Bananas Foster

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My husband asked me to make Bananas Foster for his birthday recently, and how could I argue! Neither of us is much of a sweets eater, or we like to pretend we’re not, but with Bananas Foster, you make it to order and there are no leftovers! Unlike a cake or pie…

The recipe I’ve always used for Bananas Foster, is from the cookbook, American Cooking: Creole and Acadian.


From the book: This elegant dessert of flamed bananas and ice cream, created at Brennan’s over 20 years ago (this book was published in 1971!) for a regular patron named Richard Foster, has become one of the restaurant’s most popular dishes.

Bananas Foster
Adapted
To serve 4
printable recipe below

4 ounces unsalted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 firm ripe bananas, peeled and cut lengthwise
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup banana liqueur
1/2 cup rum or spiced rum
1 pint good vanilla ice cream

Slice the bananas horizontally so they lay flat.

Combine the butter and brown sugar in a skillet and stir until the mixture becomes a smooth syrup.

Add the bananas and baste them with the syrup for 3 or 4 minutes, then sprinkle in the cinnamon.

Carefully pour in the banana liqueur and rum, and let the liquors warm for a few seconds. They may burst into flame spontaneously. If not, ignite them with a match.


Slide the pan back and forth until the flames die, basting the bananas all the while.

Place two banana halves in each elongated dish. Add a scoop of ice cream to each serving, then spoon the sauce over the top.

Serve at once.

And don’t forget some freshly grated nutmeg.

If you don’t have elongated individual serving dishes, slice the bananas evenly before sautéing, or at least cut them in half crosswise. Then serve in a shallow bowl.

Bananas Foster can also be prepared at the table in a flambé pan, such as a crepes Suzette pan.


Note: The original recipe calls for twice the amount of both rum and banana liqueur. If you enjoy alcoholic desserts, double your liquors!

 

Hot Buttered Rum

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It has taken me years to figure out that hot buttered rum, what I consider the original hot toddy, at least in my life, does not exist outside of ski resorts.

I should know because if it’s winter time and we’re somewhere, anywhere cold, I ask the bartender if he makes hot buttered rum. After the quizzical reaction I know I’ll have to order something simpler.

Not that hot buttered rum is a challenging toddy to make. It isn’t. There’s even mix that can be purchased, although of course it’s most likely inferior to preparing the drink from scratch.

The drink, served hot, does indeed have rum and butter in it. But then it’s sweetened with brown sugar and spices.
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Following is the hot buttered rum base so you can make a hot toddy to warm your frosty bits, whether you’re in an alpine setting or not! Then all you need is rum.

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Hot Buttered Rum Mix

1 pound brown sugar
1/2 pound unsalted butter
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 heaping teaspoon nutmeg, freshly ground

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1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 tablespoon of vanilla powder, or use vanilla extract

Place all of the ingredients in a microwaveable bowl. Slowly and carefully melt the butter.
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Alternatively, allow the butter to first come to room temperature and add the remaining ingredients.

Mix together well, beating until any lumps disappear.
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The mix can be used immediately, or stored in the refrigerator for future use.

If you are crafty, unlike myself, you can place it in cute jars topped with cute ribbons, and give the mix away to friends along with the hot buttered rum recipe.

Here it is:

2 heaping tablespoons of the above mix
2-3 ounces dark, spicy, or clear rum
Boiling water

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Place the mix and rum in a heatproof glass or cup.
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Add the boiling water and stir well.
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Serve with a cinnamon stick if desired.
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note: This hot buttered rum might look a little muddier than if I’d used clear rum, but I really like Captain Morgan!

Eggnog Ice Cream

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What is eggnog? Have you ever thought about it? I mean, it’s a drink – a lovely caloric drink – that is very traditional during the holidays. It’s made with separated eggs and cream and flavored with nutmeg.

And that’s really what it is. It’s not a flavor, per se. And yet, you can make eggnog flavored pancakes, eggnog flavored quick breads, and so forth. But eggnog itself is really just a drink.

I never thought about that until I decided to finally make eggnog ice cream – something I’ve wanted to do for many years. I realized there’s not an eggnog “flavoring” that I could add to a basic ice cream base to duplicate that wonderful eggnog flavor. Not like pumpkin or cranberry, for example.

