Easy Kahlua Panna Cotta

Today was a big first for me – my first food photo shoot with a photographer OTHER than my husband. Between being SUPER Type-A, kinda OCD, and opinionated on the best of days… I was pretty stressed out going into it.

I’m kinda spoiled, having a photographer in-house, and never having to worry about the logistics of bringing a hot-out-of-the-oven upside down cake to the other side of the city, preferably to be shot while fairly warm, and fresh! The basement studio is just SO much more convenient, LOL!

Anyway, I managed to behave myself, not contributing ANY opinions, barking NO orders, and managing not to go totally “Rain Man” in the process!

I’m very much looking forward to seeing the results when the magazine comes out next month! Right now, I’m enjoying one of the best parts of doing this shoot – leftovers of the yummy Kahlua panna cotta I made for the shoot!

This dessert is not only ridiculously creamy and delicious, it’s probably the easiest dessert ever. It takes about 5 minutes of work, and the results are just spectacular. Give it a try!

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Holiday Cookies – Noelles

When I was a little kid, my favorite thing about the holidays wasn’t Santa, the music, or the tree. While other kids mostly looked forward to the gifts… I looked forward to my aunt making my favorite cookies.

She made them every year, as part of a larger, varied cookie tray. I honestly couldn’t tell you what else was on that tray, as my favorites – “Noelles” – always grabbed my attention in a very moth-to-the-candle sort of way. The presentation of that cookie tray, in my warped memory, involved a light shining down from the heavens, with angels singing the “Hallelujah” chorus.

These cookies were only made once a year, and in insane numbers. Baggies of them were frozen, for us to raid later on. So, so good. Mmmm. I think my eyes are actually glazing over at the thought right now…

Anyway, when I was writing “The Spirited Baker“, I knew that I had to include a variation of those favorite cookies from my childhood. In keeping with the theme of The Spirited Baker, these are flavored with a small amount of Amaretto, rather than the almond extract used in the original recipe.

I hope you enjoy these as much as I do! Also, if you’re looking to fill out your own cookie tray with even more show-stopping yummies that will leaving your competitors in your dust .. um.. your friends and family feeling fat, happy, and in awe of your prowess, you should also try my “Sweet Ecstasy Cookies“. Insanely addictive!

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First-Time Author Heartbreak

I’ve just returned from the post office. I’m confused, angry, hurt, and feel used. At the same time, I’m thankful for my friends, colleagues, fans, and everyone else that, you know.. Doesn’t try to screw me over.

Let me start at the beginning of the whole sordid ordeal.

On October 31, just 2 short weeks ago, my husband and I returned from a trip to Chicago. We were still basking in the afterglow of the great time we had, when I checked my email. I always dread sorting through a pile of email when we return from a trip. This time, we had an email that sent my heart soaring.

It was sent by Megan, the book buyer for Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Cleveland Ohio. She had come across a postcard for my book – The Spirited Baker and wanted to include it on their cookbook table for the holiday season!

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Brandied Apple Upside Down Cake recipe

Hey everyone!

Still recovering from this weekend’s trip to Chicago, so I’m posting today’s entry without a ton of commentary 🙂

This Brandied Apple Upside Down Cake is one of the recipes from our boozy cookbook, The Spirited Baker. (Have your copy yet? If not, what are ya waiting for?!). The aroma of the cake – even while still in the oven – evokes warm images of Thanksgiving, Christmas eve, seasonal get togethers, etc. Yum!

Oh, and this cake is ridiculously easy to make – anyone cake do it! – and requires absolutely NO decorating!Bonus!

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Hop Flavored Dark Chocolate Truffles

If you saw yesterdays’ blog entry, you have already had a preview of the kind of yummy, twisted thinking that an unfortunate fall ended up inspiring. This is the second half of that epiphany: Ladies and gentlemen, I present you with Hop Flavored Dark Chocolate Truffles!

While this recipe isn’t actually in my recently released cookbook, “The Spirited Baker: Intoxicating Desserts & Potent Potables“, it gives you a bit of an idea of the kinds of things we have featured in it. Well, aside from the fact that this has no actual alcohol in it. Oh, and that we don’t actually use dried hop cones to flavor anything in the book…

Yeah, ok, it was just a shameless plug. If you enjoy my crazy awesome recipes and blog, you should totally buy it!

Hop Flavoured Dark Chocolate Truffles




Hop Flavoured Dark Chocolate Truffles


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.

Hop Flavored Beer Lollipops Recipe – LolliHOPS!

