Rhubarb Margaritas

Rhubarb Margaritas

The best holiday of the year is among us: Cinco de Mayo! Our neighbors to south may lack a bit of the passion that comes with our Americanized version of the holiday, but we make up for their loss.

The best (and truly the only way) to celebrate such a festive occasion is with a pitcher of margaritas you can share with you closest (or most fun) friends.

Cinco de Mayo is not the only thing that is in season; if you have been to the grocery store as of late you may have noticed the abundant supply of rhubarb. Personally, I have never tried to cook with it because in the small town where I am from, rhubarb wasn’t something you’d just find on the local grocery’s shelves.

Luckily, I spotted it at the grocery store here in Savannah last weekend and purchased all that I could. I was not quite ready to conquer baking with rhubarb, so a simpler recipe would have to do. At least to figure out if I truly like the stuff.

This recipe is simple and yields an entire pitcher of tart margaritas for your thirsty friends to drink. Be warned, the rhubarb flavor is subtle, but none the less the margaritas are delicious. You can make the simple syrup ahead and store it in the fridge for a day or two, and the same idea applies to your lime juice.

A special thanks goes to my friends who not only helped me drink these delicious margs but also acted as my hand models.

I hope you have the best Cinco de Mayo yet, and if not, at least please drink a margarita for me.

Rhubarb Simple Syrup

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 Cups of Water
  • 1 Cup of Sugar
  • 4 Cups of Rhubarb, diced

Directions:

  1. In a small saucepan, combine water, sugar, and rhubarb.
  2. Bring to a boil, then reduce to medium-low heat. Cook for 40 minutes.
  3. Let cool before straining out the rhubarb with a fine mesh colander.

Rhubarb Margaritas

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 Cup of Rhubarb Simple Syrup
  • 2 Cups of Tequila
  • 2 Cups of Fresh Lime Juice, approximately 10 limes

Directions

  1. In a pitcher, combine rhubarb simple syrup, tequila, and lime juice. Stir to mix.
  2. Pour over ice, and drink.
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Korean Fried Chicken [KFC] Sammies

Korean Fried Chicken [KFC] Sammies

Asian cuisine may be the holy grail of all food. I am of the opinion that most Epicureans adore Asian fare because it is so balanced. Every dish is filled with salty, sweet, tangy, crunchy,  savory, and umami goodness.

Most people get their Asian fix through cheap takeout or delivery food, so many people are really missing out on the full pleasure of good Asian cuisine. Part of the problem is many towns do not have legitimate quality sit-down Asian restaurants, aside from the oh-so-common Japanese Steakhouse (which is delicious for its own reasons). As a lucky Savannahian, I am part of a sea port that has a variety of quality Asian restaurants to choose from.

An easy and great way to try higher quality Asian food is to make it at home. I assure you, replicating takeout food is not as difficult as it may seem. If you are a good Southerner that knows how to fry chicken, than you can conquer this dish. A few extra ingredients from the store (most of which you can find anywhere) and you are ready to cook.

For this recipe I used Hawaiian bread sandwich rolls, which adds just a touch of sweetness to this spicy sandwich. The pickles on top are the much needed addition to cut through the richness of the powerful chicken. Making things even easier, you can pair any side dish with this sandwich; sweet potato fries, chips, corn, slaw, etc. (It’s even okay to buy them pre-made if you want to cut a few corners.)

Korean Fried Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 4 Chicken Thighs, deboned
  • 1 Cup of Rice Wine Vinegar
  • 2 3/4 Cup of Water, divided
  • 3 Tablespoons of Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon of Sesame Oil
  • 1 Teaspoon of Garlic, minced
  • 1 Teaspoon of Fresh Ginger, grated
  • 3 Tablespoons of Sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons of Gochujang
  • 1 Cup of All Purpose Flour
  • 3 Tablespoons of Cornstarch
  • Vegetable Oil for Frying, about 2 Quarts

Directions:

