Dessert Wine Pairings

dessertwines

It’s no secret that I love food and wine, but even I have to admit that sometimes the wine you drink with dinner may not be the same wine that you want to keep drinking when it comes time for dessert. #GirlsGoneWine

Generally, it’s not a bad idea to follow the rule: the darker the dessert the darker the wine.  If you don’t feel secure with a rule that is so non-specific, there are a few other taste guidelines according to the different dessert types:

  • Custard and Vanilla
  • Fruit and Spice
  • Caramels and Chocolate

Custard and Vanillacremebrulee

When your dessert is based around the light, mild, buttery flavors found in most custard based desserts you want your wines to have the same basic flavor profiles.  So, if you are serving a vanilla custard, pudding, flan, crème brûlée, tart or pie, you’ll want to serve a white wine like a late-harvest Riesling, or a sparkling wine like an Asti Spumanti or demi-sec Champagne.  This Vanilla Crème Brûlée from The New York Times is #FastAndEasy and needs only 5 ingredients!

Vanilla Crème Brûlée

  • 2 cups heavy or light cream, or half-and-half
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • teaspoon salt
  • 5 egg yolks
  • ½ cup sugar, more for topping

Heat oven to 325 degrees. In a saucepan, combine cream, vanilla bean and salt and cook over low heat just until hot. Let sit for a few minutes, then discard vanilla bean. (If using vanilla extract, add it now.)

In a bowl, beat yolks and sugar together until light. Stir about a quarter of the cream into this mixture, then pour sugar-egg mixture into cream and stir. Pour into four 6-ounce ramekins and place ramekins in a baking dish; fill dish with boiling water halfway up the sides of the dishes. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until centers are barely set. Cool completely. Refrigerate for several hours and up to a couple of days.

When ready to serve, top each custard with about a teaspoon of sugar in a thin layer. Place ramekins in a broiler 2 to 3 inches from heat source. Turn on broiler. Cook until sugar melts and browns or even blackens a bit, about 5 minutes. Serve within two hours.

Most crème brûlée recipes need a torch, but this one is simpler & safer: it uses your oven’s broiler to get the crackly top.

**TIP: Make sure the custard sets for several hours in the refrigerator before brûléeing the top so you don’t end up with soupy custard.

vanillaspicedpoachedpearFruit and Spice

When your dessert is fruit based with a spicy profile, like those with apple, pear, pumpkin or cinnamon in them, you’ll want to lean toward white wines that have more character to them.   In this case you’ll want to consider Pink or Rosé Champagne, Sauternes, or late-harvest Gewirtztraminer.

Caramels and Chocolates

When your dessert is rich and full of any of the flavors across the chocolate spectrum turtlebrownies1(except white chocolate) or has the gooey richness of caramel’s toffee goodness, then the wines you’re looking for will be Red.  Late-harvest Pinot Noir, Banyuls, Grenache, Australian Shiraz, Port (the classic chocolate pairing), and Grappa all are excellent pairings for these rich dessert choices.  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

 

 

The Wonders of Keto Cocktails

Woman (and) man cannot live on low carb food alone!  This woman needs, what my daddy used to call, a 5 O’Clocker when the stressful day is through.  Be it a lovely glass of red wine, a bubbly glass of Champagne, or a down and dirty cocktail, there is just something comforting about that time when I finally get to sit and pet my labs while I throw off the stresses and worries of the day.

vanillaoldfashioned

Thankfully, there’s no reason I have to ruin my diet while doing so.  There are no carbs in a 1+1/2 ounce pour of straight spirits like whiskey, rum, and vodka; a 5 ounce glass of red wine has 2.5 grams of carbs, and the drinks below, adapted from Lowcarb-ology, have 0-3 grams of carbs, so those of us who actively participate in the #KetoLifestyle can imbibe guiltlessly, as long as we also remember that frequent consumption of alcohol while dieting can stall weight loss (if that is our goal).

Vanilla Old Fashioned

  • 1″ piece of orange peel
  • 1″ vanilla bean, split in half
  • 2 ounces good quality bourbon (I prefer Maker’s Mark/Maker’s 46)
  • 1 tsp sugar free vanilla syrup (I use Torani)
  • Club Soda or Zevia sparkling water mandarin orange (I get it at Whole Foods) – optional

Rub the inner part of the orange peel around the inside and rim of the glass, then muddle the peel and vanilla bean at the bottom of the glass.

