Tag Archives: Ina Garten

{ Mulled Red Wine with Amaretto }


Last week I had the opportunity to visit London, and I was awestruck by the number of street vendors selling mulled wine and hot cider–not mention awestruck by the number of Brits consuming these boozy concoctions irregardless of the time of day! I was determined to try as many different varieties of each during my 9 day stay, and given the dominant role that alcohol plays in English society, there were plenty of opportunities for me to warm up with a cup of spiced and spiked goodness!

At Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland, I was able to double fist German sausages and mulled wine, in between playing over priced amusement games. I took a fond liking to the sour cherry wine and the amaretto wine, but set out to replicating the latter on this snowy afternoon in the States. I used Jamie Oliver’s mulled wine recipe as the foundation for my technique, but also added the apple cider element of Ina Garten’s recipe. The amaretto was a touch of my own, inspired by the street vendors in London and the result was a fabulous, soul-warming Holiday beverage. I will be making this on the many chilly nights that are yet to come!


{ What You’ll Need }

  • 1.5 L bottle of red wine (I used Robert Mondavi Merlot, but many prefer a dry red)
  • 2 oranges, peeled and juiced
  • 1 lemon, peeled
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 1 vanilla bean, halved lengthways
  • 3 star anise
  • 4 cups apple cider
  • Amaretto, for garnish (you can also use brandy!)


{ What You Do }

In a stock pot over medium high heat, combine the sugar, cloves, lemon peels, bay leaves, vanilla bean, cinnamon sticks, and orange peel and juice. Add just enough red wine to cover the sugar and spice mixture and allow to boil for 4-6 minutes, until the sugar mixture is thick and syrup-like (see NOTE #1).


Add the remaining red wine, apple cider, and star anise and reduce the heat to low. Allow the wine to heat through, but don’t let it get too hot or the alcohol will burn off. Once heated, ladle into mugs and garnish with orange wedge and splash of amaretto! (see NOTE #2)


*NOTE #1: This step is very important as it develops the flavor of the mulled wine. You want a flavorful rich syrup, so let it reduce down. You don’t want to over-heat the wine mixture once you add the remaining wine or it will burn off all the alcohol content–and who would want that?!?!

*NOTE #2: If you have leftover mulled wine, ladle it into Mason Jars and store in refrigerator for up to 4 days or in freezer for up to 3 months. Just reheat prior to serving.

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Filed under Bars, BYOB, Cocktails, Markets, Recipes

{ Coconut Cupcakes & Cream Cheese Frosting }

These were my absolute favorite cupcakes as a kid. I remember my mom would bake them in huge muffin tins rather than cupcake pans, letting the batter spill over the tops so that each one resembled a miniature-sized cake (sometimes we would only get 8 to a batch!). Then as they cooled, she would make the cream cheese frosting, allowing me to lick the beaters of the mixer before she put them into the sink—a chore that I was more than happy to do.

Today, this dessert remains one of the select few that I will eat with the frosting. In fact, I eat it predominately because of the frosting (same reason that I eat carrot cake, same frosting!). The cream cheese cuts a lot of the sweetness and gives the icing a dreamy velvety consistency. It pairs beautifully with these delicate coconut cupcakes, but you can put it on almost anything—red velvet cake, zucchini cake, pumpkin cake, carrot cake, ect…

The only notes I have on this recipe, which comes from Ina Garten’s amazing “Barefoot Contessa” cookbook, is to use unsweetened coconut when decorating the tops of the cupcakes. I think it looks prettier because it is shaved, not shredded, and it prevents the cupcake from being over-the-top sweet. Also, if you don’t have buttermilk, you can make your own by combining 1 cup of milk with 1 tablespoon of white vinegar. Just let it sit for about an hour and viola…buttermilk!

{ Ingredients }

  • 3/4 pound unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 5 extra large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure almond extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 14 ounces sweetened, shredded coconut
  • Cream cheese frosting (recipe follows)
{ To Make Cupcakes } Preheat the oven to 325 degrees, and prepare a muffin tin with liners.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and the sugar until it is light and fluffy (this takes about 5 minutes). With the mixer running on low, add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Then add the vanilla and almond extracts.
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In three parts, alternately add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk to the batter, beginning and ending with the dry mix. Mix until just combined and then fold in the coconut with a spatula.

Use an ice cream scooper to put batter into the prepared cupcake pan. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until the tops are brown and a tooth pick comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes on a cooling rack.

Ingredients for Cream Cheese Frosting }

  • 1 pound of cream cheese at room temperature
  • 3/4 pound unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1 1/2 pounds of confectioner sugar
To Make Cream Cheese Frosting } In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, blend together the butter, cream cheese, vanilla, and almond extracts. Gruadually add the confectioners sugar, until the mixture is blended smooth (about 5 minutes).
{ To Assemble the Cupcakes } Frost with cream cheese icing and top with the remaining shredded coconut. 

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Filed under Baking, Recipes