THE NIBBLE BLOG: Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods
Also visit our main website, TheNibble.com.

Archive for Beverages

FOOD FUN: Blooming Marshmallows For Your Hot Chocolate

First there was blooming tea: a specially tied bundle of tea leaves and flower petals that opens into a flower when placed in hot water.

Now, there’s the blooming marshmallow, from innovative pastry chef Dominique Ansel.

Blossoming Hot Chocolate—more accurately, blossoming marshmallow—is a thin marshmallow, cut like a flower, and bunched up to resemble a closed flower bud. Some dabs of white chocolate keep the bud closed.

When placed in a cup of hot chocolate, the chocolate melts and the bud expands into the flower.

Check out the videos from Ansel, then the fan recipes (we like the poinsettia the best), in the videos below.

Make plain versions (all white or tinted pink marshmallow) before you try more elaborate colorations.

TIP: Ansel added a small chocolate truffle to the center of the flower. The flower itself is anchored in chocolate. We think that’s a lot of chocolate!

Instead, we’d use a small pecan cookie ball (a pecan sandy), a ball of cookie dough, a piece of caramel hand-rolled into a ball, or a small hard candy ball (as in the photo at right).

 

Blooming Marshmallows

Drop the “bud” into hot chocolate and watch the “flower” open (photo courtesy Dominique Ansel).

 

WATCH THE MARSHMALLOW “BLOOM”

THE RECIPE

PIPE BEAUTIFUL SNOWFLAKE MARSHMALLOWS

  

Comments off

TIP OF THE DAY: Spiked Hot Chocolate

Tomorrow, December 13th, is National Hot Chocolate Day, a drink that’s not just for kids.

A few days ago we published an article on Christmas hot chocolate, to be enjoyed by all.

But today’s recipes are for adults only. Turn your cup of hot chocolate into an adult drink with a touch of schnapps—or any spirit you prefer.

And, if you like impromptu get-togethers, you can have an after-work hot chocolate cocktail party. You can even ask each participant to bring a favorite spirit.

You can create pitchers of your favorite recipe(s) and microwave each cup (45-60 seconds at room temperature, test in advance) to order, before garnishing (we moved our microwave to the dining room buffet).
 
WHAT TYPE OF LIQUOR GOES WITH HOT CHOCOLATE?

Anything that goes with chocolate will work. That covers almost everything, except perhaps some very herbal liqueurs like Bénédictine. Start with whatever you have on hand:

  • Brandy or eau de vie
  • Gin, whiskey, etc.
  • Rum, regular or spiced
  • Vodka and tequila, regular or flavored (including hot chile)
  • Liqueur (anise, banana, chocolate, cinnamon, coconut, coffee, hazelnut (or any nut), Irish cream, orange, peppermint, raspberry, vanilla, etc.)
  • Holiday-theme liqueur (e.g., cranberry, pumpkin)
  • Red wine (medium body, moderate tannins)
  •  
    In fact, you can gather your friends, ask everyone to bring a different flavor (whatever they have on hand) and party!
     
    HOW TO MAKE SPIKED HOT CHOCOLATE

    We’ve got recipes for your consideration below, but there really is no wrong.

    Here’s an easy template for an 8-ounce cup:

  • 5 ounces prepared hot chocolate
  • 2 ounces* spirits (e.g., 1.5 ounce vodka and .5 ounce liqueur)
  • Optional rim: crushed crystallized ginger, hot chocolate/cocoa drink mix (with sugar), sparkling sugar, spice mix (e.g. apple pie or pumpkin pie blend, sweet-and-spicy (e.g., sugar and cayenne, ground ancho or crushed chile flakes)
  • Garnish: foamed milk (i.e. cappuccino foam), holiday spices (cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, star anise), matched to spirit (e.g., cinnamon stick with cinnamon liqueur), notched strawberry on rim, steamed milk (for a cappuccino-like topping), whipped cream or flavored whipped cream
  • Cookie side: for the holidays, serve a traditional Christmas cookie, gingerbread man or cutout, pfeffernusse, snickerdoodle or other favorite
  •  
    *You can add much more, if you want to turn the drink into a hot chocolate cocktail.

