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TIP OF THE DAY: The Different Types Of Rum

August 16th is National Rum Day.

Rum can be a confusing spirit for the everyday consumer. What’s silver versus white rum? What’s silver versus gold rum? Which one should you use for a rum cocktail?

It starts with distilling molasses.
 
A BRIEF HISTORY OF RUM

Sugar cane grew wild in parts of Southeast Asia. It was first domesticated sometime around 8,000 B.C.E., probably in New Guinea. It arrived in India, where better extraction and purifying techniques were developed to refine the cane juice into granulated crystals.

Sugar then spread quickly. By the sixth century C.E., sugar cultivation had reached Persia; and, from there to elsewhere in the Mediterranean, brought by Arab expansion and travel.

In 1425, sugar arrived in Madiera and the Canary Islands. In 1493, his second voyage to the New World, Christopher Columbus brought sugar cane seedlings. They were grown, first in Hispaniola and then on other islands. The main sugar-exporting countries in the Caribbean today are Barbados, Belize, Cuba, Guyana and Jamaica.

In the 17th century, Caribbean sugar cane planters produced sugar by crushing sugar cane, extracting and boiling the cane juice, then leaving the boiled syrup to cure in clay pots. A viscous liquid would seep out of the pots, leaving the sugar in the pot.

The seepage was molasses—and no one wanted the thick, cloying by-product. It was fed to slaves and livestock, but a monumental amount of molasses was still left over. Sugar was a great cash crop for European planters, but two pounds of sugar yielded a pound of molasses!

There were no customers or known uses for molasses, so the planters dumped it into the ocean: very sweet industrial waste.

Finally, slaves figured out a use, and a great one at that. They fermented the molasses and distilled it into alcohol, to yield what became known as rum (source).

Then, playing around with the now-valued molasses, it was discovered to be as good as sugar in baked goods, and more flavorful.
 
THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF RUM

There are several types of rum, known as grades of rum, in the industry.

   

Aged Rum On The Rocks

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[1] Enjoy aged rum on the rocks. [2] Add the basic grade, known a light, silver, white and other names, to an iced coffee for Jamaican Iced Coffee (photos courtesy Appleton Estates rum).

 
The different types based on factors such as distillation technique, blending technique, alcoholic content and style preferences of the country or the individual distiller. One of the easiest differentiators to understand is aging.

Aged rums will differ based on type of barrel and length of time in the barrel. Anejo means old in Spanish; Extra-Anejo is the most aged rum you can buy.

The better rums are made with high-quality molasses, which contains a higher percentage of fermentable sugars and a lower percentage of chemicals.*

  • Light Rum or Silver Rum or White Rum or Crystal Rum. This is “entry-level rum,” offering alcohol and a little sweetness, but not much flavor. Light rums can have a very light color, or can be filtered after aging to be totally colorless. It is aged briefly or not at all. It can be filtered to remove any color, earning it the names “crystal” and “white.” Light rum is typically used for mixed drinks.
  • Gold Rum, Oro rum or Amber Rum. Medium-bodied rum, midway between light rum and dark rum, gold rum is typically aged in wooden barrels. Use it when you want more flavor than light rum provides, for example in a simple cocktail like a Daiquiri or a Mojito.
  • Dark Rum. The rums in this group are also called by their particular color: brown, black, or red rum. This category is a grade darker than gold rum, due to longer aging in heavily charred barrels. As a result, dark rum delivers stronger flavors, more richness and a full body. There are strong molasses or caramel overtones with hints of spices. Dark rum is used to provide a deep flavor in cocktails and is typically used in baking and cooking (it’s the rum used in rum cake).
  • Flavored Rum. Following the growth of the flavored vodka market, you can now find light rum flavored in apple. banana, black cherry, citrus, coconut, cranberry, grape, guava, mango, melon, passionfruit, peach, pineapple, raspberry, strawberry, spiced…and on and on. They have a base of light rum, are mostly used to make cocktails, but are also enjoyable drunk neat or on the rocks.
  • Spiced Rum. Spiced rum is infused with spices—aniseed, cinnamon, pepper and rosemary, for example—and botanicals such as orange peel. The better brands use gold rum and are darker in color, but cheaper brands made from inexpensive light rum will darkened their products with caramel color.
  • Single Barrel Rum. This is the finest rum for sipping. The term “single barrel” refers to the process: After its initial aging, the rum is handpicked and blended before it is barreled for a second time in new American oak barrels, which impart flavors. It is slowly aged again, and finally bottled.
  • Overproof Rum. For serious tipplers, these rums are much higher than the standard 40% ABV (80 proof). Many are as high as 75% ABV (150 proof) to 80% ABV (160 proof). Bacardi 151, for example, is 151 proof.
  • Premium Rum or Viejo Rum. This long-aged spirit is like Cognac and fine Scotch: meant for serious sipping (viejo means old, añejo means aged—it’s semantic). The rum can be aged 7 years of more, and is produced by artisan distillers dedicated to craftsmanship. Premium rum has far more character and flavor than “mixing rum”—it’s a different experience entirely, enjoyed for its complex layering of flavors. The 18 year old Centenario Gold from Flor de Cana is a wonderful sipping experience, but also is priced at $65 or so. You can find a nice 12-year-old in the $25 range.
  •  

    Flavored Mojitos

    Daiquiri Cocktail

    Use silver/white rum for mixed drink. [1] Mojitos—original, mango and lime—from RA Sushi in Orlando. [2] The classic rum drink: the Daiquiri (photo courtesy Tempered Spirits).

