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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Christmas

RECIPE: Pomegranate Panna Cotta

Italian for “cooked cream,” it is a light, silky-smooth egg custard made with heavy cream and gelatin and typically served with fresh fruit or a fruit purée. Panna cotta originated in the Piedmont area of northern Italy, a region known for its cream.

Smooth, silky and creamy, panna cotta is less rich than other types of custard because it’s made without eggs. (Check out the different types of custard in our delectable Custard Glossary.)

Panna cotta is a gluten free dessert, and this version with pomegranate adds a festive holiday touch. This recipe is from Karen Tedesco of Family Style Food and Go Bold With Butter. Find more delicious recipes at FamilyStyleFood.com.

RECIPE: POMEGRANATE PANNA COTTA

Ingredients

  • 1 packet (2-1/2 teaspoons) powdered gelatin
  • 1-1/4 cups unsweetened pomegranate juice
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • Fresh pomegranate seeds (arils)
  •    

    pomegranate-panna-cotta-familystylefood-2-230r

    Bright panna cotta for the holidays. Photo courtesy Family Style Food.

     

    halved-pomegranate-pinkberry-230

    The arils (seeds) inside a pomegranate. Photo courtesy Pinkberry.

     

    Preparation

    1. LIGHTLY COAT 6 x 1/2-cup molds or ramekins with neutral-tasting oil or spray.

    2. SPRINKLE 1/2 teaspoon of the gelatin over 2 teaspoons of water in a small dish, and let stand a few minutes to soften and dissolve.

    3. MAKE pomegranate jelly: Sprinkle 1/4 cup of the pomegranate juice with the granulated sugar in a small saucepan; stir to dissolve sugar and heat just to a simmer. Stir in the gelatin mixture over low heat until it dissolves in the juice, then divide into the molds (about a scant tablespoon in each). Place the molds on a baking sheet and refrigerate until set, about 2 hours.

    4. DISSOLVE the remaining 2 teaspoons of gelatin in a small dish with 1 tablespoon water.

    5. HEAT the cream, confectioners’ sugar and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Heat until very warm, but not boiling. Stir in the gelatin until it dissolves. Pour the cream through a fine strainer into a container with a pouring spout, such as a four-cup Pyrex measuring cup. Set aside to cool completely.

     

    6. POUR the cream over the pomegranate jelly in the molds, dividing evenly. Cover gently with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to chill and set, at least 4 hours. About an hour before serving…

    7. PUT the remaining cup of pomegranate juice in a small saucepan with the remaining 1/2 cup of granulated sugar. Bring to a boil and continue cooking until reduced in volume by half (you should have 1/2 cup syrup); cool.

    8. TO SERVE: Dip the molds in very hot water for about 30 seconds (be careful not to submerge). Run a small offset spatula or blade of a small, sharp knife around the edges of the panna cotta, then invert onto plates. Drizzle some pomegranate syrup over each, and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds.

      

    Comments

    TIP: Gourmet Grocery Store Gift Card

    If you can’t think of a gift for people who like good food—because you don’t know exactly what they’d like—consider a gift card.

    A gift card to a premium market enables recipients to try new things or buy luxury items like artisan cheeses.

    Many of us our space-challenged at home, cramming those gift sweaters and bath products into already crammed drawers and closets. Unlike most gifts, which require space to store, a gift card can be spent and consumed in the same day.

    You can purchase gift cards in-store, of course. Some retailers, like Whole Foods, let you buy the cards online as well, with the option to send them digitally with a personalized holiday message.

    The photo is actually the 2014 limited edition holiday gift card from Whole Foods.

    Solved: what to get your favorite cook or foodie.

     

    whole-foods-gift-card-230

    The limited edition 2014 holiday gift card from Whole Foods Market. Photo courtesy Whole Foods.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Cranberry Martini Taste-Off

    You can make a Cranberry Martini with cranberry liqueur, or you can use cranberry sauce to make a novelty version of the drink.

