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TIP OF THE DAY: Cranberry Mulled Wine

She uses a slow cooker: a great way to mull wine or cider without having to tend to it.

After years of serving mulled wine, we realized that the popular garnishes are wasteful: They can’t be eaten, and are tossed out. That means you, cinnamon sticks, curls of peel, raw cranberries and star anise. So, we’ve settled on a seasonal garnishes that is edible, attractive and aromatic:

  • Orange wheel for the rim, especially blood orange; or a wedge studded with a few cloves for the aroma.
  • We’ve also made a glass rim of orange zest with a bit of superfine sugar.
  • For the same reason, we add dried cranberries to the pot instead of whole cranberries.
  •  
    We start with a conventional recipe and end up with a slow cooker alternative. Slow mulling is great because it doesn’t take up a stove top burner that you may need for cooking.
     
    TIPS

  • the juice and the brandy bring the yield to 46 ounces. If you’re serving 6-ounce portions in 8-ounce cups, that’s roughly 6 servings.
  • Make a batch without alcohol: mulled Apple cider with cranberry juice.
  •  
    RECIPE #1: CRANBERRY MULLED WINE

    We adapted this classic recipe from Wine And Glue.

    TIP: Serve mulled wine in a glass vessel. If you don’t have glass mugs or Irish Coffee glasses, consider getting some. They’re not more than $5 apiece, and you can use them year-round for any hot beverage. Rocks glasses and stemmed wine glasses also work.

    Ingredients

  • 750 ml bottle Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Zinfandel (un-oaked)
  • 1-1/2 cups brandy
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 oranges, sliced and studded with 1 tablespoon cloves
  • 1 cup cranberry juice (not cranberry drink or cocktail)
  • 1/3 cup honey or sugar (we prefer the flavor nuances of honey and use only 1/4 cup for less sweetness, more sophisticated flavor)
  • Optional: 5 cardamom pods, bruised
  •    

    Holiday Mulled Wine

    Orange Studded With Cloves

    [1] The conventional garnishes look beautiful, but you can’t eat them (photo courtesy Kitchen Treaty). [2] Our favorite garnish: an orange wedge (edible) studded with a few cloves (photo courtesy The Guardian).

     
    Variations

  • If you have cranberry liqueur, you can substitute it for all or part of the brandy.
  • Ditto for orange liqueur, like Grand Marnier.
  • Both of these will change the flavor profile a bit: more cranberry or orange flavor.
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE all ingredients in a large sauce pan. Bring to a quick boil, then reduce to a low simmer for 10 minutes. You don’t want the alcohol to evaporate.

    2. SERVE warm. If you don’t have glass cups or mugs, you can also use stemmed wine glasses or rocks glasses.
     
    RECIPE #2: SLOW COOKER CRANBERRY MULLED WINE

    We adapted this recipe from Kate at Kitchen Treaty.

    Ingredients

  • 1 bottle (750 ml) unoaked Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Zinfandel
  • 2 cups cranberry* juice (not cranberry cocktail)
  • 1 cup whole cranberries
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar (substitute honey or maple syrup)
  • 1 medium orange
  • 2 tablespoons whole cloves
  • 2 3-inch cinnamon sticks
  • 1/2 cup brandy
  • Garnishes of choice
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the wine, orange juice, cranberries, and sugar to a 3-quart or larger slow cooker. Stir to help the sugar dissolve.

    2. SCRUB the orange, stud it with cloves and add it to the pot. If you don’t have the time to insert the cloves, just toss them into the pot separately. There are two techniques to stud an orange: use a thimble on your finger (pushing in more than a few starts to dent your finger) or first make holes with an ice pick or toothpick.

    3. COOK on low for 2-3 hours, until the cranberries are tender. Be sure not to boil. Remove the orange and the cinnamon sticks, then carefully pour the mulled wine through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl. Use the back of a large spoon to press on the cranberries and release the juices. Return the wine to the slow cooker and stir in the brandy. Taste and adjust the sweetness until it’s just sweet enough (the sweetness should be more elegant than a soft drink!).

    4. LADLE into mugs, garnish as desired and serve. Keep the slow cooker on the low setting so guests can help themselves to refills. Kitchen Treaty advises that if kept on low for more than three hours, it will boil—and boil off the alcohol.

     

    Mulled Wine Recipe

    Mulled Wine

    [3] and [4] Glass mugs or rocks glasses make mulled wine look even better (photo #1 courtesy Gimme Some Oven. Ali adds star anise to her recipe. Photo #2 courtesy Gordon Ramsay Group).