     

    WHAT SHOULD YOU BUY?

    For mixed drinks, use the basic light/silver/white rum. Here are the top rum cocktails.

    For sipping, look to aged rums. Compared to aged Scotch, they’re relatively inexpensive.

    Here are some tasting notes from Ethan Trex at:
    Here are recommended brands from Ethan Trax at MentalFloss.com. Unlike pricey aged whiskey, you can pick up some for $25 and $40.

  • Bacardi Anejo
  • Brugal 1888 Gran Reserva
  • Cruzan Estate Single Barrel
  • Don Q Gran Anejo
  • El Dorado Special Reserve 15 Year Old (Guayana)
  • Gosling’s Old Rum
  • Mount Gay Black Barrel
  • Pyrat XO
  • Ron Zacapa Centenario 23 Year Old
  • Ron Vizcaya VXOP
  • Sugar Island Spiced Rum
  •  
    WHAT ABOUT CACHAÇA?WHAT ABOUT CACHAÇA?

    Cachaça (ka-SHA-suh) is a sugar cane distillate made in Brazil, in the style of gold or dark rum. It is the ingredient used in the popular Caipirinha (kai-puh-REEN-ya), Brazil’s national cocktail.

    Cachaça is often called “Brazilian rum,” but the Brazilians take exception to that. They consider their national drink to stand in a category of its own.

    The actual difference between rum and cachaça, which taste very similar, is that rum is typically made from molasses, a by-product after the cane juice has been boiled to extract as much sugar crystal as possible. Cachaça is made from the fresh sugar cane juice (but so are some Caribbean rums, particularly from the French islands). Both are then fermented and distilled. The style is usually like that of light rum, but some cachaça brands are in a style similar to gold rums.
     
    Cachaça has its own holiday: International Cachaça Day is June 12th.

    Here’s more about cachaça.

     
    __________________
    *The chemicals, which are used to extract sugar crystals from the sugar cane, can interfere with the actions of the yeast that fermentat the molasses into rum.

    †Black rum is so-named for its color; brown rum and red rum are dark rums described by their colors.

      

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    FOOD FUN: Alcohol & Gummy Candy

    Champagne With Gummy Worms

    Gummy Worm Mojito Cocktail

    Gummy Worm Cocktail

    [1] Champagne with gummy bears. [2] Mojito with a gummy worm garnish—although a Mezcal drink might make more sense with the worms (photos 1 and 2 courtesy Monarch Rooftop). [3] Gummies slithering in a Tequila Sunrise (photo courtesy Drinking In America.

     

    Search for “adult gummies” and you’ll turn up bottles and bottles of nutritional supplements.

    They’re not just multivitamins but biotin, fiber, fish oil, melatonin, vitamin C and more. (Caveat: Before you get too excited, check the grams of sugar on the bottle.)

    Let us introduce you instead to our kind of adult gummies: soaked in wine or spirits.

    Some background: A few months ago, a candy boutique in Los Angeles, Sugarfina, introduced rosé-infused gummy bears. Thanks to social media, they were sold out by pre-order before they even arrived from Germany; there’s a long waiting list (Monarch Rooftop says the number now exceeds 14,000).

    We had tried the Champagne Gummies, which are still available. There also are Cuba Libre Gummies, infused with rum and Coca-Cola.

    We wouldn’t have known the Sugarfina gummies were infused with Champagne, much less with Dom Perignon. (We deduced that the amount of champagne used was “just a splash.”)
     
    REAL ADULT GUMMIES

    Monarch Rooftop, a lounge with a view of the Empire State Building (71 West 35th Street, Manhattan), infuses its own gummies for a selection of creative cocktails. The current menu offers:

  • Tipsy Teddy Bears: gummy bears soaked in Champagne/Rosé.
  • Rummy Worms: gummy worms soaked in rum and paired with a Mojito.
  • Fish Out Of Water: vodka-soaked Swedish Fish laid atop a blue Jell-O shot.
  •  
    They inspired us to infuse our own gummies by soaking them in alcohol. We first tried spirits, then wine. We briefly considered a Boilermaker: beer with whiskey-infused gummies instead of the shot. Maybe for the Super Bowl?

    Whatever you want to infuse, the recipe is below.
     
    National Gummy Worms Day is July 15th, giving you plenty of time to test your own cocktail menu.