  1. The night before or morning before you plan on cooking, combine one cup of water, rice wine vinegar, and salt in a sealable Tupperware container. Place chicken in the brine, and refrigerate until ready to cook.
  2. When ready to cook, remove chicken from Tupperware and dry with a paper towel. Set aside.
  3. Combine your sesame oil, garlic, and ginger in a small sauce pan, heat over medium until the ginger and garlic are fragrant. 2-3 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and whisk in 1/4 cup of water, sugar, gochujang, and soy sauce until smooth. Set Aside.
  5. Heat vegetable oil in a large Dutch oven or large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  6. While your oil is heating, combine flour, con starch, and remaining 1 1/2 cups of water in a large bowl.
  7. Set wire rack on a baking sheet, and set aside.
  8. Dip your thighs into your flour mixture, allowing excess batter to drip into bowl before adding to your hot oil. Once all the chicken is in the oil, increase your heat to high to cook.
  9. Once coating is starting to lightly golden on each side, about 10 minutes, remove from heat and transfer to your prepared rack.
  10.  Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes. While the chicken is resting, turn the heat down on your oil to medium.
  11.  After 5 minutes, turn the oil back up to high and continue to cook the chicken until golden brown on each side. About another 10 minutes.
  12.  Once crisp remove from oil and return to wired rack to let stand for 2 minutes before tossing chicken in your sauce.

Pickled Vegetables

Ingredients

  • 1 Clove of Garlic
  • 2 Shallots, Sliced Thin
  • 1 Cup of Julienned Carrots
  • 1/2 Cup of Sliced Cauliflower
  • 1 Cup of Rice Wine Vinegar
  • 1 Cup of Water
  • 1 Tablespoon of Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon of Sugar

Directions:

  1. In a heat proof bowl, combine carrots, shallots, garlic, and cauliflower. Set aside.
  2. In a small sauce pan, combine water, vinegar, salt, and sugar. Heat to a low boil.
  3. Pour heated vinegar mixture over vegetables. Set aside until ready to use.

Asian Aioli

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 Cup of Mayonnaise
  • 1 Clove of Garlic, minced
  • 1/8 Teaspoon of Sesame Oil
  • Directions
  • In a small bowl, combine all ingredients and mix until fully combined. Set in fridge until ready to use.

KFC Sandwich

Directions:

  1. Using bread of choice, place your chicken onto each bun.
  2. Coat the top bun with a healthy helping of Sesame Mayonnaise
  3. Top chicken with pickled vegetables.
  4. Eat!

Leftover Muffin Bread Puddin’

Leftover Muffin Bread Puddin’

My husband absolutely refuses to eat leftovers…sometimes I swear I married a 12-year-old-boy!

As for me, leftovers were a huge part of my childhood. At the end of the week I looked forward to making a plate of all the leftover meals my mom cooked throughout the week. I dubbed it a hobo supper.

With the dilemma my husband has created in our home, I am constantly trying to think of ways to not waste uneaten food. It seems to be easier to repurpose sweet treats.

Last week we went on our annual trip to Myrtle Beach to take part in a celebrity and professional golfer golf tournament. We have such generous friends that take us with them for free, so bringing up a ton of snacks is a must. At the end of the weekend, we came home with an entire container of oversized muffins…don’t worry, we finished off an entire container of a different flavor. I am not one to refuse a fresh extra moist muffin.

I placed the leftover muffins in a display container on the counter in an attempt to tempt my husband to eat them throughout the week. Surprise! He ate one. I could not in good consciousness throw them out, so instead I skimmed my pantry for ingredients to bake something with.

I call the resulting creation Stoner Pudding. The end result of this attempt was a dish a stoner, while having the munchies, would create. A little of this…a little of that…the end result something completely unexpected yet delicious. Ingredients that kinda go together, working together to bombard your tongue with something completely new.

The bread pudding was made with leftover (pretty stale) cream cheese muffins. To create the custard, I added brown sugar and cinnamon to the mixture. The pudding needed texture, so a bit more cinnamon and some rice crispy cereal gave it the perfect crumble top. Bread pudding usually has a sauce, so I took the opportunity to use up a tiny bit of leftover marshmallows to create a pourable marshmallow cream.

As you can guess, I made rice crispy treats the other day and have leftover ingredients for that as well.

The use of stale muffins gave the bread pudding a soufflé like texture, completely different than any bread pudding I have ever had. The taste gave a slight wink cinnamon sugar cereal with milk, the milk being the marshmallow cream.

The marshmallow cream recipe below only serves about four people. Double it as needed.

