Pork Pozole

I hope everyone had a grand Valentine’s Day filled with every kind of love. I know I should have posted more about treats to gift your favorite people, but I was busy, and I’m sure you all made do without me.

Last year one of the best meals I had was at The Vanderbilt in Brooklyn. The food is always great there, tucked away on a little street in a neighborhood that was buzzy for a little while a while back. The cocktails are even better – my favorite is the Tupelo Julep. A concoction of bourbon, honey, & mint poured over a towering dome of shaved ice, it’s an adult version of a sno-cone. But I digress.

The meal that I am referring to was a Cinco de Mayo tasting menu with tequila and cerveza pairings. The meal was fantastic & the company was fun. It was everything a night of celebration should be. And the dish that sticks out most was the pozole. It consisted of chewy hominy, pork so tender it practically melts in your mouth, a mountain of cabbage, radish, & white onion all floating in a clear, light broth. The menu was served in May, but somehow the dish was hearty enough to be filling and warming without being overwhelmingly so.

With the crazy warm weather we’ve been having up in the Northeast, it seemed like the perfect thing to post. This meal is shockingly easy, and looks so impressive. It’s also crazy cheap and makes a lot – so invite some friends over. The only thing worse than keeping a big ol’ pot of pozole to yourself is… Well shoot, I’m actually stumped. I’m not sure there is anything worse than hogging the pozole.

Pork Pozole
adapted from Rick Bayless’s Classic White Pozole

serves approximately 10

1 lb dried pozole
5 cloves garlic, peeled & halved
3 lbs pork shanks
2 lbs pork shoulder
1 small white onion, diced
¼ cup coarsely ground spicy dried red chile
2 limes, cut into wedges
1 bunch of radishes, thinly slices
½ head of cabbage, shredded
1 bunch of cilantro, coarsely chopped
2 Tbsp dried oregano
1 dozen tostadas

To cook the corn, put the pozole and garlic in a pot or slow-cooker and cover with water to submerge 3 inches. For a slow-cooker, set on low, cover with the lid, leaving it cracked. Let cook for 6 hours. If in a pot, bring to a boil, partially cover the pot and simmer gently over medium-low heat until corn is tender, about 5 hours. Add water as needed so the water level is constant.

To cook the meat, place all the pork in a large pot and cover with water. Add 3 tablespoons salt and bring to a boil. Skim off the grayish foam that rises to the top during the next few minutes. Add half of the chopped onion and set aside the rest in the refrigerator. Partially cover the pot and simmer over medium-low heat until the meat is thoroughly tender, about 3 hours. Remove the pork from the broth and pull the meat from the shanks and shoulder. Return the meat to the broth.

Add the corn to the pork, along with 2 teaspoons salt & oregano. Partially cover and continue to simmer until ready to serve.

To serve the pozole, set out the tostadas, along with bowls of cabbage, radish, onion, lime wedges, & cilantro. Spoon portions of meat into bowls & ladle the corn and broth over it. Add condiments to taste.

Tingle’s Greek Chicken

Friends, I don’t know about you, but 2011 is in no danger of being fondly remembered over laughter and glasses of champagne. There were some big changes in my life and they proved a little difficult to deal with. I rang in the New Year with the flu, and maybe even a few tears. I woke up the following day with a resolve to pick myself up by my bootstraps and get back to the things that bring me joy, or as a friend would say, get back in touch with my roots.

The biggest challenge I have faced during the past few months has been the complete and utter lack of passion in the kitchen. This is not to say that I didn’t want to cook – I did. I tried. I made a hot mess or five. I even made cookies that (gasp!) did not come out like the picture. I was ashamed to bring them into work. At some point I decided that I would stick to sandwiches, fruit, and handfuls of nuts – on really tough days it was Maruchan (oriental flavor). Recently I ventured into soups, which has proved successful in terms of edibility. It’s a word. Look it up. I’ll wait.

Finally, after a commiseration session over morning coffee, one friend voiced that he thought I might be ready to make the next big leap. He suggested that I keep it simple and not follow a recipe. This intimidated me. I needed to mull it over.