    MAKE YOUR OWN ALCOHOL-INFUSED GUMMY CANDY

    The hardest part of this is deciding which spirit and which fruit juice to use. You can halve the spirits and juice and make a split batch to see which you like better. Flavored vodka is even better.

    Beyond Gummy Bears & Worms

    So many decisions! There are gummy butterflies, Easter bunnies, fish, flower blossoms, frogs, fruits, gummy rings, lobsters, peaches, penguins, pigs, rattlesnakes, sharks, Smurfs, soda bottles and turtles.

    You can make your own adult gummy recipe book, with different shapes and flavors for different occasions. Tequila-infused gummies for your Margarita? Certainly: And get the Mexican Hat gummies.

    Check out the novelty gummies on Nuts.com.

     

    Tips

  • Look for a large size of gummies: a 1 kg tub (2.2 pounds) or bulk pricing. A five-pound bag of Haribo Gold-Bears is $12 on Amazon.com. That’s $2.40/pound. If your local store sells them in bulk for much more than that, you may wish to consider your options.
  • Don’t overlook flavored vodkas. We think they’re a better choice than plain vodka. We also loved sipping artisan gin, so made them for a small snack bowl. We ours soaked in gin; although we used everyday Tanqueray to infuse.
  • Test the amount of alcohol. You can make a split batch, or vary the amount your next batch.
  • Make them as gifts, too, with a reminder note to consume within five days.
  • These are not Jell-O shots. Don’t expect a buzz.
  •  
    RECIPE: ALCOHOL-INFUSED GUMMY CANDIES

    Plan ahead: The gummies need to infuse in alcohol for five days.

    Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 cups of vodka or other spirit or wine
  • 2 pounds gummi candy
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PACK the gummies into a lidded container and cover with the spirit. The alcohol should barely cover the top of the gummies.

    2. STIR, cover with the lid and place the container in the refrigerator.

    3. STIR twice a day for five days. If you use a large enough container, you can simply shake it. When ready, drain and serve.

    That’s it!
     
    What If They’re Too Alcoholic?

    First, taste them on the third day. If they’re what you expect, drain them and enjoy. If they’re still too boozy, try them with a cocktail. The combination may provide the right counterpoint. If not…

    You can fix the batch by draining the alcohol and covering the alcohol in apple juice. Shake and taste in a few hours. They may need to juice-infuse overnight.
     
    THE HISTORY OF GUMMY CANDY

    Gummi candy was first produced by Haribo, a Bonn, Germany, confectioner. Haribo is a contraction of Hans Riegel Bonn.

    Founder Hans Riegel invented the Dancing Bear, a fruit gum made in the shape of a bear, in 1922. It was succeeded in 1967 by what would become known worldwide as Gummi Bears, which would spawn an entire zoo of gummi animals.

    Gummi worms, however, were introduced by another gummi candy manufacturer, Trolli (named for forest trolls), in 1981.

    Many Americans use the English spelling, gummy, instead of the German gummi.
     

     

    Gummy Bear Sangria

    Cocktail With Gummy Candy

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    [1] Wine-infused dummies with sangria. Given all the fruit, we’d serve them on the side. Here’s the recipe from TrendHunter.com. [3] A root beer float with soda bottle gummies. Add vanilla vodka along with the root beer and ice cream. Check out these alcoholic root beer float recipes on Yummly.com. [4] What to drink while watching “Shark Tank.” At the Sugar Factory in New York City, it’s called The Ocean Blue (photos 2 and 3 courtesy Sugar Factory).

    MORE WAYS TO SERVE GUMMIES

    Beyond filling candy bowls, you can:

  • Garnish the rim of soft drinks or cocktails.
  • Garnish desert plates.
  • Top cupcakes or iced cookies.
  • Use as ice cream/sorbet toppers.
  • Make gummy fruit kabobs, alternating gummies with fresh fruits.
  • Dip in chocolate and harden on wax paper or parchment, for “gourmet” gummies. For this one, it’s better to avoid the smaller gummies like bears.
  • Decorate the rim of cocktails.
  • Add to popcorn.
  • Make gummy trail mix: gummies, M&Ms or Reese’s Pieces, nuts, pretzels and raisins or dried cherries or cranberries.
  • Make the classic Dirt Cake or Dirt Pudding.
  •   

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    RECIPE: Atlantic Beach Pie, A Spin On Lemon Meringue Pie

    Lemon Meringue Pie Slice

    Atlantic Beach Pie Recipe

    Lemon Meringue Pie

    Chess Pie

    [1] A slice of classic lemon meringue pie (photo courtesy IncredibleEgg.org). [2] The Atlantic Beach Pie variation substitutes a crunchy saltine crust (photo courtesy Crook’s Corner | Our State magazine). [3] You can never have too much meringue (photo courtesy McCormick; here’s the recipe). [4] Chess pie is a lemon custard pie baked in an all-butter pie crust (photo courtesy Good Eggs).