Leftover Muffin Bread Pudding

Base Ingredients:

  • 5 Large Cream Cheese Muffins, stale
  • 1 Cup of Milk
  • 1 Cup of Heavy Cream
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 1/3 Cup of Packed Brown Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon of Cinnamon
  • 1 Teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Stick of Butter, melted
  • A Pinch of Salt

Crumble Ingredients:

  • 1 Stick of Butter, cold
  • 2 Cups of Rice Crispy Cereal
  • 1/3 Cup of All Purpose Flour
  • 1/3 Cup of Brown Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons of Cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Butter a 12 inch baking dish and set aside.
  3. Cut the leftover muffins into one inch squares, place into buttered dish.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together your milk, heavy cream, eggs, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
  5. Pour your melted butter over your chopped muffins. Then pour over your custard mixture. Gently stir one time to fully coat each muffin.
  6. Cover with aluminum foil, bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil bake for another 10 minutes of just until custard is set.
  7. While bread pudding is baking, prepare your topping.
  8. In a small mixing bowl, work together your butter, flour, cinnamon, and sugar using your finger tips.
  9. Once fully combined and crumbly, gently mix in your rice cereal.
  10. Once baked, remove bread pudding from oven and evenly top with the crumble.
  11. Bake for another 10 minutes until crumble has set.

Marshmallow Cream

Ingredients:

  • 4 Ounces of Marshmallows
  • 4 Ounces of Heavy Cream

Directions:

  1. In a small saucepan, combine cream and marshmallows.
  2. Heat on medium, continually stirring until marshmallows have melted and combined with cream.
  3. Pour over sliced bread pudding as desired.

Truffle + Black Pepper Brioche

Truffle + Black Pepper Brioche

Warm, tender, melty, buttery…what taste better than fresh baked bread still warm from the oven? The aroma alone that fills your home as you bake is amazing.

When it comes to cooking, baking has always been my strong suit. The precision comes easy, which is difficulty for many. What has not come easy, in my baking journey, is making homemade yeast risen bread. Yeast is one extremely finicky and easy to kill. I have read and watched countless lessons on how to bake your own bread, so I hope I can share a few tips with you so you can skip the years of struggling I endured to get yeast right.

If you’re not a baker or good at making bread, brioche is a great place to start. The recipe is almost foolproof, mainly because a lot of the work is done overnight in the fridge.

With my exuberant attempts to make bread I have learned that letting the dough rise at room temperature for twice as long does the trick. Not only does it enhance the flavor of the bread, but you do not risk killing the yeast by adding heat. I also don’t use warm liquids, again to avoid destroying the temperamental yeast. Room temperature will stills activate your yeast. Finally, make sure to place your salt on the opposite end of your yeast in your mixing bowl.

Making your own starter deepens the flavor of the bread. A starter is extremely simple to make, and it only adds a bit more preparation time to your recipe.

This recipe is extremely adaptable, you can make it into rolls, a loaf, or baguette; you can also interchange the featured addition. Cheese, dried fruit, or anything you could imagine would be delicious in this versatile bread.

This bread takes about 2 days to make.

Brioche Starter:

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tablespoons of Room Temperature Water
  • 1 Tablespoon of Sugar
  • 1/4 Teaspoon of Instant Yeast
  • 1/2 Cup of Unbleached Bread Flour
  • 1 Large Egg

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl combine all of the ingredients, mix until fully combined.
  2. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit on the counter for at least one day, but no more than two days.

Dough:

Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup Plus 1 1/2 Tablespoons of Bread Flour
  • 2 Tablespoons of Sugar
  • 1 1/4 Teaspoons of Instant Yeast
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Salt
  • 2 Large Eggs at Room Temperature
  • 8 Tablespoons of Very Soft Unsalted Butter
  • 2/3 Teaspoon of Truffles in Oil
  • 1 Teaspoon of Cracked Black Pepper
  • Egg Glaze, 1 Egg Mixed with 1 Teaspoon of Milk

Directions:

1. In a small bowl, whisk the flour with the sugar and yeast, last whisk in the salt.

2. Sprinkle this mixture on top of the starter. Cover it tightly with plastic wrap and let it stand for 1 1/2 to 2 hours at room temperature.

3. In your stand mixer, add in the mixture you let rise for two hours.

4. Add two eggs and mix with the dough hook on low for about 1 minute. Raise the speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl with an oiled spatula and continue beating for about 5 minutes longer or until the dough is smooth and shiny but very soft and sticky.

5. Add the pepper and truffles, then the butter by the tablespoon, waiting until each addition is almost completely absorbed before adding the next tablespoon, beating until all the butter is incorporated. The dough will be very soft, elastic, and sticky.

4. Using an oiled spatula scrape the dough into a large greased bowl, and lightly oil the top of the dough.

5. Cover at let rise for at least 1 1/2 -2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size.

5. Refrigerate the dough for at least 10 hours, allowing it to continue to rise in the fridge.

7. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and gently press it down to deflate it. Cut the dough into 8 pieces, and with floured hands kneed and shape into balls.