    We adapted this recipe from Cooking Channel mixologists Alie Ward and Georgia Hardstark.

    Why not have a Cranberry Cocktail Challenge at your holiday celebration? Mix up a batch of Cranberry Sauce Cocktails and another of Cranberry Martinis (made with cranberry juice—recipe below) and let the guests choose their favorite.

    RECIPE: CRANBERRY SAUCE COCKTAIL

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2 tablespoons cranberry sauce (without whole berries)
  • 2 ounces vodka (you can use gin or tequila if you prefer)
  • 1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 2 dashes bitters
  • Ice cubes
  • Garnish: sprig of fresh rosemary
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the cranberry sauce, vodka, lime juice and bitters in a shaker.

       

    cranberry-sauce-cocktail-ward-hardstark-230

    Turn leftover cranberry sauce into a cocktail. Photo courtesy Alie Ward | Georgia Hardstark.

     
    2. ADD the ice and shake very vigorously for 45 seconds. Strain into a chilled Martini or coupe glass.

    3. GARNISH with a sprig of rosemary.

     

    Cranberry-Martini-Penny Burt-IST-230

    A classic Cranberry Martini. Photo by Penny Burt | IST.

     

    RECIPE: CRANBERRY MARTINI

    At its simplest, the Cranberry Martini, a.k.a. Crantini, is a simple variation of a Cosmopolitan, which combines vodka, cranberry juice, triple sec and lime juice. The simplest Cranberry Martini recipe leaves out the last two ingredients. Whether you like a gin or vodka Martini, there are several ways to approach this cocktail.

    Ingredients Per Cocktail

  • 2 ounces vodka or gin
  • 1/2 to 1 ounce vermouth (optional)
  • 1/2 ounce cranberry liqueur or 2 ounces cranberry juice
  • Fresh, frozen or dried cranberries for garnish
  •  
    Preparation

    1. POUR the first three ingredients into a cocktail shaker or mixing glass with 2 ice cubes. Shake for 10 seconds and strain into a chilled Martini glass.

    2. FLOAT 3 cranberries for garnish.

     
    RECIPE: CRANBERRY LIME MARTINI

    This citrusy variation showcases the flavor synergies between lime and gin.

    Ingredients Per Cocktail

  • 2 parts gin
  • 2 parts freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 parts cranberry juice
  • Lime wedge or wheel for garnish
  •  
    Preparation

    1. STIR the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice.

    2. STRAIN into a chilled Martini glass. Garnish with a lime wedge.
     
    Let us know which recipe wins at your house!

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Panettone Stuffing

    We love panettone, an Italian yeast bread filled with candied citron, lemon zest, and raisins (and sometimes other ingredients).

    If we get too much of it to toast for breakfast or top with ice cream for dessert, we make other favorites, such as Panettone French toast, Panettone grilled cheese and panettone PB&J sandwiches.

    And then, there’s Panettone stuffing or dressing*. While stuffing is most commonly prepared with days old white bread, you can use panettone to give your stuffing a sweet edge.

    This recipe is courtesy Bauli Panettone.

    PANETTONE STUFFING

    Ingredients

  • 1 loaf panettone (2.2 pounds)
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 2 bunches fresh sage, leaves minced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots, julienned
  • 1/2 cup dried sour cherries
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1-1/2 cups minced yellow onion
  • 1 cup minced celery or fennel
  • 1 cup minced carrot
  • Up to 2 cups chicken stock or turkey stock
  • Optional: 2 eggs for a firmer stuffing
  •    

    pannetone-stuffing-bauli-230

    Cut a loaf of panettone into cubes to make the stuffing. Photo courtesy Bauli.

     

     
    *The difference: stuffing is cooked inside the bird and dressing is cooked in a separate dish.