     

    August 15th is National Lemon Meringue Pie Day, celebrating one of America’s favorite pies.

    THE HISTORY OF LEMON MERINGUE PIE

    Lemon-flavored custards, puddings and pies date to the Middle Ages, which concluded in the 15th century. Meringue was perfected in the 17th century.

    The modern lemon meringue pie is a 19th-century recipe, attributed to Alexander Frehse, a baker in the Swiss canton of Romandie. By the late 19th century, the dish had reached the U.S. and achieved popularity.

    It combines a lemon custard single crust pie with meringue, the fluffy topping made from egg whites and sugar, baked on top. Here’s the classic lemon meringue pie recipe.

    Fast-forward a century to Atlantic Beach Lemon Pie, a Southern specialty from the beaches of North Carolina.

    It’s a lemon meringue pie with a twist: It has a crunchy, salty crust made from crushed saltine or Ritz cracker crumbs.

    It fell out of fashion for decades, until it was rescued from obscurity by Chef Bill Smith of Crook’s Corner in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

    Chef Bill added his own touch, substituting whipped cream for the meringue topping.

    Chef Bill has been generous with his recipe. We encountered this recipe in OurState, magazine in Greensboro, North Carolina, whose editor asked him to write about it. Here’s the original article.

    RECIPE: ATLANTIC BEACH PIE

    Ingredients For The Crust

  • 1½ sleeves of saltine crackers
  • 1/3 to ½ cup softened unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  •  
    Ingredients For The Filling

  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • 4 egg yolks (tip: eggs separate more easily when cold)
  • ½ cup lemon juice* (about 4 juicy lemons) or Key lime juice (16 Key limes, or substitute juice from 5-6 regular limes)
  •  
    __________________
    *To get more juice from a lemon (or any citrus), microwave it for 10 seconds. Then roll it on the counter, exerting pressure with your palm. You’re now ready to halve and juice it.
     
    Ingredients For The Garnish

  • Whipped cream
  • Coarse sea salt (especially black lava or pink salt like alea for contrast)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Place the crackers in a plastic bag, seal and crush crush with a rolling pin into tiny, flaky pieces. You will have about 2½ to 3 cups of cracker crumbs. Do not use a food processor or you will end up with cracker dust that doesn’t work.

    2. ADD the sugar, then knead in the butter until the crumbs hold together like dough. Press into an 8-inch pie pan. Chill for 15 minutes, then bake for 18 minutes or until the crust colors a little. While the crust is cooling…

    3. BEAT the egg yolks into the milk, then beat in the citrus juice. It is important to completely combine these ingredients.

    5. POUR into the shell and bake for 16 minutes until the filling has set. The pie needs to be completely cold to be sliced. Serve with fresh whipped cream and a sprinkling of sea salt.
     
    WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PIE?

    Check out the different types of pie in our yummy Pie Glossary.
     
    PIE HISTORY

    The ancient Egyptians, who were great bread bakers, worked out the details of early pastry. Theirs was a savory pastry: a dough of flour and water paste to wrap around meat and soak up the juices as it cooked.

     
    Before the creation of baking pans in the 19th century, the coffin, as it was called (the word for a basket or box), was used to bake all food.

    Pastry was further developed in the Middle East and brought to Mediterranean Europe by the Muslims in the 7th century. Another leap occurred in the 11th Century, when Crusaders brought phyllo dough back to Northern Europe (the First Crusade was 1096 to 1099).

    Greek and Roman pastry did not progress as far as it could have because both cultures used oil, which can’t create a stiff pastry. In medieval Northern Europe, the traditional use of lard and butter instead of oil for cooking hastened the development of other pastry types.

    Pies developed, and the stiff pie pastry was used to provide a casing for the various fillings. By the 17th century, flaky and puff pastries were in use, developed by French and Italian Renaissance chefs. These pastry chefs began to make highly decorated pastry, working intricate patterns on the crusts.

     
      

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    FOOD HOLIDAY: Recipes For National Creamsicle Day

    Creamsicle Cheesecake Recipe

    Creamsicle Cheesecake

    Creamsicle Milkshake

    [1] How about a Creamsicle cheesecake for National Creamsicle Day? Here’s the recipe (photo courtesy Sweet Street Desserts). [2] This recipe from Cook’s Country layers the cake, sherbet and ice cream in a springform pan lined with lady fingers. [3] Prefer a drink? Try a Creamicle shake or cocktail (photo courtesy Williams-Sonoma).

     

    The Creamsicle® was created by the Popsicle Corporation, established in the Depression by Frank Epperson, who had invented the Popsicle®. The vanilla ice cream pop, coated with orange sherbet, became a sensation.

    Today Creamsicle® and Popsicle® are registered trademarks of the Unilever Corporation. Any company wishing to use the name for a product must get a license from Unilever.

    But in the Wild West of online recipes, anything goes.