8. Grease your desired pan for baking, and arrange your dough balls within. Lightly cover with oiled plastic wrap and let rise for at least one hour or until doubled in size. Preheat the oven to 425°F 1 hour before baking.

9. Lightly beat together the egg yolk and milk, then brush the top of the brioche.

10. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

An Updated Bunny Classic

An Updated Bunny Classic

This one is dedicated to my mom…and sister…and Aunt Cleo. You see, every family has their special traditions that they follow each holiday. As a child, my mother, sister, and I made one of those easy Easter bunny cakes that you decorate with candy — twizzlers for whiskers, gum drops for eyes, really whatever candy you had handy at the house. Part of the reason I love to bake so much is because of these silly holiday traditions my mom taught me.

The idea behind the cake is to bake two round layers, slice one to create the ears and bow, place them together, ice them, then decorate them with candy. Simple and something any child would enjoy making (and eating).

I do not have kids but as I have grown older, moved out, and married, I have tried to keep those little traditions as active as possible. If anything, I make the same baked goods I grew up with for my plethora of nieces and nephews.

So this Easter I remembered that good ol’ classic and thought that it could use a modern remodel. My niece Sam loves pink (she is adorably girly), so I had no doubt she would love a little gold paint and some pastel flowers!

As homage to the original, I served it on a plain sheet pan; that’s how we always made it.

If you have never worked with fondant before, don’t be afraid. I am not very good at cake decorating but with a little research and effort I can make it work (kind of).

From one generation to the next, I hope you enjoy your own traditions this Easter no matter whether you do the same old thing or give them a facelift!

Vanilla Cake

  • 2 Sticks Of Butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 Cups of Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup of Light Brown Sugar, packed
  • 2 Tablespoons of Vanilla Extract
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 3 1/2 Cups of Flour
  • 1 Teaspoon of Baking Soda
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Baking Powder
  • 1 Cup of Whole Milk
  • 1/2 Cup of Sour Cream
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Salt

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fairenhiet.
  2. Grease and flour two 9 inch round cake pans and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  4. In your stand mixer, combine the melted butter and sugars until well mixed.
  5. Add in your vanilla, then eggs one at a time.
  6. Alternating between wet and dry, mix in your milk and flour mixture. You should end on the dry.
  7. Pour even amounts into you cake rounds.
  8. Bake on middle rack for no more than 40 minutes or until toothpick when inserted comes out clean.
  9. Let cool on counter for at least one hour before assembling.

Lemon Cream Cheese Buttercream

  • 8 Ounces of Cream Cheese, room temperature
  • 1 Cup or Two Sticks of Unsalted Butter, room temperature
  • 4 Cups of Powdered Sugar
  • Zest from Two Lemons
  • Juice of One Lemon
  • 1 Tablespoon of Lemon Curd

Directions:

  1. In your stand mixer, cream together your butter and cream cheese.
  2. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, continue to cream together until combined and smooth.
  3. Add in your zest, lemon juice, and curd mixing to combine.
  4. Cover and let rest in the fridge while you prepare you to assemble your cake

Bunny Cake

  • 1 1/2 Pounds of Fondant
  • 1 Cup of Lemon Curd
  • Edible Gold Paint
  • Pink and Purple Gel Icing

Directions

  1. Remove both cake layers from their pans, using a knife level the tops of each layer.
  2. Slice each layer in half, and spoon on 1/2 a cup of curd into each round. Place the tops back on each round.
  3. With only one of the layers, cut an ear from each side of the round. The center after cut should resemble the shape of a bow.
  4. Slice off a small portion of the bottom of each ear so it will rest against the head of the bunny evenly.
  5. Crumb coat each layer and let rest in the fridge for an hour.
  6. After crumb coat is set, fully ice each layer. Make sure you smooth out the icing and the edges are sharp. Let rest in the fridge for an hour.
  7. Place the bow at the bottom of your sheet pan for serving.
  8. Taking 1/2 of your fondant, roll it out to a size that will cover a 9 inch cake. Gently cover your round layer with fondant.
  9. Place the head right up against the bow on the sheet pan.
  10. Next fondant your ears and place them at the top of the head.
  11. Divide the remaining icing into two small bowls. Color one with pink and one with purple. Place in two piping bags with desired tips.
  12. To finish, paint on the ears and face. Pipe bow with desired flowers.