The first post I ever made on this blog was a recipe from a family I treasure, so it seems only logical that I re-enter the adventure with the same sentiment. This recipe comes from a very dear friend, and I can’t remember if it was her mom, or her who first cooked it for me, but it was always served with new potatoes from a can, a lemon wedge, and a side of Greek salad (mesclun or spring mix, feta, kalamata olives, olive oil and balsamic vinegar).

Make no mistake, internet. This is supper. Not dinner. There is a difference, nebulous though it might be. The lemon and herbs make your taste buds burst into song and dance. The potatoes barely crunch beneath the pressure of your molars. If you decide to make a salad, it will satisfy your fatuous need to eat healthy in January. And, should you or a friend be needing a nice, firm tug on your own bootstraps, this will surely do the trick. You can also use it to impress someone who, to say the least, makes you want to start shaving your legs again. That’s what I’m doing – it’s called multitasking.

Tingle’s Greek Chicken
serves 4 (or 2, with awesome leftovers)

Note: I used a Kosher chicken, which comes brined. If you can’t find a Kosher bird, I can’t recommend brining enough. Well worth the tiny amount of extra effort and a great way to play with the recipe and make it your own. Ignore the fact that it’s about turkey, focus on the fact that it’s poultry and check out this really nerdy thing.

1 package mixed herbs OR 4 sprigs rosemary, ½ bunch thyme, 7 sprigs oregano
4 lemons
6 cloves of garlic, unpeeled and smashed with something flat
2 tbsp olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 fryer chicken (approx. 4 ½ lbs)
4 cans whole new potatoes, drained
salt + pepper to taste

Heat oven to 425˚, place a rack in the center of the oven. Arrange the potatoes in a 9 by 13” glass baking dish, drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt & pepper.

Finely chop the herbs from 2 sprigs rosemary, 3 sprigs oregano, and 10 sprigs of thyme. Zest one of the lemons. In a small bowl, combine the chopped herbs, lemon zest, and 2 tbsp olive oil. Whisk until combined and set aside. Quarter all the lemons and set aside.

Remove the chicken from the packaging. Rinse it under cold water and pat it dry. Place the chicken on top of the potato bed breast side up. Using your hands, gently separate the breast skin from the meat on the leg end of the chicken. Scoop up some of the olive oil and herb mixture and rub on the breasts and thighs underneath the skin. Repeat until the mixture is gone.

Place the garlic cloves, lemon quarters, and remaining herbs into the cavity of the bird. If you have twine, feel free to tie the drumstick ends together. Or not. It really doesn’t make a huge difference. Gently pat the outside of the chicken dry again. Season the chicken with salt & pepper. Place on the middle oven rack. Roast until an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast reads 160˚. My bird weighed about 4.5 lbs and took about an hour and 15 minutes. Take the chicken out of the oven and let rest for 10-15 minutes. Dig in.

Old Fashioned Cherry Pie Filling

I wrote a very thoughtful, well-written piece of prose about my love of bourbon, the merits of sharing pie with friends, and the marvelous weather NYC has been experiencing. And then the internet decided to bend me over the butcher block.  Thanks interwebs. I love you too. I just wish you didn’t love me back so much. I could complain about it some more, but I would much rather tell you what pulled me back into the kitchen and prompted me to turn my oven to 350 on a 90 degree day.

soaking cherries

It was cherries. But more than just cherries, it was bourbon my longing for what I consider to be a winter cocktail. While I favor bourbon above all other liquors, like so many wool sweaters, it gets cast aside in the warmer months in favor of lighter, more sparkling fare. I have since discovered that there are, indeed ways to enjoy bourbon in the summer time that won’t have me wiping sweat glistening rose-scented dew from my brow.

painstakingly latticed crust

So when my place of business had cherries sale for the tune of 2.99/lb and I came home with way more than enough for…Well, I didn’t know – but I would figure something out. And damn, did I ever figure something out. See, this pie isn’t name after some mythical good ol’ days of yore. No. It is so much more than that. It is named after a much loved cocktail. One with a muddled cherry and orange slice at the bottom. One that warms you up after a chilly walk – and Old Fashioned.