    Here’s more Creamsicle history.

    Since August 14th is also National Creamsicle Day, take a look at other Creamsicle-inspired food.
     
    FAVORITE CREAMSICLE VARIATIONS

    The easiest, and a favorite of ours, is a simple bowl of vanilla ice cream and orange sorbet (mango sorbet is a great substitute).

    You can also make vanilla cupcakes with orange frosting or top vanilla ice cream with orange liqueur.

    Here are more celebratory recipes:

  • Creamsicle Cheesecake
  • Creamsicle Cocktail
  • Creamsicle Ice Cream Cake
  • Creamsicle Milkshake (recipe below)
  •  
    Also check out fior di Sicilia, an Italian essence used to flavor baked goods and beverages. Its flavor and aroma are reminiscent of a Creamsicle.
     
    RECIPE: CREAMSICLE MILKSHAKE

    Make this recipe, from Williams-Sonoma kitchens, in 5 to 10 minutes.
     
    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1/2 cup vanilla ice cream, firmly packed
  • 1/2 cup orange sherbet, firmly packed
  • 1/3 cup milk, plus more as needed
  • Optional garnish: orange wheel/wedge or whipped cream
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the ingredients in a blender and process on the low setting. If the shake is too thick, add more milk until the desired consistency is reached.

    2. POUR the shake into a tall glass and garnish as desired.

     
     
      

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    FOOD FUN: Filet Mignon “Sculpture” For National Filet Mignon Day

    Here’s some food fun for National Filet Mignon Day, August 13th:

    Instead of serving the meat flat on the plate, create a filet mignon “sculpture”: a commemoration of the tenderest cut of beef.

    In this example from Rue 57 restaurant in New York City, the filet is set against a mound of mashed potatoes, and surrounded by:

  • Jus
  • Pearl onions
  • Peas
  •  
    Two croutons (toasted baguette or ficelle slices) garnish the dish, but you can crown the mashed potatoes with sprig of chive, rosemary or thyme instead.

    You can tailor the dish any way you like. For example:

  • Serve the jus on the side.
  • Add mushrooms or other vegetables.
  •  
    CHECK OUT THE DIFFERENT BEEF CUTS IN OUR BEEF GLOSSARY.
     
    WHAT IS JUS?

    Jus, pronounced ZHOO, is the French word for juice. With meat or poultry, it refers to a thin gravy or sauce made from the meat juices.

    The fat is skimmed from the pan juices and the remaining stock is boiled into a sauce, adding water as desired.

    Some cooks use additional ingredients to add flavor; for example, brown or white sugar, garlic, herbs, onion, salt and pepper, soy sauce and/or Worcestershire sauce. Our mother was fond of Gravy Master.

    In France, it would be argued that such additions are not jus, but a more complex sauce.

     

    French Dip Sandwich

    [1] Honor filet mignon on its national holiday, August 13th (photo courtesy Rue 57). [2] The French Dip sandwich, roast beef on baguette with a side of jus for dipping. Here’s the recipe from One Perfect Bite.

     
    “Au jus” (owe-zhoo) is the French culinary term that describes serving the meat with its pan juices.
     
    CAN YOU NAME THE AMERICAN SANDWICH THAT IS SERVED AU JUS?

    In the U.S., jus is served as a side in a small bowl, with a French dip sandwich: a roast beef sandwich on a hero roll or baguette.

    Here’s how the French Dip originated: another happy accident.
     
    CHECK OUT THE DIFFERENT SANDWICH TYPES IN OUR SANDWICH GLOSSARY.

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Getting Political With Snapple

    Through Election Day (November 8th), you can drink to your political party with Snapple TEAcision 2016.

    The new limited-edition flavors from Snapple include:

  • Blue Fruit Tea, a blend of blueberry and blackberry flavors
  • Red Fruit Tea, a blend of pomegranate, cherry and raspberry
  •  
    These “political” flavors follow on the heels of of the “patriotic” July 4th special edition, Oh Say Can You Tea, a black tea with strawberry flavor and a hint of mint.

    That flavor had this Snapple Real Fact on the back of the bottle cap: In Massachusetts, it’s illegal to dance to the National Anthem.

    What’s under the caps of Snapple TEAcision 2016?

    You’ll have to try them to find out!

    Stock up for election results-watching.

     

    Snapple TEAcision 2016

    Drink to your party with TEAcision 2016 (photo courtesy Snapple).

     

      

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    RECIPE: Blueberry Lemon Drop Cocktail

    Blueberry Lemon Drop Recipe

    Highbush Blueberries

    Lemon Drops

    [1] A Blueberry Lemon Drop vodka cocktail. [2] Fresh highbush blueberries (photos courtesy U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council). [3] Lemon Drop candies (photo LettuceTemptYou | Tumblr).

     

    The Lemon Drop cocktail is a relatively new one, invented in the 1970s at Henry Africa’s bar in San Francisco.