A French Mousse Tart

A French Mousse Tart

Can you believe that Easter is almost here? It feels like just last week I was coming up with something to bake for Valentine’s Day. Regardless of your beliefs, I know for most people Easter is a wonderful time to dress up and enjoy a bountiful meal with your family.

Creamy deviled eggs, sticky glazed ham, and a few gooey casseroles are just some of the things my family normally fixes for Easter dinner. My favorite part of the meal are all of the desserts. Banana puddin’, humming bird cake, and pound cake are just some of the sweets you can normally expect one of our southern gatherings. Besides loading a tiny paper plate with a sampling of each pie, puddin’, or cake, I love being someone who contributes to the dessert table. My family responds a bit more positively to my baked goods than my covered dishes.

At least a week before the gathering, I thumb through my library of cook books or have a heated but friendly discussion with my husband on what to bake. The inspiration for this one came from a true classic: Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

The below recipe is adapted from her recipe for a normal Pate Sablee, a tender sweet tart crust and a Chocolate Mousse. If you have never made a mousse (this was my first time too) just remember to be gentle when folding in your egg whites. Mixing the egg whites in thirds will help with the process.

For this recipe you will want to start with the tart base. You have to let it rest in the fridge for several hours.

I topped the tart with those adorable milk chocolate eggs that you can find in the Easter candy section at the grocery store. They are so adorably festive, and they taste delicious too.

Chocolate Pate Sablee

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/3 Cups of Flour
  • 2 Tablespoons of Chilled Shortening
  • 5 Tablespoons of Cold Butter
  • 3 Tablespoons of Coco Powder
  • 1/8 Teaspoon of Baking Powder
  • 5 Tablespoons of Sugar
  • A Pinch of Salt
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Tablespoon of Cold Water

Directions:

  1. In a small mixing bowl, combine your flour, sugar, salt, coco powder, and baking powder. Stir to combine.
  2. With you finger tips, mix in the two types of fat. The ending result should look similar to dry oatmeal.
  3. Beat together your egg and water, then pour over your mixture.
  4. Kneed mixture together to create a ball.
  5. Wrap the dough and chill in the fridge for at least 3 hours.
  6. After chilled, roll out to appropriate size to fit a 9 or 10 inch tart pan.
  7. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  8. Place dough in tart pan, cover dough with parchment paper and pie weights.
  9. Bake for 15 minutes.
  10. Remove and let cool completely before adding mousse.

Strawberry Mousse

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 Pound of Fresh Strawberry’s, hulls removed
  • 1/4 Cup of Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon fo Fresh Lemon Juice
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 2 Eggs, separated
  • 1/2 Cup of Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Vanilla

Directions:

  1. Purée strawberries to create strawberry juice.
  2. In a small saucepan combine strawberry juice, lemon juice, sugar, and egg yolks. Cook over medium heat for about 15 minutes, or until mixture thickens to coat the back of a spoon.
  3. Remove from heat and let cool in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  4. After the mixture has cooled, begin making your merengue. Beat the two egg whites until stiff peaks form.
  5. Working in thirds, gently fold in the egg whites into your chilled strawberry mixture. Place in the fridge to rest while you make the whipped cream.
  6. Whip the heavy whipping cream and vanilla with a mixer until stiff peaks form.
  7. Fold the whipped cream, working in thirds, until fully combined with the strawberry mixture.
  8. Evenly spoon into the bottom of your chilled tart crust. Only fill with enough mouse to create an amount even with the top of the tart shell.
  9. Allow to set in the fridge until the white chocolate mousse layer is ready to add.

White Chocolate Mousse

Ingredients:

  • 3 Eggs, divided
  • 1/3 Cup of Sugar Plus 1/2 Tablespoon
  • 4 Ounces of White Chocolate Chips, or 1/2 of a Cup
  • 5 Tablespoons of Butter, softened
  • 1/2 Cup of Heavy Whipping Cream Plus 2 Tablespoons

Directions:

