Bourbon Milk Punch

This cocktail has a nice warmth from the bourbon which is a lovely contrast to the decadently rich combination of milk and cream. The hint of vanilla makes this really taste almost like dessert and definitely like more.

I’m really enjoying the vanilla paste Michelle got for me – it has vanilla seeds in it so it is a step up from regular vanilla extract but not as pricey as vanilla bean pods.

Bourbon Milk Punch

1 cup milk
1/4 cup cream or half & half
1/4 cup cups powdered sugar
1 whole vanilla bean pod or 1 tablespoon vanilla paste (or 1 tablespoon quality vanilla extract)
Bourbon

Combine milk, cream and powdered sugar in a container with lid. If using a vanilla bean, slice in half and run the back of the knife over the interior to remove seeds. Add vanilla beans and pod to the jar and seal, shaking vigorously to combine. If using vanilla paste or extract, add it and shake well. Refrigerate up to 3 days.

To make the drinks, mix 3 parts vanilla milk with 2 parts bourbon. Place in a shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Pour into glasses. Garnish with freshly ground nutmeg, if desired.

 

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Blackberry Bellinis

We are having fried chicken and waffles for dinner and decided we ought to kick the meal up a notch with a cocktail. Michelle has been out picking wild blackberries, so we decided to have blackberry bellinis.

This recipe makes 4 average drinks or 2 generous ones.

Blackberry Bellini

1 cup blackberries (fresh or frozen)
1/4 cup mint leaves
2 tablespoons honey
Champagne, moscato, prosecco or other sparkling wine

In a blender, puree blackberries, mint leaves and honey. Let sit in blender for 15 minutes. Pulse again and then pour in a sieve over a bowl. Use a spatula to press out the juice from the seeds and leaves. Discard pulp. Let the juice sit in a bowl for another 15 minutes. You should end up with about a 1/2 cup of delicious juice.

Put 2 tablespoons of juice in a glass and pour over your choice of sparkling wine. Pour only a little at first and let the bubbles calm down before slowly filling the glass.

Garnish with mint and toast!

Strawberry Drinks For All Tastes

I totally took advantage of the bountiful harvest of strawberries this year and went all out in making jams and desserts with my girlfriend. But strawberries are also good in drinks and here are the ones we made with some of the bounty:

First, make a strawberry simple syrup.

Strawberry Simple Syrup

1 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cup strawberries, hulled and sliced

In a medium saucepan, combine water and sugar. Gently stir to dissolve sugar. Place in the sliced strawberries and bring to a boil. Skim off foam and discard. Reduce to a low and simmer for 10 minutes.

Skim off remaining foam and pour contents into a mesh strainer, set over a medium bowl. Allow the liquid to drain. Do not press extra liquid from the strawberries, this will create a foggy liquid. Discard solids. Cool to room temperature, then transfer liquid to desired storage container and chill until ready to use. Can be stored for several weeks in the refrigerator or poured into a ice cube tray and frozen.

Once you have your simple syrup, then you make the drinks:

Strawberry Lemonade

1 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 cup strawberry simple syrup
3-4 cups water

Mix juice and simple syrup. Stir in water, tasting after three cups to see how much more water to add.

Muddle two hulled and chopped strawberries in the bottom of a glass. Top with strawberry lemonade.

Optional: muddle about 10 torn mint leaves with the strawberries.

Strawberry Margarita

cup strawberries, hulled and quartered
1 lime – quartered
1/4 cup strawberry simple syrup
1/4 ounces orange liqueur like Triple Sec or Grand Marnier
1/2 cup tequila

Muddle together the strawberries, all but one of the lime quarters and the simple syrup. Stir the strawberry mixture together with the orange liqueur, and tequila, then taste. Add additional simple syrup or lime juice, if necessary. Place in a shaker and shake well with plenty of ice. Pour into two salted glasses. Garnish each margarita with a half of the remaining lime wedge.

Finally, a healthy option from Michelle:

Strawberry Banana Smoothie

It is preferable that the fruit you use is frozen

1 banana
1 cup strawberries, hulled
1 cup orange juice
1 cup Greek yogurt
1 cup crushed ice

Mix in a blender until smooth.

Easter Bunny Cocktails

This is not an April Fools joke but a delicious dessert cocktail. I have to be honest,  hollow, chocolate Easter bunnies might be the devil’s worst idea yet. What can make them palatable, however, is to rip their little bunny heads off and fill them with a creamy, nutty chocolate libation.

Easter Bunny Cocktail

1 ounce Praline pecan liqueur
1 ounce Creme de Cacao
1 ounce Bailey’s Irish Cream

Add ice to a mixer and add all three ingredients. Shake well to chill and then strain into hollow Easter bunnies. Sip or drink it like a shot. Munch the bunny head and eat the body when empty.

Cute lil bunny head in a glass!

Rum Chata Cocktails and Cheesecake

We have a bottle of a yummy cream liquor called RumChata and had a hankering to use it as more than just an after dinner drink. RumChata is made with Caribbean rum and cream with the addition of Horchata spices (including cinnamon, vanilla, sugar, etc).

Here are a couple of cocktails plus an alteration of Michelle’s cheesecake from my publisher, Bella Books , Thanksgiving blog (scroll down once you click through to find her recipe) to include bittersweet chocolate and RumChata.

au-lait

RumChata Egg Nog Au Lait

2 parts RumChata
2 parts egg nog
2 parts coffee
Nutmeg

Serve hot, cold or colder.