slice of delicious heaven

I soaked my cherries in bourbon for a shamefully long time. You don’t necessarily have to wait that long. And let’s just get this out of the way. Yes. I pitted over 2 lbs of cherries. Yes it’s a pain. But no, you don’t have to shell out for a unitasker. Therefore, you should partake of this pie. It was a big hit with roommates and co-workers alike. Especially those of the bourbon loving ilk…tha’t ilk, not elk. But I would love to see a bourbon-loving elk. Also, you will have leftover cherries. Set them aside for less bountiful seasons or if you’re anxious, put them in sangria.

Old Fashioned Cherry Pie Filling

  • 2 lbs cherries, pitted and stemmed
  • 3/4 c sugar, divided
  • Bourbon
  • Angostura bitters
  • 1/4 c orange juice
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch

Place the pitted cherries and 1/2 cup sugar in a bowl. Pour bourbon of your choice over the cherries until they are covered. Yes, it will be a lot of bourbon. Buy something on the cheap side. Cover and place in refrigerator for a shamefully long time. Full disclosure, mine soaked for 6 days. 6 days! It’s shameful. One or two days will do the same trick, though.

Remove cherries from the fridge (duh). In a medium sauce pan, using a scale, measure out 22 oz. of both cherries and liquid. Liquid should measure roughly 1/2-3/4 of a cup, the rest should be cherries. Add the orange juice, cornstarch, remaining 1/4 cup sugar, and 5 or 6 healthy dashed of bitters. If pressed, I would say maybe 1 tsp of bitters.

Place the saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil.  Let boil about 5 minutes or until thickened.

Pour into your favorite pie crust, and follow baking instructions. Or pour it over ice cream. Or eat it by the spoonful.

There is no pie crust recipe included because I don’t consider myself knowlegdable in the least about that art form.  Here’s some tips from someone who is.

On Choosing Ingredients…Spare No Expense

When I left you, you should have chosen your spirit and flavor profile.  Now we can get down to the nitty gritty and talk about how to choose ingredients and how to know how much to use.

Fruits & Veggies : Fresh fruit is relatively easy.  Just like when you’re using fruit for anything else, you should always make sure the it is perfectly ripe, or as close as possible.  Under-ripe fruit will not give up its flavor as readily, and the flavor you do get will be dull rather than bright.  Overly ripe fruit will give up a flavor that will come across as borderline rotten – earthy and dirt like, rather than sweet and fresh.  Buy it the day you intend on using it.  Don’t buy it Wednesday, planning to make your infusion on Saturday.  The very earliest purchase should be the night before.  Any earlier and the fruit will lose its freshness.

Amount to be used depends on whether you want the fruit to be the star attraction, or if you would like the spirits to be just subtly tinged with the flavor.  For my pineapple-chile tequila, since I am using a spirit that has been unaged the flavor is pretty clean and the pineapple will shine through fairly strongly.  For a 1.75 L bottle, I am using a whole, smallish pineapple, which has been peeled, cored, and cubed.  Since I want it to give up as much flavor as possible, the cubes are fairly small, an inch or smaller.  If you are using a fruit that is less juicy than your average pineapple (think apples and pears), you want a smaller dice.  For berries, since most have a skin and won’t give up juice until they’re macerated, squish them before adding your alcohol.  For soft berries, throw them in a bowl with a tablespoon or two of sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice and let it sit for 10 or 15 minutes, give it a nice smush, then add it to your jar.  When using citrus, using peels only is just fine, but if you would also like to use the flesh, remove the zest, then pare the citrus down, removing as much of the bitter pith as possible.

Ultimately you want to shoot for about 2 cups of fruit or veggies.  Place the fruit in the jar and pour the spirit over it.  Seal the jar and give it a good shake.  Unless you are using a very acidic fruit you should keep it in the fridge.  Let it infuse for 2 weeks, checking it every day and giving it a good shake each time.