    Don’t see what you want below? There are countless spiked hot chocolate recipes online.
     
    RECIPE #1: BASIC, WITH FLAVORED VODKA/TEQUILA

    Ingredients Per Cup

  • 1.5 ounces flavored vanilla vodka
  • 5 ounces hot chocolate
  • Garnish: whipped cream and chocolate shavings or cinnamon, crushed star anise, nutmeg or other spice
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the spirits in a cup and add the hot chocolate. Stir, garnish and serve. How easy is that?
     
    RECIPE: CANDY CANE “MARTINI”

    Prepare as per Recipe #1, above.

    Ingredients

  • 1.5 ounces flavored vanilla vodka
  • 1 ounce crème de cacao
  • 1 ounce crème de menthe
  • 5 ounces hot chocolate
  • Garnish: whipped cream and crushed candy cane
  •    

    Spiked Hot Chocolate

    Hot Chocolate With Flavored Vodka

    White Hot Chocolate With Spiced Rum

    Grand Marnier Hot Chocolate

    [1] Irish cream liqueur and hot chocolate are a match made in heaven, here with a topping of steamed milk and cocoa mix (photo courtesy Polka Dot Bride). [2] Regular vodka is fine, but flavored vodka adds an extra layer of flavor (photo courtesy Smirnoff, which used its whipped cream-flavored vodka). [3] Don’t forget white chocolate, with spiced rum or RumChata, a rum-based cream liqueur (photo © Cheri Louglin Photography). [4] Grand Marnier hot chocolate (photo courtesy Sweatpants And Coffee).

     
    RECIPE: GRAND MARNIER/COINTREAU HOT CHOCOLATE or MARGARITA HOT CHOCOLATE

    Our second favorite, after Irish cream liqueur. Prepare as per Recipe #1, above.

    Ingredients Per Cup

  • 2 ounces Grand Marnier or Cointreau
  • 5 ounces hot chocolate
  • Garnish: whipped cream and grated orange zest or candied orange peel
  •  
    Variation: Margarita Hot Chocolate

  • 2 ounces Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur
  • 5 ounces hot chocolate
  •  

    Mexican Hot Chocolate With Tequila

    Chocolate Cocktail

    [5] Mexican hot chocolate with tequila, of course (photo courtesy Creative Culinary). [6] Try a matching rim. This one is a blend of cocoa drink powder and cayenne for Mexican hot chocolate (photo courtesy X Bar | Hyatt Regency | LA).

     

    RECIPE: CHOCOLATE GRASSHOPPER

    This one’s for you, Rajesh Koothrappali. Prepare as per Recipe #1.

    Ingredients

  • 2 ounces amaretto liqueur
  • 2 ounces crème de menthe
  • 5 ounces hot chocolate
  • Amaretto- or mint-infused whipped cream (recipe below)
  • Garnish: mint leaf
  •  
    LIQUEUR-FLAVORED WHIPPED CREAM.

    You can use any liqueur. To use an 80-proof spirit such as bourbon whipped cream, you can add 1-2 extra tablespoons of sugar for a sweeter whipped cream. (personally, we prefer it with less sugar).

    Ingredients

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 4 ounces liqueur
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the ingredients and whip with beaters or use a whipped cream dispenser like iSi.

    Here are more flavored whipped cream recipes.
     

    FOOD 101:

    THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HOT COCOA & CHOCOLATE

    There is a difference between cocoa and hot chocolate. After you read it, you may prefer the latter (we do!).
     
    THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN CORDIAL, FRUIT BRANDY, LIQUEUR, EAU DE VIE, LIQUEUR, SCHNAPPS

    While many people use these terms interchangeably, and they are all flavored spirits, there are differences in terms of sweetness and color—and in the case of fruit brandy, the base alcohol.

