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Archive for Desserts

TIP OF THE DAY: Champagne Jell-O Shots…Or Maybe Beer

How old can you be and still enjoy Jell-O shots?

Erica of Erica’s Sweet Tooth adapted this recipe from Bakers Royale.

Point of accuracy: This recipe is made with plain gelatin, not flavored Jell-O, so it’s not really a Jell-O shot.

Another point: Everyone responds to the word “champagne,” but pricey champagne at $30 and up is not the best wine to use in recipes. Instead, use another sparkling wine for one-third of the price.

Don’t Like Champagne?

If the dad-of-honor prefers beer, substitute fruit beer in the recipe…or go bold with an IPA or stout. Guinness shots, anyone?
 
RECIPE: CHAMPAGNE JELL-O SHOTS

Ingredients For 15 Jello Shots

  • 10 ounces plus 5 ounces champagne (or cava, prosecco or other sparkling wine)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 envelopes Knox plain gelatin
  • Optional garnish: white sparkling sugar (sanding sugar)
  •    

    Champagne Jell-O Shots

    Champagne gelatin shots for any festive occasion (photo courtesy Erica’s Sweet Tooth).

     
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE 10 ounces of the champagne with the sugar in a saucepan. Sprinkle the gelatin on top and let it soften for 2 minutes.

    2. PLACE the saucepan over low heat and stir until the gelatin has completely dissolved, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and add the remaining 5 ounces of champagne; stir to combine.

    3. POUR the mixture into a brownie pan or other square/rectangular container, and chill for at least an hour until firm.

    4. CUT: First dip the pan into warm water and use a knife along the sides to gently release the gelatin. Use a sharp knife to cut squares. Before serving, dip the tops in the sparkling sugar and serve with a festive toothpick.

    (Or, for the tongue-in-cheek approach described below, serve a square or two in champagne coupes, with an optional strawberry or raspberry.)

     

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01 data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/Champagne Cupcakes cookcraftlove 230r

    Champagne cupcakes—to serve with the shots? (Photo courtesy Cook Craft Love.)

     

    RECIPE: RASPBERRY CHAMPAGNE CUPCAKES

    Another celebratory treat: champagne cupcakes. Why are they shown in champagne coupes (photo at left)?

    Decades ago, it was established that the champagne coupe—also called sherbet champagne glasses because they were popularly used to serve scoops of sherbet—were not ideal for sparkling wine.

    The wide surface area of the bowl—allegedly modeled after Marie Antoinette’s breasts—enables the bubbles to dissipate more quickly than they do in a flute or tulip glass.

    While the photo shows them tongue-in-cheek, serving champagne cupcakes instead of champagne, you can serve equally tongue-in-cheek champagne shots in them.

    If you want to bake the raspberry champagne cupcakes in the photo, here’s the recipe from Meaghan of CookCraftLove.com.

    You don’t have to open a new bottle: You can make this recipe with leftover champagne. It doesn’t matter if it’s flat: It will become flat quickly enough when mixed into the batter.

     
    You can serve the cupcakes with a glass of sec or demi-sec champagne, which are sweeter than brut champagne. Here are the levels of sweetness in Champagne.

    If you’re planning to buy champagne, check out our champagne buying tips.

      

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    RECIPE: Baked Churros

    You don’t have to wait until Cinco de Mayo to make a batch of churros.

    But this lesser-guilt recipe for baked churros (instead of fried), from The Baker Chick, is reason enough to serve them anytime.

    The recipe is below, but first:

    THE HISTORY OF CHURROS

    According to Fox News Latino, churros evolved from a Chinese cruller* (youtiao). Portuguese sailors discovered them them on their Far East voyages, which reached China in the early 16th century.

    They brought the recipe home with them. The recipe spread to Spain, and the Spanish improved on the concept by passing the dough through a star-shaped tip prior to frying.

    In addition to the eye appeal, the signature ridges created by the tip turned out to be superior for holding dipping sauces: an improvement over the original.

    The name may have derived from the Spanish word for coarse or rough, churro. Certainly, these fried, ridged pastries were rougher than the finer works of pastry chefs.

    The churros were dusted in cinnamon and sugar, and dipped in chocolate sauce, and enjoyed at breakfast with café con leche or hot chocolate, the latter also developed in Spain in the 16th century.

    Churros arrived in what is now Mexico in the 16th century, via the Spanish conquistadors.

    While traveling from country to country, the churro was enhanced, from guava-filled churros in Cuba, the dulce de leche-filled churros in Mexico and cheese-filled churros in Uruguay.