     

    panettone-box-sliced-2014-230

    Panettone can be found in most supermarkets during the holiday season. Photo courtesy Bauli.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Cut the panettone into 3/4-inch squares and place in large bowl. Melt half of the butter in a saucepan over medium heat and continue to cook until light brown, about 5 minutes.

    2. REMOVE from the heat and add half the sage. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the sage butter over the bread and toss gently but swiftly. Spread out on 2 cooking sheets and place in the oven until light brown, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and place back into the bowl. Meanwhile…

    3. PLACE the dried fruit in a large bowl; add boiling water to cover and then set aside for at least 10 minutes. This will plump and soften the fruit for cooking. Drain the fruit once it is plumped.

    4. RAISE the oven temperature to 375°F. Melt the remaining butter and add the onion, celery, and carrot. Sauté on medium-low heat until soft. Add dried fruit and remaining sage. Toss into cooled croutons. Gently toss and add chicken broth to moisten; add more broth if you like a softer stuffing. Stir in beaten eggs now, if using. Adjust salt and pepper, to your liking. Turn out into an oven-proof casserole.

     

    5. BAKE uncovered until golden brown on top, about 40 minutes.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Mexican Christmas Pudding

    christmas-pudding-GerryLerner-230

    Oh give us some figgy pudding! Photo
    courtesy Gerry Lerner | London Lennie’s.

     

    Christmas pudding is an English tradition. It has been celebrated in song since at least the 16th century. Thought to bring luck and prosperity to all those who share it, it is typically made five weeks before Christmas, on or after the Sunday before Advent, known in the Anglican church as Stirring Sunday.

    BRITISH PUDDING VS. AMERICAN PUDDING

    Christmas pudding is also known as plum pudding and figgy pudding, popular pudding ingredients along with dates. Irish recipes vary the dried fruits with raisins, currants, sultanas and citrus peel.

    These are nothing the creamy milk-and-sugar-based dessert puddings familiar in the U.S. (chocolate, rice and tapioca puddings, for example), but solid puddings with a binding—essentially, steamed cakes.

    A Christmas pudding is essentially a very wet, alcohol-soaked, boiled fruit cake. Boiling creates a similar dense texture as baking, but more moist (British puddings can also be baked or steamed).

     
    In the U.K., the soft, creamy, thickened milk-based desserts that Americans think of as puddings are called custards if they are egg-thickened and blanc-mange, the French term, if they are starch-thickened (these are our soft chocolate, vanilla and butterscotch puddings).

    Making the Christmas pudding can be a social occasion. Family and friends get together to create the dessert, each giving the mixture a stir, then making a wish with the hope that good fortune will find them once the pudding is served on Christmas Day. The Christmas pudding is traditionally decorated with a spray of holly (which is not edible). In some homes, it is doused in flaming brandy and brought to the table in a darkened room.

    If you want to make a traditional English Christmas pudding, you need to start at least 30 days in advance so the flavors can meld and the alcohol can blend into the cake. Here’s a Christmas pudding recipe: Mark your calendar.

    But if you don’t have 30 days, there are other options to make right before Christmas.

     
    *Traditional British puddings can be baked, steamed, or boiled and can be sweet or savory. They range from Yorkshire pudding (bound with a batter, similar to a popover) to black pudding (also known as blood sausage, bound with blood), to bread pudding, noodle and potato pudding (all bound with eggs, the latter two also called kugels) or plum pudding (a.k.a. Christmas pudding, bound with suet and flour or some other cereal). Savory puddings are served as a side with a main course, sweet puddings as a dessert.

     

    BUDIN DE ROMPOPE, MEXICAN CHRISTMAS PUDDING

    As easy to make as any gelatin mold, budin de rompope, eggnog pudding, is a traditional Mexican Christmas pudding made from eggnog (rompope). It can be made on the day of serving.

    The eggnog, and subsequently the pudding, was originally made by nuns in the convents of Puebla, Mexico†. (These sisters were great cooks: They also invented the classic Mexican dish mole poblano, turkey in mole sauce, among other great recipes.)