  • Prepare a double boiler, heating the water over medium heat. In a bowl used for the double boiler, combine three egg yolks and 1/3 cup of sugar.
  • Whip the mixture, by hand or with a beater, until the eggs are pale yellow and fall back on themselves dissolving in a slow ribbon. Should take 3-4 minutes by hand.
  • Place the mixture over the double boiler and beat for another 3-4 minutes until the mixture is too warm to touch.
  • Remove from the heat and continue to beat the egg yolks until they form the consistency of mayonnaise, another 3-4 minutes. Set aside.
  • Using another bowl that will work as part of the double boiler, combine the white chocolate and 2 tablespoons of heavy cream.
  • Heat in the double boiler, constantly stirring until the chocolate has melted.
  • Remove from heat and stir in the softened butter, mixing until fully combined.
  • Combine your chocolate mixture and egg yolk mixture. Set aside.
  • With beaters or in a stand mixer, beat your egg whites until soft peaks form.
  • Pour in 1/2 Tablespoon of sugar, continue to beat until stiff peaks form.
  • In thirds, gently found the stiff egg whites into your white chocolate mixture. Set in the fridge while you make the whipped cream.
  • With beaters or in a stand mixer, beat the remaining heavy cream until it forms stiff whipping cream.
  • In thirds, gently fold the whipped cream into your white chocolate mixture.
  • Cover and let rest in the fridge for an hour.
  • When ready, use a piping bag with the desired tip to pipe the mousse as the top layer of your tart.
  • Cover and let the completed tart set up in the fridge for at least two more hours.
  • When ready to serve, top with desired decoration. I used chocolate milk eggs.

Irish Cream Fudge coated in Pistachios and Dark Chocolate

Irish Cream Fudge coated in Pistachios and Dark Chocolate

St. Patricks Day came and went here in Savannah, and, along with it, the Irish Cream Fudge I created just for the occasion. Like any good tailgate, everyone who watches the parade with my family brings a plate of food to snack on while drinking their green beer. Occasionally my family doesn’t exactly love the food I bring because it tends to stray outside the realm of a normal potluck dish. In fact I have heard the words “Don’t make something weird”, so for this year’s celebration I wanted to stick with a traditional southern dish.

Fudge was a southern treat my family grew up making for every special occasion, but normally it would be flavored with chocolate or peanut butter. If you have never had fudge, it is a creamy candy that is cooked to the soft stage of candy making and flavored with butter and something else. Fudge truly tastes like a southern dish — extremely sweet and sinful. I have never tasted another flavor of fudge besides chocolate or peanut butter (or seen anyone I know make a different flavor), so in making this Irish Cream Fudge for St. Patricks day I was not confident on how it would turn out. But to say the least, I did not hear the word “weird”.

The finished result was true to the southern originals: super rich. For this recipe I cut back the sugar to compensate for the sweetness of the Irish Cream. When cooking the candy the alcohol of the Irish Cream cooks off, so instead of finishing the batch with vanilla I replaced it with more Irish Cream so there was a bite of alcohol. The addition of a bitter chocolate and salty pistachios would help balance the decadent candy while adding texture to the buttery mouthfeel. The small tray goes a very long way because most people can only eat one small piece at a time.

Irish Cream Fudge

Ingredients

  • 4 Tablespoons of Unsalted Butter
  • 1 Cup of Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup of Heavy Cream
  • 1 Small Container of Marshmallow Fluff, 7 ounces
  • 1 1/4 Cup Of White Chocolate Chips
  • 5 Tablespoons of Irish Cream
  • A Dash of Salt
  • 1 Bag of Dark Chocolate Chips
  • 1 Tablespoons of Coconut Oil
  • 1 Cup of Shelled Pistachios, roughly chopped

Directions

  1. Prepare an 8×8 baking dish by lining it in parchment paper and buttering the paper. Set aside.
  2. In a double boiler, combine the dark chocolate and coconut oil. Heat, stirring constantly, until temperature reaches 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove from heat and continue stirring until the temperature drops to 82 degrees.
  3. Pour into the bottom of your 8×8 dish, and set aside.
  4. In a small saucepan, heat butter, sugar, salt, 4 tablespoons of Irish Cream, and heavy cream over medium heat.
  5. Once at a boil, stir sugar to combine. Continue to cook until temperature reaches 235 degrees Fahrenheit (soft ball stage).
  6. Remove from heat and quickly stir in your marshmallow cream, white chocolate, and remaining 1 tablespoons of Irish cream, making sure it all completely combines.
  7. Pour into your baking dish and spread to even it out. Immediately sprinkle with pistachios and press in.
  8. Let set in the fridge for an hour, or on the counter for one to two hours.
  9. Remove firm fudge from the dish and cut into 1 inch squares.

Irish Cream & Matcha Macarons

Irish Cream & Matcha Macarons

For those of you that have never been to Savannah for St. Patricks Day, you will not understand just how big of a deal it is to the locals.

