Month: March 2015

Homemade Booze: Spiced Rum

This week I began another venture into homemade booze: spiced rum. I’ve been checking out a few different recipes since around Christmas-time and was surprised to find that spicing rum would only take 5 days vs. the month it took me to infuse the vodka to make Limoncello & Clemencello. I had about half the spices already on-hand, & ended up picking up a few extra goodies during my spice-run that you will surely see in a future blog…

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Like these bad-boys… I have a few ideas brewing, what would you do with these?

I feel like my spiced rum needs a clever pirate name but I haven’t come up with one yet, so for now…

Spiced Rum

Ingredients:

  • 750ml white (clear) rum
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 2 cardamom pod
  • 1 star anise pod
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp orange zest (freshly grated)
  • 1/8″ slice of fresh ginger, peeled
  • 3 black peppercorns

Directions:

  1. Crush the cardamom & star anise pods, cloves, and peppercorns using a mortar & pestle, or the side of a knife.
  2. Put all ingredients except the rum in a 1 quart mason jar, and pour rum over to the fill line of the jar (750ml should fit in there perfectly).

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    The spices just need to be crushed enough to release their flavors. No need to completely pulverize. Here’s a shot of the view looking down into the jar before I poured in the rum.

  3. Screw the cover on the jar tightly and put in a cool, dry place.
  4. Shake daily for 5 days.
  5. At the end of 5 days, your rum should be spiced and ready to filter.

Day 1/5:

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Day 1/5 after the daily shake. Most (but not all) of the spices are beginning to sink to the bottom of the jar. I’m actually pretty surprised that it’s the color of weak tea already (remember, this was CLEAR rum I started with).

Day 2/5:

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Day 2/5: I am very glad that I used clear rum instead of dark rum so I can clearly see the changes that are happening. Not sure if it will make a huge difference in the end product. It’s already getting close to the right color…

Baking Spree: Spumoni Petit Fours Part 2: Assembling the cakes

Whew! It’s been a long process but now you have everything you need to finish your petit fours and I promise every delicious bite will be worth it.


Spumoni Petit Fours

makes about 36 mini cakes

Ingredients:

  • Pistachio Pound Cake sheet
  • Cherry-Almond Pound Cake sheet
  • 1 jar cherry jam
  • 2 bags bittersweet chocolate (10 oz)
  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • a couple of handfuls of pistachios, chopped fine

Instructions:

  1. Place pistachio cake, top side down on parchment-lined sheet pan.
  2. Spread one jar of jam over the cake, almost all the way to the edges.
  3. Place cherry-almond cake top side down on top of pistachio cake, matching the edges as evenly as possible.
  4. Wrap stacked cakes tightly with plastic wrap, top with an empty sheet pan. Weigh down the top sheet pan with cans (I used about 4 large cans) and refrigerate 4 hours, or preferably, overnight.
  5. Trim edges of cakes evenly and begin cutting in desired size and shape (This was where I realized that the cake was a bit too thick and my cute little cutters would not work.) IMG_2307
  6. Melt chocolate in double boiler. When chocolate is nearly melted, whisk in the cream to form ganache. IMG_2320
  7. Carefully dip each cake in the ganache. This proved more difficult than I thought. You want the cake to be covered on 5 sides with the ganache. I covered 2-3 sides placed the cakes on another parchment-lined sheet pan and let the chocolate set fully before attempting the other sides.
  8. Cover the tops of the cakes last. While ganache is still moist, sprinkle with chopped pistachios.  IMG_2339

Baking spree: Spumoni Petit Fours Part 1: Make the Cakes

Trying to make petit fours has been on my short list for this blog for awhile now. At Christmas-time, I made Italian Rainbow Cookies, and I figured the process would be similar, although I didn’t want them to taste just like the almondy goodness of the rainbow cookies. I worked on some other projects, and continued to look for inspiration for an outside-the-box flavor combination to try. Around Valentine’s Day, when I was actually planning to try them out, I purchased some heart-shaped and square mini-cutters, thinking I would be able to use them to cut my sheet cakes into neat, little shapes to form the petit fours. Since I’m an event planner, getting them started before Valentine’s Day was a no-go, since I had 3 events happening at 2 locations that day. It worked out for the best though, because recently I was watching an episode of Food Network’s Duff Till Dawn when one of the contestants was using a pistachio cake. Inspiration struck immediately! My petit fours would be inspired by one of my favorite ice cream flavors: spumoni! I set to work researching cake recipes that would fit the flavor profile of pistachio, cherry, and chocolate. I went with a basic pound cake, inspired by Martha Stewart’s Classic Pound Cake recipe


Pistachio Pound Cake

makes 2 loaves, or 2 half-sheets, I made 1 of each

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 C all-purpose flour, packed then sifted
  • 1 1/2 C cake flour, packed then sifted
  • 1 tsp baking powder, sifted
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 6 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 C shelled pistachios, finely ground
  • 3 C granulated sugar
  • 6 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4-6 drops gel food coloring (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325º F. Prepare two pans, one half-sheet jelly-roll size, one loaf. When I’m baking, I get my best results using a cooking spray with flour in it such as Baker’s Joy. Set pans aside.
  2. Using a blender or food processor, grind pistachios until they form a thick paste and no large bits remain.