    Dulce de leche, a popular sauce for churros, was invented in Argentina in the 19th century. The first historical reference to the Argentinian dessert comes from a peace meeting between military leaders in 1829.

    According to legend, dulce de leche was produced by accident when the maid was cooking some milk and sugar and was unexpectedly called away. Upon her return, the mixture had transformed into a thick, brown consistency (not very different from caramel sauce, which is made with sugar, cream and butter).

    The “new dessert” was called dulce de leche, a milk sweet [confection]. Today it is usually made with sweetened condensed milk (which did not exist at the time).

    ________________
    *The Chinese cruller, youtiao, also popular in, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam.

    †There is also a story about nomadic Spanish shepherds developing churros while tending their flocks in the mountains. There are breeds of Spanish sheep called the navajo-churro and the churra, the horns of which are said to look similar to the fried pastry. If the shepherds did mak4e churros, it was more likely after they spread through Spain.
    ________________

    RECIPE: BAKED CHURROS

    Ingredients For 18-20 Churros

  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 3 large eggs‡
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup cinnamon sugar
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter (or cooking spray)
  • Optional dipping sauce(s): chocolate sauce or fondue, dulce de leche, caramel sauce
  •  
    Plus

  • Piping bag with large star tip
  •    

    Churros With Chocolate Fondue

    Churros In Doily

    Churros In Basket

    [1] Churros, shown here with fruit dippers and spicy chocolate fondue (here’s the recipe from McCormick).[2] Two ways to serve churros: nicely arranged in a doily at Soccarat Paella Bar in New York City, and [3] in a basket, at King Arthur Flour.

     

    ________________

    ‡If you don’t have large eggs, use what you have but aim for 2/3 cup of egg. A larger amount could yield more watery dough.

     

    Baked Churros Recipe

    Baked Churros Recipe

    [4] and [5] Churros made with this recipe from The Baker Chick.

       
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. In a medium saucepan combine the butter, salt and water. Bring to a boil over medium high heat.

    2. REMOVE from the heat add the flour; stir to combine. The mixture will thicken and start to resemble the texture of mashed potatoes.

    3. LEAVE the dough in the saucepan, but beat it on low with a hand mixer, adding one egg at a time and mixing well before adding another. After adding each egg, the mixture will become wet and glossy, but after mixing on high for a few seconds it will thicken again. When all the eggs are are combined…

    4. ADD the vanilla. The dough will be thick and starchy, still with a similar texture to mashed potatoes. Spoon the dough into a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip. Lightly spray a cookie sheet and pipe 6-inch rows of the dough with at least 1 inch between each churro.

    5. BAKE in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and crispy. Remove from the oven, brush the warm churros with melted butter or spray lightly, and place in a shallow baking dish. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and shake the dish to make sure they are well-coated.

    Churros are best enjoyed warm. If they cool to room temperature, give them 30 seconds in the microwave.
     
     
    MORE CHURROS RECIPES

  • Chocolate Churros REcipe
  • Churros With Three Chiles Fondue (Spicy Fondue)
  •  

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Plate Decorating With Sauce

    Octopus With Swirled Sauce

    Lava Cake With Sauce

    Squeeze Bottles

    Dessert Sauce Squeeze Bottles

    [1] These “flowers” are simply polka dots pulled together with a toothpick (see the video below; photo courtesy Gardenia | NYC). [2] Any food that isn’t made in a sauce can be decorated (photo courtesy Shalit Foods). [3] Keep your favorite sauces in the fridge, ready to squeeze (photo courtesy Pure Joy Concepts). [4] You can buy sauces or make them (photo courtesy Melissa’s).

     

    When you get your food at a good restaurant and the chef has made beautiful chevrons, flowers or hearts from the sauce, are you impressed?

    If so, know that some of these are so easy, that all you need are a couple of squeeze bottles and a toothpick or skewer to make them at home.

    In fact, the hardest thing to do is to decide which sauces to use with your dish.

    So watch the video below, or plenty more on YouTube under “sauce decoration.”

