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 balls of the 1950’s.

I enjoy making truffle balls, because for one thing they’re way easier than real truffles. They’re also more “stable” and less temperamental, because of a cookie or cake base.

When I make truffle balls, I typically make a batch or two, freeze them, and then whip them out for when I have company. You can’t do that with real truffles.

This truffle recipe I 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.

Ginger Spice Truffle Balls

6 ounces gingersnap cookies
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
4 ounces unsalted butter
2 tablespoons strong coffee
2 tablespoons spiced rum
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.

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

When you are ready to make the truffle balls, 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 of the chocolate-cookie mixture 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. Roll the truffle ball 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.

It’s just as easy to double the recipe. Or triple it.

These are really nice for company. Just have some ready to eat at room temperature, and nobody has to eat a slice of cake to please the hostess/host!

Gingerbread Liqueur

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Well, it’s that time of year once again, with sugar plums dancing in my head. I love all of the flavors of the holidays, yet, not so much gingerbread. I don’t dislike it, it’s just not one of my top holiday flavors.

That is, until I discovered a recipe for gingerbread liqueur, on a now non-existent blog.

I guarantee that this liqueur will make your spirits merry!

Gingerbread Liqueur
Printable recipe below

1/2 cup chopped ginger
1 cinnamon stick
6 whole allspice slightly crushed
5 whole cloves
Fresh nutmeg
1/4 cup molasses
1 heaping tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 cup vodka
1/2 cup brandy
1/2 cup spiced rum

Put everything in a clean jar.

I doubled the recipe, because I’ve made this before and I know how good it is!

Give the jar a good swirl to make sure the brown sugar and molasses are well stirred, then set the jar in a dark cool place for at least a week. When ready to use, strain into a clean bottle.

Since I’m so creative with cocktails, I add 1/2 & 1/2 to some of the liqueur and called it done.

If you really want to be fancy, add a rim of flavored or just pretty sugar. This was cranberry sugar, but I just did it for the photos!

I don’t let the liqueur sit longer than a week. I find that cloves and cinnamon sticks can lend bitterness if too much time passes.

And I found these adorable gingerbread cookies! Redundant, but cute!

I think the liqueur would be good not only with 1/2 & 1/2, but also with a splash of club soda. Next time, because it’s all gone!

 

 

Holiday Toddy

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I happen to be in love with Christmas. I love the smells, sounds, the foods of Christmas… Christmas movies. I 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 on the first cold day or, the 1st of October, whichever occurs first.

About this time of year I also have a well-stocked liquor cabinet, so I can create a holiday-inspired cocktail with pomegranate vodka, eggnog liqueur, 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.

I had an idea inspired by a recipe I once saw, using tea as the toddy base. I happened to have chai tea bags on hand, so I used them.

I’m using a relatively new liquor that I love, Brown Sugar Bourbon, and I’m not a bourbon lover!

Holiday Toddy
Printable recipe below

8 Chai tea bags
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
7-8 ounces sweetened evaporated milk
8 ounces brown sugar bourbon, or spiced rum, like Captain Morgan
Cinnamon sticks

Place the tea bags, cardamom, and allspice in a heat-proof container; I used a 4-cup measuring cup. Add about 2 cups of boiling hot water and let the tea bags steep for at least 5 minutes. Remove the tea bags.

Add more hot water until it measures 3 cups. Transfer the tea into a stove-top pot with a pour spout, and add the cardamom and allspice. Place on the stove over low heat. Add the sweetened condensed milk and bourbon and whisk until they’re completely combined.

Heat the toddy till it’s steaming, then serve with a cinnamon stick.

Any Christmas-type tea will work, even an orange tea. And, you could always serve the toddy with a little orange peel twirl.

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

And if you’re wondering who designed these delightful festive cups, it’s Tracy Porter, who unfortunately doesn’t design dinnerware any longer.

Bananas Foster

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My husband asked me to make Bananas Foster for his birthday recently, and how could I say no! 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… and damn it’s good.

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
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!

 

Fosterred Banana Ice Cream

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My husband loves bananas. When I made bananas Foster or 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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