Add the bourbon and vanilla syrup.  Stir, add a single globe or block cube of ice (for slow melting) & top with an ounce of club soda (give a quick stir) if desired.  130 Calories / 0 Carbs

Arctic Mulearcticmule

  • 1 ounce Pineapple Vodka (I like Skyy Infusions Pineapple)
  • 2 ounces Vodka (Grey Goose is my preference)
  • 1 drop peppermint oil (it needs to be for ingestion) or 1 ounce sugar free Torani peppermint syrup (optional but for the minty taste, you need one or the other)
  • 1-2 drops blue food color or, if you have it, you can use blue zero calorie water enhancing drops like Zio blue
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • 6 ounces sugar free ginger beer (I like 0 carb/0 calorie Zevia – I found it on Amazon)

Add all ingredients, except the ginger beer) to a shaker with ice and shake until well chilled.  Strain into a rocks glass filled with ice, top with ginger beer and garnish with a wedge of lime & sprig of peppermint.  194 Calories / 0 Carbs

And, as always, my #MomReminder, anyone who drinks alcoholic beverages please do so responsibly.  Always designate a sober driver, pre-schedule the very inexpensive option of Uber or take a taxi. #DontDrinkAndDrive.

Fiery Spinach Artichoke Dip

chileartichokedipporkrindsA friend complained that she was spending #SuperBowlSunday at the home of someone who “only eats Keto,” like that was a fate worse than death for her snack choices during the game.  To me that sounded like heaven.  She had no idea what to bring, so I suggested she bring this #KetoFriendly dip with plenty of celery sticks and a couple of bags of pork rinds and she’d be the hit of the party.  I haven’t talked to her today, but she didn’t end up beside me on my couch, so I assume she wasn’t booted from the party. 😉

Fiery Spinach Artichoke Dip

  • 1 TBLS Butter
  • 1 – 4 oz Can Diced Chiles (Any type and heat level) I used Mild Green Chiles today.
  • 3/4 Cup Chopped Green Onion (white and green parts)
  • 3 Cups Fresh Spinach, chopped
  •  1 – 14 oz Can Artichoke Hearts (in water) drained & chopped
  • 8 oz Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1/4 Cup Mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1/4 tsp Paprika
  • 1/8 tsp Cumin
  • 1 Clove Garlic, finely chopped
  • 3/4 Cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • 3/4 Cup Shredded Pepper Jack Cheese

Preheat oven to 350°F and grease an 8×8 baking pan with butter.  Combine the shredded cheeses in a bowl and set aside.

In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, melt butter.  Add green onions to the butter and saute for 2-3 minutes then add the diced peppers.  Cook another 2 minutes then layer the spinach on top (do not stir in) and continue cooking another 2 minutes.  Add the salt, pepper, paprika, cumin, and garlic to the pan and stir to combine the vegetables and spices thoroughly.  Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine chopped artichokes, cream cheese, and mayonnaise, and mix.  Stir in the vegetable mixture from the pan and 1 Cup of the combined shredded cheese (reserve 1/2 cup to sprinkle on top). Stir until completely combined.

Pour mixture in the greased baking dish and spread evenly.  Top with remaining cheese and bake for 20-25 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown. Serve warm with zero carb pork rinds or low net carb veggies like cucumber slices, celery sticks, florets o broccoli or cauliflower, or slices of bell pepper!

This dip also doubles as a great topping for chicken breasts, pork chops, and even steak!  I’ve even rolled it into slices of deli turkey breast, I’ve had sliced extra thick, for a different take on lunch.  Let me know what you think or how you make it your own! #ThisGirlLovesToEat

 

Pomegranate Cosmopolitan

1985domwboxWhile we all love a bottle of something bubbly on New Year’s Eve, I’m a girl who likes to start the evening’s festivities off with something fun.

It’s even better when I can make that something fun by the pitcher to share with my like minded girlfriends, so I don’t have to pause during the fun of the evening to play bartender!

The fun of this big batch Cosmopolitan / Martini is that it gets made in the blender (my Vitamix) and strained into the pitcher.  No messy cocktail shaker to deal with and no sticky counter from prying the shaker lid on and off for each individual drink!

Pomegranate Cosmopolitanpomegranatemartini

  • 1 Cup Vodka (I prefer Grey Goose L’Orange)
  • 1/2 Cup Orange Liqueur (Grand Marnier / Cointreau / Triple Sec)
  • 1/2 Cup Pomegranate Juice
  • 2 limes, peel removed in strips and retained.  Fruit cut into quarters, seeds (if any) discarded.
  • 1/2 Cup Ice Cubes

Peeled lime, close-upScrape the lengths of lime peel so that no bitter white pith remains.  Slice into 1/2″ wide lengths and wrap around a straw to shape in a curl and put into the refrigerator for 10 – 15 minutes.