So I decided that the best thing to do was to incorporate actual eggnog, but not the home-made variety – the yellow, thick stuff that comes in cartons. There’s not too much in the way of food that I buy that contains fake colors and a variety of chemicals. But in this family, we all love eggnog in a carton. Of course, once you add the brandy or rum, you really don’t care about the chemicals.

So here’s the recipe I created using eggnog, and I must say, it really turned out fabulously. Unfortunately, the recipe creates a volume larger than for one bowl, given your basic ice cream maker capacity, but if you have one with two bowls, this will work out perfectly.

Eggnog Ice Cream
begin this in the morning

6 cups eggnog from a carton
Heavy sprinkle of cinnamon
Sprinkle of nutmeg
3 egg yolks, beaten
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup spiced rum

Pour the eggnog into a large saucepan. Begin heating up the eggnog.

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Add the cinnamon and nutmeg and continue to heat the eggnog.

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Meanwhile, add the heavy cream to the yolks in a small bowl and whisk them together.
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When the eggnog is hot, slowly add the egg-cream mixture to the eggnog. This will be a slow process.
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Turn up the heat just a little bit more, and continue whisking the eggnog mixture. It should continue to become thicker.

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Once the mixture just comes to a boil, remove the pan from the heat, and let it cool at room temperature for about 45 minutes or so, whisking occasionally.

Then cover the pan and refrigerate the mixture for at least 2-3 hours.

When you are ready to make the ice cream, set up your ice cream maker. Add the rum and whisk it into the eggnog mixture.

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Pour the ice cream base into the ice cream maker bowl, and begin processing.
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You will know when the ice cream is done when the machine starts making a little more noise, and ice cream forms.

At this point, place the bowl in the freezer. Try not to make the ice cream more than two hours before serving. Even with the rum, the freezer always seems to over freeze ice cream, and you have to wait quite a while for it to soften.
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I served this ice cream atop pumpkin pie that included a layer of rum-soaked raisins, and was baked in a hazelnut cinnamon crust. A little over the top with many flavors of autumn, but it truly worked.
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verdict: This ice cream turned out beautifully. Incredible flavors, and not so subtle, because of the use of the commercial eggnog. No sugar was necessary in this ice cream, either, as the commercial eggnog is already sweetened. I just felt it necessary to add some heavy cream, to increase the fattiness of the ice cream, since I don’t believe in low-fat ice cream, and the egg yolks made this ice cream more like one that is custard-based. Delightful. I’ll definitely be making this again!

Hazelnut Cinnamon Pie Crust

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When I make a pie crust for even the simplest of pies, I like to change things up. There’s nothing quite so perfect as a pâte brisée, but when you can also add ground nuts of various kinds, and flavorings like rum and cinnamon, the crust pushes the pie over the top!

For Thanksgiving, I only made one pie, since there were only four of us, and that was a pumpkin pie. I did add some rum-soaked raisins to the pie as well. A good pie, as it turned out, although not necessarily better than a traditional pumpkin pie, which we all love. I just wanted to literally spice up the crust.

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So, I chose to make a hazelnut-based pie crust. In my tutorial for making pie crusts, I mentioned adding nuts as an option for introducing different flavors as well as textures into a basic pie crust. It’s just so fun and easy.

The only negative in adding ground nuts to a traditional flour-based pie crust is that the dough is more on the crumbly side, and is a tiny bit harder to work with. However, if I can do it, anyone can as well.

So here’s what I did.

Hazelnut Cinnamon Pie Crust

Place the hazelnuts, 1/2 cup of flour and the brown sugar in a food processor jar. Process until the hazelnuts are very fine.
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The addition of the flour will keep the nuts from becoming nut butter.
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Add the remaining flour, cinnamon, and the rum. Then add the shortening and butter and process just a little.
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Then, adding icy cold water as needed, continue processing the dough until it balls up.
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Turn out the dough onto a large piece of plastic wrap.
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With your hands underneath the plastic wrap, fold over and forcibly pat down on the dough until it sticks together and forms a disk.
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Wrap up the disc and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight.

