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Archive for February 17, 2017

RECIPE: Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes, Homemade Chocolate Cherries & Cherry Liqueur

George Washington never chopped down a cherry tree, but you can still celebrate his birthday (either Presidents Day or his actual birthday, February 22nd) with something cherry.

Here, we have three options: chocolate cherry cupcakes, chocolate cherry cordials, and cherry liqueur (the last one you can make today, but you need several weeks for it to infuse. It will be ready by Mother’s Day.

The first recipe was developed by Jen of the website Baked By An Introvert. She notes that “This recipe was inspired by my favorite candy, chocolate covered cherries.”

The chocolate cupcakes have a “surprise” filling of cherry preserves; and the buttercream also has some cherry preserves for color and flavor. You can use plain buttercream if you prefer, tinted pink.

Prep time is 20 minutes, cook time is 20 minutes.

Before you start baking, make it a point to look at all the wonderful recipes on BakedByAnIntrovert.com.

RECIPE #1: CHOCOLATE CHERRY CUPCAKES

Ingredients For 20 Cupcakes

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup black cherry preserves or regular cherry preserves
  • Optional: 1 tablespoon kirsch (cherry liqueur)
  • Optional garnish: chocolate-covered cherries with stems (purchase or make)
  • Other garnishes: Hershey’s Kisses (unwrapped), fresh stemmed cherries in season, brandied cherries (recipe)
  •  
    For The Buttercream Frosting

  • 1 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 3 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup black cherry preserves (substitute red cherry preserves)
  •    

    Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes

    Bowl Of Pink Frosting

    [1] Pretty as a picture: chocolate cherry cupcakes from Baked By An Introvert. [2] If you want to play against the cherry filling, tint plain buttercream pink or make this pink champagne frosting from Wicked Good Kitchen.

  • Substitute for preserves: red food color to tint frosting pink, or this pink champagne frosting recipe
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F, line 12 muffin cups with paper liners (or 20 muffin cups, if you have two pans). Set aside.

    2. BEAT in a large bowl until fluffy the oil, butter and sugars. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla. In a separate bowl…

    3. WHISK together the dry ingredients: flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Gradually add it to the wet ingredients, along with the milk. First add some of the dry mixture, then some milk, then some dry mixture, repeating as necessary and beating after each addition. The contents should be well blended.

    4. SPOON 2 tablespoons of batter into each paper cup. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean (with only a few dry crumbs). Remove the cupcakes from the pan(s), and cool completely on a wire rack. When cool…

    5. CUT a small well in the top center of each cupcakes, using the point of a sharp knife. Fill but don’t stuff the well with cherry preserves, and replace the top portion of the cupcake. (Nibble on the well pieces or keep them in a plastic snack bag to toss on ice cream or yogurt.)

    6. MAKE the frosting. Using a hand mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until fluffy. Gradually beat in the confectioner’s sugar; then beat in the cream until the frosting reaches your desired spreading consistency. Then beat in the preserves or food color to tint pink. Garnish and serve.

    TIP FROM JEN: If the frosting becomes too loose or curdled looking, add more powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time until the frosting comes together again.

     

    Chocolate Covered Cherries

    Chocolate Dipped Cherries

    Kirsch

     

    RECIPE #2: CHOCOLATE-COVERED CHERRY CORDIALS

    Making chocolate-covered cherries is as easy as dipping strawberries or other fruit in chocolate: Melt the chocolate, dip the fruit and let dry.

    However, if you want to make cherry cordials—with the cherry floating in syrup, here’s a recipe Taste Of Home (photos #3 and 4).

    Prep time is 25 minutes plus chilling.

    Ingredients For 36 Pieces

  • 2-1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 jars (8 ounces each) maraschino cherries with stems, well drained (we placed them on paper towels, too)
  • 2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate (quality chocolate or chocolate chips)
  • 2 tablespoons shortening
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the sugar, butter, milk and extract in a small bowl. Knead until smooth and pliable. Shape into 1-inch balls and flatten each into a 2-inch circle.

    2. WRAP one circle around each cherry and lightly roll in your hands. Place with stems up on a waxed paper-lined baking sheet. Cover loosely and refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.

    3. MELT the chocolate and shortening in the microwave; stirring until smooth (the shortening helps the chocolate adhere to the cherry). Holding onto the stems, dip the cherries into the chocolate, allowing the excess to drip off. Place them waxed paper until the chocolate is set. Store in a covered container. Refrigerate for 1-2 weeks before serving, to allow the flavors to meld.

    RECIPE #3: MAKE CHERRY LIQUEUR

    You can’t have it today; it takes 40 days to infuse (photo #5).

    But here’s how, from Balkan Lunchbox.

    ____________________
    Captions For Photos:

    [3] Make your own chocolate covered cherries (photo courtesy Taste Of Home).

    [4] It’s more than dipping fruit: You create the almond-nuanced syrup inside the chocolate shell, too (photo courtesy Choclatique).

    [5] Finish with homemade cherry liqueur (photo courtesy Balkan Lunch Box).

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: King Cake & Milk Punch For Mardi Gras

    Mardi Gras 2017 falls on Tuesday, February 28. It always falls on the day before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.

