Tag Archives: Sugar

{ 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

{ Pecan Tassies }

As I have mentioned several times on blog, I am not particularly keen on sweets. Given the option, I would always prefer to gorge more “real” food, rather that save myself for a dessert. This being said, I am a major proponent of one-bite desserts that let you have a little taste without a full dessert commitment. Something small that you can just pop in your mouth and be done with in seconds (not an obnoxious slice of cake that you have to try to pawn off to everyone around you, before finally stashing it under a pile of napkins in the hostess’s garbage can….hey, we’ve all done it).

These pecan tassies are a perfect dessert for holiday meals, because you can always find room for at least one, no matter how much you have already eaten.  My mom makes this recipe every year, and finds that they are always well received at the annual cookie exchange (a nice switch-up from the santa sugar cookie cutouts!).

This recipe is low cost, straight forward, and delicious. Try it out this Christmas!

{ Ingredients }

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 2 ounces cream cheese
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (King Arthur is best)
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp. melted butter
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract (Madagascar is best!)
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • dash of salt

{ To Make the Dough Cups } Using an electric hand mixer on medium speed, cream together the 2 sticks of butter and the cream cheese until light and fluffy. Then mix in the flour, until well combined.

Using your hands, roll the dough into about 48 small balls. Place the balls into a small, lightly greased muffin pan. Create small wells in the dough, using the pressure of your thumb (remember, the well must be large enough to contain the pecan filling).

{ To Make the Pecan Filling } Combine the brown sugar, melted butter, honey, vanilla extract, salt and eggs. Stir until well combined. Add the chopped pecans and mix to coat.

{ To Assemble the Tassies } Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Spoon the pecan filling into the wells of the dough cups, until all of the filling has been used up.

Bake the tastes at 400 degrees for 15 minutes and then reduce the heat 250 for the final 10 minutes of baking.

Remove from oven and allow to cool. Sprinkle with powdered sugar just before serving!



Filed under Baking, Recipes

{ Homemade Churros with Cinnamon Sugar }

Homemade Churros with Cinnamon Sugar and Chocolate Sauce

In honor of Cinco de Mayo, I decided to try my hand at making churros for the very first time. I know they aren’t technically Mexican, but they’re Spanish and delicious, and that’s an excuse enough for me! The recipe itself is super easy to make, but you do need a pastry bag and star-shaped pastry tip to squeeze the dough from. Cooking them is also a little bit of a process because hot oil frying always gets messy. However, the work is totally worth it because this recipe is delicious!!

When making the dough, it is really important that you whisk the constantly after adding the eggs to the flour mixture because the pot will still be warm and you don’t want the eggs to become scrambled eggs!

Also, it is very important that the oil is good and hot before you begin frying or the churros will be soggy. I like to test the oil temperature with a breadcrumb or small squeeze of dough first. You know it’s ready if it immediately begins to sizzle around the edges.

This recipe made about 20 small churros (4 inches each), and they were only the table for about 5 minutes before they were gone. I would definitely make these again.

{ Ingredients }

  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup butter, unsalted
  • 1 cup white flour
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ½-1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

{ To Make the ChurrosHeat 2 inches of vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium high flame.

In a small mixing bowl combine the granulated sugar and cinnamon and set aside.

Combine the water, butter, brown sugar, and salt in a medium sauce pan and bring to a gentle boil. Remove from heat and add the flour, stirring continuously until dough forms and mixture is well blended.

In a separate bowl, mix the eggs and vanilla extract and then add this to the flour mixture. (NOTE: this is where you need to use some muscle and keep stirring!! You do not want the eggs to sit in the warm pot and turn into scrambled eggs!)

Then fit a pastry bag (or 1 gallon freezer bag) with your largest star tip, and fill the bag with the dough.

Test the oil to make sure that it is hot enough and then squeeze dough straight into the pan. Allow to cook about 1 minute on each side, until golden brown and then turn with slotted spoon, and remove from oil. If you like your churros softer then don’t leave them in the oil as long, and if you like them crispy….let em’ burn.

Once you remove the churros from the oil with slotted spoon, allow to rest on plate lined with paper towels. You want to let some of the oil drip off. Then while still warm, roll the churros in cinnamon sugar mixture made earlier!

**If you want, you can also serve these with chocolate drizzle, which is really good. Or dip them in hot chocolate!


Filed under Baking, Recipes