     

    RECIPE #3: MULLED WINE WITH VODKA

    This ingredient comes from Ocean Spray. The vodka is optional, but we highly recommend it!
     
    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1-1/2 cups Ocean Spray 100% Juice Cranberry Juice Blend
  • 1-1/2 cups dry red wine
  • 3/4 teaspoon lemon peel
  • 3/4 teaspoon grated orange peel
  • 6 whole cardamom pods
  • 6 cloves
  • 2 three-inch cinnamon sticks
  • 6 ounces lemon flavored Vodka (substitute other citrus vodka or plain vodka)
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries/Craisins
  • 2 tablespoons slivered almonds
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE all ingredients except the vodka, dried cranberries and almonds in a large saucepan. Heat to boiling, reduce the heat and simmer 15 for minutes.

    2. STRAIN to remove the spices. Stir in the vodka,

    3. PLACE 1 tablespoon of dried cranberries and 1-1/2 teaspoons almonds in the bottom of each glass or mug. Pour the in mulled wine and serve.
     
    WHAT DOES “MULLED” MEAN?

    According to Harvard University, the origin of the word “mull” to mean heated and spiced is shrouded in mystery. Mulling spices can include allspice, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, peppercorns and/or star anise. A “mulled” drink is one which has been prepared with these spices. The same spices can be added to the brewing process to make spiced beer.

    The custom is believed to have originated in northern Europe to use wine that had gone bad. The spices covered up the off taste, along with additions such as apples, oranges and dried fruits, including raisins.

     
    The technique is to heat the liquids with the spices and then strain them out before serving.

    The expression “cup of good cheer” comes to us from Merrie Olde England, referring to hot mulled cider and wine.

    “Wassail” (WASS-ul), meaning good health, began as a greeting among Anglo-Saxons, who inhabited England from the 5th century. They comprised Germanic tribes who migrated to the island from continental Europe, and initially spoke what we today call Old English.

    Centuries later, the term evolved into a drinking toast. The wassail bowl tradition began in the 14th century in southern England, home to apple groves galore and a lot of apple cider. The first wassail bowls contained hot mulled cider. When you come across references to “a cup of good cheer,” it refers to mulled cider or wine.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Red Licorice For Chocolate-Covered Anything Day

    Christmas Twizzlers

    Chocolate Covered Licorice

    Christmas Candy Cake

    [1] These Christmas Twizzlers are available at Target and elsewhere (photo courtesy Candy Warehouse). [2] You can buy the artisan version from confectioners. These are sold on Etsy by Nicole’s Treats. [3] Wowsa: a kid’s fantasy Christmas Cake from Cake Whiz. Underneath: a chocolate cake with buttercream frosting.

     

    December 16th is Chocolate-Covered Anything Day.

    We love chocolate-covered apples-on-a-stick, bacon strips, berries, citrus peel, cookies, dried fruit (apricots and figs are our favorites [sorry, raisins]), graham crackers, gummies, ice cream pops, maraschino cherries, marshmallows, nuts, orange segments, popcorn, pretzels and potato chips. You can buy them or make them.

    What we haven’t tried:

    Chocolate-covered baby octopus, calamari, carrots, insects, Cheetos, corn dogs, edamame, garlic, jalapeños, jerky, kimchi and seaweed (from Korea), mashed potatoes (a Paula Deen recipe), onions, pickles, roses (real roses on their stems!), Slim Jims and wasabi peas.

    One source even recommended dipping these latter items in chocolate fondue!

    So today’s proposal, chocolate-covered licorice, should not sound far out. For licorice lovers, it’s quite a tasty variation.

    While it’s the week before Christmas and we propose a red-and-green theme, you can use this easy recipe for any holiday where the licorice stick colors work (black, brown, green, orange, purple, red, yellow-green, etc. (Check out the colors at Candy Warehouse.)
     
    CHOCOLATE-COVERED CHRISTMAS LICORICE

    Twizzlers makes red, green and white twist (photo #1), which you can find at Target, Candy Warehouse and elsewhere.
     
    RECIPE: CHOCOLATE COVERED LICORICE
    (OR OTHER CONFECTION)

    Ingredients

  • Red licorice sticks (soft, not stale)
  • White chocolate chips or chopped white chocolate bar
  • Green food color
  • Optional: red and green sprinkles, confetti or other decorations (we had gold and white dragées at hand)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. CUT the licorice sticks in half. You can skip this step, but the half-sticks are easier to eat, and more size-appropriate when covered in chocolate.