  • Start with polka dots of sauce before moving into more complex designs.
  • Look for the color impact as well as the flavors when you select sauces.
  • The lists below are just guidelines. You can use whatever goes through a squeeze bottle (but steer clear of sauces with inclusions—bits of dill, mustard seeds, etc.).
  •  
    SAVORY SAUCES

  • Aïoli (garlic mayonnaise) or other flavored mayonnaise 
  • Alfredo (parmesan) or other cheese sauce
  • Barbecue sauce
  • Cream sauce (plain, basil, curry, ginger, tomato, wasabi, etc.)
  • Hoisin or plum sauce
  • Horseradish sauce
  • Lemon sauce
  • Mustard sauce
  • Ranch sauce
  • Sriracha sauce
  • Vegetable coulis*
  • Yogurt-based (e.g. garlic-yogurt sauce)
  •  
    SWEET SAUCES

  • Berry coulis*
  • Butterscotch/caramel sauce
  • Chocolate/white chocolate/mint chocolate sauce
  • Cinnamon sauce sauce
  • Coffee/mocha
  • Custard/crème anglaise
  • Honey or maple syrup
  • Kiwi coulis
  • Lemon or other citrus sauce
  • Mango coulis
  • Sweetened condensed milk
  • Yogurt-based (e.g. honey-yogurt sauce)
  •  
    ________________

    *Coulis (COO-lee) is a sauce made from puréed and strained vegetables or fruits (i.e., no seeds remain).

     
    This video shows three easy techniques for both sweet and savory sauces.


     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Baked Hot Chocolate

    Baked Hot Chocolate

    Baked Hot Chocolate With Marshmallows

    Fancy Baked Hot Chocolate

    [1] Baked hot chocolate: a new texture experience (photo by F. Martin Ramin courtesy Wall Street Journal). [2] Prefer marshmallows? Pile them on (photo courtesy Framed Cooks). [3] You can use the same recipe for an elegant dessert like this (photo courtesy Fabulous Foods).

     

    What’s baked hot chocolate?

    Substitute butter and eggs for the milk, and stick it in the oven.

    O.K., it’s not really baked hot chocolate, but the name is fine. It’s not a brownie or cake, since it has no flour. The result is a mash-up of a brownie, a baked pudding and a chocolate soufflé. It’s cousin to a lava cake.

    The top layer is slightly crisp; the middle is pudding-like (similar to lava cake), and, at the bottom, you may find some hot chocolate. When served in a cup, the top covered with whipped cream or marshmallows, it is trompe l’oeil food fun.

    The recipe is said to have originated with Heidi Friedlander (now Robb), a pastry chef who first served it more than a decade ago at Moxie, a Cleveland bistro, where it is still the favorite dessert.

    The recipe ended up in The Essence of Chocolate cookbook by John Scharffenberger and Robert Steinberg, founders of the Scharffenberger chocolate company (now part of Hershey). We adapted this recipe from theirs.

    Our favorite garnish is lightly-sweetened whipped cream with a teaspoon of orange liqueur (e.g. Grand Marnier), bourbon or rum. Since there’s currently a Reddi-Wip shortage, you can use the opportunity to make your own whipped cream. It’s fun, and it tastes glorious.

    Our article on how to make whipped cream also has recipes for salted caramel, lavender and five spice whipped cream.
     
    RECIPE: BAKED HOT CHOCOLATE

    These treats-in-a-cup can be served warm or at room temperature, topped with whipped cream.

    These can be made a day in advance and refrigerated, ungarnished. To reheat, first bring to room temperature; then place in a 350°F oven until warm, about 5 minutes.

    Total prep/cook time is 40 minutes.

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 9 ounces quality* bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (you can also use chips or chunks)
  • 6 tablespoons (¾ stick) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
  • Optional: 1/2 teaspoon cayenne or 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon; for Mexican hot chocolate, combine them
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • Garnish: whipped cream, lightly sweetened
  •  
    ________________
    *The finer the chocolate, the finer the flavor of the finished dish. You can chop up good chocolate bars.
     
    ALTERNATE GARNISHES

  • Crème fraîche, a sophisticated counterpoint
  • Crushed candy cane or striped peppermints
  • Ice cream
  • Mini marshmallows or marshmallow cream
  • Whipped cream (very lightly sweetened)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Place four eight-ounce ovenproof tea cups/coffee cups in a baking pan. If you don’t have ovenproof cups you can substitute ramekins or custard cups, but you lose the trompe l’oeil effect.

    2. MELT the chocolate and butter together in a double boiler. The water in the bottom should be barely simmering; the underside of the top section should not touch the water. As it slowly melts, whisk or stir the chocolate occasionally. When fully melted, remove the top section of the double boiler and place the lid on the bottom section, to keep the water simmering. Stir the optional spices into the melted and set aside.

    3. PLACE the eggs and sugar in a heatproof mixing bowl; then set bowl over the simmering water. Stir until warm to the touch (about 1 minute); then turn off the heat and remove the bowl to the counter.

    4. BEAT the egg mixture with an electric beater at high speed, until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes. Gently fold the egg mixture into the chocolate mixture with a rubber spatula.

