Month: September 2015

Whiskey Sunshine

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Just imagine: finals are almost over, it’s bright and sunny outside, and you are down to whatever is left in your refrigerator.  In this case, it was some Honey Syrup (I had been trying to make a Bee’s Knees cocktail) and a lemon.  Good enough for me.

Whiskey Sunshine

Yield: 1 drink

Ingredients:

1 1/2 oz. Whiskey

1 to 1 1/2 oz. Lemon Juice

1 oz. Honey Syrup (see previous post)

Seltzer Water

Method:

Shake the first three ingredients with ice, then transfer to a glass.  Top with seltzer water and garnish with a lemon wedge.

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Honey Syrup

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This is a simple syrup for cocktail purposes, because pure honey does not dissolve in cold drinks.  In fact, it is what one would call a “rich simple syrup”, because the amount of sweetener is twice the amount of water.  I keep mine in a squeezy bottle because that’s how the pros do it (I made that up but I don’t think I’m wrong).

Rich Honey Syrup

Yield: About 1 1/2 cups

Ingredients:

1 c. Honey

1/2 c. Water

Method:

Place the honey and water in a small saucepan over medium-low heat.  Stirring occasionally, heat it until the honey is fully dissolved in the water, possibly to a simmer if necessary.  Cool to room temperature and then store in the refrigerator!

Oreo Ganache Tart

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So, remember those Cannoli Cupcakes I posted about a half hour ago?  Yes, LOADS of leftover ganache… And Brother, after having had his Foreign Language Party, graduated, and we had a grad party, which required a dessert.  I had seen this little guy in a video on Facebook not too long before the grad party, so I thought this would be a marvelous way to use up the leftover ganache.  And it was.  Oreos are not the classiest thing ever…but once in a while, I tell you, they’re delicious–especially when crushed up with butter!  The amount needed for this recipe is almost an entire package–the original recipe author probably knew we’d want to eat a few before crushing them!

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Oreo Ganache Tart

Yield: One 12-inch Tart

Ingredients:

32 Oreos (get the original because more cookie is better here)

1/2 c. Butter

Leftover Ganache from Cannoli Cupcakes (or approximately 1 1/2 c. Heavy Cream and 1 1/2 c. Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips)

Fresh Fruit of your choice (I used 1 Pint of Raspberries)

1/4 to 1/3 c. Fruit Jelly (not jam because it needs to be clear)

Method:

Crush Oreos until there are no big chunks left.  The finer the texture, the easier it will be to mold into the tart pan.  Melt butter in the microwave, and mix it into the Oreo crumbs.  Using fingers, compact the butter-crumb mixture into a 12-inch tart pan–preferably one with a removable base.  Chill while you prepare the ganache.

I had kept my leftover ganache in the fridge, so I warmed it up slightly so I could pour it.  (If you are making the ganache now, heat the heavy cream until hot but not boiling, and pour over the chocolate chips.  Let stand for a few minutes, then whisk until a uniform texture).  Pour the ganache into the Oreo crust, and top with fruit.

Refrigerate until ganache is set.

Warm jelly in a small saucepan until entirely liquid.  With a pastry brush, brush the jelly over the fruit to give it a pleasant glossy look.  Refrigerate until serving, whereupon you would remove the outer part of the pan to show off the pretty Oreo crust.

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AB’s Graham Crackers

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This is an easy one for exposition, because it is really not my invention in the slightest… Just placing here what Mr. Alton Brown has on the Food Network website!  I of course have made my own little notes along the way.  Like this one: these graham crackers are really soft, because they puff up while baking.  This makes them actually pretty wonderful for s’mores (because you can eat them without marshmallow getting shot out at you), but it is definitely not what comes to mind when thinking of graham CRACKERS.  When rolling them out, roll them as thinly as possible, and that should help them crisp up some more!

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AB’s Graham Crackers

Yield: About 2-dozen cracker sticks

Ingredients:

8 3/8 oz Graham Flour (Alton likes to be precise)

1 7/8 oz All-Purpose Flour (told you)

3 oz. Dark Brown Sugar

3/4 tsp. Baking Powder

1/2 tsp. Baking Soda

1/2 tsp. Salt

1/8 tsp. Ground Cinnamon

3 oz Unsalted Butter cut into cubes and chilled

2 1/4 oz Molasses

1 1/2 oz Whole Milk

1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract

Method:

Mix all dry ingredients in the bowl of a food processor.  Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles sand.  Slowly add the wet ingredients and keep mixing until it starts to form a ball–Alton says about 1 minute.

