Dec 28, 2012

Chocolate Chai Pie with Homemade Boozy Eggnog Ice Cream

Homemade Boozy Eggnog Ice Cream and Chocolate Chai Pie were my biggest experimental recipes this holiday season.  I love them!  SOOO GOOD!

There are two types of people in the world:  1) Those who like eggnog, and 2) Those who think eggnog is disgusting.  I'm personally of the former group.  Which are you?

I've only ever had the grocery store carton variety of eggnog.  Though that's too thick for my liking, so I usually cut it half / half with skim milk...and add a sprinkling of nutmeg to the top.  Mmmm.

This year I got it in my head that I REALLY wanted to make homemade eggnog.  Never have I done it before.  But this year was my year to attempt it, despite several people telling me it was hard.

It's not.

I stole Alton Brown's recipe exactly.  Super tasty.  Not hard.  I made two batches; one for drinking as is, and another for trying it as ice cream.  Both turned out super tasty.

Alton Brown's Eggnog Recipe
Ingredients
4 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
1 pint whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
3 ounces bourbon
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
4 egg whites

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg yolks until they lighten in colour.  Gradually add the 1/3 cup sugar and continue to beat until it is completely dissolved.  Add the milk, cream, bourbon, and nutmeg...stirring to combine.

Place the egg whites in the bowl of another stand mixer and beat until soft peaks form.  With the mixer still running, gradually add the 1 tablespoon of sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.

Whisk the egg whites into the milk mixture.  

*Here's where I deviated from the recipe slightly to make ice cream.  Chill your final eggnog mixture for about 15 minutes so it's cold.  Pour into your cold ice cream maker and let it churn for about 20-25 minutes. 
Also note, this is a little more "icy" over "creamy" because a) it has alcohol which is harder to freeze and b) it has meringue egg whites.  But it's super yummy!

Once I finished that, I decided I wanted to a) have a yummy contrasting flavour to serve with the ice cream, and b) use my brand new Pampered Chef Pie Slice 'n Serve.  Sooo, I made a Chocolate Chai Pie!!  I found my inspiration in this recipe from Better Homes and Gardens.  But I changed a few ingredients and steps, as follows.

Chocolate Chai Pie
1.5 cups whipping cream
4 black tea bags ( I used Tetley Black tea)
58 vanilla wafers, crushed
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1.5 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup butter, softened
1.5 teaspoons ground cardamom
1.5 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, melted and cooled 
*When I make this again, I will add a little less ground cardamom (simply because I ground my own from pods, which makes a more intense flavour.  And I would use more chocolate.*

In a small saucepan, heat the whipping cream until just simmering. Remove from heat, and add the tea bags, pressing to immerse the bags into the cream.
Cover the saucepan and let it stand for 30 minutes to steep thoroughly.  Remove the tea bags, carefully squeezing them over the mixture to extract as much liquid as possible.  Discard the tea bags, and set mixture aside.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Crush the vanilla wafers into small crumbs.  I used a meat tenderizer, and vented my frustrations.  :)
In a medium sized bowl, combine the crushed vanilla wafers, 1/4 cup melted butter, granulated sugar, and vanilla.  (I should have crushed my wafers smaller, but I was impatient.  oops)
Press the crumb mixture evenly into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch or 9.5-inch pie plate (I used 9.5-inch).  Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until firm.  Cool completely on a wire rack.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the 1/2 cup softened butter on medium to high for approximately 30 seconds.  Then add the powdered sugar, cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves.  Beat until combined, scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally.
Add the melted chocolate and cream mixture, beating until just combined.
Beat until just combined.
Cover and chill for about 15 minutes.  Then beat for another 3-5 minutes until the mixture thickens and ribbons form.
Spoon the mixture into the cooled pie crust.
Smooth the surface.
Cover and chill for at least 6 hours or up to 24 hours.  Serve with a scoop of the homemade eggnog ice cream.  
And *swoon*.

Dec 24, 2012

Christmas Eve breakfast

This is the first year that Blair and I will celebrate Christmas without family.  It's a bittersweet time, for sure.  We deeply miss our family, at all times, but especially around the holidays.  Yet we are excited to figure out how WE want to celebrate.  

Last night we sat down and tried to come up with traditions that we wanted to keep or some we might want to start.  We wrote everything down in a big brainstorming session...and will pick and choose our favourites.  *I would LOVE to hear your favourite holiday traditions!!  Please share them with me in the comments section.  We might just "steal" them for our own. :) *

One thing we really didn't know what to do with was Christmas Eve breakfast.  Surprisingly, both of our families had the exact same Christmas morning sausage/egg casserole while we were growing up.  So we will definitely be continuing that one!  But Christmas Eve breakfast stumped us.  Neither one of our families did anything specific.  Always special, yes.  But nothing that really repeated year after year.  So we were stumped.  

And of course, we didn't start brainstorming until bed time last night.  That makes our options limited based on the on-hand ingredients in the house (which, for us, is not all that much).  Blair suggested pancakes...which is our easy go-to "fancy" breakfast.  I was fine with pancakes, but I wanted to somehow spruce them up to make them festive.  More brainstorming....aka not sleeping.

Here's what I came up with:
 

I doubt it will become a tradition...at least until we start having kids.  But we had fun with all the festivity.  :)

Chocolate Peppermint Walnut Flax Seed Pancakes - Snowman Style
Ingredients
Krusteaz Pancake Mix (we went simple instead of making our own batter)
Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
Peppermint Extract
Organic Golden Flax Seed
Walnuts
Toppings (optional)
Semi-sweet chocolate chips
Candy corn, leftover from Halloween
Powdered Sugar
Egg, fried
Sugar-free maple syrup (not pictured)

This is so unlike me if I'm preparing for a blog post, but I didn't measure anything.  So sorry.  I just kind of mixed everything together until it "looked right". 
Then we scooped 1/2 cup of batter onto the griddle, and 1/4 batter directly above.  Once that was ready, flip (making sure to flip both the top and bottom simultaneously so they stay together).
When they are almost ready to be pulled off, add two chocolate chips to the small pancake for "rock eyes".  Also place the candy corn on for a "carrot nose".  Then add three chocolate chips to the big pancake for "coal buttons". 
Pull it off the griddle (again, top and bottom simultaneously) and plate it.
Sprinkle powdered sugar over it, to create a "snowy" effect.
Then cut your fried egg in half and place it around the neck as a "scarf". 
We also topped with sugar free maple syrup (not pictured).
Enjoy!

Merry Christmas!

Dec 11, 2012

Crafting Mania

I haven't posted in a while, not because I haven't been doing any projects, but quite the opposite.

I've been so crafting up a storm for Christmas.  You see, I got it into my head that I wanted to make every Christmas present this year....for everyone in my family.  I. AM. CRAZY.   

I don't know about you, but I have a fairly large family.  Which means I have a fairly long list of gift recipients.  Which means I have a VERY long list of craft projects.

So, despite the blogging hiatus, I've been doing my fair share of over-ambitious crafting.  After Christmas, and all my presents have been given to my family (and hopefully loved by all), you should revert back to your boy/girl scout days and make sure you are prepared.  An onslaught of craft project ideas is coming your way.

Don't say I didn't warn you....