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Holiday Wine and Cocktail Recipes: 90+ Cellars

Turkey day is this week! Although, technically, it was already Christmas the day after Halloween. Give us a break America and let us celebrate one holiday at a time! All the leaves have changed, the air is cool and crisp and that means it’s time for some good Wine, Prosecco and Champagne. Especially for Thanksgiving. I’ve got two wines that will pair wonderfully with any kind of turkey, roast or chicken you may be having for the holiday; spicy or savory. The good thing about serving wine at your holiday gatherings is that you won’t have to stand behind your home bar making drinks all night or even have to make a punch. Just uncork the bottle and set it out for self service. If you want to feel super fancy, decant the bottle. That will impress your guests and you can feel like a Jr. sommelier.

90+ Cellars offers high-end wines that won’t break your wallet during the holiday season. The unique aspect of 90+ Cellars is what they bring to the wine market.  They have been able to convert market inefficiencies into better value for both winemakers and consumers. How you ask? They enable wineries to sell their oversupply without effecting the value of their brand. This way, 90+ can offer customers high-end wine for less! That means we win, guys. We win!

The first wine I’m recommending for Turkey day and beyond is the Pinot Noir.

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This is a fabulous Pinot Noir that you definitely want to have on your holiday table. It’s bold but not too bold. Slightly dry and fruity, this Pinot is rich and smooth. There are deep notes of cherry, dried fruits and there’s a certain earthiness that is pleasant on the palate and will keep you going back for another sip and that’s exactly what you want when you’re enjoying your roasted and brined meats and savory and sweet sides. There’s some nice spice notes of cinnamon on the end of this one and for $14.99, you can’t lose. Enjoy!

Next up is the Big Red Blend.

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For only $11.99, this one is BOLD. This is a good wine for the intermediate Red Wine drinker. There are a lot of dark fruit flavors in this wine. Such as blackberry, cassis and plum. It’s woody and has a definite spice. It’s a beautiful full-bodied wine with a rich dark color. The blend is of Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Tempranillo and it’s wonderful. The Big Red Blend is the perfect cold weather wine and we’re going to do a couple of special recipes with it since we’re in the holiday spirit.

First is a whiskey sour. Yes, whiskey sour. Better than a New York Sour, we’re heading into Bourbon Renewal territory (a whiskey sour with Cassis) with our Big Red Blend reduction.

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The reduction is simple. Add 1 Cup of the Big Red Blend to a sauce pan and begin the reduction on medium low heat. You should have a very light simmer going to cook out the alcohol and reduce by half. You can use your nose for this process. Once the alcohol has evaporated, you’re left with the concentrated flavors of the wine. At this point, when you don’t smell anymore alcohol, you’ll want to add sugar. 3/4 to 1 Cup. Adjust to your likeness but keep in mind that we’re using this as a syrup. The whole process takes about 30 minutes. You’ll know it’s ready when it coats the bottom of the pan, is syrupy and also leaves a light coat on a spoon.

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Big Red Whiskey Sour:

2oz. Rye (Or Bourbon)

1oz. Big Red Blend Reduction

1oz. Lemon Juice

1 Small Cinnamon Stick

*Add all ingredients to your shaker, breaking the cinnamon stick in half. Add ice and shake your life away. Double strain over fresh ice and garnish with a lemon wheel.

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Cheers!

Finally, we’re going to use the Big Red Blend reduction for dessert. You can get creative here. I’m doing my take on a cheese course. Roasted Figs, Marscapone ice cream and our wine reduction.

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The marscapone ice cream is extremely simple:

1 Package of Marscapone (room temp)

2 Cups Milk

1 Cup Sugar

2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract (Vanilla Bean Paste if you have it)

Add all ingredients to a blender and mix. Adjust the sweetness to your liking and follow your ice cream freezer instructions. #SuperEasy

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You can add this reduction to any dessert or other recipe you see fit. Try adding some mulling spices to the reduction and drizzle over a cranberry tart, cheesecake or any seasonal fruit that pairs well with wine.

It’s time for some BUBBLY!