    5. SPOON the batter into the cups. Add very hot water to baking pan, to come halfway up the sides of the cups. Bake until the tops lose their glossy finish and begin to look crusty: 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and carefully remove the cups from the pan and onto saucers. Top with whipped cream and serve immediately; or set aside and garnish when ready to serve. Serve with a spoon!

    For a marshmallow garnish: Sprinkle the marshmallows on top and return the cups to oven for 2 to 4 minutes, until the marshmallows or marshmallow cream begin to crisp. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes. You can sprinkle them with a bit of cinnamon, cocoa, nutmeg or other favorite.

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Quick Chocolate Dipping Sauce With Biscotti Or Ladyfingers

    If friends and neighbors are dropping by for some holiday cheer, here’s a very quick recipe for a delicious snack. It works well as a quick dessert, too.

    Keep biscotti around—they have a long shelf life—or ladyfingers, which freeze well and can be revived in a minute in the microwave. Then, in less than five minutes, make this chocolate dipping sauce.

    The combination goes with brandy, coffee, cola, fruity red wine, liqueurs, tea, and of course, a glass of milk.

    Cubed pound cake, amaretto cookies and/or sliced fruit are also delicious with the chocolate sauce. Chocoholics may prefer brownie cubes or fingers.

    The recipe makes enough for eight two-cookie servings. We turned to one of our favorite holiday snacks, Nonni’s Biscotti.

    As a bonus, Nonni’s isn’t rock-hard like conventional biscotti made for dipping in coffee or a dessert wine like vin santo. You don’t have to dip it…although don’t hesitate to follow the tradition.

    RECIPE: CHOCOLATE DIPPING SAUCE FOR

    This festive but easy recipe, which we adapted from Nescafé, is presented as individual servings.

    But if you have a fondue pot, chafing dish, brazier, or other way to keep the chocolate sauce warm, you can set it on a table with a platter of biscotti, ladyfingers and other cookies.

    Apple wedges and orange segments also works.

    Ingredients

  • 6 ounces chopped dark chocolate or chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons coffee or orange liqueur (e.g. Kahlúa, Grand Marnier
  • 1/4 teaspoon instant coffee granules
  • 16 to 24 biscotti or ladyfingers
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • Optional: cayenne for a bit of heat
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MELT. Place chocolate and cream in a medium, microwave-safe dish. Microwave on HIGH (100%) power for 60 seconds. Stir with whisk until smooth.

    2. COMBINE. Whisk in liqueur and coffee granules until coffee is dissolved.

    3. ASSEMBLE. Divide the chocolate sauce among 8 small dessert dishes or whatever you have: brandy snifters, ramekins, rocks glasses, small wine glasses, tea cups, etc). Place 2 to 3 ladyfingers to each glass. Serve immediately.

    Alternative: Use a plate under the dish and put the biscotti on the plate.

    Tip: Serve with espresso spoons so everyone can scoop up the remaining chocolate sauce.
     
    Find more of our favorite desserts.
     
    ABOUT NONNI’S BISCOTTI

    Nonni’s Biscotti is the number one-selling biscotti brand in the U.S.

    Whether for a coffee break, snack or part of dessert, we’ve been enjoying Nonni’s since they came onto the market in 2012. There are flavors for everyone, plus special holiday editions.

     

    Dipping Biscotti

    Nonnis Biscotti

    Hot Chocolate With Biscotti

    [1] Warm chocolate dipping sauce with biscotti or ladyfingers: a quick and easy snack or dessert. Photo and recipe courtesy Nescafé. [2] Dip from a tea cup or whatever you have (photo courtesy Feast And Fable Blog. [3] Instead of gingerbread men, serve hot chocolate with Nonni’s holiday biscotti. Don’t want hot chocolate? The biscotti are great with coffee, brandy and liqueurs (photo courtesy Nonni’s). [4] Pick up a few boxes and treat family and friends (photo | THE NIBBLE).

     
    Nonni means “grandmother” in certain Italian dialects (nonna is mainstream Italian). As you might guess, the founder’s nonni came from Italy (almost a century ago), bringing the family recipe with her.

    Nonni never envisioned or Salted Caramel (our personal favorite) or Turtle Pecan biscotti; but thankfully, her grandson did. There are eight flavors, plus seasonal specialties like Gingerbread and Pumpkin Spice.

    There are also five flavors (including cranberry) of Nonni’s ThinAddictives, a lower-calorie option.
     

    CHECK OUT THE HISTORY OF BISCOTTI.

      

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