December 7, 2016

Hot Chocolate on a Stick

Even though I leave in a few days for a week away with my husband in the Virgin Islands (without kids!!!), I'm still busy tackling projects I really don't need to do but think they'd be fun anyways. That includes this recipe from Dessert. Design. Life. for hot chocolate on a spoon. The boys are giving their teachers mugs with cocoa, so it should be homemade cocoa, right? And it should come with a quilted homemade snowman mug rug, too, right? I was just making the mug rugs for each boy's teacher, but then AJ informed me it wouldn't be fun to just give his teacher's aide a mug with cocoa. So now I'm trying to finish up a couple more mug rugs, so AJ has "fun" gifts to give apparently.

Anyways, these were easy to put together, and so far my boys have enjoyed the 3 misfits that cracked when I removed them from the ice cube trays.

Hot Chocolate on a Stick
16 oz. chocolate, chopped (not chocolate chips)
1/3 cup cocoa (40 g.)
3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp. powdered sugar (110 g.)
1/8 tsp. salt
Dash cinnamon

Melt chocolate on half power in the microwave, stirring every 30 to 60 seconds until smooth. Add cocoa powder, powdered sugar, salt and cinnamon to the chocolate. eKep mixing until combined.

Spoon chocolate into ice cube trays, and tap several times to level and fill any gaps. Let set somewhat, and then insert stick. Allow to firm on counter top several hours or in refrigerator for 30-45 minutes. Unmold. Makes 16 hot chocolates.

To make hot chocolate, stir a spoon into 6-8 oz of hot milk (or milk mixed with half & half) until melted.

Browned Butter Shortbread

I have an affinity for shortbread. While my mom's Scotch Shortbread was the classic, I've experimented through the years with Chai Shortbread, Chocolate Shortbread, a healthier version, a Mexican Spiced Version and my favorite Toffee Shortbread. Well, my previous favorite, I guess I should say because this Browned Butter version from Cookies and Cups takes the cake for me now.

I find it a bit odd that my favorite Christmas cookie is something I'd typically classify as boring, but apparently I like butter and sugar a lot. This version is nutty and wonderful and perfection.

Browned Butter Shortbread
1 1/2 cups butter
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla
3 cups flour
1 cup dark chocolate chips
Flaked sea salt

In a medium saucepan on medium heat, melt the butter and bring it to a boil. Swirl the pot consistently, allow the butter to boil until the milk solids begin to brown, and the butter turns an amber color. You'll notice a nutty fragrance. Allow the butter to cool completely, and becomes solid again. You can allow the butter to do this all at room temperature, or you can chill the butter in the refrigerator to firm it more quickly, but you will need to bring it back to room temperature before continuing.

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Coat a 10- inch springform pan with nonstick spray. Cut a parchment paper round to fit in the bottom of the pan. Place the round in the sprayed pan, and spray again. Set aside.

Once the butter is solid at room temperature, place in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the brown sugar, and mix for 2 minutes on medium speed until pale in color.
Add in the salt and vanilla, and mix until smooth.

Turn the mixer to low, and add in the flour, mixing until combined. The dough will be dry. Press the dough into the prepared pan.

Bake for 45 minutes or until the edges are golden brown and the center is set. Allow the shortbread to cool for 10 minutes in the pan. Run a knife around the edges of the pan to loosen, and then remove the sides of the pan. Cut the shortbread into wedges while it is still warm, but don't remove the slices from the pan until completely cooled.

Once the shortbread is cooled, carefully remove each slice from the pan. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and set aside. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate chips in 30 second increments, stirring after each. Dip the edge of the shortbread into the melted chocolat,e and place on to the parchment lined pan. Sprinkle the chocolate with flaked sea salt. Allow the chocolate to set.

Store airtight for up to 5 days or freeze for longer storage.

Bourbon Chai Caramel Milkshakes

Well, folks, it was a pretty quiet November on the blog ... as in no posts ... because I was doing Whole 30. Nothing came across my plate that was all too exciting, except for the sesame chicken I tossed together without much of a recipe ... or maybe the oil-roasted almonds. So maybe one of those will make a future post, but for now I'm back with an amazingly delicious milkshake from How Sweet Eats.

Friends came over for our annual holiday baking, and I whipped up these milkshakes. In fact, the bourbon chai caramel was the first thing I made that morning ... not that I was excited for ice cream, caramel or alcohol. These did not disappoint!

Bourbon Chai Caramel Milkshakes
Bourbon Chai Caramel
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup bourbon
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. cardamom
1/8 tsp. cloves
1/8 tsp. allspice
1/8 tsp. salt
4 cups vanilla or chai or cinnamon ice cream
1 cup milk
1/2 cup bourbon chai caramel, plus extra for drizzling
2 shots vanilla chai bourbon (or regular bourbon)

Combine all the ingredients for the caramel in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Whisk to combine, then cook and stir until the mixture is bubbling. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes until it slightly thickens and is smooth. Remove from heat, and let it cool to room temperature. (It will thicken more as it cools.)

To make the milkshakes, combine all the ingredients in a blender, and blend until smooth. Drizzle glasses with caramel sauce, fill with milkshake and top with more caramel sauce (and ideally a shortbread cookie). Makes 4 milkshakes.