For hot, heat all the ingredients except the nutmeg in a small saucepan. Pour into a mug and sprinkle on nutmeg to taste.

For cold, whisk into a mug all the ingredients, except the nutmeg. Stir in a couple of ice cubes. Sprinkle on nutmeg to taste.

For frozen, place a mug of the cold RumChata Egg Nog Au Lait in the freezer for an hour. Stir with a fork and eat with a spoon.

creme-de-menthe

Mint Choco Chata Cocktail

2 oz RumChata
½ oz green creme de menthe
1 tablespoon chocolate syrup

Stir RumChata and creme de menthe together. If you don’t mind your drink to be a weird dark green, mix chocolate into the liquid. Otherwise, drizzle the chocolate into the glass in a creative pattern. Place in a couple of ice cubes and then pour over the cocktail.

cheesecake

Choco-Chata Cheesecake

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
5 tablespoons melted butter
1 cup sugar
4 package cream cheese, room temperature
4 eggs
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
8 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted
1 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons Rum Chata

Mix the butter with the graham cracker crumbs and press into a well buttered springform pan. Set aside.

Beat cream cheese until smooth. Add in the sugar and beat until fully incorporated. Add in the eggs one at a time. Add in flour. Alternate in the melted bittersweet chocolate and sour cream. Add in RumChata. Pour into prepared pan.

Spread the filling over the crust in the pan. Gently lift the pan and tap it down on the counter two or three times to settle the filling and help disperse air bubbles.

Place the cheesecake in a 200 degree F oven. (The lower-temp baking process makes for an exceptionally creamy cheesecake. The usual pan of water used when baking cheesecake is NOT used during this method.) Bake cheesecake for 3 hours. Remove from the oven. Crank the oven temperature to 500 degrees F. Return the cake to the oven and bake 5 to 10 minutes for a golden brown the top.

Take cheesecake from oven and set aside to cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, without releasing the side of the pan, run a knife along the inside edge of the cheesecake to loosen it. Cover and refrigerate the cheesecake until chilled for 3 hours or overnight. 

This recipe is for a 10″ springform pan. If using a smaller size, drop out 1 package of cream cheese and reduce the graham cracker crumbs to just a cup with 3 tablespoons of melted butter.

Chocolate Rum Cream

I had 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk left over after doing another recipe of Dark Chocolate Gelato and had a bottle of Brugal Titanium Rum sitting on the island. My mind began to work on how best to combine them.

As much as I like Bailey’s Irish Cream, it pales in comparison to the memory of a delicious rum cream I had many, many years ago. A web search turned up a lot of recipes, none of which appealed, as I didn’t want to add eggs, coffee or another liquor. So I took parts of several recipes and created my version of Rum Cream to which I added Hershey’s chocolate syrup because, why not?

rum cream

Chocolate Rum Cream


1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup cream
1/3 cup whole milk
3 tablespoons rum
1 tablespoon chocolate syrup

Combine all ingredients in a blender and mix. Scrape down the sides of the container and mix again. Keep chilled until ready to serve.

Spring Showers Bring Rainbows

Rainbow desserts to be precise!

I was talking on Facebook recently about Jello molds and I reminisced about my sister’s multi-layer, intoxicating, gelatin rainbow cake at her wedding reception:

Wayne and Kathy and their tie-dyed wedding reception!

Wayne and Kathy and their tie-dyed wedding reception!

All that conversation made me want to make something festive this Easter weekend and what could be better than edible rainbows? And, what can make it even easier to endure a holiday than a spirited dessert?

You can put alcohol in each layer but I’m not in college anymore and so I only put it in the white layers. Adultify your rainbows by adding 1/3 cup vodka to the gelatin/yogurt layer and reducing the second amount of hot water by that amount so you are adding 1/2 of liquid.

Also, if you want it sweet rather than tangy, use 1/2 can of sweetened condensed milk in place of the yogurt (you will get four layers of white out of one can). Make it in two batches, though or the white layer will gelatinize before you use it. The top picture shows the ones made with greek yogurt and the bottom one with sweetened condensed milk.

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Rainbow Gelatin Shooters

3 to 4 boxes of colored, flavored Jello (I went for blue, green, yellow and red)
2 packages of Knox unflavored gelatin
2 cups Greek yogurt, divided
2/3 cup vodka, divided

Mix 1 package of any flavor gelatin according to the package directions. Typically, that is one cup boiling water added to the gelatin. Let sit a minute before stirring for three minutes and then adding 1 cup cold water. Pour into a dish or glasses. I use an 8×8 glass casserole dish if I’m making squares or you can use around six to eight pretty glasses. Refrigerate until set, which gives you about 30 minutes before you can move on to the next layer.

Mix 1 envelope unflavored gelatin with 1/2 cup hot water and stir until dissolved. Add 1 cup Greek yogurt and an additional 1/2 cup hot water. If you want to include booze, add 1/3 cup vodka to the measuring cup and pour in enough hot water to bring it to 1/2 cup liquid. Stir well to make sure it is well combined. Cool slightly before pouring half (just enough to cover the gelatin and make a thin layer) of the yogurt mixture over the set gelatin and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes. Leave the remaining gelatin/yogurt on the counter until after the next color layer.

Repeat the first step with the next color. Continue, interspersing color layers with white layers until done (or you run out of space in your vessel). I did mine starting with blue, then green, then yellow, then red (reverse Roy G Biv). For the cubes, I started with a violet layer.

These are best made the night before to help the layers bond to each other.

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