterday morning running errands in that nonsense, and ended up soaked to the bone while grocery shopping in a walk-in fridge. Getting home from THAT, all I wanted to do was make a big pot of boozy hot chocolate.

As I whipped it up, I realized that I’d promised some friends my hot chocolate recipes a few months ago. Whoops. I’ve been super swamped with “Beyond Flour – A New Kind of Gluten-Free Cookbook“, and with costuming orders. It’s been a while since I posted anything at all – sorry about that! Things should clear up in a month or two, I expect you won’t be able to shut me up, then!

Anyway – hot chocolate. I actually have two recipes for you today, because I do differentiate between “hot chocolate” and “hot cocoa”. “Chocolate” using chocolate, and “cocoa” using cocoa. Easy, eh? 🙂

Both of these recipes are the way *I* like it – so ridiculously rich, that 1 coffee mug is enough. I would never be able to drink these in huge, gas station sized cups. It’s diabetes in a cup! When it’s cold and rainy, though – perfect. Feel free to thin them down with additional milk, if you’d like something a bit more … chuggable.

Also, while I advocate always having a baggie of vanilla beans on hand (they can be obtained from Amazon at reasonable prices!), I get that not everyone does. SO, if you don’t have a bean, just add one tsp of really good vanilla extract right before serving.

Grownup Hot Chocolate

Mini Marshmallows
Liqueur of choice*
3 cups milk
2 Tbsp packed brown sugar
1 vanilla bean
1 cup good quality chocolate chips
Pinch salt

Place a handful of mini marshmallows in each mug, top with about 1 oz of liqueur per mug. Allow it to soak while you prepare the hot chocolate:

In a saucepan, whisk together milk and brown sugar. Split vanilla bean in half lengthwise, scraping the seeds into the pot – throw the bean into the pot when you’re done scraping it out!

Add chocolate chips and salt to the pot, then turn the heat on. Bring the mixture up to just barely a simmer, stirring frequently. Once the chocolate has all melted and is well incorporated, remove from heat.

Pour hot chocolate over marshmallows and booze, serve immediately!

Grownup Hot Cocoa

Mini Marshmallows
Liqueur of choice*
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
Pinch salt
1/4 cup hot water
3 cups milk
1 vanilla bean

Place a handful of mini marshmallows in each mug, top with about 1 oz of liqueur per mug. Allow it to soak while you prepare the hot chocolate:

In a saucepan, whisk together cocoa, brown sugar, and salt. Add hot water, whisk to form a thick paste. Slowly add milk, whisking to fully incorporate it.

Split vanilla bean in half lengthwise, scraping the seeds into the pot – throw the bean into the pot when you’re done scraping it out!

Bring the mixture up to just barely a simmer, stirring frequently. When hot enough, pour hot cocoa over marshmallows and booze, serve immediately!

* SO many liqueurs work in this, it really is whatever you want. I love Rumchata, Amarula, or Amaretto, while my husband leans more towards whiskey. Kahlua, any of the cream tequila liqueurs, pistachio liqueur, Grand Marnier – if it works with chocolate, toss it in!

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

Fromage Fort, or “How to Make Garlic Cheese Bread like a BALLER”

Recently, I woke up from dreaming about Fromage Fort. Literally, I woke up to making a mental list of the bits of cheese that we had in the fridge, if we had any appropriate wine already open, etc.

To be fair, it HAD been a while since I’d made the stuff. It was just an odd thing to randomly wake up to, you know?

Anyway, for those not familiar with it, Fromage Fort (“Strong cheese”) is recycling at its finest. This is a ridiculously delicious cheese spread that you make from whatever odds and ends of leftover cheese you may have laying around in your fridge. Add some garlic, white wine, maybe some fresh herbs… yeah. Awesome stuff!

Our favorite use of the spread is to lightly toast some baguette slices in the oven, spread liberally with fromage fort, and then broil until it’s all melty and insane. That’s actually what my husband woke up to for breakfast, that morning! SO GOOD.