This morning, I took a pretty nasty fall. If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I’ve been dealing with a particularly stubborn hip injury. Long story short, I spent the day first in extreme pain, then high as a kite on Codeine.

Why am I telling you this? Well, it had a big part in inspiring today’s recipe! They say “In Vino veritas” (In wine, truth). Yeah, well… In Codeine, Inspiration!

As you may or may not know, my husband has been enthusiastically enjoying his newest hobby, homebrewing. He got right into it this year, going so far as to grow his own hops! He loves his beer like he loves his chocolate – bitter as all hell, with intense flavor. I decided to use his home grown hops to flavor chocolate. Check out our blog tomorrow or Thursday for our Hop Truffles recipe!

By the time he got home from work, I had started making a second idea that sort of mutated off the idea of Hop truffles. You see, our Jalapeno Beer Brittle is proving to be an insanely popular recipe from our recently released cookbook, “The Spirited Baker: Intoxicating Desserts & Potent Potables“. What if I bastardized that recipe, added hops to flavor it even more, and made lollipops out of it? LolliHOPS!!

Well, I made, I saw, I conquered – and my husband is a very, very happy man! These were incredibly easy to make, anyone can make them at home!

Note: This site is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for the site to earn fees by linking to Amazon and affiliated sites. While I’ll only ever link to items that I, personally, wholeheartedly recommend, I do need to put that disclosure out there!







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.

Shot Tectonics – The Science of Layered Shooters

Layering shots is not only a pretty way to pour delicious drinks, it’s also a lot of fun. A bit of flavor mixology, some math, some experimentation, pretty colors… that’s always a recipe for entertainment!

It’s a shame that it seems to be a technique that’s gone out of favour – the fast paced environment of today’s clubs has put a kibosh on the previous popularity of layering. Bah! Let’s bring it back!




The keys to layering shots are:

1. Understanding the various specific gravity measurements of various liqueurs and spirits.
“Specific gravity” is a number representative of the density of a liquid. The lower the number, the less dense the liquid is. A few examples:

Water: 1.0
Grenadine: 1.18 (Heavier than water)
Southern Comfort: 0.97 (Lighter than water)

As always, Google is your friend! Just search “Specific Gravity” along with the name of an alcohol, and you’re bound to find the information you’re looking for. Write down the numbers of each alcohol you would like to play with, then arrange in order.

As a *general* rule of thumb, the alcohol content is inversely proportionate to the specific gravity. That is to say, the higher the alcohol content of a liquid, the lighter it is – and the lower the specific gravity reading will be. Like all rules, there are some exceptions to this. Also, cream based liqueurs tend to be lighter than non-cream based liqueurs of the same ABV. Again, there are some exceptions… experiment! It’s all in the name of science, afterall! 🙂

2. A careful pour
In addition to layering in order of density, you need to slow the pour of your liquids, as to not disturb the surface of the layer before it. There are several methods people use – pouring over the back of a spoon, pouring down the handle of a bar spoon, using a syringe, pouring over a cherry. My own preference incorporates a favorite style of pourer with spoon technique – see pictures and description below!

3. Mixing flavors in a pleasing way.
Each of the flavors that are incorporated into an individual shot will hit the tastebuds in rapid succession – you’ll want to pick flavors that go well together!

4. Choosing colors that contrast with each other.
All that effort figuring out the liqueur densities will be wasted if you layer liquids with a similar appearance. In addition to contrasting color, it can be really striking to layer clear liquids with cream based liquids.

So, now that you have the basic idea, let’s get started!

First, pick out a few liqueurs, spirits, and syrups (such as grenadine) in a variety of colors and ABV / Specific Gravity readings. Arrange them in order of specific gravity, from the heaviest to the lightest.

This photo shows my favorite type of pour spouts for liqueur bottles. It’s nice to have a bunch on hand, and they cost next to nothing. Pick them up at your local liquor store, or visit my favorite site for bartending supplies, Barproducts.com. Yes, the site is horrible.. but the products are great, there is a huge selection, the price is right, and they ship fast! No complaints here! Click here to go directly to this style of pour spout.

The thing that I like about this spout is that you can slow the flow of the liquid by placing your finger over the hole on the top side – gives you a lot of control!

Carefully pour your first layer, trying not to splash any on the inside of the glass, above where the top edge of the layer will be.

Position a spoon into the shot glass thusly. Yes, thusly. I know most places will tell you to pour it over the BACK (convex) side of a spoon, but that’s just crazy talk. Pouring down the concave INSIDE of the spoon gives you more control, IMHO.