Put everything, except the lime peels, into the blender (or Vitamix) container, and blend on High (10) for about 30 seconds.

Pour through a fine sieve into chilled martini glasses or into a chilled pitcher to serve later.  Recipe makes 3 large drinks and can easily be doubled to make a pitcher.

pomfruitsUse the lime strips to garnish the glasses and drop a few pomegranate arils, coated in sugar, into the bottom of the glass if desired.

**TIPTo coat the pomegranate arils, in sugar, put a tablespoon or two in a zip bag with a tablespoon of pomegranate juice and a couple of tablespoons of granulated sugar.  Close the zipper on the bag and shake vigorously until the arils are well coated.

**TIPIf you like your martini sweeter, add a tablespoon of simple syrup (a tablespoon of sugar dissolved in a tablespoon of hot water – I make a cup at a time in the microwave to keep on hand).

**TIP If you like your martini with no evidence of the muddled lime in it, pour it through the sieve again when you pour it from the pitcher to the chilled glass.  #ThisGirlLovesHerCocktails

Adapted from the Vitamix Cookbook

Treat Week: Toasted Pecan Turtles

pecanturtles

We’re in the home stretch of #TreatWeek.  Under a week to go and houses in #EveryTownUSA smell of sweet things destined for sharing with friends and family alike.

Except for the old standbys of fudge and truffles, I usually shy away from making candy, but this year I got coaxed into making turtles, after seeing how ridiculously expensive they were to buy so few in the stores.  Admittedly, I cheated by not making my caramel from scratch, but if it all tastes good in the end, does it matter?  Considering the amount of time it saved me, I’m thinking nope!

Toasted Pecan Turtles

  • 12 oz Pecan Halves
  • 1 – 11 oz Bag Individually Wrapped Caramels (I used Kraft)
  • 2 TBLS Water
  • 1+1/2 – 12 oz Bags Milk Chocolate Chips (I prefer Ghirardelli, but had Nestle’ on hand and the candies tasted just as good)
  • 3 tsp Crisco Solid Shortening

In preheated 350°F oven, on an ungreased baking sheet, toast a pecans in a single layer for 8+1/2 minutes.  Remove from oven and immediately move nuts to a bowl so they stay warm while you’re working with them.

In the microwave, melt the chocolate chips together with the shortening in 30 second intervals until you have a nice, not too thick consistency.

Line 3 baking sheets with waxed paper.  Using a fork, dip into the chocolate and make a 1 – 1+1/2″ thin circle on the waxed paper.  Fan out 3 or 4 pecans in a Y or X pattern.  You want the chocolate to hold the pecans in place and act as a landing spot for any caramel that may spill over in the next step.  Continue until your pans are full or you run out of big enough pieces of pecan to work with.

While the chocolate and pecans start to set up, unwrap all of the caramels and put them into a 1 qt saucepan with the water.  Heat over low-medium heat, stirring constantly, until caramels are melted.

Using a 1/2 tsp measuring spoon, quickly spoon the caramel over the pecan clusters, making sure caramel is touching each of the pecans.

Rewarm chocolate to thin it again, then spoon a small amount on top of each layer of caramel. Put sheets into the refrigerator for 1-2 hours, or until hardened.  If space is an issue, use a cooling rack between sheets so you can stack them.  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

 

Treat Week: Easy Peanut Butter Truffles

My haste to catch up on my #TreatWeek blog posts has me doing #TwoADays, so here’s today’s bonus post: an easy to create peanut butter truffle that lets you bake a quick batch of cookies while the truffle filling is chilling in the refrigerator waiting to be coated.

peanutbuttertruffle

A couple of notes: even a few drops of water can ruin your coating chocolate.  If you are accustomed to using a double boiler to melt your chocolate, there are easier methods to avoid the chance of having water seize up your chocolate.  While I love, and have gotten more than 20 years’ use out of my Calphalon Professional Anodized Aluminum pots and pans, I have begun slowly replacing them with Le Creuset Cast Iron skillets and Dutch ovens.  When doing things like making candy and melting chocolate, as long as I pay attention, I no longer have to use a double boiler because the heat conduction is so much better!