Like some of my other recipes, this is less a “recipe”, so much as “guidelines and suggestions”. This is very much a case of your final product being very much the result of what ingredients you have on hand, and your personal tastes!

The amounts of ingredients that you’ll use will vary, depending on a few factors.

– Generally speaking, for every 1/2 lb of cheese, I’ll use 1/-8-1/4 cup of white wine. This depends on how soft the cheese are that I start with, and how soft I want the final spread. More soft is great for a dip, less soft is great for spreading on a baguette and broiling.

– If I’m using a lot of hard cheeses, I’ll add a couple Tablespoons of butter for every 1/2 lb of cheese.

– I like to use a ton of garlic, maybe 2-3 cloves per half lb. Some people will use as little as ONE clove per POUND of cheese. Do what you like!

– Fresh herbs: Use whatever you like, in whatever amount you like. Start with a little, taste, and add more if desired.

Fromage Fort

Bits of leftover cheese
Butter
Fresh garlic, peeled and pressed
Dry white wine of choice
Fresh herbs, optional
Salt & pepper, optional

If any of your cheeses have a rind on it, trim the rind and discard it.

Place all of your cheese into a food processor, blitz it till it’s finely chopped. Add butter and garlic, continue blitzing until finely chopped and well combined.

Slowly stream in your wine, a bit at a time, until the cheese mixture reaches the consistency that you’re looking for. Taste, and add any herbs that you’ll be using, and blitz again.

Season with salt and pepper to taste, if desired.

Cover spread tightly, chill for at least a day to allow flavors to mingle. (Assuming you have patience. We usually do NOT.)

Cocktail Recipe: The “Drinking in LA”!

So, as I mentioned in an earlier entry, I ended up creating a cocktail while out in LA, “competing” on MasterChef. Well, more accurately, I created it while being holed up in my hotel room!

Anyway, a few days after arriving, we were allowed to go to a nearby mall… it was like getting sprung from jail! We were allowed to roam free for a couple hours, no babysitters, no need to ask permission to go to the washroom. It was kind of awesome, even if I hate malls. FREEDOM!

You know what else is awesome? The fact that you can buy booze at Target in LA.

Now, I’ve seen booze for sale in grocery stores before – in Chicago. Wish it could be that way here in MN, but apparently buying booze on a Sunday means you’re going to hell, soo… yeah. Anyway, seeing booze on a random endcap in a Target was just so novel, I had to giggle. Then, I HAD to buy something, just to say I did.

I settled on a bottle of Malibu. It seemed appropriate, between all the palm trees everywhere, and the general atmosphere of the whole experience. I imagine that this is what college feels like (I wouldn’t know!), and to me, Malibu = young drinking, haha!

I’d already had some UV Pink Lemonade Vodka in the hotel room from an earlier grocery store run, along with various mixers and everyday drinks. Sure, there was a hotel bar, but I am cheap.. AND a poor tornado victim, so was not going to be paying hotel cocktail prices. Best to plan ahead! Let’s be clear – there was a LOT of drinking happening out there. I’ll never look at a hotel room disposable coffee mug – or boxes of wine – the same way again.

As you already know, I like my drinks to basically be “diabetes in a glass”. Sweet, fruity, and fairly girly… and the Drinking in LA certainly fits the bill. It’ll also sneak up on you, so be careful. Very easy to get thoroughly trashed on this, without even realizing it. Just the other day, my LA roomie asked me if I had slipped MDMA into our drinks, LOL!

Anyway, in honor of my MasterChef experience, I am eschewing our typical professionally styled drink photography setup – and proper glasses – to show the cocktail in its original form. Sure, there were the small rocks glasses available in our hotel rooms… but the disposable coffee mugs afforded us portability. Not only were we able to bring our paper cups out to the pool area (no glass allowed, naturally)… but we could put the plastic lids on and proceed to drink our asses off in the main hotel lobby – even in the bar area – undetected!

