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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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TIP OF THE DAY: A Pudding Parfait Is An Easy Dessert

Chocolate Pudding Parfait

Pudding Parfaits

Tiramisu Pudding Parfait

Butterscotch Pudding Parfait

[1] All chocolate pudding parfait (photo courtesy Elegant Affairs Caterers.) [2] Mixed flavors and garnishes (photo courtesy Yotel |NYC). [3] Tiramisu pudding parfait (photo courtesy The Vegan Cookie Fairy). [4] Butterscotch and vanilla pudding parfait (photo courtesy Gather By D’Amico).

 

It’s the annual crazy-busy holiday season. In the midst of gift shopping, holiday cooking and sending cards (or e-letters or whatever), there’s a stream of adult friends and kids’ friends dropping by, planned get-togethers and other celebrations. When you don’t have time to bake a cake (and don’t want to pay $$$ for them), the solution is pudding parfaits.

Instant pudding, cookie crumbs and a garnish make a pudding parfait with little work, but everyone will be delighted. In our home, there are always boxes of Jell-O pudding (regular and sugarless), cookies and some type of chocolate or candy.

With just 15 minutes advance notice—or while the coffee brews—you can make a pudding parfait.
Combinations:

  • All Chocolate Pudding Parfait: brownie base, chocolate dark chocolate pudding layer, milk chocolate pudding layer, garnished with whipped cream and any chocolate you like.
  • Banana Pudding Parfait: vanilla wafer crumbs, banana pudding, topped with a banana slice (you can caramelize the slices in advance and they won’t “brown”.
  • Butterscotch or Caramel Pudding Parfait: cake crumbs, butterscotch pudding, garnished with toffee chps
  • Cannoli Cream/Mascarpone Pudding Parfait: biscotti crumbs (substitute yellow or white cake), pudding or sweetened mascarpone, topped with cocoa drink powder, shaved chocolate, chocolate chips
  • Coffee/Tiramisu Pudding Parfait: coffee liqueur-soaked lady finger crumbs, coffee pudding, chocolate garnish
  • Lemon Pudding Parfait: butter cookies/shortbread, lemon pudding, lemon zest, tangerine garnish
  • Milk Chocolate/White Chocolate Pudding Parfait: topped with mini chocolate chips
  • Pistachio-Chocolate Pudding Parfait: cookie crumbs, pistachio pudding, chocolate pudding, pistachio nut garnish
  • Red Velvet/Chocolate Pudding Parfait: chocolate cookie crumbs, red velvet pudding, chocolate pudding, strawberry/raspberry garnish
  • Vanilla Pudding Parfait: chocolate cake crumbs, vanilla pudding, topped with drinking chocolate
  •  
    NO COOKIES?

    Substitute:

  • Bread crumbs, slightly sweetened or spice
  • Cake, brownies or muffins, diced
  • Dessert sauce: caramel, chocolate, strawberry, etc.
  • Fruit, diced
  • Preserves, marmalade, sweet chutney
  •  
    FOR ADULTS: LIQUEUR

    Add a hint of liqueur to:

  • Crumbs or other bottom layer
  • In-between layers
  • On top, as a garnish
  •  
    GARNISHES

    See what you have on hand:

  • Berry, fruit slice, orange/mandarin segment
  • Brandied or maraschino cherry
  • Brownie cube
  • Candies (allsorts licorice? candy corn? gummies? M&Ms/Nerds/Skittles, toffee bits?)
  • Chocolate chips (or other flavor)
  • Chocolate square, shaved or curled chocolate, cacao nibs
  • Citrus peel or grated zest
  • Coconut, grated
  • Mini biscotti, cookies, meringues
  • Mini marshmallows or a regular toasted marshmallow
  • Nuts
  • Plain Greek yogurt or sour cream, slightly sweetened
  • Pocky sticks
  • Spices: clove, cinnamon, garam masala, nutmeg
  • Sprinkles or dragées
  • Sweet herbs: basil, chervil, lemon thyme, marjoram, mint, pink peppercorns, sage, sweet cicely, tarragon
  • Whipped cream, crème fraîche, mascarpone
  •  
    WHAT’S IN THE PHOTOS?

    [1] All Chocolate Parfait: chocolate cookie crumbs, chocolate pudding, chocolate mini chips.