The next day, get the dough out of the refrigerator and let it sit a little bit to warm up slightly. You can alternatively try beating on it with your rolling pin.

Unwrap the disk of dough and place it on a gently floured surface.

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Using the same technique as you would a pâte brisée, roll out the dough into a large circle, sprinkling a little flour as needed.

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To assist in placing the rolled out crust into the pie pan, use a very wide metal spatula. I would invest in one if you don’t already own one; I’ve used this a lot when a regular spatula just won’t do.

Then carefully place it over the pie pan.
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Trim the edges of the crust that overhang, and then crimp the edges carefully.

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Place the pie crust in the refrigerator until you fill the pie. At that point, also place the pie pan in a jelly roll pan, or on a cookie sheet. That way you don’t wreck the integrity of the crimped crust grabbing the pie pan with oven mitts.

There will be a future post on the eggnog ice cream I topped the pumpkin pie with that filled this fabulous hazelnut cinnamon crust pie!

Fosterred Banana Ice Cream

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My husband loves bananas. When I made Bananas Foster for him a few months ago, I had an idea. I wanted to turn bananas Foster into ice cream.

Consider this ice cream recipe a constructed version of the de-constructed dessert known as bananas foster. It’s not a huge stretch, but I can guarantee that if you love bananas Foster, you’ll love this ice cream.

Bananas Foster is composed of ice cream, bananas sautéed in a butter and brown sugar sauce, topped off with rum. I wanted to use all of the components for my ice cream creation, but I had to omit the butter. As soon as the hot butter hit the cold ingredients, it would become waxy and unpleasant. So instead, I substituted vanilla.

Because of the dark brown color of the rum and the brown sugar, I considered making this ice cream more of a swirl, but then, I decided to go for broke and just do it. And the resulting color is just fine.

So here’s my recipe, and I can seriously guarantee that it’s a treat. Mr. Foster would be proud.

Fostered Banana Ice Cream

Banana Mixture:

3 medium bananas, just ripe
1/3 cup spiced rum
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons good cinnamon
Juice of 1 small lemon

Ice Cream Custard:

3 cups heavy cream
1 cup 1/2 and 1/2
1 vanilla bean
1 cinnamon stick
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup brown sugar*
Pinch of salt

The day before, or at least 4 hours before you’re planning on actually making the ice cream, make the banana mixture by placing all of the ingredients together in a blender and blending until smooth. Place the mixture in a bowl, cover, and refrigerate.

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To make the ice cream custard, place the cream and 1/2 and 1/2 in a medium saucepan on the stove over low heat. Cut the vanilla bean into quarters, split them open vertically, and remove the seeds with the tip of a knife.
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Place the beans and seeds in the cream mixture, and also add the cinnamon stick.

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Let the mixture warm slowly, and then steep for about 30 minutes. Remove the cinnamon stick and the vanilla beans, squeezing the beans to remove as many residual seeds as possible, and place them in the cream.

Place the 6 egg yolks in a small bowl and whisk them until smooth.
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Have a whisk and a spoon available, the brown sugar and salt, and place a very large bowl in the sink that contains ice cubes.

Increase the heat under the cream to medium. You are making a custard, to enrich the ice cream, and this is a very easy process, but one that takes time and a little patience. It’s better to go slowly and not risk the mixture coming to a boil, than have it boil prematurely and ruin your custard.

First, add the brown sugar and salt to the cream and whisk until it’s dissolved.

So to make the custard, you need to gradually add the eggs to the hot cream mixture. Alternatively, you might have seen in a recipe to add hot cream to eggs, but this is exactly the same thing.

I simply use my whisk to grab a little bit of eggs and then immediately whisk them into the cream. Whisk completely, and then continue adding a little bit of eggs. If you prefer, a spoon can be used to add egg to cream, and also cream to egg, but the stirring part is essential. If you’ve ever made an egg drop soup, you know that when eggs hit hot liquid they will cook, and this is not what you want for a smooth, non-mealy custard.

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To test the thickness and doneness of the custard, stick a clean spoon into the custard. The custard on the spoon in this photo shows that the custard is still thin and not ready.