    Like other puddings, rompope can be made in a mold or in individual dessert dishes. This recipe is courtesy of the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.

    You can add a bit of liqueur to the fruit sauce: Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur, or a berry liqueur to match the berries used.

    RECIPE: BUDIN DE ROMPOPE or GELATINA DE ROMPOPE

    Ingredients

    For The Pudding

  • 1 cup eggnog
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 egg yolks, large
  • 1/2 cup sugar, divided
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (1 inch long) cinnamon
  • 1 envelope of flavored gelatin
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 1 tablespoon rum
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  •  

    gelatina-de-rompope-gopixpic.com-230

    Boudin de rompope, an eggnog-based Christmas pudding. Photo courtesy GoPixPic.com.

     
    For The Fruit Sauce

  • 1 pint fresh or package thawed frozen raspberries or strawberries (10 ounces)
  • Sugar to taste
  • Optional: 1 tablespoon liqueur
  •  
    Preparation

    1. SCALD the eggnog and milk by heating together in small saucepan over medium heat for about five minutes, or until the temperature reaches 180°F. Set aside.

    2. BEAT the egg yolks with all but one tablespoon of the sugar, until pale and thick. Add the salt and cinnamon stick. Whisk 1/4 cup of the hot milk mixture into the beaten egg yolks. Pour the yolk mixture into the remaining hot milk mixture. Cook, whisking constantly, over medium-low heat, until the mixture coats the back of a metal spoon and thickens slightly (about 4 minutes). Do not boil. Set aside.

    3. SOFTEN the gelatin in cold water and let it stand 5 minutes. Whisk the gelatin into the milk mixture to dissolve. Remove and discard the cinnamon stick. Add the rum and vanilla.

    4. CHILL in the refrigerator until the mixture begins to set, about 1-1/2 hours. Whip the cream with the remaining one tablespoon of sugar until stiff. Fold the whipped cream into the milk mixture and pour into a mold or 8 glass dessert dishes. Chill until set.

    5. MAKE the fruit sauce: Process the berries in a blender until smooth, sweetening to taste with sugar. Add optional liqueur. Strain out the seeds if desired. Pour the sauce into a glass pitcher or gravy boat and serve with the rompope.

     
    †Puebla was one of the five most important Spanish colonial cities in Mexico. It is located in Central Mexico southeast of Mexico City and west of Mexico’s main Atlantic port, Veracruz, on the main route between the two.

      

    Comments

    CHRISTMAS: Avocado Salad Tree

    avocado-xmas-tree-hassavocados-230

    A delightful Christmas salad. Photo courtesy
    AvocadoCentral.com.

     

    Holiday buffets will look even more inviting when this pretty Christmas tree-shaped salad is on display. It’s served with a zesty chile vinaigrette dressing for a fiesta of flavor.

    Prep time is 30 minutes.

    Use ripe avocados that are a little on the firm side for best results, and brush the avocado slices with a soft, food-safe paint brush dipped in lime juice or lemon juice to prevent discoloration.

    This dish can also be made with granny smith apple slices instead of avocado.

    If you don’t like crab meat, you can substitute grated white Cheddar or other semihard cheese for the “snow” at the bottom of the platter.

    RECIPE: AVOCADO CHRISTMAS TREE SALAD

    Ingredients

  • 2 firm-ripe Hass avocados, halved, peeled and seeded (use more as needed)
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate arils (seeds) and/or fresh raspberries
  • 1 tablespoon dried cranberries
  • 1 green onion, white portion only, sliced into rounds
  • 1 slice star fruit (carambola) or pineapple
  • 6 small chives
  • 1 cup fresh crab meat, picked over for cartilege
  •  

    RECIPE: CHILE VINAIGRETTE

    Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  •  
    Preparation

    1. SLICE each avocado half into six equivalent size slices. Brush the slices with lemon or lime juice. Arrange them on a platter into the shape of a Christmas tree, as shown in the photo above, leaving at least 3 inches at the top and bottom of the platter. Sprinkle lightly with salt.