The night before the big day, my husband and the men in my family go down to the square at three in the morning to set up a tent on parade route. This has been the tradition since before I came around. At 6am, the police blow a whistle, and all of the people waiting rush the square to stake out their spot.

This year, because Vice President is joining the parade, my family will start their post at 6pm tonight and wait for at least twelve hours to post up. Lucky for the ladies, our role has always been to make the snacks and dress pretty!

If you haven’t figured it out by now, green everything is a must…even the food.

French Macarons have been my kryptonite, but I am not one for giving up. Looking in my pantry for this recipe I found the perfect green addition, matcha. And to tie in the Irish theme, I filled them with an Irish cream buttercream.

This recipe goes by weight, and after failing so many times in making Macarons I found that being exact will make you more successful. If yours do not come out perfect, do not get discouraged because with a little time and practice you can figure out how to master these babies.

Matcha Macaron Shells

Ingredients:

  • 150 grams of fine almond flour
  • 150 grams of powdered sugar
  • 110 grams of egg whites
  • 30 grams of matcha powder
  • 165 grams of sugar
  • 55 grams of water

Directions

  1. First make your Tant Pour Tant by sieving together the almond flour and powder sugar, then mix in your matcha powder
  2. Mix 55 grams of your egg whites into your Tant Pour Tant to create an almond paste. Set aside.
  3. In your stand mixer, add the remaining 55 grams of egg whites and beat on high until soft peaks form.
  4. Turn mixer to low, and leave running while you create your simple syrup.
  5. To create simply syrup, combine sugar and water into a small sauce pan and heat over medium heat. Do not stir or the sugar will seize. Heat to 244 degrees Fahrenheit.
  6. Once syrup is ready, turn mixer back to high. Slowly pour syrup down the side of the mixing bowl, whipping until stiff peaks form. This should take about 5 minutes.
  7. In three parts and using a rubber spatula, fold your stiff meringue into the almond paste. After the third part is mixed in, the mixture should be relatively smooth.
  8. Transfer your mixture into a piping bag with a plain number six tip.
  9. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. To make it easier to make even shells, draw 50 two inch circles onto your parchment papers.
  10. Pipe batter onto your 50 rounds.
  11. Take each pan, ones a time, and lift the tray to chest height. Drop onto the counter three times each. This will flatten the tops and create even disks.
  12. Let rest for at least on hour, uncovered, to create a skin.
  13. 30 minutes before baking, heat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake for 13 minutes.
  14. Allow to cool to room temperature before removing from the parchment paper.
  15. While cooling, make your buttercream filling. See below.
  16. To make Macarons, pipe one half of your shells with about a teaspoon of buttercream each.
  17. Match your bottom shells with an even sized top shell.
  18. Gently push on your top shell to make the buttercream spread across the cookies.
  19. Store finished Macarons in an airtight container.

Irish Cream Butter Cream

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick of butter, softened
  • 2 cups of powdered sugar
  • 5 tablespoons of Irish Cream
  • A pinch of salt

Directions

  1. In a stand mixer, cream together your butter and sugar.
  2. Once thoroughly mixed, add in your salt and Irish cream.
  3. Continue to mix until fully incorporated and airy.
  4. Transfer into a ziplock bag, or small piping bag.

Asian Pear Pie(s) + Coconut, Ginger, and Almond

Asian Pear Pie(s) + Coconut, Ginger, and Almond

This week Pi Day (not actually as in the baked good, but as in the mathematical constant) is among us, so instead of making one delicious pie, I made six mini pies. I get it, what does Pi have to do with Pie, and other than a name, nothing really. It is just a good excuse for the lovers of baking to bake ooey gooey pies.

Although I do have a confession — I didn’t even know Pi Day was a thing among bloggers and bakers until my friend and fellow blogger Maria [A Common Connoisseur] mentioned baking some hand pies for it. So in the word of Barney Stinson, “Challenge Accepted!”

Of course like most, I was keen on baking one of the classics: apple, peach, or pecan. Especially considering no matter how you prepare a classic, they rarely disappoint. But really where is the fun in that? I believe you should always try to challenge yourself when given the opportunity. Per usual, my inspiration for this recipe came about from seasonal ingredients I had handy around the house.

I absolutely love Asian Pears, they are crisp like an apple yet much juicer. Normally cooks feature them in salads because they pair delightfully with savory flavors, but the firmer flesh make them ideal for baking.