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The test of doneness is when the custard sticks to the spoon, coating it instead of running back into the saucepan.

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Once the test is positive with the spoon, like in the above photo, immediately place the saucepan in the ice bowl and whisk for about a minute. Every couple of minutes, whisk thoroughly. Continue this until the custard has cooled completely.

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Set up your electric ice cream maker. If you have a crank variety, I’m sorry. I used to have one and dealing with the ice and the labor of it all is so tedious. Please upgrade to an electric appliance. It’s very easy. There’s a plug, and an “ON” button.

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The only important things to remember are to freeze the components, primarily the ice cream barrel, for at least 12 hours before hand. And the ice cream ingredients must be very cold as well.

Add about 2 cups of the banana mixture to the cream custard and combine.
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Then pour the mixture into the barrel of the ice cream maker, but only about 7/8 full.

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Turn it on, and make sure the lid is on properly. Otherwise it won’t work. (I’ve done this before!)

Stop when you obviously have ice cream. Instead of the mixture appearing like a milk shake consistency, like in this photo,

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it will become ice cream consistency, and fold over itself because of its increased viscosity. It will have also increased in volume, like in this photo.

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Remove the barrel and put it in the freezer. The rum in the ice cream will keep the ice cream from freezing hard, but you can test the hardness before you want to serve it, and just place it in the refrigerator or on your kitchen counter to warm it slightly in advance, if necessary.

Serve the ice cream with a little of the leftover banana mixture, and sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon, if desired. Enjoy!

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* I didn’t care if some of the brown sugar was in little chunks. I thought that would add an interesting texture to the ice cream!

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Torta di Ricotta

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I wish I could share the source of this recipe, but I can’t. It dates back to the days when I borrowed cookbooks instead of buying them. I would get stacks of cookbooks every week from our local library, zerox favorite recipes, glue them onto large index cards, and then go back for more. This was all for economic reasons, as there was a period of time while raising our daughters that the purchase of cookbooks would have been completely extravagant and irresponsible.

This recipe is definitely Italian in origin, and I’m wondering if it’s from a Lorenza de Medici cookbook. But whose ever it is, it’s one of the few desserts I’ve made on many an occasion when I need to give a small gift of food for one person, or perhaps for just a few of us getting together for a girly lunch.

It’s a small ricotta-based cheesecake, that is moist and full of flavor. I hope you like it, too!

Torta di Ricotta

1 pound ricotta cheese, whole-milk only
1/3 cup raisins
2 tablespoons brandy
Grated zest of 1 lemon
Grated zest of 1 orange
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs, separated
1/2 cup sugar
1 pinch salt
1/3 cup pine nuts, but today I used pistachios
Softened butter for the pan

Drain the ricotta overnight in a cheesecloth-lined sieve.

Soak the raisins in the rum. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Add the zest of the orange and lemon to a small bowl, and add the vanilla to the same bowl.

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Beat the egg yolks with the sugar and salt until pale yellow.

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Add the drained ricotta, salt, and citrus zests, and blend thoroughly. Add the pine nuts and raisins and rum, blending well.

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Beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Fold them into the cake batter.

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Brush a 6″ springform pan with softened butter. Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan, and bake 30 to 35 minutes.

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Use a tester in the middle to make sure the torta is ready to come out of the oven. It will look like this:

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Cool for about half an hour, then turn onto a serving plate. It’s good warm or at room temperature.

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The torta will slice very easily. I served mine with some macerated strawberries, which just means that I sprinkled some white sugar over sliced strawberries, tossed them gently, and let them sit for about 20 minutes or so.

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But this torta di ricotta is such a delight, it doesn’t really need anything at all!

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verdict: The pistachios were just as good as the pine nuts.

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Holiday Toddy

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I really wanted to call this toddy a Christmas toddy, but I’m realizing that I’m calling everything “Christmas” these days. I happen to be in love with Christmas, for so many different reasons. I love the smells, sounds, the food of Christmas… The White Christmas movie. I just love it all.