Tis’ the season for Champagne and Prosecco. It’s also time for you to stock up and get the home bar ready for your New Year’s Eve celebration. Start by ordering a case of 90+ Cellar Prosecco. The bubbles are perfectly intense in this Prosecco. Citrus, fresh stone fruit and a great balance of dry and sweet are what you get with this Prosecco. 90+ offers a Prosecco that is versatile enough for a pre and post dinner sipper as well as a cocktail ingredient.

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A nice seasonal cocktail is in order. A Cranberry Sparkler to be exact.

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Cranberry Sparkler:

3/4oz. Light Rum

3/4oz. Lime Juice

1oz. Cranberry Syrup

90+ Cellars Prosecco

Thyme or Rosemary Sprigs (Garnish)

*Add non-sparkling ingredients to a shaker and top with a few ice cubes. Shake and strain over ice in a nice cocktail glass. Top with 90+ Cellars Prosecco and garnish with a fresh, fragrant herb.

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Finally, we’re ending the show with Champagne.

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Le Cle de la Femme is a newely released Champagne (Nov.). Selected for Magic Door Vineyards, this Champagne is clean, crisp and refreshing. Bright and bubbly (obviously), de la Femme is from the Marne Valley and offers aromas of fresh apple and pear. It’s buttery like a Chardonnay and has some notes of cinnamon and anise. It’s incredibly easy to drink and perfect for The Champagne Cocktail.

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The Champagne Cocktail:

1 Sugar Cube (Demerara used here)

2-3 Dashes of your favorite Bitters (Peychaud’s used here)

Le Cle de la Femme Champagne

*Add a sugar cube to your Champagne flute or coupe glass and douse with bitters. Top with Le Cle de la Femme Champagne and serve.

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So, here’s to enjoying the best wines, champagne and prosecco that 90+ Cellars has to offer, the holidays, the new year and beyond. Cheers, friends!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Cooking With Bitters: Aromatic Caramel Corn

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Fall is here guys. Leaves…to rake, squash, painted pumpkins, The Walking Dead (!!!), Halloween and of course, caramel. To me, caramel is one of the most important fall flavors. It’s just wonderful. What’s not to like? A fun little snack to make is caramel corn. But, you know we have to add a twist. We’re making grown up or “adult” caramel corn by adding Hella Bitters Aromatic Bitters. The cinnamon, clove and Jamaican allspice notes work perfectly with caramel, pecans and of course, homemade popcorn. I would suggest that you make this as a treat for the kiddies but, you’ll probably want to keep this for yourself. Movie night just got 10 times better!

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You’ll need butter. Lot’s of butter!

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Aromatic Caramel Corn:

1/2 Cup Popcorn Kernels

1 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar

1 1/2 Sticks Butter (I don’t mind using Salted here. Use Unsalted if you’d like)

1/4 Cup Light Corn Syrup + 2 Tablespoons

1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt

1 1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

1 Teaspoon Cinnamon

3 Teaspoons Hella Bitters Aromatic Bitters

1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda

1/2-1 Cup Chopped Pecans (Or your favorite nut)

Start by popping your corn. Follow your label instructions for best results. Chop your pecans and we can start the caramel. Heat your oven to 250° and coat a large baking dish with butter or nonstick foil. Add the popcorn and chopped pecans and set the dish to the side.

Over medium heat, add the corn syrup, brown sugar and salt to a saucepan.  Bring these ingredients to a boil and cook for 5 minutes while stirring. Reduce heat slightly and cook for another 3 minutes. Remove the caramel from the heat and whisk in the Aromatic Bitters, vanilla, cinnamon and baking soda. Whisk for about 15 seconds until there’s a light foam. Immediately add the caramel to the popcorn and pecans, mixing thoroughly to coat and spread the popcorn into an even layer. Bake for 45 minutes, turning the popcorn over every 15 minutes. After baking, let the popcorn cool completely before breaking into individual crunchy bites.

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Baking With Bitters: Key Lime Pie + Citrus Bitters

Still missing that last little taste of summer? I’m not. I’m more than welcoming FALL and all of it’s GLORY!!!! The good thing about Key Lime Pie is, you get get limes all year long. And, Key Lime Pie is super easy to make. That’s why it’s one of my favorites. It’s a clean and refreshing bite that can take you back to the Florida Keys and gives a little relief from all of the heavy flavors of Fall.