     

    avocados-board-hassavocado-230

    Hass avocados. Photo courtesy AvocadoCentral.com.

     

    2. ARRANGE the pomegranate arils or raspberries, cranberries and green onions on top of the avocado tree to look like ornaments.

    3. PLACE the star fruit at the top point of the tree. Alternatively, use a star-shaped cookie cutter to cut a star out of a slice of pineapple. Add the chives in a criss-cross pattern over the avocado slices, to emulate a garland.

    4. ARRANGE the crab along the bottom of the tree to resemble snow.

    5. PLACE the vinaigrette ingredients in a salad dressing carafe, cover and shake a few times to combine. Serve alongside the Avocado Tree Salad.
     
    Find more avocado recipes at AvocadoCentral.com.

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Popcorn Trees

    Fun for decoration, party favors or festive snacks, these Popcorn Trees are easy to make. The recipe is from the National Popcorn Board, which advises that it’s important to use unflavored white popcorn for the best color and flavor.

    RECIPE: POPCORN TREES

    Ingredients For 10 Trees

  • 10 cups air-popped white popcorn
  • 1 10-ounce bag miniature marshmallows
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Decorating sugar (green, blue)*
  • 1 tube of white frosting (with decorating tip)
  • Assorted small colorful candies, such as sprinkles and miniature silver dragées
  •  
    *Make your own colored sugar by adding food coloring to sugar, stirring in a bowl or shaking vigorously in a sealed container. Add more food coloring for more intense tones.

     

    popcorn_trees_popcorn.org-230

    A fun project for eating or decor. Photo courtesy Popcorn.org.

     

    Preparation

    1. PLACE the popcorn in large bowl.

    2. PLACE marshmallows and butter in medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir until the marshmallows are melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove from the heat. Stir in the vanilla extract. Pour the mixture over the popcorn. Toss well to coat the popcorn evenly.

    3. LINE a baking sheet with foil. Spray your hands with nonstick cooking spray, then scoop up about 1 cup of the popcorn mixture. Shape the mixture into a cone shape, keeping the base flat. This forms the tree.

    4. SPRINKLE the tree with decorating sugar. Pplace the tree on the baking sheet. Continue to make the rest of the trees.

    5. PIPE frosting on the trees to make a garland, then decorate them with colorful candies.
     
    SERVING SUGGESTION

    Place each tree atop a sugar cookie and decorate the serving tray with shredded coconut to resemble snow—as shown in the photo above.

    Find more fun popcorn recipes at Popcorn.org.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Cream Cheese Christmas Tree Appetizer

    cream-cheese-pepper-jelly-xmastree-indulgy.com-bertha-230

    Deck the appetizer plate with cream cheese and pepper jelly. Photo: Pinterest.

     

    The block of cream cheese topped with pepper jelly takes on a special shape for the holidays.

    We originally thought that this photo was from Bertha at Indulgy.com, but so many people have posted it on Pinterest and elsewhere that the original source is in question. If it’s yours, please let us know so we can link to you.

    RECIPE: CREAM CHEESE CHRISTMAS TREE APPETIZER

    Ingredients

  • 8 ounce block cream cheese
  • Pepper jelly or salsa
  • 1 green onion (scallion)
  • 1 green bell pepper or chile
  • Crackers or tortilla chips
  • Optional garnish: snipped chives or parsley
  •  
    Preparation

    1. CUT a block of cream cheese on the diagonal. Place on a plate to make a tree shape.

    2. USE a portion of the green onion to create the trunk of the tree.

    3. ADD pepper jelly and a star cut from the pepper. Serve with crackers of choice (or if you use salsa, with tortilla chips).