Anyway, aim the spoon to be near – but not actually touching – the first layer of alcohol. The tip should touch the inside of the glass.

Carefully pour your second – lighter – alcohol on top. Keep the pour as slow as you can. I only had a teeny bottle of Bailey’s on hand for this photo – the small bottles like this are good for a slow, controlled pour. Otherwise, use the type of pour spout mentioned above, manipulating the speed by covering/uncovering the hole.

Continue carefully pouring your liquid until you reach the desired amount. This shot incorporated only 2 liqueurs – Creme de Menthe and Bailey’s, but 3+ layer shots are awesome too. Just divide up the height of the glass, eyeballing measurements as you go.

For a third – or subsequent – layer of liqueur, just repeat the above instructions, using a lighter liquid.

The photos below demonstrates what happens when you mess up a pour (banged the bottle off the lighting apparatus!). See how the shot corrects itself? This was over the course of about 2 minutes – given more time, it will have corrected to a sharp line, as if I hadn’t screwed it up. It didn’t last that long, though – it was tasty!

Pro tips:

– Chilling the ingredients changes the specific gravity readings. Liquids become less dense as they warm, and more dense when chilled. Feel free to play with this knowledge to make your desired creations work!

– If you mess up when trickling a layer into your shot glass, carefully finish pouring it, and set it aside for a few minutes. The layers should level out on their own. Hell, if you’re planning to serve a bunch of layered shots at a party or whatever, you can cheat a bit! Pour them ahead of time, not bothering to be too fussy about getting the layers perfect. Arrange the shot glasses on a platter and chill. They’ll settle out by the time you serve them!

– If you feel like adding some drama to your shot presentation, remember this: Your highest ABV liqueur/spirit will be on top. The higher the ABV, the more likely it’ll BURN! Yes! Feel free to light the top of your shots on fire! Use a lighter – not a match – to carefully light the top of the liquid aflame. Please observe basic fire safety common sense – hair tied back, no baggy clothes dangling into the flame, etc. Also, be careful with the flame – sometimes the flame can be hard to see!

– Give your spoon a quick rinse between layers if possible. Residue of previous layers can mess with your pour!

Ready to go? Try these traditional shot recipes, and stay tuned for some original recipes in the coming days!

Note: All ingredients are listed in order of pour. The first ingredient mentioned is poured first, etc.

B-52
Kahlua
Irish Cream
Grand Marnier

After Eight
Kahlua
Irish Cream
Creme De Menthe

Buttery Nipple
Butterscotch Schnapps
Irish Cream

Monkey’s Lunch
Kahlua
Creme de Banane
Irish Cream

Blue Eyed Blonde
Creme de Banane
Blue Curacao
Irish Cream

Green Eyed Blonde
Melon Liqueur
Creme de Banane
Irish Cream




Want to learn how to not only bake with liqueurs, but to make your own liqueurs at home? Check out our new cookbook, “The Spirited Baker – Intoxicating Desserts & Potent Potables! Click here for more information, or to order!

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The Spirited Baker!

Gonna warn ya in advance… this is a very photo-heavy blog entry!


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Homemade Kiwi Liqueur Recipe


Back when we were shooting for The Spirited Baker, most of the shots were “bake and eat”. One shot, however, gave us something to look forward to in the future!

The first chapter of the book deals with how to infuse spirits, as well as to make various syrups, bartender mixes, etc – grenadine, sour mix, lime cordial syrup. When shooting the divider shot for that chapter, we infused FIVE LITERS of vodka with various flavors. We made coffee vodka.. strawberry, jalapeno, earl grey with lemon, and more. Not only did it make for a great photo, it left us anticipating the tasty finished products that would come.

This weekend, we made liqueurs from all of our infused vodka, and had some friends over to sample. I’d love to share the recipe for one of the biggest hits – Homemade Kiwi Liqueur. This is a very smooth, drinkable liqueur with great flavor.

In addition to the 100+ dessert recipes, kiwi is just one of the many liqueurs you can learn to make from buying The Spirited Baker, due out on August 31. Preorders still available, hint hint!

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Photo courtesy M. Porter Photography

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Pink Grapefruit Daiquiri Cupcakes

In honor of the upcoming release of our first cookbook, “The Spirited Baker”, here is one of the recipes from the book! Between the flavor and the color, I think these would be particularly fun for summer bridal showers, bachelorette parties, or just “Girls Night Out”

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