We’re adding Hella Bitters Citrus to this pie because we’re just cool like that. The bitters add another dimension to the familiar pie; playing on the bright lime citrus and adding some spice undertones. Even though this pie is baked (briefly), the citrus bitters still come through. Let’s jump into the recipe, shall we?

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A few extra dashes for good measure…

Citrus Bitters Key Lime Pie:

1 Can Sweetened Condensed Milk

3 Egg Yolks

2/3 Cup Fresh Lime Juice

3 Teaspoons Hella Bitters Citrus (A few extra dashes for good measure)

For the crust, we’re going with the standard recipe:

1 1/2 cups  finely ground graham cracker crumbs (from about 10 crackers)
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 pinches sea salt
7 tablespoons melted butter

Preheat your oven to 350°. In a food processor, large plastic bag or bowl, blend the graham crackers until you get smooth crumbs. Add melted butter and remaining ingredients until you get a sand like texture. Fill your pie dish with the graham cracker crust. Prepare filling by first whipping the egg yolks with the bitters for 2-3 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth and pale in color. Only takes about 3 minutes. Add your filling to the pie crust and bake until set, about 10 minutes being sure not to brown. Let the pie cool completely and refrigerate. Top with whipped cream as you desire. Easy as pie!

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You’ll want to go a little finer on the crust than I  🙂

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One last slice of summer you can enjoy all winter long!

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A Bitter Breakfast: Buttermilk Biscuits With Orange Bitters

We’re about to embark on a journey you’ve probably never thought of before. I’m sure you’re familiar with the biscuit. Buttery, flaky and sometimes served with bacon, eggs and cheese. BUT! Have you ever thought about adding bitters to your biscuits? No. You haven’t. In this recipe, Hella Bitters Orange adds a subtle essence of orange. It gives a nice floral note to the breakfast classic.

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The idea for a good biscuit is to not overwork the dough after mixed and have ice cold butter that will melt and yield some flakiness.

Buttermilk Biscuits with Orange Bitters:

1 1/2 Cup All Purpose Flour

1 1/2 Cup Cake Flour

1 Tablespoon Baking Powder

1 Teaspoon Salt

3/4 Teaspoon Cream of Tartar

1 Teaspoon Orange Zest

1/2 Cup Unsalted Butter (1 Stick)

1/4 Shortening (Vegatable used here)

1 1/4 Cup Buttermilk

4 Teaspoons HB Orange Bitters

For the biscuits- Preheat oven to 450. In a large bowl stir together flours, baking powder, sugar, salt, cream of tartar and orange zest. Cut in butter and shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs (I use my hands here). Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and pour in buttermilk and Bitters. Using a fork stir together until moistened. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough by folding and pressing until the dough holds together. Pat or lightly roll the dough out to about 1 1/4 inches. Cut dough into rounds using a biscuit cutter. Place rounds onto an un-greased baking sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until biscuits are golden brown.

*Recipe adapted from Southern Souffle.com*

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So, what shall we have with our biscuits? Peaches. Because it’s summer and it’s time for peaches. I suppose you could have strawberry shortcakes however, peaches are better. This peach shortcake is better than your Grandmother’s Peach Cobbler…sorry Grandma.

Sautéed Peaches:

2 Peaches [Peeled]

1/2 Cup Light Brown Sugar

1 Tablespoon Granulated Sugar

2 Tablespoons Butter

1 Teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice [Or more to taste]

1 Teaspoon Cinnamon [Or more to taste]

A Dash of  Freshly Grated Nutmeg

A Splash of Vanilla Extract

A Pinch of Kosher Salt

1/2oz. Grand Marnier [Optional]

10 Dashes HB Orange Bitters

*Add sugars to a cast iron or sautée pan. Warm on medium-low heat until sugars begin to liquify. Add peeled and sliced peaches, butter and remaining ingredients to the caramel. If you want to get a little fancy and flambé the Grand Ma, feel free. Cook the peaches for 10-15 minutes or until the peaches are just soft and they’ve released some juices into the caramel. Let the mix cool (as we’ll be adding whipped cream) or serve slightly warm over biscuits.