    2. MELT the white chocolate in the microwave. We used a pie plate, which makes it easy to dip the licorice.

    3. TINT the white chocolate green. If you like, you can keep some of the batch white for drizzling over the green chocolate.

    4. DIP the licorice and set on wax paper to dry.

     
    TIP #1: We used sugar tongs. Ours have a serrated gripping edge.

    TIP #2: If you plan to store the licorice for a few days or longer, cut the wax paper in sizes that fit into the container. Then, just lift the wax paper and pop the sheet(s) into the storage container.

    5. DRIZZLE the optional white chocolate or add the sprinkles promptly, before the chocolate sets. If not using the same day…

    6. STORE in an airtight containe. We used our Le Creuset red rectangular baking dish, which makes a beautiful presentation; but you can use any baking pan and plastic wrap. Store at room temperature.
     
    WHY IS LICORICE PRONOUNCED LICORISH?

    The Scots pronounce it “licoriss,” from the Old French “licoresse.” In England and the U.S., it is “licorish.” Here are two theories as to why:

  • The phoneme may have shifted from /s/ to /sh/, as happened with the words “pressure” and “sugar.”
  • A 1685 spelling of “licorish” in England leads to speculation is that this pronunciation originated in a regional dialect of English, which changed many final “s” sounds to “sh.”
  •  
    The history of licorice.

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Christmas Salads

    As we close in on Christmas, we like to “Christmas-ize” our food, adding red and green garnishes to everything from scrambled eggs (green and red bell peppers or jalapeños) to desserts (mint leaves and raspberries).

    We have fun looking for a different red and green combination at every meal.

  • For sandwiches, we add a plate garnish of lettuce, baby spinach or baby arugula and cherry tomatoes*, which can easily be moved onto the sandwich.
  • For an olive garnish, we use the bright green Castelvetrano olives and bright red peppadews.
  •  
    Last year’s red and green food recipes include:

  • Christmas tartare: salmon or tuna
  • Christmas scallop crudo
  • Christmas sushi
  • Goat cheese rolled in dried cranberries and pistachio nuts
  • Pinwheel sandwiches
  • With cocktails,red and green pinwheel sandwiches
  •  
    Today, we suggest a red and green “Christmas salad.”

    The popular Caprese Salad is certainly red and green enough, but in the winter, when conventional tomatoes are out of season, you need to substitute: cherry or grape tomatoes, marinated sundried tomatoes, peppadews, pimientos (jarred red peppers), red bell peppers, etc.

    You can serve something as simple as a beet and avocado salad. No prep is required, beyond slicing the avocado. The peeled, cooked ready-to-eat beets from Love Beets and other brands are terrific.

    Then, just assemble the first three ingredients and drizzle the dressing (or place the dressing on the plate first).

  • Beets
  • Avocado
  • Mozzarella balls (ciliegine, perilii or other size
  • Balsamic vinegar and good olive oil (you can blend them into a vinaigrette)
  • Optional garnish: microgreens
  •  
    Or, make a green salad from:

  • Cherry or grape tomatoes, whole or cut in hale
  • Radicchio or red endive
  • Radishes
  • Red bell pepper, sliced horizontally (we also use the mini bell peppers, bagged in mixed colors)
  • Red chile slices:
  • Red lettuce, chard, mustard greens
  • Red chile slices, from mild to hot
  •  
    Whatever salad you choose, take this tip from KBlog: cut slices of toast into star shapes with a cookie cutter, and top your salad with a big star. Starfruit (carambola) also works.
     
    SALAD HISTORY: WHY IS IT CALLED “SALAD” IF THERE ARE NO SALAD GREENS?

    The original meaning of salad in European cuisine referred to a cold dish consisting of vegetables—lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers—topped with a dressing. Sometimes it containing seafood, meat, or eggs (think egg salad, tuna salad, etc.).

    The modern word, which entered Middle English around 1350-1400, derives from the French salade, which dates back to the Latin salata, salty. Since Roman times, vegetables were seasoned with brine or salty oil-and-vinegar dressings.

    The ancient Greeks and Romans alike ate mixed greens with dressing. Salads, both layered and dressed, were made popular in Europe by Roman imperial expansion (27 B.C.E. to 284 C.E.)

    In the 1699 book, Acetaria: A Discourse on Sallets, John Evelyn attempted with little success to encourage his fellow Britons to eat fresh salad greens. (You can still find reprints in hardcover and digital versions.

