Archive for ‘Desserts & Sweets’

October 23, 2015

Pumpkin Bourbon Flip

Pumpkin Bourbon Flip

Pumpkin-mania is here folks. Lattes, beer, ice cream, pie – you name it. If it’s Autumn, it’s pumpkin.

A lot of people make fun of the pumpkin craze, but I for one welcome our new pumpkin overlords. Pumpkin and its other squash-kin are delicious, vibrant, versatile, and cheap. They are great in a wide array of sweet and savory dishes and the perfect antidote to cold-weather gloom.

However, even though pumpkin dominates Autumn like no other seasonal vegetable and pairs great with all things sweet and creamy, there is a surprising lack of pumpkin cocktails.

Enter the Pumpkin Bourbon Flip.

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April 26, 2015

Bourbon Panna Cotta with Hot Fudge Sauce

Bourbon Panna Cotta

Once again I have to apologize for how tardy I’ve been in posting new recipes. I actually made this dish back on Valentine’s Day, but work and school have been all-consuming over the past several months. Add in the fact that Maggie and I just bought our first home (!!!) and you can imagine it’s been a very busy time for me. Now that things have settled down though I hope to get back to a more regular posting schedule.

If you were expecting a verbose return, I’m going to disappoint you once more; there isn’t that much to say about this dish. It’s cream, vanilla, nutmeg, chocolate – and bourbon. If you aren’t sold after hearing that lineup, you might be a lost cause. I just don’t think there is anything I can do.

The real uniqueness of panna cotta comes from the silky yet firm texture and, of course, the presentation. I used a broad, shallow dish for the cast, but you can really use any shape you want as long as you can get the panna cotta out after a warm water bath. Feel free to experiment!

Bourbon Panna Cotta with Hot Fudge Sauce (serves 4)

Panna Cotta Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 1 tablespoon unflavored powdered gelatin
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 dash of nutmeg

Hot Fudge Sauce Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate, broken into small pieces

Instructions

  1. Pour the bourbon into a bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over it. Let stand for 4-5 minutes until the gelatin has softened and dissolved.
  2. In a saucepan, heat the cream on medium until it begins to simmer. Add the sugar, vanilla extract, and nutmeg and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes or until the sugar has dissolved.
  3. Pour the cream mixture into the bowl and gentle mix into the bourbon and gelatin until fully incorporated. Divide the mixture into serving vessels and refrigerate for at least four hours to give the panna cotta time to set up.
  4. In a saucepan, heat the 1/2 cup of heavy cream to a simmer. Add the brown sugar, salt and butter and continue simmering until dissolved. Add in half the chocolate and continue stirring until melted and mixed in. Repeat with the second half of the chocolate and remove the pan from the heat.
  5. To serve, fill a pot or casserole dish with hot water and set the panna cotta vessels inside so that the tops are just above the water line. After about 1 minute, remove the vessels from the water and run a knife along the outside edge. Gently flip the vessel onto a plate, giving it a light pat if the panna cotta doesn’t come free immediately. Drizzle with hot fudge sauce and serve.
April 8, 2014

Horchata Cheesecake

Horchata Cheesecake

This recipe is one that has been kicking around in the back of my head for years now. I’m not generally a big dessert person, so it took me a while to get to it – but I’m glad that I finally did!

The big draw of this idea was the idea of incorporating a uncommon flavor into a classic American dessert. Horchata is a traditional beverage in Spain and many Latin American countries. There are a number of different styles, but the basic principal is a ground nut or grain, milk, and spices. Rice, almonds and sesame seeds are common bases, while spices often include some mix of vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice.

I chose a preparation that is common in Guatemala: rice and cinnamon. Although rice is often thought of as a very neutral grain, it actually impart quite a bite of flavor. Cinnamon, meanwhile, has its own robust yet homely profile that forms the backbone of the horchata.

Folded into a very classic cheesecake recipe, horchata becomes a wonderful way to spice up a typical dessert. It’s simple and elegant while still rich enough to sate your sweet tooth. Enjoy!

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July 2, 2013

Banana Bread Muffin with Cream Cheese Frosting

(Recipe developed by fellow foodie-politico Max Patashnik)

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Those who’ve read my blog for a while know that I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, so I regularly call on my sister Hannah to guest post some of the awesome deserts that she makes. She’s busy getting ready to head to graduate school at UCSD (!) right now though, so when my coworker Max made these treats for a staff birthday I cajoled her into letting me post the recipe here.

Now let me tell you – this is a recipe with an identity crisis. A delicious, mouth-watering identity crisis.