Bitter Whipped Cream:

1 Cup Whipping Cream

1 Tablespoon Powdered Sugar

4 or 5 Dashes HB Aromatic Bitters

Whip chilled cream (a cold bowl helps, too), powdered sugar and bitters by hand or with a electric mixer until soft peaks form. Chill.

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A Bitter Breakfast: Smokey Cheddar Grits With Smoked Chili Bitters

Being that I’m from and live in the south, Shrimp & Grits are a staple. I’ve had and tried them many different ways. Creamy garlic sauce, white wine sauce with tomato and creole to name a few.  There are many many varieties out there. What’s the most important component of this dish? The shrimp? Or, the grits? The bottom line is, they both have to be perfect. The shrimp should be juicy and the grits creamy. And, any proper southerner can tell you, cooking grits is a labor of love. Everyone has their own recipe. Do you cook them with water? Chicken stock? Milk? Half water, half milk? Me, I cook mine with water. About mid way through, I add cream. Constantly stirring, adding butter, more cream and more water until it’s just right. Some things just have a feeling, you know? I don’t have any old nostalgic stories about being knee-high to grandma while she’s making biscuits and cooking grits for Sunday breakfast. I’m not even opposed to using instant grits. Don’t revoke my proper southern woman’s card.

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Today we’re going to use some “good” grits. Stone ground white grits to be exact. To these grits we shall add our accoutrements. Smoked Chili Bitters and Cheddar.

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Like mentioned before, cooking grits is a labor of love. I’ll list the specs below but, you really have to feel your grits. Taste as you go adjusting the levels of water, cream, salt and butter.

Smokey Cheddar Grits:

3 Cups Water [Add more when needed]

1/2 Cup Cream [Add more when needed]

1 Cup Grits

1/2 Cup Sharp Cheddar Cheese [Shredded, add more to liking]

1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt [Add more to taste]

25 Dashes Hella Bitters Smoked Chili Bitters [Yes…25 Dashes]

Butter

Yields ~4 servings

SN: I can’t tell you how much butter to add. Take the approach of the old white-haired lady from Georgia who was on a network that is all about food but is no longer on food televisions’ approach.

Whisk the grits into salted boiling water and immediately reduce heat to simmer. Once the grits start to thicken, whisk in cream, cheese, butter and bitters. Cook for 20-30 minutes on medium low heat, stirring, adding water and cream as needed until grits are tender. You want your grits to be smooth and creamy. Not stuck in your pot like cement.

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For our shrimp, we’re bringing back the BBQ rub from our smoked chili wings. This rub will be equally as good on a nice piece of salmon, charred to perfection atop the cheddar grits. Thank me later.

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Dust the shrimp with the BBQ rub and pan sear the shrimp until just cooked through. Remember, we want them to be juicy. No rubber with the grits please!

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And, for the final touch, take your favorite BBQ sauce (something spicy and sweet) about 1/4 Cup and add ~8 dashes of the smoked chili bitters and a dash of water. Heat and drizzle over your shrimp and grits. Adorn the whole thing with chives. Enjoy!

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A Bitter Breakfast: Blueberry Pancakes With Ginger-Lemon Bitters

That’s right. We’re cooking with bitters!! Really fantastic bitters. I don’t know about you but, I’ve been on a quest to find the perfect pancake recipe. I’ve tried to create my own, tried other’s recipes, and, they’ve been…ok. Now I know what’s been missing. Bitters. Ginger-Lemon Bitters. This is a nice and straightforward recipe for buttermilk pancakes. To take it up a notch, we’ll be adding bitters (duh), fresh blueberries and some lemon zest. They’re light and super delicious.

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These will easily become a new brunch favorite.

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Let’s jump right into the recipe. It’s adapted from a standard buttermilk pancake recipe. The one thing you have to have is the bitters. The Ginger-Lemon Bitters is what gives these pancakes the punch of flavor. Of course we all are used to adding bitters to our cocktails. You can do that too. Add a few dashes to your mimosa.

