Countdown to Christmas ~ A Warming Chocolate Cordial for the Winter Solstice!

 

 

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What a beautiful Autumn it’s been, so rich in warmth and color. Now that my gardens are put to bed and Thanksgiving has come and gone, It’s time to turn once again to making preparations for my favorite time of year, the longest night of the year…The Winter Solstice. The longest night of the year, with plenty of time to celebrate, the Winter Solstice is the perfect holiday for Jewish girls that love Christmas and long to really throw great parties during this time of year.  Usually we have a really large gathering of family and friends with wonderful food and delicious things to drink. I love to always have a special cocktail for that evening and anything  rich with chocolate flavor never disappoints, especially around the holidays!  

 

Purchased chocolate liqueurs almost always fall short of the rich and intense chocolate flavor that I adore. Imagine my pleasure then when I finally learned to make my own using a recipe inspired by John Scharffenberger of Scharffenberger chocolate fame. I think you’ll love this recipe and I’ll be excited to hear what delicious memories you create with it. 

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I'm pretty sure that I will be making up a large batch of it this year to enjoy on Solstice eve with enough left over to carry me into the New Years! A drink this decadent is a great excuse to use my Grandmothers iridescent cocktail glasses! I love to top each one with a dollop of freshly whipped cream and a sprinkling of dark and white chocolate shavings. Chocolate cordial drizzled over the top of a scoop of plain vanilla, chocolate or peppermint stick ice cream or fresh pear sorbet is completely luscious or you can use it as the base of a fabulous martini.

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In the past, I’ve added a little bit of peppermint schnapps and a mini candy cane to make an even more festive cocktail or for something a little more sophisticated I’ve added  candied orange rind, crystallized ginger and just a bit of Grand Marnier!  I’ve also discovered that this cordial marries well with the Lavender/Rose syrup that I make in the summer as well as the lemon, star anise and ginger syrup in autumn. Shake a bit of this chocolate cordial over ice with any of these additions and you’ll have a chocolate martini that’s filled with flavor and fun! If you like a warming drink, a generous splash of this cordial in a hot mug of coffee , topped with sweetened whipped cream and a chocolate drizzle is a perfect and utterly cozy way to end the evening.

 

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This recipe serves 6 (makes approximately 3 cups)

 

You will need:

Ingredients

1/2 cup unsweetened good quality cocoa powder

1 cup boiling water

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup water

1 cup vodka  (the recipe calls for plain, but I cheated and used 3 Olives Chocolate vodka which made it even better)

3/4 cup heavy cream, for topping

 

Directions:

 

In a bowl, whisk cocoa powder into the boiling water.

 

In a saucepan, bring sugar and water to a simmer, stirring until sugar is dissolved.

 

Add sugar syrup to cocoa syrup and let this infuse for a few hours, then strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a jar with a lid. Add the vodka, cover and refrigerate overnight. (It will keep up to a month, but will lose potency over time.).

 

To serve, stir well and strain again through a fine-mesh sieve into a martini or cordial glass, 2/3 full. Top with lightly-sweetened whipped cream, or float heavy cream on top. (Hold a spoon with the bowl down and the edge almost touching the liqueur in the glass. Pour the cream slowly over the back of the spoon until a layer 1/8 to 1/4 inch deep floats on top of the liqueur.) Garnish with rose petals, crushed peppermints, ground cinnamon or chocolate shavings.

 

Blessed Solstice , Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to all of you….Wishing you all, the Happiest, most Magical and Kindest of New Years too.

 

I am grateful for your friendship in my life .

 

Bring on 2022!


Countdown to Halloween ~ Caramelized Mushrooms and Roasted Chestnut Soup

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Caramelized Mushroom and Roasted Chestnut soup is one of those things that I absolutely love to make and eat, especially during the Autumn months. Mushrooms and chestnuts are so delicious and meaty flavored and they really satisfy me when I'm craving something a little denser and chewier than a normal vegetable soup . This bewitching blend is so easy to make and it's  wonderfully earthy and fragrant! I think you’re going to love it!

 

I begin with 5 cups of mixed mushrooms and saute them in salted butter with 2 cups of minced onions and shallots until they are almost caramelized. If you can’t find a good mix of mushrooms, you can use Cremini or Bella , but if you can find a great selection of mixed mushrooms you’ll love the different flavors they impart. For an even deeper  flavor, a mixture of fresh and reconstituted dry mushrooms can be absolutely delicious. 

 

Once the mushrooms and onion are gently caramelized, I add about 10 cups of  beef stock to the pot. Then I add a tablespoon of my favorite dried herb/spice blend (sage, thyme, tarragon, lovage,  winter savory, cumin and marjoram) with more shallots, 2 cups of jarred roasted chestnuts and three tablespoons of pesto and let it all simmer for about ten minutes. After that, I take all of the cooked herbs, onions, chestnuts and all but ½ a cup of the mushrooms and put them into my vitamin or blender, give them a quick pulse until they are pureed and then add them back into the pot. A pint of half and half, ½ a cup of Madeira wine,  a quick stir and 10 more minutes of simmering time and it's ready! You may find that you need to add more liquid and this is fine too.

 

I garnish this soup with several of the reserved sliced mushrooms, shredded gruyere, parsley,  sea salt and black pepper, and then serve it with a crusty, toasted, buttered baguette, a simple salad with apples, red onion, vinaigrette and a bit of brie. Maybe a glass of white Bordeaux or a delicious cider too...

Enjoy! 


Countdown to Halloween~ Must be the Season of the Witch

 

Lana Del Rey absolutely slays this Donovan Classic...Enjoy and while you're at it, sing along!

"When I look out my window
Many sights to see
And when I look in my window
So many different people to be
That is strange
So strange
You've got to pick up every stitch
You've got to pick up every stitch
You've got to pick up every stitch
Mmm-hmm, must be the season of the witch
Must be the season of the witch, yeah
Must be the season of the witch
When I look over my shoulder
What do you think I see?
Some other cat lookin' over
His shoulder at me
And he's strange
Sure is strange
You've got to pick up every stitch
You've got to pick up every stitch, yeah
Beatnicks are out to make it rich
Oh no, must be the season of the witch
Must be the season of the witch, yeah
Must be the season of the witch
You've got to pick up every stitch
The rabbits runnin' in the ditch
Beatnicks out to make it rich
Oh no, must be the season of the witch
Must be the season of the witch
Must be the season of the witch
Where'd I go
When I look out my window
What do you think I see
And when I look in my window
So many different people to be
It's strange
Sure is strange
You've got to pick up every stitch
You've got to pick up every stitch
The rabbits runnin' in the ditch
Oh no, must be the season of the witch
Must be the season of the witch, yeah
Must be the season of the witch
Where'd I go
Where'd I go"