    It is named after old-fashioned lemon drop candy: lemon-shaped hard candies sanded (coated) with very fine sugar. No doubt, it’s why the cocktail version is often made with a sugar rim.

    A sweet-and-sour vodka-based cocktail, it combines using lemon juice, triple sec, simple syrup and vodka (in this recipe, lower-glycemic* agave syrup replaces the simple syrup).

    Variations such as the Blueberry Lemon Drop and the Raspberry Lemon Drop followed.

    For more complex flavor, replace the agave with ginger or lavender simple syrup.

    The drink is served straight up in a Martini glass or other stemmed glass.

     
    RECIPE: BLUEBERRY LEMON DROP COCKTAIL

    This recipe was contributed by Erin Rebecca of PlatingsAndPairings.com.

    Variations can be made with any muddled blueberries or puréed fruit. Blueberry and raspberry are two popular versions.
     
    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1 ounce fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 10 frozen blueberries, thawed slightly
  • 2 ounces vodka
  • 1 teaspoon agave syrup
  • Ice cubes
  • Garnish: rosemary sprig and fresh blueberries for garnish
  • Optional rim: superfine† sugar
  • __________________

    *A better choice than sugar is agave nectar, a low-glycemic natural sweetener from the agave plant. Agave nectar has a glycemic index (GI) of 32; half that of table sugar (GI 60-65). Honey has a GI of 58, pure maple syrup has a GI of 54.

    †If you don’t have superfine sugar, you can pulse regular table sugar in the food processor.
    __________________
     
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the optional sugar rim by moistening the rim of a Martini glass and twisting it in a shallow dish of superfine* sugar.

    2. MUDDLE the blueberries and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker. Add the vodka and agave and fill the cocktail shaker with ice.

    3. SHAKE well and strain into a chilled Martini glass. Garnish with a rosemary sprig and blueberries.

     
    Find more blueberry recipes at BlueberryCouncil.org.
     
    THE HISTORY OF THE LEMON DROP

    The lemon drop was the first candy sold commercially in the U.S., in 1806. The hard candy was made in lemon and peppermint flavors by a confectioner in Salem, Massachusetts, and called the Salem Gibralter [sic].

    According to Wikipedia, modern lemon drops, like most hard candies we know today, evolved from ancient medicinal lozenges. Eighteenth century advances in sugar technology made hard sugar concoctions possible.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: The Easiest Fruit Tart Recipe

    Yesterday, August 11th, was National Raspberry Tart Day. It follows on the heels of National Raspberry Cake Day (July 31st), National Raspberry Pie Day (August 1st) and National Raspberries & Cream Day (August 7th).

    We celebrated with a homemade raspberry tart. It took fewer than 20 minutes. Thanks go to our dear friend Carol, who taught us the too-good-to-be-so-easy recipe below, many years ago.

    All you need is a shortbread crust, raspberries and a jar of apple jelly. The jelly is melted into a light coat of glaze, which not only adds shine but keeps the fruit from drying out

    Prep time is 15 minutes to make and bake the crust, plus cooling time and 5 more minutes fill the crust with fruit and brush the fruit with melted jelly.

    It’s one of our go-to desserts, whenever we need something quick and impressive.
     
    WHAT ABOUT TARTLETS?

    There’s actually an even faster way to celebrate: Make tartlets (individual tarts). Buy pre-made tart shells and fill them with fruit curd, jam or preserves (the difference).

    It’s hard to find buttery shells ready-made. Our favorite is Clearbrook Farms bite-size mini tartlet shells. If you buy a brand that you think isn’t great for dessert, you can fill the shells with chicken salad or other savory food, from scrambled eggs to Seafood Newburg.

    But just get out the butter and make your own shell. Show off the fresh fruits as they deserve.
     
    USE BERRIES OR STONE FRUITS IN THIS RECIPE

    You can make this recipe with soft fruit, such as berries and ripe stone fruits (nectarines, peaches, plums, etc.).

    Other fruits, like apples and pears, need to be baked to become soft enough for pastries.

    You can mix different fruits together in whatever artistic combinations you like.
     
    TART PAN TIPS

  • If you don’t already have a tart pan, buy a good one. Cheaper ones can be flimsy and rust-prone. The pan will serve you for the rest of your life, for tarts, quiches, and as an extra pie pan in a pinch.
  • Buy a large pan: 10 to 12 inches.
  • If you don’t have or want a tart pan, you can use a pie pan, but it won’t have the classic shape: straight sides and a perfect fluted crust.
  •  
    CHECK OUT THE THE DIFFERENCESBETWEEN PIES & TARTS.
     