A neat trick, and something to keep in mind for conventions, haha! I have no idea why this never occurred to me before.

Drinking in LA

2 oz Malibu Rum liqueur
1 oz Pink Lemonade vodka
2 oz Limeade
2 oz Sierra Mist

Measure ingredients into a shaker*. Add a handful of ice, shake a few times, strain into disposable coffee cup.

*Or, if you’re away on a reality show and sequestered without proper bar equipment: skip the shaker, skip the ice. Pour everything into your coffee cup without TOO much regard for measurements, swirl it a little and you should be good!

Ok, hubby won’t let me get away with NOT posting a proper drink photo…

Interested in boozy culinary experiments? You’ll LOVE my first cookbook, The Spirited Baker!

Combining liqueurs with more traditional baking ingredients can yield spectacular results.Try Mango Mojito Upside Down Cake, Candy Apple Flan, Jalapeno Beer Peanut Brittle, Lynchburg Lemonade Cupcakes, Pina Colada Rum Cake, Strawberry Daiquiri Chiffon Pie, and so much more.

To further add to your creative possibilities, the first chapter teaches how to infuse spirits to make both basic and cream liqueurs, as well as home made flavor extracts! This book contains over 160 easy to make recipes, with variation suggestions to help create hundreds more! Order your hard copy here, or digital edition here.

Halloween Themed Shooters

Halloween is about a week away – Yay! I love this time of year … the fall weather, the changing color of the leaves, and the fun of Halloween. I love how *nuts* one can with with party planning for Halloween, as there are so many directions that one can go. Do you go for gory? Campy? Elegant goth? Each option has an entire world of possibilities for decor and food.

For our part, my husband and I recently decided to craft up some Halloween themed cocktail recipes. We decided to go fairly random on Halloween subthemes, while designing…. colors, flavors, and.. well, a couple that we were just aiming for “gross”.

As most of these ended up utilizing layering techniques, I’d suggest reading my earlier blog entry, “Shot Tectonics: The Science of Layered Shooters” before getting started. No worries, it’s really not that difficult!

Have fun with it!

To me, Black Licorice + Orange is an epic flavor combination. I grew up on it with Tiger Tail Ice Cream, and have played with it in other recipes, such as my Tiger Tail Cake Recipe.

Halloween Candy Shot

Orange Curacao
Anisette

Pour Orange Curacao into a shotglass, filling it about halfway. Gently pour Anisette into the middle of the glass, filling it almost to the top.

The Anisette is “heavier” than the Curacao, and will sink to the bottom – creating a pretty gradient effect as it does.

Witches’ Stockings

I’ve got to admit – on its own, I really don’t like Creme de Violette. In this drink, though? It works! Monumentally more palatable, IMHO!

Creme de Violette
Sour Apple Pucker Liqueur
Orange Curacao

Layer liqueurs in order of mention above – First the Creme de Violette, then Apple Pucker, topping off with Orange Curacao.

Be VERY gentle as you layer these liqueurs – They’re fairly close in specific gravity, so they require a bit of extra attention to not mix them!

This one may not taste anything like Candy Corn specifically (We were going for layered colors, more than anything…), but it DOES taste like candy!

Candy Corn Shot

Creme de Banane
White Chocolate Creme Liqueur (We used Merry’s)
Orange Curacao

Layer liqueurs in order of mention above – First the Creme de Banane, then White Chocolate Creme, topping off with Orange Curacao.

I’m not going to lie, the actual shot part of this drink was a bit of an afterthought. The idea of making an edible bloody eyeball came to me in a dream, and was what inspired this whole blog entry. Then I woke up, googled, and found that I wasn’t the first to think of it. BOO.