     
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Christmas Bread Wreath

    rolls-wreath-artofcheese2-230

    Turn rolls into a holiday bread wreath. Photo
    courtesy ArtOfCheese.com.

     

    This show-stopping, pull apart bread wreath is served warm from the oven, with a centerpiece of melted Camembert cheese for dipping.

    Serve it with cocktails or as a TV snack. It will impress everyone, and it’s not hard to do. Starting with frozen rolls makes it a snap!

    Prep time is 3 hours (most of the time is for the bread to rise), cook time is 45 minutes. You can substitute a Baby Brie for the Camembert (the difference between Brie and Camembert is largely the size).

    The recipe is courtesy of Président Cheese, which has many ideas of what to do with cheese at its website, ArtOfCheese.com.

    RECIPE: CHRISTMAS WREATH BREAD

    Ingredients For 8-10 Portions

  • 1 8-ounce wheel of Camembert cheese (Président
    or other brand)
  • 1 25-ounce package Parker House-style frozen rolls
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary, plus more for garnish
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate arils (seeds) for garnish
  • Flaked Maldon or other coarse, flaky sea salt
  •  

    Preparation

    1. COVER a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

    2. USE the Camembert as a guide to mark the center of the baking sheet; temporarily place it in the middle of the sheet. Arrange the frozen dough rolls in two circles around the cheese. Leave a 1/2” space between the rolls and between the circles (the rolls will expand as they bake). Remove the cheese and refrigerate until ready to use.

    3. BRUSH the frozen rolls with melted butter. Thaw for 1 hour in a warm, draft-free area, then allow an additional 2 hours to rise until they have doubled in size. Once the dough has formed a “wreath,” par-bake it at 325°F for 7 minutes.

    4. USE a sharp knife to carefully remove the top layer of rind from the Camembert wheel. This will allow for easy dipping.

    5. REMOVE the par-baked rolls from the oven and fit the Camembert in the center (remove any wrapping). Bake an additional 8-10 minutes, or until the rolls are golden brown and the cheese is melted.

     

    rolls-wreath-dip-artofcheese-230

    Dip the rolls into the baked Camembert. Photo courtesy ArtOfCheese.com.

     

    6. USE the parchment paper to slide the wreath off of the baking sheet and onto a serving platter or board. Brush rolls with melted butter and sprinkle with flaked Maldon sea salt. Sprinkle the Camembert with minced rosemary.

    7. GARNISH the wreath by inserting small 1” long pieces of fresh rosemary and clusters of pomegranate seeds between the rolls. Serve immediately.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Bailey’s Irish Cream Adult Hot Chocolate

    baileys-peppermint-cream-230

    It’s not an innocent cup of hot chocolate. Photo courtesy Baileys.

     

    It’s National Hot Chocolate Day, or National Cocoa Day if you prefer (the difference between cocoa and hot chocolate). Today we’re making this adults-only version.

    The recipe comes to us from Baileys Irish Cream, using the company’s Original Irish Cream with a hint of Mint Chocolate.

  • If you only have regular Irish Cream, add a bit of peppermint extract.
  • If you have no irish creme at all, you can use 1/2 ounce of crème de cacao and 1/4 ounces of crème de menthe.
  •  
    RECIPE: BAILEY’S PEPPERMINT CREAM HOT CHOCOLATE

    Ingredients Per Serving

  • 2 ounces Baileys Original Irish Cream with a hint of Mint Chocolate
  • 4 ounces hot chocolate
  • Fresh whipped cream
  • Garnish: crushed candy cane and mint leaf
  •  
    Preparation

    1. CRUSH the candy cane with the back of a spoon. Set aside.

     
    2. POUR the hot chocolate and Baileys Original Irish Cream into a coffee mug. Stir to combine.

    3. TOP with a dollop of whipped cream. Sprinkle the crushed candy cane on top and garnish with the mint leaf.

     
      

    Comments

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