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    Finely ground pistachios in my blender. They’re kind of green, but not as much as I anticipated…

  3. In an electric stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter, cream cheese, and pistachios. Allow the ingredients to cream together for about 5 minutes, on medium high.
  4. Reduce mixer speed to low. Slowly add the granulated sugar and continue to beat on medium-high until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure even mixing.
  5. When the mixture is completely smooth, add the eggs, one at a time and the vanilla extract, mixing well after each addition.
  6. With mixer on low speed, add the reserved flour mixture a few spoonfuls at a time. Allow each spoonful of flour to combine thoroughly before adding more.
  7. If desired, add food coloring to desired color, mix well. Use more than you think you need, my cake didn’t end up quite as green as I would’ve liked.
  8. Spread batter over half-sheet pan, making sure to get it into the corners and smooth across the top. Fill loaf pan with remaining batter.
  9. Bake half-sheet until top is golden, about 10-15 minutes. Bake loaf about 1 hour 15 minutes. Loaf will be brown on top, and toothpick inserted will come out clean.
  10. Allow half sheet to cool for 5-10 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack. The loaf will need to cool 15-20 minutes before it’s ready to cut & taste.
  11. Set aside sheet cake while you bake the next layer of the petit fours.

Cherry-Almond Pound Cake

makes 1 loaf, or 1 half-sheet cake

Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 C all-purpose flour, packed then sifted
  • 1 C granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 5 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 C dried cherries
  • 4-6 drops red gel food coloring (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat over to 350F.
  2. Meanwhile, soak dried cherries in hot water. I put my cherries into a large coffee mug and covered them with water I heated in my electric kettle. Allow to soak for about 15 minutes.
  3. Prepare sheet pan. For best results, grease pan with cooking spray with flour such as Baker’s Joy. Set pan aside.
  4.  In an electric stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on medium-high until very light and fluffy (about 7 minutes). Scrape down bowl, and beat for 1 another minute more.
  5. Add almond extract, and eggs one at a time making sure each is incorporated before adding another and scraping down bowl as needed.
  6. With mixer on low speed, add the salt and reserved flour mixture a few spoonfuls at a time. Allow each spoonful of flour to combine thoroughly before adding more.
  7. Drain the water from the cherries using a colander and add them to the mixture, mix until incorporated.
  8. If desired, add food coloring to desired color, mix well.
  9. Spread batter over half-sheet pan, making sure to get it into the corners and smooth across the top.
  10. Bake half-sheet until top is golden, about 10-15 minutes.
  11. Allow half sheet to cool for 5-10 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack.
  12. Set aside sheet cake for assembly of petit fours.

Once both cakes are made you will need some jam for in-between the cake layers. I chose some cherry jam that I had made about a year ago when I first got my canner. You can definitely use store-bought jam, but I would stick with cherry, to match with the spumoni flavor profile, and not use a jam that has bits of fruit in it. I made my cherry jam using a local cherry wine and this recipe


Cherry Wine Jam

makes 4-6 half-pint jars

Ingredients:

  • 2 C wine (cherry in this case)
  • 3 1/4 C sugar
  • 1 pouch liquid pectin, such as Certo

Other stuff you may want to have:

  • 4-6 half-pint jars with lids
  • canning pot with rack
  • candy thermometer
  • tempered rubber spatula

Instructions:

  1. Clip your candy thermometer to the side of a large pot (thermometer should reach all the way to the bottom of the pot, and be sticking out of the liquid to be read).
  2. Heat the wine and sugar in the large pot over high heat. Stir mixture constantly stirring, until it mixture reaches 220F on the candy thermometer.
  3. Remove mixture from heat and carefully pour the hot liquid into a large glass measuring cup with a spout to make pouring it into jars easier.
  4. Pour hot jam into jars & cover with lids and tighten gently by hand.
  5. At this point you can process them using a water bath canner for 5 minutes, or leave them out at room temperature to cool and for mixture to gel properly for use.
  6. Jam should be ready for use in about 12 hours.
  7. Unprocessed jam, refrigerated will last for about 3 months. Processed jam will be shelf-stable for 2-3 years.

Stay tuned for the next post in the series, assembling the petit fours!