    RECIPE: EASIEST TART FOR BERRIES & STONE FRUITS

    Ingredients

  • 2 pints (4 cups) berries or equivalent sliced stone fruit, plus extra*
  • 1 jar apple jelly
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    For The Crust

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, softened
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup confectioner’s sugar
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    Optional

  • Filling base: almond cream (frangipanerecipe) or pastry cream (crème pâtissiére) recipe
  • Cream cheese filling (†recipe below)
  • Garnish: chopped pistachios, crème fraîche or mascarpone
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    Easy Raspberry Tart

    Raspberry Curd Tart

    Fruit Curd Tartlet

    Apple Jelly

    [1] An easy raspberry tart from Lottie And Doof. A tart pan has a removable bottom to show off the fluted edges of the crust. [2] Another easy way: make tartlets (individual portions) with fruit curd. You can buy both the shells and the curd, but here’s the recipe from from-scratch recipeSnixyKitchen.com. [3] This tartlet from Ostyeria Morini in New York City is served à la mode. [4] Versatile apple jelly makes a delicious fruit glaze (photo courtesy Smucker’s).

     
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    * Because different diameter pans require different amounts of fruit, buy an extra pint or pound “just in case.” You can serve it to guests who avoid baked desserts, or enjoy it yourself tomorrow.

    †Combine 8 ounces of softened cream cheese with 1/3 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.

     

    Raspberry Jam Tartlet

    Mini Tartlets Lemon Curd

    [1] You can fill tartlets or mini tartlets with jam (photo courtesy King Arthur Flour). [2] Mini tartlets filled with lemon curd (photo courtesy Aida Mollenkamp).

     

    Preparation

    1. WASH the berries and pat dry gently with paper towels; use fresh paper towels to further drain; set aside. If using stone fruit, slice, skin on, and place in a bowl.

    2. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Combine the crust ingredients and press the dough into a tart pan. Bake it for 12-15 minutes, until light golden brown (not beige). Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. When it reaches room temperature…

    3. FILL the crust. If using an optional base (cream cheese, pastry cream, etc.), use a spatula to fill the bottom of the crust. Then set the fruit in concentric circles or other attractive pattern.

    4. MAKE the glaze. Melt the apple jelly and use a pastry brush to brush it over the fruit.
     
    TARTS, TARTLETS & MINI TARTS: THE DIFFERENCE

  • Tart. A tart is a multi-portion dessert, made in a fluted pan with a removable bottom. As with a pie, it is sliced into individual portions. The crust is thicker than a pie and the tart can stand on its own outside of the pan. Typical tart pan sizes are 8, 9, 10 or 11 inches in diameter.
  • Tartlet. A tartlet is an individual-size tart, typically 4 to 4.75 inches in diameter. The bottom may or may not be removable.
  • Mini Tartlet. A mini-tartlet is a bite-size tartlet, approximately 1.75 inches in diameter, made in mini tartlet pans. The bottom is not removable but it’s easy to lift out the pastry.
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    RECIPES: National S’mores Day Cocktail

    Combine chocolate liqueur, marshmallow vodka and graham cracker crumbs into a special cocktail for National S’mores Day, August 10th.

    Numerous recipes abound, but we had fun with this one, adapted from ACocktailLife.com.

    You can also use chocolate vodka and marshmallow syrup, or a cream liqueur in any combination.

    You can use a simple rim of graham crackers and a single marshmallow garnish, or go over the top.

    Serve in a Martini glass or other stemmed glass (you can use a wine glass).

    RECIPE: S’MORES COCKTAIL

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2 ounces marshmallow vodka (Pinnacle and Smirnoff make it)
  • 1 ounce chocolate liqueur
  • 1 ounce creme de cacao
  • 2 ounces cream or half & half
  • Ice
  • Garnish: 2 standard marshmallows
  •  
    For The Rim

  • Chocolate sauce (fudge sauce)
  • 1 crushed graham cracker
  •  
    Substitutions

  • No marshmallow vodka? Use vanilla.
  • No creme de cacao? Double the chocolate liqueur.
  • No cream? Use milk (the drink will be less rich).
  • Alternative garnishes: chocolate-covered marshmallow, pick of mini marshmallows, Mallomar
  •  
     
    Preparation

     

    Smores Cocktail

    Smores Cocktail

    [1] What’s a S’mores celebration without a S’mores cocktail? Photo and recipe courtesy ACocktailLife.com). [2] More subtle, this variation uses white chocolate liqueur (from Carrabba’s Italian Grill | Facebook).

     
    1. CREATE the rim. Crush the graham cracker into crumbs on a plate or in a shallow bowl. Place the chocolate sauce into a shallow microwavable bowl and microwave for 30 seconds or until melted. Dip the rim of the glass into the chocolate, then into the graham cracker crumbs. Set aside to set.

    2. COMBINE the marshmallow vodka, chocolate liqueur, creme de cacao and fresh cream to a cocktail shaker. Fill with ice, shake well and pour into the prepared glass.

