Spicy Orange-Bourbon Hot Chocolate

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How was your Thanksgiving weekend? Ours was good. It was easy and fun. I made this Chocolate Mousse Pie with Phyllo Crust and it was SO GOOD and much simpler to make than I anticipated. I’m obsessed with it and plan to make it for Christmas, since my brother loves chocolate pie and this version is my new favorite. I also mades these dinner rolls and the mashed potatoes–which I kept warm in the slow cooker and it’s totally my new favorite trick. I also learned that I find rice-ing potatoes super satisfying. It’s on par with melon-balling. I’m a weirdo. Casper snatched a handful of stuffing from Sean’s plate, but luckily he couldn’t figure out how to put it in his mouth (since he’s not on solids yet) and ended up just sucking on the back of his hand instead.  It was pretty funny.

In lieu of Black Friday shopping, I stayed at home in my jams all day, did a bit of online shopping, and decked the dang halls because I LOVE CHRISTMAS. I love it, guys. A lot.

I also made this spicy, boozey, hot chocolate. Sean and his brother had some after kicking the soccer ball around at the park and I’m pretty sure it was the perfect warm-up since it was super cold and windy out there. It’s made with chopped chocolate, so it’s super-rich and creamy. There’s also orange zest in there, which cuts the richness a bit and adds a ton of flavor. The cayenne is spicy and brings on another level of heat, while the bourbon warms everything up in the way only bourbon can.

It’s seriously so good. This may be the winter of hot chocolate. I hope you don’t mind.

[recipe]

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Spicy Orange-Bourbon Hot Chocolate

Makes 2-3 servings

2 cups whole milk

2-3 large pieces of orange peel

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

3 ounces finely chopped bittersweet chocolate

2 ounces bourbon

whipped cream, additional chopped chocolate, and cayenne for topping

In a saucepan combine the milk with the orange peel and cayenne. Warm the milk over medium heat in a saucepan until small bubbles begin to appear around the edges and the milk begins to steam. Try to avoid boiling it. Turn off the heat and add the chopped chocolate, then cover with a lid and let it sit for a minute or two before whisking to combine. Whisk in the bourbon and pour into 2 or 3 mugs, top generously with whipped cream and a sprinkle of chopped chocolate and cayenne.

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Honeycrisp, Sage, & Bacon Shells and Cheese

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Northern Hemispherians! It’s fall, or more properly, autumn!

I always look forward to the change of seasons, but Autumn is my favorite. It’s the cool change in the air that demands I bring back my cardigans from the depths of my closet, warm beverages, nights that require a fire, oven-baked everything, pumpkins and crazy looking gourds at the market, and apples.

I’ve been preparing for the change of the season by buying Casper tiny-plaid shirts that make him look like a lumberjack-in-training, hats that make him look like a baby-bear, and lots of honeycrisp apples for me to eat. I LOVE honeycrisps. I really fell in love with them when we were living in Michigan–they were abundant there and I am pretty sure that I ate at least my weight in them late last fall after I found out I was pregnant. So, basically, Casper is at least 1/3 honeycrisp apple–the other 2/3 being a mix of strawberries and pizza.Anyway, let’s talk about the perfect fall-flavored mac and cheese. This dish combines my favorite sweet-tart-crisp apple with my favorite fall herb–sage–plus bacon, cheddar, goat cheese, and parm for good measure. Triple-cheese-threat!

And it’s so good, guys! It has all the cheesy goodness you’d expect from classic macaroni and cheese, complete with a crisp topping, plus tart apples, sweet onions, salty bacon, and earthy sage. UGH. It’s so good. Sean was a little skeptical, I think, but I assured him that cheese and apples are friends so it totes makes sense. It’s one of those dishes that made me want to high-five myself when it was done, because it’s good…like, really.

[recipe]

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Honeycrisp, Sage, & Bacon Shells and Cheese

You can use any firm, tart-sweet apple you like for this recipe.

Serves 6-8

6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

1 tablespoon bacon grease reserved from cooking

2 honeycrisp apples, diced and peeled

1 medium onion, sliced

1 tablespoon fresh, chopped sage

1 lb. small to medium shell pasta

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 tablespoon flour

3 cups milk

6 ounces shredded white cheddar cheese

4 ounces soft goat cheese

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese, divided

1/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg

salt and pepper to taste

1 cup panko bread crumbs

1 tablespoon melted, unsalted butter

Garnish:

Sage leaves

Canola oil

Preheat the oven to 400˚F.