Is it a muffin? Is it a cupcake? Is it banana bread? WHO KNOWS!

I do know it’s splendidly tasty while still not too decadent. The “muffin” part tastes just like banana bread, with just slightly more structure so that it can support the frosting – which is creamy and just the right amount of sweet to compliment the banana flavors without overpowering them. Throw in some walnuts and chocolate chips to add another layer of flavor and you’ve got a dozen awesome treats to wow your coworkers with at your next office party.

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February 24, 2013

White Chocolate Mousse with Champagne Apricots

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My fondness for mousse is well-documented on this blog, so I know a dish that’s both sweet and adventurous is very much overdue.

But it’s been too long since I’ve posted a dessert recipe, and my sister (resident sweets expert) is busy being accepted by graduate schools. So mousse recipes from an extremely proud brother is what you get!

And let’s be honest, it’s not like you’ll be disappointed at all with this dish. The silky white chocolate mousse and hazelnuts are the perfect backdrop for the crown jewel of the dish – dried apricots reconstituted in champagne. These morsels are each a wonderful burst of mildly sweet, perfectly tart and lightly alcoholic flavor that perfectly compliment the creaminess of the mousse and crunchiness of the hazelnut.

One tip: be sure to save the champagne used to reconstitute the dried apricots and serve either by itself or mixed with regular champagne. It’s the perfect drink to accompany this dish!

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June 20, 2012

French Toast with Caramelized Bananas and Hazelnut

Back during my stint at the Crepe Cafe, we had one of the most delicious desserts you could imagine. Before they would teach me to how to make it I had to sign a non-disclosure agreement, a non-compete clause and several other contracts I’d never heard of, but finally I was inducted into the chosen ones and learned the secrets.

I can’t give away too much, but it involved crepes, chocolate, whipped creme, and these delicious caramelized bananas. It was such a decadent dish that I would eat it only occasionally, and only when I had nothing else to do the remainder of the day

Make no mistake – this recipe is still probably the richest I’ve ever posted to this blog. Each soft, sweet, banana-y bite will probably cut a minute or two off your lifespan. But hey, a life without caramelized banana french toast isn’t a life worth living. The french toast is chewy on the inside, crunchy on the outside with hints of vanilla, while sauce is heavenly fugue of banana, butter and sugar. It’s richer than the Kennedy family, but just as charming.

This french toast probably isn’t the best choice before a busy day at work or an action-packed Saturday. But if you have a nice Sunday morning where you don’t need to move and can bask all day in the afterglow, you can’t go wrong here.

French Toast with Caramelized Bananas and Hazelnut

  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup half and half
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4-6 slices of stale french bread, 3/4 in thick
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 banana, peeled and sliced
  • 3 tablespoons chopped hazelnuts

 

  1. In a wide bowl, combine the eggs, half and half, sugar and vanilla extract. Soak each slice of french bread in the egg batter for 1-2 minutes, then set aside.
  2. Heat a non-stick skillet to medium with a small pat of butter. Sear each side of the french for 2-3 minutes, until golden brown but not burned.
  3. Turn the skillet to medium-high. Add the butter and wait until it just begins to brown. Add the sugar evenly, then quickly add the sliced banana and toss vigorously. Continue to cook, tossing frequently, for another 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat.
  4. To serve, top the slices of french toast with caramelized bananas and sprinkle hazelnuts over the top.
March 10, 2012

Cupcake Jello Shots

(This recipe was provided by sweet treats expert Hannah Majeski)

It’s been almost three months since I last posted something that could qualify as a dessert, and twice that since I made use of the “Drinks and Cocktails” category on this blog. So once more I’ve called in the Sultan of Sweets, my sister Hannah, to provide some reinforcement.

You may recall her first guest post where she one-up’d Starbucks by making a delicious version of their cake pops for a fraction of the cost. She’s back this time with a new tasty, and colorful, creation: Cupcake Jello Shots.

Let’s get one thing straight: these ain’t your daddy’s jello shots. What you may recall of jello shots from college (or more recently) isn’t what these little morsels taste like. The consistency is a bit thicker and they have some honest-to-god flavor to them beyond just the alcohol. In this case, that flavor would be cake.

For all the ingredients – coconut, cream soda, etc. – you would imagine that they would taste like an odd hodge-podge with a boozy finish. However, the flavors meld together to embrace the Pinnacle vodka, resulting in a bite sized treat that tastes exactly like cake, even if the texture doesn’t quite match up.

They can be a little tricky to eat (hint: do it in one bite or risk looking very foolish) but these goodies are delicious and fun. If you’re looking to add a little pizzazz to your next party, these cupcake jello shots are just what you’re looking for!