    3. TOAST the marshmallow garnish. Place the marshmallows at the end or in the center of a skewer. Use at the end to set the skewer into the drink, use the center to lie the skewer across the rim. Hold the skewer over an open flame to lightly toast (if your skewers are bamboo, soak them first). Add the skewer to the drink and serve.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Toast To National S’mores Day With Bubbly & Truffles

    S'mores Truffles

    S'mores Truffles Recipe

    [1] This sophisticated S’mores truffles recipe from My Baking Addiction uses Smirnoff’s marshmallow-flavored vodka. [2] A down-home version from QVC’s David Venable. The recipe is  .

     

    August 10th is National S’mores Day.

    A couple of weeks ago, we suggested a gourmet S’mores party with a buffet of everything S’mores, including fondue, fudge, grilled banana S’mores and ice cream—along with numerous other adaptation of the popular campfire cookie sandwich.

    If you don’t want the whole spread, just invite people over for easy-to-make S’mores Truffles with a glass of sparkling wine (our wine suggestions are below).

    RECIPE: S’MORES TRUFFLES

    This recipe from chef David Venable of QVC is very easy to make. You can delegate the task to kids who like to cook.

    Ingredients

  • 1 can (14-ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tablespoon instant espresso coffee granules
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 14 ounces (2 cups) semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs, divided
  • 62–64 mini marshmallows*
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    Preparation

    1. POUR the condensed milk, instant coffee and vanilla into a 3-quart saucepan over low heat. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly.

    2. ADD the chocolate chips and continue to stir until the chips are completely melted and the mixture is lukewarm, about 3–4 more minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat, add 2/3 cup graham cracker crumbs, and stir until fully incorporated.

    3. POUR the mixture into a small shallow dish (8″ x 8″ baking pan or a 9″ round cake pan). Cover the dish with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature until the mixture has cooled completely, about 2–3 hours.

    4. PLACE the remaining 1/3 cup of graham crumbs into another shallow dish. To form the truffles, scoop 1 tablespoon of the chocolate mixture and make a well in the center. Place the marshmallow in the well, pinch the tops closed (to enclose the marshmallow), and roll the chocolate in your hands until a uniform ball forms.

    5. ROLL the ball into the graham cracker crumbs until completely coated. Repeat the same process to form each truffle.
     

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    *One intrepid baker counted There are 571 mini marshmellows in a 16-ounce bag. Really? Another counts 35 standard marshmallows in a 10-ounce bag, with the advice that 1 standard marshmallow = 3 mini marshmallows. If you conduct your own count, let us know!

     

    SWEET WINES TO PAIR WITH CHOCOLATE & DESSERTS

    Some sparkling wines are made in a sweet style, just to go with dessert. In the sparkling category, the terms dry, sec and demi-sec (dry and semi-dry in French) are used for these wines.

    Why dry? It’s an anomaly that began in the Champagne region of France. Here’s an interesting comparison of the different sweetnesses of Champagne.

    Sweet Sparkling Wines

  • Amabile and Dolce sparkling wines from Italy
  • Asti Spumante from Italy (sparkling moscato)
  • Brachetto d’Acqui (a rosé wine) from Italy
  • >Demi-Sec and Doux sparkling wines from France (including Champagne)
  • Dry Prosecco (a.k.a Valdobbiadene) from Italy
  • Freixenet Cordon Negro Sweet Cuvée and Freixenet Mía Moscato Rosé from Spain
  •  
    We also like two sweet sparklers from the U.S,:

  • Sparkling Gewürztraminer from Treveri Cellars in Washington
  • Schramsberg Crémant Demi-Sec from California
  •  
    Sweet Still Wines

    Take advantage of the celebration to try one or more of these:

  • Banyuls from Roussillon in the south of France
  • Late Harvest Zinfandel from California
  • Lustau Muscat Sherry Superior “Emlin” fom Spain
  • Recioto Amarone from Veneto, Italy (not Valpolicella, a dry wine from the same region)
  • Ruby Port from Portugal
  • Vin Santo from Tuscany, Italy
  •  
    Liqueurs also work.

    And how about that Fluffed Marshmallow Vodka from Smirnoff?

     

    Red Wine & Chocolate

    Champagne & Chocolate

    [1] Certain red wines—still or sparkling—are perfect pairings for chocolate (photo courtesy Taza Chocolate). [2] Prefer bubbly? Make sure it’s a sweet style (photo courtesy Delysia Chocolate).

    S’MORES HISTORY

    Since the Girl Scouts popularized S’mores long ago (the first published recipe is in their 1927 handbook), it has been a happy tradition around the campfire. A stick, two toasted marshmallows, a square of chocolate and two graham crackers get you a delicious chocolate marshmallow sandwich.

    The heat of the toasted marshmallow melts the chocolate a bit, and the melted quality is oh-so-much-tastier than the individual ingredients (per Aristotle, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts). The name of the sweet sandwich snack comes from its addictive quality: you have no choice but to ask for “some more.”

    But you don’t need a campfire, or even all of the classic ingredients, to celebrate with s’mores, as the recipe above and our other S’mores recipes show.

      

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