Christmas time is here

It’s been wildly busy month in my kitchen and at my job. I now have a break in the action to post the events of the past four weeks.

Celebration #1. Out to dinner celebrating a co-worker’s birthday. The Irish Cream Liqueur were gifts to my girlfriends.

Gift giving Baileys

Celebration #2. Char and Dwayne hosted a fondue party. Three fondue electric plates were placed down the middle of the table and each hot plate had two bowls: one for cheese and one for hot oil. We dipped apples and bread in the cheese and we cooked steak cubes in the oil, dipping them in steak or horseradish sauce. Dessert was pound cake cubes and strawberries dipped into melted chocolate.

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Celebration #3. The 23rd Annual Hoyt Street Cookie Exchange. It was a grand gathering of baking talents.

23rd Annual Hoyt Street Cookie Exchange

I made peppermint cream cheese brownies (recipe below).

peppermint cream cheese brownies

Final Celebration-Christmas dinner. We made a Roasted Garlic Herb Crusted Strip Roast featured on Epicurious.com. It was flavorful and tender. I think we found a winner!

strip roast

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Patty’s Points.

1. The Irish Cream Liqueur should be shaken before serving. It can be stored in the refrigerator for one month. The bottles came from The Container Store but any pretty bottle can be used.

2. The fondue electric heating plates and bowls were vintage and obtained from garage and estate sales. I have never seen anything like them. I loved that they were so versatile. I want one just like it!

3. I adapted the Cream Cheese Brownies recipe from The New Best Recipe Cookbook (2004).

Peppermint Cream Cheese Brownies  

Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees

Brownie Base:

Dry ingredients: 2/3 C flour + ¼ tsp. salt’+ ½ tsp. baking powder

Wet ingredients: 2 oz. unsweetened chocolate + 4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate+8TBSP butter+1 C sugar + 2 tsp. vanilla + 3 eggs

Cream Cheese Filling: 8 oz. cream cheese softened, +1/4 C sugar+1/2 tsp. vanilla + 1 egg yolk+ 4 crushed candy canes

Directions:

Spray 8” square baking pan with non-stick spray. Fold two 16” pieces of foil or parchment paper lengthwise to measure 8” wide. Fit one sheet into the bottom of greased pan (the overhang will help in removal of bake brownies). Fit the 2nd sheet in the pan perpendicular to the 1st sheet. Spray the sheets with non-stick spray.

Whisk flour, baking powder, salt in a bowl and set aside.

In medium heatproof bowel set over a pan of simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter, stir until incorporated. Remove from heat and whisk in the sugar, vanilla. Cool. Whisk in the eggs one at a time until fully incorporated.

In a small bowl beat cream cheese with sugar, vanilla, egg yolk and peppermint (optional) until evenly blended.

Pour half the brownie batter into the prepared pan. Drop half the cream cheese mixture by spoonfuls over the batter. Repeat layering the remaining brownie batter and cream cheese filling. Use the blade of a table knife or spoon handle and swirl the batter creating a marbling effect.

Bake in oven until the edges of the brownies have puffed slightly, the center feels not quite firm when touched lightly or a toothpick inserted comes out with moist fudgy crumbs adhered to it; about 50-60 minutes.

Cool brownies in pan on wire rack 5 minutes. Remove brownies from the pan using the foil or parchment handles Place brownies on wire rack; allow them to cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until chilled 3 hours Cut into 2 inch squares. Will keep in refrigerator for 5 days

brownies and peppermint ice cream

The brownies make a great dessert served with Peppermint Ice Cream and peppermint sticks. I am taking this to a dinner party tonight.

The Epiphany is the official twelfth day of Christmas so there are ten more days of celebrating!

 

 

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Making Christmas Cheer (aka Holiday Hooch)

Me and PhyllisMy friend Phyllis retired from my workplace earlier this year. At her retirement party she talked about how she makes her own liqueur at Christmas. I asked her to give me a call because this would be a first for me. She makes her version of Bailey’s Irish Cream and Limoncello. This will be a post in two parts. We will focus on the Homemade Irish Cream Liqueur first.

Ingredients for Bailey's

Phyllis handed me the recipe from an old newspaper clipping. I also found a similar version at The Cupcake Project.

Homemade Eggless Irish Cream Liqueur

1 1/4 to 1 3/4 Cups of Irish whiskey, brandy, rum, bourbon, scotch or rye whiskey

1- 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk

2 Cups whipping cream or half and half

2 TBSP chocolate syrup

2 tsp instant coffee

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp almond extract

Place the ingredients in the blender and whirr away. Serve in a lovely liqueur glass.

Phyllis’s Points

1.Phyllis likes using rum for her recipe. She says it has a smoother taste.

2.Phyllis’s late husband preferred half and half instead of cream. He thought is was way too  thick with the cream.

3. The more chocolate syrup the better. When I held the measuring spoon over the blender the chocolate syrup just kept oozing out of the bottle, overflowing the spoon. Phyllis likes her chocolate. Again, all about your taste preference.

4. Makes a great gift for friends and family. Get yourself some beautiful bottles, labels and ribbon and you have an easy and thoughtful gift.

Doesn’t that beautiful bottle of Irish Cream Liqueur look inviting by the fireplace? Makes me want to go grab a blanket and cuddle up with some holiday cheer!

Bailey's by the fire