     

  • Liqueur (lih-CUR, the French pronunciation) is made by steeping fruits in alcohol after the fruit has been fermented; the result is then distilled. Liqueurs are typically sweeter and more syrupy than schnapps.
  • Schnapps (SHNOPS) is made by fermenting the fruit, herb or spice along with a base spirit, usually brandy; the product is then distilled. This process creates a stronger, often clear, distilled spirit similar to a lightly flavored vodka. “Schnapps” is German for “snap,” and in this context denotes both a clear brandy distilled from fermented fruits, plus a shot of that spirit. Classic schnapps have no added sugar, and are thus less sweet than liqueur. But note that some manufacturers add sugar to please the palates of American customers.
  • Eau de vie (OH-duh-VEE), French for “water of life,” this is unsweetened fruit brandy—i.e.,schnapps.
  • Cordial has a different meaning in the U.S. than in the U.K., where it is a non-alcoholic, sweet, syrupy drink. In the U.S, a cordial is a sweet, syrupy, alcoholic beverage: liqueur.
  •  
    In sum: If you want a less sweet, clear spirit, choose schnapps/eau de vie over liqueur. For something sweet and syrupy, go for a liqueur or cordial.
     
    Fruit Brandy Vs. Liqueur

  • Liqueur is sweeter, and typically made from a grain-based alcohol.
  • Fruit-flavored brandy is made from a grape-based alcohol. Be sure to buy one that is all natural, i.e., made with real fruit instead of flavored syrup. With a quality brand, the fruit is macerated in the alcohol, then filtered out prior to bottling.
  • There are a few Cognacs-based liqueurs such as Chambord (raspberry), Domaine De Canton (ginger) and Grand Marnier (orange). Cognac is a higher-quality brandy made according to the stringent standards of the Cognac commune of southwestern France.
  •   

    Comments off

    TIP OF THE DAY: Cotton Candy Cocktail

    Cotton Candy Cocktail

    Cotton Candy Cocktail

    Spun Sugar Dessert

    [1] Top a cocktail or mocktail with cotton candy (photo Jeff Green | Barbara Kraft | Arizona Biltmore). [2] Soft drinks, shakes, and so forth can get the cotton candy treatment (photo courtesy Aww Sam). [3] Spun sugar, the predecessor of cotton candy (photo courtesy Food Network).

     

    December 7th is National Cotton Candy Day. In different parts of the world, it’s known as candy cobwebs, candy floss, fairy floss and spider webs, among other names.

    THE HISTORY OF COTTON CANDY

    The father of cotton candy was spun sugar. In the mid-18th century, master confectioners in Europe and America learned to hand-craft spun sugar nests as Easter decorations and elaborate dessert presentations.

    According to The Dictionary of American Food and Drink, the debut of the product we know as cotton candy took place in 1897 in Nashville.

    Candymakers William Morrison and John C. Wharton invented an electric machine that allowed crystallized sugar to be poured onto a heated spinning plate, pushed by centrifugal force through a series of tiny holes.

    In 1904 at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, Morrison and Wharton sold the product, then known as “fairy floss,” in cardboard boxes for 25 cents a serving. Though the price equaled half the admission to the Fair itself, they sold 68,655 boxes!

    Here’s more cotton candy history.

    COTTON CANDY AS A DRINK GARNISH

    For those with a sweet tooth, cotton candy is a fun garnish for cocktails, mocktails and other non-alcoholic drinks.

    Caterers love the idea, as do some mixologists. Some mixologists create “magic” at the bar or table, presenting a glass of cotton candy, then pouring the cocktail over it.

    Check out this YouTube video and this fun recipe. The cotton candy disappears “like magic”.

     
    THE COTTON CANDY COCKTAIL

    Match the cotton candy color to the drink, or create contrast.

    Here are some recipes to start you off:

    Cotton Candy Daiquiri

    Garnished Shots

    Multicolor Cocktail With Multicolor Cotton Candy
     
     
    For a drinkable dessert, garnish a glass of sweet wine.

    You can find many more online, including a Pinterest page on cotton candy cocktails.

    TIP: You don’t have to add an ice cream scoop-size ball of cotton candy. Sometimes, less is more.