       

    Beet Salad

    beets-avocado-ricotta-radish-marsalareduction-bar-eolo-230sq

    Star Crouton On Salad

    Christmas Salad

    [1] Beet salad with red pickled onions and green accents (photo Sarsmis | IST). [2] Another beet salad, green with avocado and a balsamic reduction (photo courtesy Bar Eolo | NYC). [3] Kathy Patalsky of KBlog.LunchboxBunch.com tops her Christmas Tree Salad with a star-shaped toast crouton. Here’s her recipe. [4] Red endive and leafy lettuce with candied walnuts, from Gordon Ramsay.

     
     
    MODERN SALADS

    In the U.S. and Europe, salads of mixed greens salads (“green salads”) became popular in the late 19th century, and the concept expanded to Asia and other regions of the world.

    The term “salad bar,” referring to a buffet laid out with salad-making ingredients so customers could make their own, seems to date to the 1960s. Restaurants in different parts of the country lay claim to its invention, including New York City’s Steak & Ale and Hawaii’s Chuck’’s Steak House. The attraction was the ability to customize one’s salad—and eat as much as you wanted (more history).

    In truth, for centuries inns and boarding houses placed the food on a buffet for guests to help themselves (the “board” from “room and board”).

    ________________
    *When tomatoes are out of season, cherry and grape tomatoes, raised in hothouses, have the best flavor. You can Substitute marinated sundried tomatoes, pimiento, red bell pepper, etc.

    †The phrase is found in Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra at the end of Act 1, when Cleopatra regrets her youthful dalliances with Julius Caesar: “…My salad days, / When I was green in judgment, cold in blood…”.

     

    Red Mustard Greens

    Peppadews

    Castelvetrano Olives

    [5] Look for specialty salad greens like red mustard greens and chard (photo courtesy Good Eggs | SF). [6] Peppadews (photo courtesy Murray’s Cheese). [7] Castelvetrano olives (photo courtesy The Maiden Lane | NYC).

     

    Mary, Queen of Scots (1542-1587) enjoyed salads of boiled celery root over greens. covered with creamy mustard dressing, truffles, chervil, and slices of hard-boiled eggs.

    The phrase “salad days,” meaning a “time of youthful inexperience,” i.e. a young person who is “green,” was coined by Shakespeare†, in 1606.

    Today, salads range far beyond the green salads (garden salads) of the 20th century—a concept so prevalent that in the U.S., the word salad unmodified (i.e., corn salad) refers to a green salad with torn, bite-size lettuce and other ingredients cut into small pieces.

    But there other options that are rightfully called “salad”:

  • Various dishes made with beans and legumes, bread, cheese, eggs, fruit, meat, pasta, seafood, vegetables and starches (green beans, potatoes, grains) and more; in any combination; tossed, topped or “bottomed‡” with a dressing and served cold.
  • Ingredients cut in different shapes: sliced, diced, chopped, shredded, etc.
  • Dressings range from vinaigrettes and creamy dressings, seasoned with everything from mustard to sriracha.
  •  
    Most salads are served cold, although warm vegetable salads are not uncommon, and classics such as German potato salad have always been served warm.
     
    Salads can be served at any point during a meal:

  • Appetizer salads: Light salads that stimulate the appetite serve as the first course of the meal.
  • Side salads: These can accompany the main course as a side dish, or be served after it as the “salad course.”
  • Main course salads: Served for lunch or a light dinner, these containing a protein: cheese, hard-boiled egg, sliced beef, chicken breast, ham, or a combination, like Chef’s Salad or Cobb Salad.
  • Palate cleansing salads: Refreshing ingredients lime citrus segments, herbs or a combination can be used to “settle the stomach” after a heavy main course. Sorbet is another effective palate cleanser.
  • Dessert salads: Mixed fruits, gelatin with fruit, whipped cream or mascarpone and other ingredients can be garnished with cacao nibs, fruit coulis (a light purée), pomegranate arils, sweet dressing (e.g. honey-based, lemon poppyseed), sweet herbs (basil, lavender, mint, rosemary, star anise), toasted coconut, etc.).
  •  
    MORE CHRISTMAS SALAD IDEAS

    Salad Snack Tree

    Christmas Stuffed Avocado

     
    ________________
    ‡Instead of topping the salad with dressing, it’s trendy to cover the plate with dressing and place the salad on top of it.

      

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    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.
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    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.

     

     
      

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