Posts tagged ‘Vanilla’

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


  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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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.
August 21, 2011

The Pint is Mightier: Harmon Brewing Co.

(Beer Connoisseur Eric Peters contributed to this post)

We’re back with another review! From Tacoma, WA we bring you…

Harmon Brewing Co.

Located in a very nice part of Tacoma with a view of the port, this brewery was a real treat. It had a large pub area, a game room located in the back and an unpretentious, beautiful nice beer garden. In the field of inconsequential – but nonetheless awesome – amenities, it also had the coolest sinks that Eric and I had ever seen.

Eric started with one of Harmon’s special brews: the Vanilla Porter. It was the same recipe used in their Puget Sound Porter with the addition of vanilla beans. If this sounds good to you, you’re right, because it was excellent. The added notes of vanilla were not overpowering and complimented the roastiness of the porter excellently. The beer itself was very roasty in flavor and texture that lingered pleasantly in the aftertaste. This porter seemed to be more carbonated than many others Eric has tried. There was little bitterness in the beer, which allowed for the creamier notes to merge seamlessly with the vanilla flavors. This porter boasts a good deal of complexity but isn’t overdone, a problem with many beers that try to add flavors. It is a good example of how to make a good porter and infuse it with unique flavors. (Which, if you weren’t paying attention, is carefully and subtly).

My experience at this brewery was an interesting one. I sampled a specialty fruit IPA – more on that later – but opted to go first with the Browns Point ESB. It arrived a rusty copper color and medium-light body; the carbonation was excellent. As I sipped it I tasted mild bitterness, citrus notes and some sweetness, and came to the conclusion that they must have poured me the IPA on accident. It was not until checking with the server after finishing the pint that they confirmed that I had indeed been drinking the ESB. Ultimately this was quite a good beer and I recommend getting it, but it was so far out of the scope of a traditional ESB that I thought I was drinking something else.

After the confusion I did get my hands on their Floridian IPA. This beer made no attempt at subtlety. Even before I took my first drink I could smell the fruit. It was infused with grapefruit, orange and pineapple, though the first was the dominant flavor of the three. The hop profile was citrusy and floral, which played perfectly with the fruity notes. Although the initial flavor of the fruit hit you square in the jaw, the hoppiness became more pronounced as I continued drinking. The beer itself was medium bodied with solid carbonation but very little head. This beer probably is not for everyone, but I definitely enjoyed it.

Eric rounded out the trip with a pint of the Point Defiance IPA. This IPA is dialed in at a bitter 70 IBUs, which is very apparent from the first taste. The IPA had a nice hop aroma that went well with the flavor. The citrus notes hidden in the big hop character were nice and carried over into a subtle but pleasurable aftertaste. The IPA lacked a lot of complexity that other IPAs possess. Eric did not have too much to say about this beer; it was a pretty good IPA, but there are better ones out there.

Harmon Brewing is unassuming and thus easy to pass without second thought, but you most certainly shouldn’t because it’s a brewery well worth checking out. The atmosphere is exceptional and the beer is unique and tasty. In particular, we recommend making the trip for their happy hour, when pints are only $3 each. Eric and I definitely recommend it.

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