     

     
      

    Comments off

    TIP OF THE DAY: Create Ice Cube Art (Designer Ice Cubes)

    We have long made “designer ice cubes” for cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks by:

  • Adding fruit to the ice cube for sweet drinks.
  • Adding herbs to the ice cubes for savory drinks.
  •  
    You simply fill the ice cube tray with water and drop a piece of fruit or an herb into each compartment. Here’s our original article.

    We also use two techniques that don’t dilute the drink:

  • Freeze juice or other liquid into ice cubes; for example, tomato juice or bouillon for a Bloody Mary, pineapple juice for a Piña Colada, coffee ice cubes for a Black Russian or Irish Coffee.
  • Use frozen fruits or vegetables. You can buy them or make them.
  • For sweet drinks, whole strawberries or melon balls are our go-to fruits.
  • For savory drinks, use larger vegetables like broccoli or cauliflower florets instead of frozen carrots and peas or corn, which are small and will defrost quickly. You can also freeze thick cucumber and zucchini slices.
  •  
    WHAT’S NEXT?

    The artiest ice cubes yet, from Let’s Mingle Blog. We just love the look, and have so much fun mixing and matching the ingredients.

    Ingredients

  • Fruits, vegetables, herbs and whole spices of choice
  • Liquid of choice: water, flavored water, coffee, tea, juice or soft drink*
  •  
    Preparation

    1. FILL the ice cube compartments one-third or halfway with your liquid of choice: coffee or tea, juice, water, etc. Place the trays in the freezer until the ice is partially frozen (fully frozen is OK, too).

    2. ADD the fruits, herbs, spices, whatever, and return to the freezer for 20 minutes or more, so the fruit will stick and not float to the top.

    3. TOP with the final layer of liquid, and freeze fully.

    Here’s the entire article from Let’s Mingle Blog, with many more design ideas.

     

    Designer Ice Cubes

    Fruit In Ice Cubes

    The best-looking ice cubes we’ve seen, from Let’s Mingle Blog. Read the full article.

     
    ________________
    *For example, cola ice cubes for a Rum & Coke.

      

    Comments off

    TIP OF THE DAY: Honor The Cranberry With Cranberry Drinks

    Cranberries are a group of low, creeping evergreen dwarf shrubs or trailing vines, that grow in acidic bogs in the cooler regions of the U.S. and Canada.

    The plants belong to the heather family, Ericaceae, along with the bilberry, blueberry, huckleberry, azalea and other rhododendrons.

    NAMING THE BERRY

    Native American tribes from New England Pequod and Wampanoag to the Leni-Lenape of New Jersey to the Algonquins of Wisconsin variously called them sassamanesh (very sour berry), ibimi (bitter berry) and atoqua in their local tongues.

    The English name derives from kranebere, German for crane berry, so called by early Dutch and German settlers in New England who saw the flower, stem, calyx and petals as resembling the neck, head and bill of a crane.

  • Some New Englanders called them bearberries, as bears were fond of feeding on them.
  • Northeastern Canadians called them mossberries.
  • In the U.K., it’s the fenberry, since the plants grow in a fen (a marsh).
  •  
    CRANBERRY HISTORY

    The Wampanoag People of southeastern Massachusetts had been harvesting wild cranberries for 12,000 years by the time the Pilgrims arrived. The Leni-Lenape of New Jersey and other tribes in the East also were blessed with cranberry bogs.

    Native Americans used cranberries for grits and pemmican—deer meat, mashed cranberries and fat, pressed and dried as a convenience food for travel. Cranberries mashed with cornmeal were baked it into bread.

    While maple sugar and honey were used to sweeten the sour berry, some souls with a palate for the super-tart even ate them fresh.

    Non-food uses included dye, fever-reducers, wound poultices and seasickness remedy.
     
    Cultivating The Cranberry

    The first cultivation of cranberries took place in Dennis, on Cape Cod, around 1816. After that, landowners eagerly converted their peat bogs, swamps and wetlands into cranberry bogs.

    Farmers developed a process called wet harvesting: flooding the bog with water so the cranberries floated to the surface, where they are collected.