I’m actually listening to Christmas carols as I type this post, and I was listening to Christmas carols when I whipped up this toddy. I start listening to Christmas music the first cold day, or, the first of November, whichever occurs first.

About this time of year I also have a pretty well-stocked liquor cabinet, so I can create a holiday-inspired cocktail or toddy with a pomegranate vodka, an eggnog liqueur, a peppermint schnapps – whatever I fancy. I am very lucky this way.

Today it’s chilly, and I was in the mood for a toddy, which, in my book, implies a hot drink. Like a hot buttered rum would be a hot toddy to me. Which I almost made… But then I had this idea inspired by a recipe I once saw, using tea as the base. And, I happened to have chai tea bags, so that’s what I did. Please enjoy this hot toddy:

Holiday Toddy:

8 Chai tea bags*
1 teaspoon crushed cardamom
1 cup sweetened evaporated milk
1 cup spiced rum
Cinnamon sticks

Place the tea bags and the cardamom in a heat-proof container, preferably large enough to hold a quart and a half of liquid. Add boiling hot water and let the tea steep for at least 5 minutes. Remove the tea bags. Add more hot water until it measures exactly 3 cups. Alternatively, the toddy can be made in a pot on the stove.

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Add the sweetened evaporated milk and whisk until it’s completely combined. Add the rum. If you’re serving right away, heat the toddy up first till it’s steaming, then serve the it with a cinnamon stick. It can also be served from the pot on the stove, if you prefer. If it’s going to stay on the stove for a while before serving, I’d add some cinnamon sticks to it to get even more cinnamon-y!

*I think any Christmas-type tea will work, even an orange tea would work. And, you could always serve the toddy with a little orange peel twirl.

note: This recipe makes about 6 good-sized cups. It can easily be doubled, or tripled…..

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Ginger Spice Truffle Balls

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By definition, truffles, the chocolate kind not the fungus, are made of chocolate and cream only. These I call truffle balls, which are a throwback to the rum and bourbon balls of the 1950’s.

I actually prefer making this kind of truffle, because for one thing they’re way easier than real truffles. You have to have patience to make truffles, for one thing. And, this kind also are more “stable” and less temperamental than real truffles. I usually make a batch or two, freeze them, and then whip them out for when I have company during the holidays. You can’t do that with real truffles.

This truffle recipe I actually came up with when I was doing the food for a charity event benefiting our local SPCA. So many people loved these things and fortunately I kind of remembered what I’d done, and thus, a recipe was born. And, I’m now sharing it.

Ginger Spice Truffles

6 ounces gingersnap cookies
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2 tablespoons spiced rum
2 tablespoons strong coffee*
1 stick unsalted butter
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
3 tablespoons sifted powdered sugar

Run the cookies though the food processor until fine crumbs. Place them in a large bowl and set aside.

In the top of a double boiler, place the chocolate, butter, coffee, and rum. Over gently simmering water, melt the ingredients completely. Stir in the cinnamon and ginger. Remove from over the heat and let cool for a few minutes.

Then pour the chocolate mixture over the cookie crumbs. Using a rubber spatula, combine the chocolate and the crumbs completely. Cover the bowl with foil, then place the bowl in the refrigerator for about four hours.

When you are ready to make the truffles, get the bowl out of the refrigerator. In a small bowl, mix together the cocoa powder and powdered sugar well. Have a small spoon and a re-sealable bag handy.

Using the spoon, grab a little chocolate and rub it with both of your hand in a circular motion to make a ball. It shouldn’t be larger than 1″ in diameter. The chocolate will be hard, but that’s good. Then roll the truffle in the coating and place it in the bag. Continue with the remaining chocolate-cookie mixture. You can pour the remaining coating mixture into the bag if you wish. Refrigerate the truffles or freeze them. If you freeze them, thaw in the refrigerator first, then put them in a bowl about 30 minutes or so to warm up before serving.

* My mother taught me that whenever she makes pretty much anything chocolate, she adds some coffee to it. She always added it to chocolate mousse, and hers was the best ever. So I do it, too. You can use freshly brewed coffee, or some powdered Espresso, dissolved in water. Just don’t overdo the coffee – it should be drinkable, unless otherwise stated.