The Bloody Eyeball

Canned Lychee
Red colored jam (We used Lingonberry)
Large blueberries
Sour Apple Pucker liqueur
Grenadine

Use a small spoon to carefully fill each lychee with jam. Place a large blueberry in the opening of the lychee, pressing in gently to secure the berry / cause a bit of gushing.

Fill shot glasses about 3/4 full with Sour Apple Pucker, then pour a bit of grenadine right in the middle. It’ll sink to the bottom, with a bit of swirl.

Top each glass with a lychee eyeball, using a toothpick if necessary.


This next one.. I can’t even tell you what it tastes like! We went for appearance first, looking to employ pouring and curdling techniques to create something that just looked disgusting. I can’t handle drinking curdled drinks… but my husband loved this!

We used a tall shot glass for effect, but these are usually done with normal shot glasses… whatever floats your boat will work just fine.

Zombie Brain Hemorrhage

Peach Schnapps
Creme de Menthe (Green, not clear!)
Bailey’s Irish Cream
Grenadine

Pour the Peach Schnapps into a shot glass, about 1/2 full. Pour a splash of Creme de Menthe in next – it’ll sink to the bottom.

Next, pour on the Bailey’s. I like to do a clean layer, you may prefer to gently pour it in for more of a mixed “brain” effect.

Just before serving, pour a splash of grenadine into the middle of the shot glass. It’ll drag some Bailey’s down, causing a curdling effect. It’s kind of mesmerizing to watch – here’s a progression:




We DID take a video of it, on the night we designed these cocktails. You’ll have to excuse us, it was at the END of the cocktail design session…

Rum Runners – Cocktail Recipe

I’ve been meaning to post today’s recipe for a long time … ah, procrastination!

Anyway, as I’d mentioned in last year’s Rum Runner Trifle post, this cocktail is one of my all time favorites. I’m a fan of rum, I’m a fan of really sweet “girlie drinks”… in my eyes, there’s nothing NOT to love in this cocktail!

Here’s the thing: It’s called “rum runner” for a reason – There’s a lot of booze, and it sneaks up on you. Much like the ‘rum runners” from back in the prohibition days, this drink does a really good job of concealing the alcohol! If you’re up for it, you can also pour another oz of rum over top – dark rum, ideally! Personally, I like it without the optional dark rum float.

This is a really great drink to make larger volumes of, for parties. By the pitcher, by the cooler… just be sure to have some designated drivers on hand!

Rum Runner Cocktail Recipe

1 oz Amber rum
1 oz light rum
1 oz creme de banane
1 oz blackberry brandy
1-2 oz orange juice
1-2 oz pineapple juice
Splash of grenadine
Splash of Rose’s Sweetened Lime Juice

Fill a cocktail glass* with ice – ice should come just above the edge of the glass.

Measure ingredients into a shaker. Shake, then pour contents into the cocktail glass. Garnish with a pineapple wedge, orange and/or lime slices, and/or a maraschino cherry.

(That’s how you’re supposed to do it. Honestly, I skip the shaker and just pour the ingredients straight into the glass!)

To make this for large groups, forget the “oz” measures, go for “parts”. 1 cup of each ingredient will yield about 8 servings… and I recommend using 2 parts of each of the juices, unless you want a really quick drunkfest!

* I like to use fancier tall glasses for this, usually some variation on a hurricane glass.

Interested in boozy culinary experiments? You’ll LOVE my first cookbook, The Spirited Baker!

Combining liqueurs with more traditional baking ingredients can yield spectacular results.Try Mango Mojito Upside Down Cake, Candy Apple Flan, Jalapeno Beer Peanut Brittle, Lynchburg Lemonade Cupcakes, Pina Colada Rum Cake, Strawberry Daiquiri Chiffon Pie, and so much more.

To further add to your creative possibilities, the first chapter teaches how to infuse spirits to make both basic and cream liqueurs, as well as home made flavor extracts! This book contains over 160 easy to make recipes, with variation suggestions to help create hundreds more! Order your hard copy here, or digital edition here.