Ginger, Jalapenos, and other Chiles : If you are using something spicy – jalapenos, ginger – use far less of it.  Taste the chile and see how spicy it is.  Use that as your gauge.  Also, the heat of the chile is carried in its white ribs and seeds.  When I use chiles in pickling, I use 1 whole chile per two cups of liquid.  I don’t do anything to it except cut a small slit down the side.  The heat comes through without being overpowering.

When using ginger, it should be peeled as best as possible and cut into 1 inch or smaller cubes.  In the past I have used a 2 inch piece of ginger for a 1.75 L bottle.  The flavor was not overwhelmingly ginger-y, so if you’re going for a Domaine de Canton type flavor, you want to end up with about 1 cup.

Spices : Again, freshness is key. Fresh spices should not be hay-colored and should have a very strong scent.  Always use the spice of choice in its intact version.  This will allow your infusion to retain its clarity.  The only exception is nutmeg.  I have never infused with a whole nutmeg.  The flavor is so strong that a pinch will do without sacrificing clarity.  Some popular dried things to put in spirits are cinnamon sticks, dried chiles, allspice, juniper berries, and cardamom.

For smaller spices, shoot for about a tablespoon or so.  Cardamom pods are somewhere in between but 7-10 pods ought to do the trick.

Larger spices call for a lesser amount.  For 1.75 L of spirits, 2-3 cinnamon sticks or dried chiles will suffice.  The flavor will come across without being overpowering.

I used 3 dried chiles in my pineapple tequila – 2 went in with the pineapple in the jar, and 1 in the final bottle, mostly for decoration.  It has a fresh, sweet start with a slight heat at the back.

Again, letting it infuse for 2 weeks, giving the jar a good shake every now and then.

Tea & Fresh Herbs : Do I even need to say it? Use the freshest possible. You will want about 5 tablespoons total.  If using fresh herbs, you may want to bruise them slightly.  Using a spice bag, tea bag, or other style of ‘infuser’ is best, especially if you are infusing with other ingredients, though I have infused with tea and herbs first, removed, then added fruit and veggies.  The method is up to you and I haven’t noticed a difference.  Allow your tea and herbs to steep for 8-12 hours.  Do not leave longer than 12 hours – herbs will start to brown and tea flavors will start to become bitter.

Nuts : I have never used nuts before, but have seen recipes around.  I would recommend toasting them first, to make them release their delicious, nutty oils, and perhaps seasoning them, if you like.  Allow them to cool before adding the liquor.  Steeping time seems to be about a week or two, depending on the recipe.

I think that covers every type of infusion ingredient.  If you can think of something I haven’t covered, leave a comment and I will address it promptly.  If you are looking some ideas, a good source is Post Prohibition.  They also have some nifty bitters recipes and some good flavored simple syrups and grenadines I’d like to try out.

Next post: Sweetening the Deal – adding sugar to your infusion.

A Spirited Return – On Doldrums, Infusing, and Revivals

Friends and family, humblest apologies for lack of posts.  I have been in the doldrums, which here means a time in my life with calms, sudden storms, and unpredictable winds.  But that could be said about anyone’s life at any given moment.  I suppose that’s just life.  During this time I kept thinking about this project of mine, and baking in general and desperately wanted to bake but simply couldn’t find the time, funds, or energy to do so.  Now I have time, energy, and mini funds, but have embarked on a healthy-eating challenge for my day job.  Alas….c’est la vie.  But then it occurred to me, as I was finishing up a birthday gift for a relative, that it doesn’t necessarily have to be baking that I post about.  It is, after all, my blog.  No boss lady here except me.

So I’m going to start a mini-series on making your own infusions.  Sounds science-y, right?  Well it’s not, although it may make your kitchen look a bit like a laboratory for a month or so.  I’m not sure why people are so impressed with infusing – it makes bars seem fancier and you look like a liquored up genius – but it is so easy.  So don’t be afraid.  I’ll hold your hand.

science lab

Here it is, broken down: Alcohol + Ingredients + Time + Simple Syrup (or not, but this turns your infusion into a bottle of insta-cocktail)