Easy Peanut Butter Truffles

  • 1/2 Cup (1 Stick) Butter
  • 2 Cups Sugar
  • 1 5 oz Can Evaporated Milk
  • 2 Cups Mini Marshmallows
  • 3/4 Cup Creamy Natural (NOT with the oil on top) Peanut Butter
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla
  • 1 – 12 oz Bag Dark or Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips ( I prefer Ghirardelli)
  • 2 tsp Crisco Solid Shortening

Butter the inside side of a heavy saucepan.  Add sugar, evaporated milk, and the rest of the stick of butter. Cook and stir over medium-high heat until mixture is boiling. Reduce heat to medium; continue at a moderate boil for 12 minutes, stirring frequently.

Remove from heat. Stir in marshmallows, peanut butter, and vanilla. Transfer mixture to a medium bowl. Chill for 30 to 45 minutes.

Scoop into 1-inch balls and place onto wax paper lined baking sheet. Freeze for 15 minutes.  In a medium saucepan, combine chocolate and shortening. Cook and stir over low heat until melted.

Dip balls, one at a time, into melted chocolate.  Set wire rack over the lined baking sheet. Place chocolate covered balls on rack to let chocolate setup. If you want to add crushed peanuts to outer coating, make sure to drop them into the coating while it’s still wet so they stick.  You can also use #CandyMelts to add decorative swirls either before or after the coating sets.  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Treat Week: Truffle Tuesday

redwinetruffles

Due to the death of a close friend, this week’s postings got delayed, so, as you can see, Truffle Tuesday turned into Truffle Sunday

Day 2 of #TreatWeek is one of my favorites: #TruffleTuesday.  Or, as my family (& hairdresser) calls it, the day I start making make #BoozeBalls!

The first, and quickest to prepare are my soft centered Red Wine Truffles.  These truffles are only as good as the wine you use to make them, so I always use the last glass of whatever great blend I have open.  This year that meant that the truffles were made with #2013MountVeederReserve.  A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Malbec.  This blend worked beautifully with the dark chocolate and made for a decadent treat!  A few important words of advice about these truffles:

  • Make sure you chill your truffle filling for AT LEAST 3 hours so it’s easy to scoop.
  • Freeze your scooped portions for at least 30 minutes & try to make them as close to balls as possible.  These can’t really be rolled.  Mine never look #CandyShopPretty, but they taste good. 😉
  • If your truffle filling is not holding it’s shape; i.e. it’s too thin, don’t worry, HERE IS THE FIX: Return your truffle filling to your pan. Warm it over low heat so that it is easy to stir but not completely liquified. Turn off burner and stir in unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 TBLS at a time, until your filling reaches desired consistency.  You don’t want it too thick, remember it will thicken when it chills in the refrigerator.
  • Melt your coating chocolate while your scoops are in the freezer so your coating has time to cool a bit.
  • If you intend to use the candy melts to decorate the outer/hard layer get it prepared in advance.
  • If you are sprinkling any type of decoration that will stick to the outer coating do it as soon as you coat the individual truffle.  The coating hardens very quickly on the cold truffles.
  • Because of their soft centers, these truffles must be kept refrigerated for best presentation and taste.

Red Wine Truffles

  • 2 – 12 oz bag dark chocolate chips (I like Ghirardelli)
  • 3/4 Cup heavy cream
  • 5 TBLS Good Red Wine – Anything with Malbec, Cab Franc, or that’s BIG and BOLD
  • 2 tsp solid Crisco shortening

Heat heavy cream in a saucepan to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from stove and add 1 bag of the chocolate chips and red wine. Let sit for about 5 minutes. Stir until everything is fully incorporated and smooth. Remove to a smaller bowl, cover and chill for at least 3 hours.

Once the truffle filling has chilled, using a cookie scoop or small spoon, scoop out chocolate and form into truffle balls. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze for about 30 minutes

While truffles are in the freezer, in a medium saucepan, combine chocolate and shortening. Cook and stir over low heat until melted.

Take 6 truffles out of the freezer at a time and pinch them slightly to make sure they form a “truffle like dome” for the top side.  If, when you start working with the chilled truffles, they aren’t holding their shape, or seem to be getting runny really fast, STOP! and see the note in RED above.  If all is well, continue to the next step.

Working quickly, coat bottom of truffles first and place on a plate lined with waxed paper, then, using a spoon, coat the top of each truffle and decorate with red & gold sprinkles if desired.

They dry/harden on top quickly.  Move on to the next 6 and then move the plate to the refrigerator until it’s time to serve.  #ThisGirlLovesToEat