#putaneggonit (Part 2)

My (not so) recent obsession with all things egg-related continues. This week, my husband returned from a year in South Korea. He had a lot of things to tell us about his time overseas but the thing that stuck with me most (of course) was his description of some South Korean street food he had recently tried. His description of a mini-loaf of cornbread with a hard-boiled egg inside of it created an itch in my brain that could not be scratched unless I gave making it a whirl. I entertained various scenarios: make the batter, crack a raw egg into the middle. Definitely not, the egg would take on a fried-egg-type consistency and would be flat and not round. A pre-hardboiled egg: would overcook and become tough in the 10-15 baking time of the muffin. A soft-boiled egg: would be the right consistency and shape after baking, but would be extremely hard to peel. Finally, I decided on a halfway-between-soft-boiled-and-hard-boiled egg and peeled it gingerly.

The most difficult thing about this recipe is to get the batter to surround the egg completely. I ended up with a few where the muffin tops peeled revealing the egg inside. This is street food, it’s designed to be “grab & go”. The recipe below uses a standard corn muffin recipe for the batter, but feel free to use your own recipe or even a mix if you want to play and are short on time…


South Korean Egg Bread: “Gyeran Bbang”

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 C yellow cornmeal
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 1/2 C buttermilk
  • 1 dozen eggs, boiled 8 minutes, cooled, and peeled (carefully)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Grease muffin tin with cooking spray or line pan with cupcake liners. I found that the cupcake liners worked best to get the muffins out of the tin intact.
  2. Combine first 6 ingredients to form batter. Using a small scoop, fill the bottom of each cup of the muffin tin. Make sure the bottom of the cup is completely covered so the egg can’t peek out.
  3. Place a boiled egg in each cup and press down gently.
  4. Top each cup with another scoop of batter. I used my fingers, sprayed with cooking spray they wouldn’t stick, to push the batter around the egg so it is surrounded & covered. Depending on your pan, and the size of your eggs you may need 2 scoops.

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    In-progress pic. Top row is a scoop in the bottom of the pan. Middle row eggs are pushed down. Bottom covered with batter and ready to go!

  5. Bake until golden and crunchy on top, about 15 minutes. Allow to cool in pan for at least 5 minutes before turning muffins out to a wire rack.

If you’re obsessed with eggs like I am, check out my Huevos board on Pinterest!

#putaneggonit (Part 1)

The theme of the week is eggs. Really, the theme of my life is eggs. I have this theory, any dish is better when you put a fried egg on it: pizza, burgers, fried rice, name one food that isn’t better with an egg on it.  You can’t. I really could eat eggs at every meal & never feel deprived. In keeping with my pickling obsession, I pickled some eggs this week. In all fairness, I’ve never eaten a pickled egg before so I have nothing to compare it with with regard to quality. I don’t even know where you would get a pickled egg. At a bar? Isn’t that what’s in the jar on The Simpsons at Moe’s Tavern?

The pickled egg recipe I tried out was made with liquid smoke to give it a slight smokiness under the vinegary pickled flavor.  I also looked at some recipes for pickled eggs using beets, where the eggs end up a lovely pinkish-red color when they’re done. But since I’m one of the only members of my family who likes beets, I 86ed the idea (for now).


Smoky Pickled Eggs

Ingredients:

  • 1 dozen hard-boiled eggs, peeled
  • 2C apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 3/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp liquid smoke
  • 2 tbsp Kosher salt

Instructions:

  1. Pack your hard-boiled eggs in jars. Fun fact: 1 dozen large eggs fit nicely into a quart-size Mason jar. Don’t worry if it seems like there’s not enough room, the eggs will shrink down slightly in the pickling liquid.

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    Here are 1 dozen large eggs crammed into quart-size Mason jar, waiting to be pickled.

  2. In a saucepan, combine remaining ingredients and heat over medium-high heat until salt has dissolved and liquid begins to boil.
  3. Lower the heat and simmer pickling liquid for about 5 minutes.
  4. Cool liquid, uncovered to room temperature. It takes about 30 minutes.
  5. Pour liquid over eggs until completely immersed (A few of mine were peeking out of the liquid on top, and didn’t get as flavorful all the way through.)
  6. Cover jar and refrigerate for 24 hours before eating. The longer they are able to sit in the liquid, the happier and more pickley they will be.

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    Here are the finished eggs. 2 of them got a little torn during the pickling process, but I think this is normal. Any ideas on what I can do to prevent this in the future?

  7. Be aware the egg whites will be slightly harder than a normal hard-boiled egg. Delicious in egg salad, for making deviled eggs, or straight out of the jar!

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    Here are 2 of the eggs, in all their brownish glory, waiting to be sliced open and devoured (they later were).

For more on my egg obsession, check out my Huevos board on Pinterest!