SUPPLIES

  • Large jar – if you’re using a liter of alcohol, get a jar that will fit 1.75.
  • Swing-top Bottle – again, size appropriate please, though you probably won’t find one over 1.75.  If it’s for personal use, go ahead and re-use the liquor bottle, assuming you used all of the contents.  In some gift-giving this is appropriate too, but remove the labels and make sure it’s an attractive bottle.
  • Sieve

Start out by picking a flavor.  Please don’t pick something you would not want to drink.  I have made cranberry + lemon verbena, chile + carrot (you haven’t lived until you’ve had this in a bloody mary), chocolate, grapefruit, apple pie, green tea + lemon (like a spiked Arnold Palmer, amazing), chocolate + orange, and maybe one or two I’m forgetting.  Mostly I have used vodka, but have also used 151 (yikes!) and spiced rum to great results.  Once you have your flavor in mind you will be able to make a booze selection.

Things to consider in selecting your booze – will it fit your flavor profile?  For example, cranberry alone might work well with a spiced rum, but cranberry and lemon verbena probably won’t.  Use common sense.  Do you want something clean and crisp?  Go with vodka or everclear.  Warm and nuanced? Spiced rum is probably the way to go.  Will you be using it in a margarita?  Use tequila, for god’s sake!  Because it is almost margarita season and I’m a big fan of spicy cocktails, for this series I will be doing a pineapple + chile infused tequila.  Try not to drool on your keyboard.

Another thing – there are camps that say go high-end, and camps that say spend as little as possible because the alcohol flavor will be masked.  I say, don’t infuse any liquor you wouldn’t normally drink.  Because guess what?  If you infuse an alcohol you don’t like with ingredients you do, that yucky alcohol is still the main ingredient and you won’t drink your infusion.

I usually get a big handle, but I like to keep a well-stocked liquor cabinet.  Consider how much of your infusion you want – if it’s for personal use and you’re playing around, go small, about 2 cups of liquor should do it.  For a gift, definitely get the liter and a cute, swing-top re-usable bottle.

Full disclosure purposes only – I don’t usually like giving brand names, but people have asked.  For vodka infusions I like Tito’s.  It’s cheap and clean, and definitely the most bang for your buck, but if you’re a Smirnoff kinda drinker, get Smirnoff.  If Skyy is your poison, use Skyy.  If it’s Popov….you probably should expand your horizons.  For rum I like Sailor Jerry.  For tequila I like Espolon – it’s 100% agave and not aged, so the tequila flavor is very smooth and clean.

Round up these things and join me next time when I will be talking about selecting and using ingredients!  Don’t be scared!

Peanut Butter Pie with a Spicy Twist

peanut butter pie, take one

I originally wasn’t going to post this recipe, but when I put the above picture on my Tumblr a friend got so excited I had to do it.  But I did it a little different.  It’s not my typical, all day long life-stopping recipe.  This recipe will take you 30 minutes to throw together, and will take even less if you use a store-bought graham cracker crust like I did, but I’ve included a graham cracker crust recipe if you want to make a smidge of extra time and effort.

it was a big hit

I came across a peanut butter pie recipe while looking for no-bake desserts and was intrigued, but I’m not super crazy about peanut buttery sweets.  So it wasn’t until a friend requested a peanut butter birthday dessert that I broke out the recipe.

peanut butter pie redux feat. cayenne, cinnamon, and banana

It was a hit at his potluck and even caused an argument or two because people didn’t want to share.  So if you’re cooking for more than 4 people, you might want to plan on making more than one pie.

peanut butter upside down pie...i say oops a lot

The mexican twist was inspired by the enchilada dinner I was gearing up for on Tuesday.  Adding spices to chocolate desserts is a very easy way to make an easy dessert slightly more exotic and intriguing – ice creams, cakes, ganaches, you name it.

this one was a big hit too

Peanut Butter Pie with a Spicy Twist

Crust Ingredients

Ten 4 3/4-by-2 1/2-inch graham crackers, broken into pieces

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Filling Ingredients

3 oz. milk chocolate – if you are using bar chocolate, it will need to be chopped

1 cinnamon stick

1 whole dried cayenne pepper, de-seeded (to deseed a dried pepper, hold it gently but firmly between 2 fingers, cut side down, and flick it)