Cupcake Jello Shots

  • 2/3 cup cream soda
  • 1/3 cup coconut milk
  • 1 drop coconut extract
  • 2 packets plain gelatin
  • 1 cup Pinnacle cake-flavored vodka
  • 2 drops blue food dye (optional)
  • Small cupcake wrappers
  • Whipped cream
  • Sprinkles
  1. Combine the cream soda, coconut milk and coconut extract in a medium pot. Pour the gelatin on over the top of mixture and let it sit for 2-3 minutes.
  2. Place the pot on a burner and heat on low, stirring consistently, for about 5 minutes or until the gelatin has dissolved. Add the food dye at this time if you would like (recommended, they look a little weird without dye)
  3. Remove the pot from the heat and let it cool for 2-4 minutes (otherwise alcohol will evaporate). Once cooled, add the pinnacle vodka and mix together.
  4. Pour the jello mix into little baby cupcake wrappers of your choosing and stick them in the refrigerator for at least four hours, preferably overnight
  5. To serve, top each with whipped cream and sprinkles.
November 20, 2011

White Chocolate, Rosewater and Hazelnut Mousse

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a big dessert guy. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, and baking is often too much of a science and not enough of an art for my taste. That said, I do have a certain fondness for mousse. It epitomizes many of my favorite culinary philosophies: it isn’t unduly complicated but does require hard work; it’s easy to learn but requires skill and effort to master; and, most importantly, it can serve as a canvas for a variety of creative flavors.

This mousse recipe brings that final philosophy to bear by combining several unique ingredients to create a winning dish. It starts with a base of white chocolate that provides a delightfully sweet canvas for the rest of the flavor palette. It doesn’t have a particular strong taste in and of itself, but it does resist being overpowered by the real star of this dish: rosewater.

Rosewater is a byproduct of producing the rose oil used in perfume. It has very little flavor by itself – only a slight bitterness really – but smells powerfully of roses (duh). It’s most commonly used in Iranian cuisine, but as far as I’m concerned it ought to be commonplace all over the globe.

The rosewater provides a strong, floral aroma that makes this a strikingly unique dish, while the sweetness of the white chocolate conceals any hint of bitterness. The texture and flavor are rounded out with a sprinkling of hazelnuts over the top. They provide a nutty, lightly roasted and slightly sweet taste while adding the perfect crunch to offset the creaminess of the mousse.

Although delicious under any circumstance, this dish is best served at the end of a cozy dinner for two. If you really want to impress a date, skip the restaurant and serve up this mousse instead!

White Chocolate, Rosewater and Hazelnut Mousse

  • 2/3 cup of white chocolate chips
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 5 egg, separated into whites and yolks
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup rosewater
  • 1/4 cup hazelnuts, roughly chopped

 

  1. Set up a double boiler by placing a stainless steel bowl over a pot with 1 inch of water in it. Make sure the bowl does not touch the water. Bring to a simmer at medium-low heat and place the white chocolate chips inside to melt. Watch them carefully and stir them regularly to ensure they don’t burn. Once they have melted, remove them from heat.
  2. While waiting for the chips to melt, place the egg whites and sugar unto a bowl together. Whisk vigorously until the eggs double in volume and reach soft peaks.
  3. In another bowl whisk the heavy cream until it thickens and doubles in volume. Add the egg yolks to this bowl and fold them into the heavy cream. (It is important to be gentle during this process and fold rather than stir the mixture by scooping under to the bottom of the bowl and moving the contents to the side, up, then back over. Simply stirring it will result in the mousse losing its characteristic fluffiness.)
  4. Add the whipped egg whites, melted white chocolate and rosewater to the heavy cream mixture and fold until evenly distributed.
  5. Empty the mousse into a vessel of your choosing and allow to chill for at least three hours, preferably overnight. To serve, sprinkle the chopped hazelnuts over the top.
August 26, 2011

Bourbon, Nutella and Chocolate Mousse

I am, probably unsurprisingly, a big proponent of challenging myself in the culinary field. I love trying to make things I never have before or test new (sometime ridiculous-sounding) ideas in the kitchen.

Needless to say, when someone else challenges me, there’s no way I can turn it down.

This particular dish came about after a friend challenged to make a delicious, classy desert out of Nutella. While Nutella makes for a delicious addition to many sweet treats, rarely does it make an appearance in more upscale dishes. Challenge accepted.