Buttermilk Blueberry Pancakes:

2 Cups All Purpose Flour

2 Teaspoons Baking Powder

1 Teaspoon Baking Soda

1 Teaspoon Lemon Zest

1/2 Teaspoon Kosher Salt

4 Teaspoons Ginger-Lemon Bitters

3 Tablespoons Granulated Sugar

2 Eggs

3 Cups Buttermilk

4 Tablespoons Melted Butter [Unsalted]

Whisk together the dry ingredients and lemon zest. In a separate bowl, whisk together the bitters and wet ingredients. Bring both wet and dry ingredients together until just combined. Some small lumps are okay.

Heat griddle or pan to a medium. It’s okay to cook them slowly. We don’t want burnt pancakes. Think light and fluffy. Grease your cooking surface  and ladle in the pancake batter, as evenly as possible. Once you see tiny bubbles, add fresh blueberries. As many or as little as you’d like.

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At this point, you’re ready to flip.

Let us not forget about the syrup! Before you make your batter, add 8 ounces of real maple syrup to a saucepan with 1/2 cup of blueberries, 10 dashes of Ginger-Lemon Bitters, the juice of half a lemon and a pat of butter. Bring to a light simmer, careful not to boil and crystalize. Give the blueberries a mash and keep the syrup warm while cooking pancakes.

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The only way to make these better is with a side of bacon 🙂

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The World’s Most Expensive [Tasting] Flight

Are you looking for the perfect bespoke travel experience? The world’s most expensive tasting flight package was launched by Avion Tequila this month. The Ultra-Premium Tequila Avion has partnered with New York Chef, Josh Capon, of El Toro Blanco to create the world’s most luxurious travel package ever! Retailing for only $500,000. You know, chump change.

The package is available for purchase until May 5, 2016 and includes the following:

  • Travel to Jalisco, Mexico via a private gulf stream jet for you and 10 friends
  • Tequila Avion founder, Ken Austin will host you on your flight and trip
  •  Private butler for entire trip, on call 24/7
  • Private security detail to accompany group during trip
  •  Professional social media documentarian to accompany you on trip. Professional photographer to let you live up the experience without having to worry if you captured every photo.
  •  Luxury hotel accommodations for three days and two nights at one of Mexico’s most luxurious hotels: Alamandas (http://alamandas.com/)
  • Private fleet of luxury vehicles to transport your entourage to and from airport

You get to take 10 friends along!! You’ll need the perfect entourage (see what I did there?) for the ultimate party.

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Now for the experience…

  •  Enjoy conversation and a private dinner curated by Chef Josh Capon from New York’s El Toro Blanco
  • Guests to select and harvest an agave from the Jalisco agave fields. Following the selection, choose your own barrel to age your very own, unique private small batch of Anejo that will be shipped to you in 2+ years
  • Leave the distillery with a customized bottle of never-released tequila from Ken Austin’s personal stash
  • Exclusive cocktail hour, tequila tasting with Ken Austin and Master Distiller, Alejandro Lopez and his family, at their private compound

 

Your own selected agave, private small batch Añejo and a customized, never-released bottle of Tequila! A tasting doesn’t get any better than this. I have 10 friends on speed-dial that I’d love to take!

You can purchase the package directly on the site. Safe travels friends. ¡Salud!

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Cooking With Bitters: Hella Bitters Smoked Chili Expression

That’s right, we’re cooking with bitters. And, not just any ol’ bitters, Smoked Chili Bitters. The wonderful team over at Hella Bitters has rolled out some new flavors: Orange, Smoked Chili and Ginger Lemon. Today, we’re going to incorporate the smoke flavor into some chicken wings. “The level of smoke in these bitters is a game changer”-FoodieTails. No liquid smoke necessary, no woodchips, no poly-sci smoker. All the smoke and spice you need is right in this bottle of bitters. There are plenty of food recipes out there that include bitters. This recipe will get you ready for all of your backyard BBQ’s. It is Spring after all; it’s time to light up that grill! For this recipe we’re going to make our own dry rub that you can use any time on more that just chicken.