1 3/4 cups heavy cream, divided

3/4 cup creamy peanut butter

4 oz. (1/2 cup) cream cheese

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tbsp ground cinnamon

1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk

1 banana, thinly sliced

Method

  • Crush up the graham crackers.  A food processor works magic, but if you don’t have one, put the crackers in a plastic bag and do some good ol’ fashion stress relief.  Transfer to a medium bowl, and add the melted butter. Stir with a fork until thoroughly combined.
  • Put crumbs in your pie pan and press them up the sides of the pan to form the edge and then evenly over the bottom of the pan. Place in the refrigerator while making the filling.
  • Put 1/2 cup cream, cinnamon stick, and chile in a small saucepan over medium heat, and bring to a boil. Remove the cinammon and chile and pour over chocolate, and set aside for 5 minutes to yield chocolate ganache. Whisk to combine and set aside to cool, whisking occasionally.
  • Remove the crust from the refrigerator and pour ganache into the bottom of the crust, tapping gently to settle.  Top ganache with the sliced banana.
  • Meanwhile, whip 3/4 cup heavy cream to soft peaks. Set aside.
  • Whisk together the peanut butter, cream cheese, and sweetened condensed milk until smooth and fluffy, then add the whipped cream and whisk until combined.
  • Remove the almost-pie from the refridgerator and spoon the peanut butter mixture into the pan, smoothing the top.
  • Place in refrigerator for 2 hours or overnight.  Before serving the pie, top with whipped cream and chocolate curls, if desired.

If you’re timid about spice, feel free to omit one or all of the spices, the pie will still be delicioso.

Pomegranate Frozen Yogurt

Last weekend’s warm weather got me so excited to post this recipe, along with a sunny blog about how it feels like spring is just around the corner.

And then Snowpocalypse 3.0 happened.  Yeah, snow is pretty.  Yeah, I got a much needed day out of the office.  But I hate the cold.  And I hate the snow.  And this was all preceded by two days of walking around in a city-flavored slushy, while the heavens poured Slusho mix all over our heads.  Gross.

But I still made the yogurt, and ate every bit of it.  It’s yogurt, so it’s healthy, right?

The thing about frozen yogurt….Forget TCBY, and Häagen Dazs.  That stuff is just like ice cream, and if you’re eating frozen yogurt to replace ice cream, calorie-wise, it’s not gonna do the trick.  Check the carton.  Most store bought fro-yos have only 20-50 less calories than their non-dieting sisters.  It’s true.

And anyhow, frozen yogurt should not just be a heavy woman’s ice cream.  It’s a completely different tasting beast when done properly.  It should be tangy and not overly sweet, and invite a fruit (or granola!) accompaniment as though it were it’s long lost twin.  If you’ve been fortunate enough to try Pink Berry, you know what I’m talking about.  That stuff was a revelation.  A realization of all that stuff I just said. If you haven’t, making this frozen yogurt will be as close to a life-changing event as you’ll get in the kitchen.

Pomegranate Frozen Yogurt

Ingredients

1 quart of Greek yogurt (roughly two cups) strained, or 1 quart of strained plain yogurt (NO FLAVORS – THIS IS IMPORTANT; however you may use whatever fat content you like.  I used low-fat because my store was out of non-fat at the time)

1/3 cup sugar

2 tsp vanilla

3 tbsp pomegranate jelly

Method

  • Whisk ingredients together and allow to cool for at least one hour.  This is important.  Skip this step and you will not achieve creamy frozen heaven.
  • Start ice cream maker and pour mixture in.  Let machine run for about 20-30 minutes.  With ice creams it will stop itself and you will hear a clicking noise.  This did not happen with the yogurt.
  • Once mixed, eat immediately for soft-serve consistency, or chill in freezer for up to 3 hours for one more ice-cream.

teeny mint leaves for a pretty garnish

This will refill the yogurt container to a little under half, if you’re storing for later snackage, but I’d be really surprised if it lasted that long.