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, forming it into a disk, and refrigerate for a half hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Roll out the dough between sheets of parchment paper until it is as thin as possible (Alton says 1/8 inch–I say as thin as it will go).  Peel off the top sheet of parchment and transfer the rest (rolled dough and bottom parchment) to a half sheet pan.  Use a pizza cutter to cut the dough into segments.  I made mine about 1 inch by 2 inches, Alton made his 2 inch squares.  Alton says remove any excess–I say Pfft, that’s the chef’s snack later.  Poke holes in the top of the dough with a fork.

Bake for 25 minutes or until the edges start to darken.  Set the whole pan on a cooling rack to cool completely.  Once cooled, break apart the individual crackers and store in an airtight container. (For up to two weeks, says AB)

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Cannoli Cupcakes

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SURPRISE.  I am back after my many-month hiatus.  No clue how long I’ll be back for, though.  Blogging…is a lot of work.  Probably not if you are tech-savvy, but for my age, I am not at all (I didn’t even know how to turn on my roommate’s computer the other day).  So, that being said, I guess this is going to be less about teaching (and rambling) and more of just a place to stash my recipes for when I need them again.  If you’d like, you can follow me on Twitter for random food facts (@JancoFoodFacts), or if you are lucky enough to live in my city, participate in Local Libations with me <– tapas this week!  So needless to say, I have not disappeared from the culinary world, just involved myself in different ways.

I will be making as many posts as I can today to clear off some of my to-do list, so I apologize to anyone who is subscribed to this blog, because you are about to get pummeled with emails.

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To the food.  These cupcakes came about because Little Brother needed a snack to take to his last Foreign Language Party of his senior year in May.  I am PRETTY sure that the base of these is the same cake batter I use for Tiramisu Cupcakes…however, I only wrote down “cupcake recipe as written”, and that’s asking too much to remember all the way back to May.  Whatever it was, they were dry anyway.  Find yourself a good vanilla cupcake recipe that you trust, and go from there!

For the ganache part, there was far too much left over.  You could probably get by with making less than half of the “2 cups cream and 2 cups chocolate” ratio.  I have left it how it is, however, because with all that extra ganache, you could make the Chocolate Tart a few posts over!

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Cannoli Cupcakes

Yield: About 30 Cupcakes

Ingredients:

Your Favorite 2-Dozen Vanilla Cupcake Batter (please don’t use a box mix, for the love of…)

1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon

1 tsp Instant Espresso Powder

1 lb Whole-Fat Ricotta, drained (plunk it in a sieve with some cheesecloth for a few hours)

8 oz Mascarpone

3 c. Powdered Sugar

2-3 tsp. Vanilla Extract

2 c. Heavy Cream

2 c. Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

Crushed almonds, pistachios, maraschino cherries, etc. as desired

Method:

Whip up your favorite from-scratch vanilla cupcakes, stirring the espresso powder into the milk or other liquid before incorporating.  Add the ground cinnamon after everything else is combined.  Bake as your recipe directs, then completely cool the cupcakes.

Combine the drained ricotta and mascarpone, whip with a hand mixer until fluffy.  Add the powdered sugar one cup at a time, whipping after each addition.  Finish by adding the vanilla extract.

Next, either use a piping bag with a large tip to pipe the sweet cheesy mixture onto the cupcakes in dome form, or perhaps use an ice cream scoop that is appropriately sized.  Put the cupcakes in the freezer to firm up the cheesy mixture.

Once the cheesy mixture is pretty solid on the cupcakes, begin making the ganache: heat the heavy cream in a small saucepan until hot, but not boiling!  Place the chocolate chips in a heat-proof bowl, and pour the hot cream over the top.  Let sit for two minutes, then begin to stir until it reaches a homogeneous texture.

One by one, take each semi-frozen cupcake and dip it “head first” into the ganache to attempt to completely cover the cheesy mixture.  You can gently reheat the ganache if it gets too stiff.  Sprinkle any garnishes (nuts, fruit, etc.) over the top, and store in the refrigerator for up to a few days.

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