In a skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the reserved bacon grease over medium-high and cook the apples and onions with a pinch of salt until softened. Remove from the heat and toss with the chopped sage and most of the bacon (reserve a few tablespoons for the top of the pasta).

Boil the pasta in a large pot of salted water and cook about 2 minutes less than the package instructs. Drain in a colander and set aside.

In the same pot you used to cook the pasta, melt the butter over medium heat and stir in the flour to create a roux. Cook the roux about 1 minute before gradually stirring in the milk. Bring the milk mixture to a simmer and cook until it thickens a bit. Gradually add in the cheddar, goat cheese, and 1/4 cup of the parmesan, stirring to melt and combine. Stir in the nutmeg and add salt and pepper to taste and remove from the heat. Add the cooked pasta and bacon, apple, onion mixture to the cheese sauce and stir to combine. Scrape the pasta into a 9×13 baking dish, or two smaller dishes (I used a 10-inch round dish and 4x4inch square dish). In bowl, toss the panko with the melted butter and remaining 2 tablespoons of parmesan, sprinkle over the top of the pasta evenly. Top the pasta with the reserved bacon and bake in the center of the preheated oven for about 15 minutes, or until the breadcrumbs are browned and the edges of the pasta are bubbling. Remove from the oven and allow to rest at least 5 minutes before serving.

To garnish with fried sage, heat about 1/2 inch of canola oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat and fry sage leaves until crisp. Drain on paper towels before adding to the baked pasta.[/recipe]

 

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream

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Guys, this ice cream is my dream. I was scrolling through my recipe index, looking for gaps in my ice cream repetoire, when I realized I am seriously lacking in the chocolate department. WTF?! This made me question who I am in all kinds of ways, so of course, I remedied that issue real quick.

This ice cream is adapted from Jeni’s Darkest Chocolate Ice Cream in the World. It’s rich and chocolatey and creamy-dreamy…and it has peanut butter shell swirled throughout. BOOM. I mean, I really could not ask for more from an ice cream. Against the dark chocolate, the peanut butter shell is just snappy–not as snappy as chocolate shell, but firmer than plain old pb–and a bit salty, too. It’s seriously perfection and is taking me all kinds of self-control and will-power to not just face plant right into a pint of this stuff. Thank goodness for weekend houseguests who have an affinity for ice cream…or I might be in serious trouble.

[recipe]

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Dark Chocolate Ice Cream with Peanut Butter

Adapted from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home 

PS, if you don’t have Jeni’s book and you love ice cream…treat yo’ self. 

For this ice cream I used Ghiradelli 60% Bittersweet Chocolate Chips, my favorite Valrhona cocoa powder, crunchy peanut butter, and virgin coconut oil. The virgin coconut oil has a slight coconut flavor, which I do not mind at all, but you could use refined if you prefer.

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 cup water

1 heaping teaspoon espresso powder

1 cup sugar, divided

1 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips (or chopped chocolate)

2 cups whole milk

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch

3 tablespoons softened cream cheese

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons corn syrup

1/2 cup peanut butter

2 tablespoons coconut oil

Begin by making a syrup, combine the cocoa, water, espresso powder, and 1/2 cup of the sugar in a saucepan, bring to a boil over, stirring to dissolve the sugar, and boil for 30 seconds. Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate until smooth and melted. Set aside.

Whisk the cream cheese with the syrup and salt in a large bowl until smooth.

In another small bowl, whisk about 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch to create a slurry. Set aside.

In a large bowl or clean sink basin, make an ice bath with ice and water.

Combine the remaining milk, the cream, sugar, and corn syrup in a 4-qt saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat and boil for about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and slowly whisk in the cornstarch slurry. Return to the heat and bring to a boil over medium, stirring constantly until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and whisk into the cream cheese & syrup mixture until well mixed. Pour into a gallon, zip-top freezer bag, seal, and submerge in the ice bath. Let it sit until cold. Either pour the ice cream base into an ice cream maker right away, or chill overnight in the fridge before processing. I like to chill overnight.

While the ice cream processes, melt the peanut butter and coconut oil together in a bowl in the microwave in 30 second bursts, until melted and smooth when stirred together. Set aside.

Once the ice cream is processed, layer about 1/3 of the ice cream into a container, followed by the peanut butter mixture–repeat with the remaining ice cream and peanut butter. Cover and freeze until solid before serving. [/recipe]