As for the flavor profile of the pie, I could not in good conscious add in a bunch of spices and mask the delicate flavor. Spring is almost here, so the combination of coconut and almond felt right, and there was no better way to add those flavors than through a crunchy buttery crumble on top.

The recipe calls for 6 mini pie pans, but if you did not have any mini pie pans this recipe would adapt perfectly into one large pie.

Coconut Pie Crust

Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup of All Purpose Flour
  • 1/8 Cup of Cold Butter
  • 1/8 Cup of Coconut Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon of Light Brown Sugar
  • A Pinch of Salt
  • Ice Water for Binding

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, mix together your flour, sugar, and salt.
  2. Into the dry mixture, cut in your butter and coconut oil with a pastry mixer. The end result should resemble course sand.
  3. Pour in enough water to bind the mixture into a dough.
  4. Cover and refrigerate for no more than thirty minutes before using.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  6. Once ready to use, flour your hands and divide dough into 6 balls.
  7. One at a time, roll out each ball to a width slightly larger than the pie pan. Then place each rolled out piece of dough into each pie pan.
  8. After placing the dough inside of the pans, fill each pan with parchment paper then pie weights.
  9. Par-bake the crusts for about 10 minutes to ensure the bottoms are not soggy.

Pie Filling

Ingredients:

  • 3 Asian Pears, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 2 Tablespoons of Coconut Cream
  • 2 Tablespoons of Light Brown Sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon of Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Teaspoon of Flour
  • A Pinch of Salt

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl toss together all of the ingredients, stir until fully combined.
  2. Set aside and let rest while you prepare the rest of the ingredients

Crumble Topping

Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup of Almonds, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 Cup of Candied Ginger, finely chopped
  • 4 Tablespoons of Cold Butter
  • 3 Tablespoons of All Purpose Flour
  • 1 Tablespoon of Light Brown Sugar
  • A Pinch of Salt

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the almonds, ginger, sugar, salt, and flour.
  2. With your fingers, work in the cold butter until the mixture comes together as coarse chunks.

Asian Pear Pie

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Divide your pie filling evenly among all six par-baked pie crusts.
  3. Equally top each pie with your prepared crumble topping.
  4. Bake for 35 minutes, or until the crumble topping is lightly golden brown.

Pistachio Shortbread Cookies with Pluot Jam

Pistachio Shortbread Cookies with Pluot Jam

Rich, buttery, salty, crumbly….sometimes a fresh home baked shortbread cookie can be the best dessert out (well a classic chocolate chip cookie still may trump it).

It has been extremely difficult to push myself to post this week. My editor had me stretched a bit thin, writing three reviews in one week. And as a writer the last thing you want to do is force some half-hearted story. Needless to say, like most Sundays, most of my day has been spent recharging. My husband and I have created a small ritual in eating bad and binge watching shows every Sunday.

A bit of inspiration has come from one of our favorites, the Great British Bake-off. And if you have not watched it, you absolutely must. If like me, you have finished all of the seasons, there is also a Great Australian Bake-off. Yes, the Aussies have a version too! Their “bakes”, on the GBBO, are filled with jams, and most pair great with tea. These pistachio cookies would make Paul and Marry proud. Scrummie!

Pluot Jam

Ingredients:

  • 7 Pluots, quartered
  • 1 Cup of Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup of Sweet Red Wine
  • 2 Tablespoons of Balsamic Vinegar
  • Pinch of Salt

Directions:

  1. Combine all of the ingredients into a saucepan and heat over medium heat.
  2. Once bubbling, reduce heat to medium-low and cook for one hour or until reduced in half.
  3. Let cool before placing in sealable container(s). Can store in the fridge for up to one week, or freeze for 6 months.

Pistachio Shortbread Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 Stick of Butter, cold and cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 Cup of Sugar
  • 1 Cup of All Purpose Flour
  • Dash of Salt
  • 1 Cup of Pistachios, roughly chopped
  • 3 Tablespoons of Pistachio Oil

Directions:

  1. Combine sugar, flour, and salt in a medium bowl.
  2. With your fingers, mix the butter into the dry mixture. Mix until it resembles course sand.
  3. Pour in pistachios and oil, mix with spoon until fully incorporated.
  4. Cover bowl, and let rest in the fridge for at least one hour.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a cookie sheet pan, with edges on all four sides, mash down your cookie mixture creating one even layer.
  6. Bake until lightly golden brown, about 30 minutes.
  7. After removing from oven, quickly take a cookie cutter, in the desired size, and stamp into cookies, creating scored cookies. Once cooled remove the stamped cookies from the sheet.