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This rub is super easy with only one slightly obscure ingredient: Active Charcoal seasoning. I picked mine up from my local spice shop. For those who do indoor grilling, this is a really cool ingredient to have in your arsenal. It gives that “grilled” taste to your indoor BBQ’ing. The charcoal seasoning includes kosher salt, granulated garlic, granulated onion, black pepper, activated charcoal, cumin, Mediterranean thyme, chipotle, Greek oregano and hickory smoke flavoring. There’s a lot going on in there so we’re just using a small amount to compliment the smokey-spicey flavor of the bitters.

Dry Rub:

1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt

1 Tablespoon Chili Powder

1 Tablespoon Smoked Paprika

1 Tablespoon Granulated Garlic

1 Teaspoon Brown Sugar

1 Teaspoon Active Charcoal Seasoning* [Optional]

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Mix the spices together and your ready to cook! For the chicken, we’re using 12 wing pieces. Feel free to use whatever pieces you’d like. *Be sure to use you “non-chicken” hand to distrubute rub over chicken to avoid contamination. You’ll want to use this rub again. Place in a holding container or an old spice jar with a sprinkle cap.

To prepare the wings, place the wing pieces into a bowl and sprinkle lightly with salt (because there’s already salt in the rub) and toss with 4 teaspoons of Hella Bitters Smoked Chili Bitters. I threw in a few extra dashes 😉

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Sprinkle dry rub mixture over wings to coat, tossing a few times. Cover with plastic wrap and let the flavors marry with the wings for at least 45 minutes-1 hour (in the fridge).

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These wings were roasted in the oven. I believe they would be just as good on the grill or even fried. It is still NBA season, right? Game night wings anyone?!

For even cooking, let the wings come back to room temp before roasting. Place the wings in an oiled glass baking dish (lined with foil if you don’t want to scrub dishes) being sure to space the wings at least 1-2inches apart. They won’t get that crispy skin we all love if they’re crowded in the dish. Roast on 450° for about 35 minutes or until crispy and browned. This isn’t a Sunday stew…wings don’t take long to cook.

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A little smoke, a little spice with just a touch of sweetness. It’s time for you to enjoy!

Recap:

*Dry Rub

12 Wing Pieces

4 Teaspoons Smoked Chili Bitters

Marinate and roast at 450°

*SN: I made a smokey BBQ sandwich with this rub and smoked chili bitters a few days later with pulled chicken, BBQ sauce, cheddar cheese and bacon. Simply amazing. It was on BBQ/Beer Fest status. The recipe will soon  be on the blog!

 

 

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Popchips: Easy Recipes For Your Holiday Party

Chestnuts won’t be the only thing roasting this holiday season. S’mores. A campfire favorite for many, Popchips provides the perfect salty, sweet and melty bite all in one. Now that we’re past Thanksgiving, it’s time to start preparing for all of the wonderful holiday parties. Wether you’re hosting a party or attending as a guest, these one bite desserts by Popchips will make party planning a breeze. The one thing we all want during the holiday season. These little bites don’t require a long list of ingredients, hours of prep and no baking! Does it get better? Before we get into the recipes I have to let you know the Campfire Popwich is my favorite!!! I’d love to have these anytime of year. And guess what, we can 🙂

We’re slowly moving out of the pumpkin craze but I’m sure there will be some pumpkin pie at your holiday dinner. Don’t want to roll out pie crust? Don’t blame you. Pick up a bag of Sea Salt Popchips, pumpkin pie filling and a little whipped cream to try the Pumpkin Pop-Pie:

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1 sea salt popchip + 1 scoop of pumpkin pie filling + a little whipped cream = the delightful little pumpkin pie pop-pie.

Next up is the Caramel Popple. All of the familiar flavors of fall, fresh apple and caramel. Wonderful, wonderful caramel with just a touch of sea salt. YUM!