The resulting Bourbon, Nutella and Chocolate Mousse was an outright win. The sometimes-overwhelming flavor of nutella is balanced by the chocolate, resulting in a sweet fusion of flavors that make up the base of the dish. After the initial taste, the bourbon comes to the forefront with sharp, oaken notes that form the perfect compliment. And of course, all of this comes in luscious mousse form with light and fluffy texture.

Overall, this is a decadent take on a classic desert that would be perfectly at home on the menu of a swanky restaurant. If you’re looking to show off a little – and willing to put in some work, whisking egg whites and cream isn’t easy – this dish will definitely do the trick!

p.s. when making this dish it is important to be mindful of the golden rule for any kind of cooking with alcohol: some for the recipe, some for you! (Since you have bourbon already, I might recommend the Southern Storm Cloud)

Bourbon, Nutella and Chocolate Mousse

  • 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup nutella
  • 6 eggs, separated into whites and yolks (how-to can be found here)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup bourbon
  • Chopped almonds or walnuts, to garnish (optional)
  1. Set up a double boiler by placing a stainless steel bowl over a pot with 1 inch of water in it. Make sure the bowl does not touch the water. Bring to a simmer at medium-low heat and place the chocolate chips inside to melt. Watch them carefully and stir them regularly to ensure they don’t burn. Once they have melted, remove them from heat and add the nutella, mixing evenly.
  2. While waiting for the chips to melt, place the egg whites and sugar unto a bowl together. Whisk vigorously until the eggs double in volume and reach soft peaks.
  3. In another bowl whisk the heavy cream until it thickens and doubles in volume. Add the egg yolks to this bowl and fold them into the heavy cream. (It is important to be gentle during this process and fold rather than stir the mixture by scooping under to the bottom of the bowl and moving the contents to the side, up, then back over. Simply stirring it will result in the mousse losing its characteristic fluffiness.)
  4. Add the whipped egg whites, chocolate-nutella mixture and bourbon to the heavy cream mixture and fold until evenly distributed.
  5. Empty the mousse into a vessel of your choosing (Martini glasses are always a good choice) and allow to chill for at least three hours, preferably overnight)
August 4, 2011

Cake Pops

This recipe was provided by sweet treats expert Hannah Majeski

If you haven’t noticed, this blog tends to be light on baking and sweets in general. I’ve always been a much better cook than a baker – the exactness of baking doesn’t suite my free-wheeling style and casual disregard for recipes – but you, my dear readers, deserve a full repertoire of culinary goodness.  So I’ve called in the cavalry – my sister, Hannah. She’s a spectacular baker, the perfect yin to my yang, and has agreed to help bring a little more sugar to this humble blog.

Her premier post? Cake Pops! These goodies are a recent addition to the lineup at native Seattle coffee giant Starbucks, but at $2.50 a pop they’re a little pricey for a bite-sized treat. The solution, of course, is to make them yourself!

It’s a bit of a process, but the end result is definitely worth it. These morsels are like miniature explosions of cake and frosting contained in tiny spheres. They’re rich, sweet and perfectly portioned (although they’re small enough that you’ll invariably eat too many your first time). These Cake Pops are perfect for serving at barbecues and parties or as small gifts.

Delicious and sure to impress, be sure to give them a shot!

Cake Pops

  • 1 box of funfetti cake mix
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 container of your choice of frosting
  • 18 oz. white or milk chocolate
  • 1 can of sprinkles (optional)
  • Wood skewers

 

  1. Bake the cake according to the instructions on the box (you’ll need the first four ingredients) and allow it to cool. After it’s completely cooled, break the cake up into crumbs, discarding the harder edges as you go.
  2. Add the frosting in one spoonful as a time as you mix it thoroughly into the crumbs.  It may not require the whole 1/2 container, but the desired consistency should be sticky enough hold a sphere when rolled but not completely gooey.
  3. Roll the mixture into balls approximately 1 inch in diameter and place in the freezer for 15 minutes.
  4. While the cake balls are chilling in the freezer, melt the chocolate for the coating in the microwave or a double boiler. The consistency should not be too viscous; if it is, add some vegetable oil to thin it out.
  5. Take the cake balls out of the freezer.  One by one, roll each in the chocolate liquid, stick a skewer in them and twirl them over the liquid until the chocolate solidifies.  At this point the cake balls tend to fall off the stick, and unfortunately there’s no trick to stop it, so pay close attention. You may add sprinkles while the coating is still soft if you’d like.
  6. Allow the cake balls to stand and dry for 10 minutes. This can be a bit tricky, but sticking the skewers in old bread or an empty egg carton works well.
  7. Voilà, you have cake pops! They don’t last to well too well outside the fridge – they crack and get sad – so store them somewhere cold until you’re ready to dig in.
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