    Celebrating the Carnival season, Mardi Gras (French for Fat Tuesday) has been a state holiday in Louisiana since the 19th century.

    WHAT’S MARDI GRAS?

    The Carnival season begins on or after the Epiphany or Kings Day (January 6th), and culminates on the day before Ash Wednesday. Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday refers to the practice of eating richer, fatty foods the last night before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season begins on Ash Wednesday.

    Mardi Gras is sometimes referred to as Shrove Tuesday, from the word shrive, meaning “confess.” But the idea of rich foods is far more appealing.

    Why “Carnival?”

    Centuries ago, Catholics in Italy started the tradition of holding a wild costume festival right before the first day of Lent. It stuck, engendering huge Carnival events elsewhere, including New Orleans and Rio de Janiero.

    In New Orleans, parades and other celebrations begin the extended weekend before, starting Friday, February 24th.

    You don’t have to go all-out to celebrate, or even prepare a Jambalaya Bar for friends and family.

    Instead, invite them to drop by for a slice of King Cake, a glass of milk punch, or both.

    You can buy a King Cake—the traditional Mardi Gras buttery yeasted sweet cake, or make one with the excellent mix kit from King Arthur Flour. It includes the yeast cake mix, almond paste, white icing mix and decorating sugars.

    BYO plastic baby: Per, tradition the person who gets the piece of cake with the baby (or coin, or other token) gets good luck all year!

    IMPORTANT: Never bake anything plastic in a cake; it will melt and render the cake inedible (and for all we know, it can catch fire). The technique is: after the cake is baked and still warm (and more pliable), insert the good luck token into the cake from the underside, before icing.

    Here’s more on the history of King Cake.

    TO DRINK: MILK PUNCH

    Milk punch is in the category of drinks made with milk or cream: Brandy Alexander, Classic Ramos Gin Fizz, Grasshopper, Irish Coffee, Mudslide, Pink Squirrel, White Russian, and many others (hey—another idea for a themed cocktail party: cream-based cocktails).

       

    King Cake Mardi Gras

    King Cake Kit

    King Cake

    [1] [2] [3] These King Cakes were made from a mix kit from King Arthur Flour. The rectangular shape isn’t traditional, but you can be as creative as you like.

     
    Milk punch combines brandy or bourbon* with milk, sugar and vanilla extract, typically garnished with grated nutmeg. It is served cold and usually has nutmeg sprinkled on top.

    FOOD TRIVIA: sugar was added to cocktails to cover up the taste of the alcohol, as was milk.

     

    Milk Punch

    Nutmeg and Microplane

    [4] You can serve milk punch in whatever glasses you have (photo Michelle Banovic | Atwood Hotel | Chicago. [5] Don’t forget the nutmeg. We have a special nutmeg grater (like a peppermill for nutmeg); but you can use your Microplane (photo courtesy McCormick).

     

    MILK PUNCH HISTORY

    Milk punch was popularized in the 17th century by Aphra Behn, one of the first English women to earn her living by her writing. At the time, all types of punch were served from a punch bowl.

    The milk punch of the era was made with cream curdled with lemon juice. Those recipes gave way to milk punches that use(d) fresh milk or cream, like egg nog—which is a milk punch enriched with eggs.

    Milk punches—egg nog or other—became holiday and celebratory traditions (for example, Mardi Gras).

    In modern-day New Orleans, milk punches vie as brunch drinks with the Bloody Mary, created in 1940 in New York City (Bloody Mary history).

    There are as many recipes for milk punch as for anything else, but for Mardi Gras we serve up the recipe from Brennan’s, a favorite New Orleans restaurant since 1946.

    For a 17th-century-type recipe, try Benjamin Franklin’s recipe. He used brandy and included lots of lemon juice (which curdled the milk).

    MILK PUNCH RECIPES

    This, and other cognac-based milk punches, often use Napoleon brandy, a designation for a brandy or cognac aged at least five years. Feel free to use VSOP; with all the cream and sugar, the nuances of the Napoleon will be covered up.

    If you don’t like or don’t have brandy, you can substitute bourbon, rum, whiskey and even tequila.

    RECIPE #1: BRENNAN’S BRANDY MILK PUNCH

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2 ounces/4 tablespoons brandy or cognac
  • 4 ounces/1/2 cup half & half
  • 1 ounce/2 tablespoons simple syrup† (recipe)
  • 1/4 ounce/1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Garnish: freshly grated nutmeg
  •  
    Plus

  • Cocktail shaker and ice
  • Preparation

    1. COMBINE the ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice.

    2. SHAKE vigorously and pour into a chilled old-fashioned glass. Garnish with nutmeg.

    RECIPE #2: BRANDY MILK PUNCH

    Here’s a recipe from New Orleans Online that uses more milk and less sugar.

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2 oz brandy or bourbon
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon powdered sugar
  • 3 ice cubes
  • Cracked ice
  • Garnish: freshly grated nutmeg
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the brandy, milk, and sugar with the ice cubes in a cocktail shaker, and shake until frothy (about 1 minute).

    2. STRAIN into a double-old fashioned glass filled with cracked ice. Sprinkle with nutmeg and serve.
    ________________

    *Some people prefer gin, tequila or other spirit.

    †We prefer less sweetness, so reduce the simple syrup.

      

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