If you want to mix in fresh pomegranate seeds, wait until the very end of the cycle and then toss them in.  I think that would be delicious, but I’m broke and can’t afford these things.  I also think a little lemon zest would be delicious and pretty.

Hot Chocolate Bombs with Cinnamon Marshmallows

At Christmas I made hot chocolate on a stick posted at The Giver’s Log.  It was just about the easiest and most appreciated kitchen related gift I’ve  ever done.  I had ambitions to make marshmallows to go along with them but it just got too hectic.

But not this time, baby.  For Christmas I did peppermint hot chocolate on a stick.  I’m not going to lie to you.  I had to try it a couple of times to get it to look like how I wanted – ask my neighbors and co-workers.  They all got what looked like a gift from Spunky – cat s#!t on a stick.

who, me?

This time around I decided to forgo the sticks entirely, and read up on how to temper chocolate so that they wouldn’t look all dried out.  Turns out it’s pretty easy.  So I got some really cute Valentine themed mini cupcake papers and got crackin.

Hot Chocolate Love Bombs

yields about 16 one ounce bombs

Ingredients

16 oz. chocolate – bittersweet, milk, semi-sweet, and (gag) white chocolate all work.  I used what I had lyin around, which was semi-sweet.  16 oz is about a bag and a bit more.

3 packets of your favorite hot cocoa mix

cupcake wrappers

Ziploc bag (for piping)

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/8 tsp (or pinch) chipotle or cayenne powder, I used chipotle

Method

  • Set your separated cupcake papers on a baking sheet.
  • Bring a bit of water to a simmer in a sauce pan, and place a glass or non-reactive metal bowl over it, making sure the bottom of the bowl is not touching the water.
  • Put most of your chocolate (the bag, saving the other bit) in the bowl and let it melt, stirring occasionally.
  • Once the chocolate is melted, turn off the heat and remove the bowl from the sauce pan, making sure not to drip any condensation.
  • Put your hot cocoa packets, spices, and remaining chocolate in the bowl and return to the bowl to the saucepan, stirring to mix.
  • Once it looks all mixed up, open your plastic bag and scoop the chocolate into one corner (like you would with frosting).
  • Cut a smallish hole in the corner of the bag, and pipe chocolate into your awaiting papers.  Once all papers are filled, top with adorable tiny heart sprinkles.

You might want to tap the baking pan against a flat surface to even out the tops of the bombs, but I thought they were cute with a little piped swirl on the top.  If giving as a gift, make sure to include instructions, which are:

  • Drop one chocolate bomb into 6-8 oz (one regular sized mug) of hot milk.  Water does not work, the chocolate will not melt properly.

Cinnamon Marshmallows

Ingredients

3 packets unflavored gelatin

2/3 c. water, divided

1 c. light corn syrup

1 c. granulated sugar

1 tsp cinnamon extract (or vanilla, or banana, or whatever)

1/4 tsp gel food coloring (if desired)

powdered sugar for dusting

Method

  • Lightly oil an 8×8 pan with Canola oil and generously coat with powdered sugar.
  • Pour 1/3 c. of the water into a bowl, sprinkling the gelatin over it, and set aside.
  • In a saucepan, off the heat, combine the remaining 1/3 c. water, corn syrup, and granulated sugar.
  • Place the pan over medium-high heat.  Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan, and cook the mixture until it reaches 240*, avoiding the temptation to stir.
  • Every now and then, brush the sides of the pan (on the inside) with a pastry brush dipped in water to wash away residual sugar crystals.
  • With the mixer on low speed, very carefully add the lava hot syrup to the gelatin.  Add the cinnamon (and food coloring, if desired) and increase the speed to medium high.  Beat for 8-13 minutes, until the mixture becomes opaque and stiff.
  • Spread the mixture into the prepared pan, and spread around using a lightly oiled spatula.  Let sit for one hour, or until firm and cool.

pink gloop

  • Once the mallows are set, sift powdered sugar into a shallow bowl.  Run a wet knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the mallow sheet and remove it from the pan.  Cut into squares and toss each square in powdered sugar until completely coated.

    fluffier than any you'll find at the store

    Happy sipping folks!

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