    [2] Assorted Flavors: chocolate layered, vanilla, vanilla/chocolate layered, variously topped with candied orange peel, chopped nuts, cookie crumbs, mini meringue, strawberry, raspberry.

    [3] Tiramisu Parfait: chocolate cookie crumbs flavored with coffee liqueur, vanilla pudding flavored with coffee liqueur and instant coffee, topped with whipped cream and a chocolate wafer.

    [4] Double Pudding Parfait: chocolate and vanilla pudding layers, topped with whipped cream and a chocolate “cigarette.”

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Instant Holiday Ice Cream

    Christmas Ice Cream

    Turn any flavor into “Christmas” ice cream with red and green sanding sugar. If you want to save calories, check out Halo Top: our favorite of the low-calorie ice creams with just 240 calories for the entire pint. And it has extra protein—really! Here’s our review (photo courtesy Halo Top),

     

    When you hear “Christmas ice cream,” you probably think of candy cane (a.k.a. peppermint stick) ice cream.

    We love it and gobble it up over the holiday season. But not everyone is a mint fan.

    So here’s the easiest way ever to serve Christmas ice cream:

    Sprinkle colored sanding sugar over the top.

    Sanding sugar, also called colored sugar, decorating sugar, nibbed sugar, pearl sugar or sugar nibs, is coarse granulated sugar.

    It’s processed to have larger granules that sparkle, and is used to decorate candies, cookies, cupcakes, sweet breads and other baked goods. You can find it in white as well as a rainbow of colors.
     
    SPRINKLE YOUR HOLIDAY COLORS

    For Christmas, sprinkle red and green sugars on ice cream.

    For Chanukah, get blue and white sugars.

    For Kwanzaa, get black, red and green.

    For New Year’s Eve: gold and silver.

     
    Use the colors of any special occasion for an instant celebration dessert.

    You can find sanding sugar in some supermarkets, baking supply stores and online sites like TheBakersKitchen.net. Here’s their selection of colored sugars.

    CHECK OUT THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF SUGAR IN OUR SUGAR & SYRUP GLOSSARY.

     
      

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    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.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Christmas Crudites, A Gingerbread House Alternative

    Vegetable Christmas House

    Veggie Lodge

    Chocolate Holiday House

    [1] A good-for-you Christmas treat. [2] Start here (photos #1 and #2 courtesy Green Giant). [3] A chocolate house, made with molds from King Arthur Flour.

     

    How about a vegetable cottage instead of a gingerbread house?

    Created by Green Giant; we found it on

    It was originally posted on Green Giant’s Facebook page.

    Here’s the rub:

    The bloggers who re-posted provided the ingredients, but instructed the reader to “Click here for the directions From Green Giant’s Facebook Page.”

    Alas, clicking all those links delivers a “Page Not Found.”

    Conspiracy: Maybe there never were directions! At best, we have some step-by-step photos.

    So you’ll have to put it together yourself. Or delegate it to someone who likes to build.

    If you’re a great food crafter, please make it and send us the instructions.

     
    RECIPE: VEGGIE LODGE

    Ingredients

  • 6 8″ carrot logs (1 front, 5 back)
  • 8 5″ carrot logs (lodge sides)
  • 8 3″ carrot logs (front)
  • 1-1/4″ logs (by front door)
  • 4 1-1/2″ carrot logs (window opening)
  • 3 7″ carrot log rafters
  • 16 6″ roof celery stalks
  • Foam core board gable measures 8″x 6: x 6″
  • Carrot coins for stone path
  • Slice of turnip for window
  • Toothpicks & cream cheese mortar to fasten the cucumbers and celery
  • Bamboo skewers to stack chimney mushroom “stones”
  •  
    For The Surroundings

  • Artichoke “evergreen trees”
  • Broccoli floret “bushes”
  • Boiled baby potatoes
  • Hard boiled egg Santa snowmen (recipe)
  • Cremini mushrooms (brown tops) for more shrubbery
  • Yellow/red cherry or grape tomatoes
  •  
    For The Dip

  • 1 large red bell pepper or other dip holder
  • Dip of choice
  •  
    Ingredients
     
    Or, ditch the healthy house and make this chocolate version from King Arthur Flour.

     
    CAN YOU FOLLOW THESE PHOTOS & BUILD THE LODGE?
     
    Veggie Lodge Preparation

      

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