Caramel Popple:

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1 sea salt popchip + 1 slice of apple + dollop of caramel + a sprinkle of sea salt = a tiny slice of joy – the caramel popple

Last a certainly not least (may favorite) the Campfire Popwich. What I like about this one the most is if you really do have an “open fire” (I said that in my Nat King Cole voice), you can pop open a bag of sea salt popchips, break out the chocolate bars and roast your marshmallows. It’s fun and easy for the kids too. The recipe calls for 2 chips but I prefer mine in the open face style. One bite where you get the salty popchip then the chocolate and finally the gooey roasted marshmallow. The Campfire Popwich, like the other desserts, can be prepared before your holiday party and they travel well (drizzle caramel on the popple before serving). I would mention all of the healthy parts of Popchips but, you know, it’s the holidays. Live it up!

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Campfire Popwich:

2 sea salt popchips + 1 marshmallow + 1 chunck of chocolate + 1 blazing campfire = the sticky-sweet n’ salty campfire popwich

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DSC_4305Happy Holidays from Popchips!

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Chocolate [Buttermilk] Pots de Creme

One of the easiest chocolate desserts ever. Minimal ingredients, luscious flavor. Not exactly light in calories but, we won’t count today. Does one really need an excuse to eat chocolate?

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These little french puddings (meaning “pot of custard”) have been around since the 17th century. That really says something. It says good things last forever. You could put any flavor you want in a pot de creme. Espresso, chocolate, mexican chocolate, vanilla, maybe even sweet potato or other fall flavors around the holidays.

The pot de creme recipe is pretty standard and relatively inexpensive. You can easily impress dinner guest with your “fancy” pots de creme. The salted caramel whipped cream will really take them over the edge!

Pots de Creme:

2 Cups Whipping Cream

1/2 Cup Whole Milk [Buttermilk used here]

5oz. Bittersweet Chocolate [Milk or Semi-Sweet if you prefer]

6 Egg Yolks

1/3 Cup Sugar

Preheat oven to 325. Bring the milk and cream to a simmer. Remove from heat and whisk in chocolate. Whisk egg yolks and sugar in separate bowl. (After whisking the chocolate into the cream mixture, I like to let it cool for about 5 minutes to further eliminate the risk of any egg scrambling in the chocolate mixture.) After the mixture has cooled slightly, whisk in egg and sugar mixture. Fine strain and let custard cool for 10 minutes. Place [6] ramekins in a baking dish. Fill the ramekins with the custard mixture and cover each with a small piece of foil. Place the baking dish in the over and fill with water, about half way up the side of the ramekins. Bake for 55 minutes. Let cool for at least 3 hours. I let the custards sit out until they come to room temperature and then refrigerate. The custards are really great the next day!

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*Insert reference to Frasier’s “Tossed Salad and Scrambled Eggs”. Don’t want any in your custard!

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Skim any skins that may had formed on surface of custard after cooling for 10 minutes.

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Prepare the babies for their Bain-Marie (water bath). Don’t want any cracks in the custard!!

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After baking for 55 minutes, it’s whipped cream time!

I had some leftover caramel in the fridge, threw in some salt, heavy whipping cream and BOOM! Salted caramel whipped cream. This caramel is pretty easy to make. There’s no  adding water to hot sugar that could flare up in your face. It’s evaporated milk and sugar. Simple. Take a can of evaporated milk, throw it in your pot and add some sugar. Maybe 1/3-1/2 a cup. Taste to adjust the sweetness to your likeness. Let the mixture simmer on medium to low heat until it begins to thicken, careful no to burn. If you begin to see some black flakes or feel with your spoon on the bottom of the pot that it’s burnt, fine strain into a new pot and lower the heat. I tend to like a slightly burned or “bien cuit” flavor to my caramel. It’s okay if the caramel is loose. It will incorporate easier into the whipping cream. After about 30-45 minutes on low heat, the caramel should coat the back of a spoon. Let the mixture cool. It’s great over ice cream or pound cake and fruit (or all three together!!)

Salted Caramel Whipped Cream:

1/2 Cup Cooled Caramel [Should be kept in the fridge]

1-1 1/2 Cup Whipping Cream

Hefty Pinch of Sea Salt [Maldon, Fleur de Sel, Kosher]

2 Tablespoons Powdered Sugar [Adjust sweetness to your likeness]

Whip all ingredients in a bowl until soft peaks form.

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Bon appetit!