    Cranberries found their way across the northern states to the Pacific Northwest, and were first shipped to Europe in the 1820s. From England, they were brought to the cold-appropriate countries of Scotland, Russia and Scandinavia. They’re now grown commercially in Chile as well.

    Today, U.S. Farmers harvest approximately 40,000 acres of cranberries each year (source).

    The fruit is turned into jam, juice, sauce and sweetened dried cranberries, with the remainder sold fresh to consumers for cooking and baking.
     
    CRANBERRY TRIVIA

    A fresh cranberry will bounce, due to the pocket of air inside (photo #3). That’s also why they float.

    The cranberry is one of only three fruits native to North America that were not known in Europe*. The others: the blueberry and the grape.

       

    Cranberry Flower

    Cranberry Bush

    Cranberry Inside

    Fresh <br />Cranberries” width=”230″ height=”230″ class=”alignnone size-full wp-image-87513″ /></p>
<p><font size=[1] The cranberry flower (photo courtesy University of Wisconsin. [2] Cranberries on the branch (photo courtesy University of Minnesota). [3] The air pockets in cranberries enable them to bounce and float (photo courtesy Cape Cod Cranberry Growers Association). [4] Fresh cranberries (photo courtesy Ocean Spray).

     

    Mulled Cranberr & Tequila Drink

    Cranberry Punch

    [1] Cranberry Toddy (photo courtesy DeLeon Tequila). [2] Cranberry punch (photo courtesy Ocean Spray).

     

    DRINKING CRANBERRIES

    In Colonial days, a drink known as the Hot Toddy was created as a way to cure ailments (or at least, that was the excuse given).

    Made with rum from the Caribbean, it was also called Hot Buttered Rum: rum, hot water, spices and a pat of butter.

    Today, cranberry juice is drunk as:

  • Cocktails: Cape Codder, Cosmopolitan, Crantini, Toddy and Sea Breeze, among others
  • Juice Drinks
  • Mocktails
  • Smoothies
  •  
    You can create your own drink, mixing cranberry juice with lemon, vanilla, seasonal spices and seasonal fruits.

    We adapted this cocktail recipe from one sent to us by DeLeón Tequila.
     
    RECIPE #1: CRANBERRY TODDY

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1½ ounces white/silver tequila
  • 6 ounces cranberry brew
  •  
    For The Cranberry Brew

  • 1 part fresh unsweetened cranberry juice
  • ¾ part fresh lemon juice
  • ¾ part simple syrup
  • Cinnamon, clove and nutmeg to taste
  • Garnish: orange slice (optionally studded with cloves)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. SIMMER together the cranberry brew ingredients. Combine with tequila in glass mug.

    2. GARNISH with the orange slice.
     
    RECIPE #2: CRANBERRY PUNCH WITH OR WITHOUT SPIRITS

    How can you resist this holiday punch, with a cranberry wreath in the center?

    The wreath is actually an ice mold to chill the punch, filled with fresh cranberries and leafy herbs.

    The recipe, from Ocean Spray, is for an alcohol-free punch; but you can add spirits to taste.

    Ingredients For About 15 Six-Ounce Servings

  • 1 64-ounce bottle Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice Cocktail
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 2 cups lemon-lime soda or club soda
  • Optional: spirit of choice (we used gin and cranberry liqueur)
  • Garnish: ice ring with cranberries (substitute orange and lime slices)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the ice mold. Fill a ring mold with cranberries and “leaves” (herbs or other leaves) and water, and place in the freezer.

    2. COMBINE the cranberry juice cocktail, orange juice and optional spirits in a large punch bowl. Gently stir in soda just before serving. Garnish and serve.

    TIP: To keep the punch cold, store the juice mix, soda and optional spirits in the fridge until ready to serve. We used two large pitchers, which fit easily into the fridge.

    ____________
    *Strawberries and raspberries were also known to Europeans; and many other fruits, such as the pawpaw and the saskatoon, are native to North America, but are not commercially important.

      

    Comments off



    © Copyright 2005-2017 Lifestyle Direct, Inc. All rights reserved. All images are copyrighted to their respective owners.