Posts filed under 'Wine and Spirits'
don’t hate me because i love fruitcake!
Odd as it may seem, I am among the minority who love fruitcake. I can empathize with the fruitcake loathers because I have tasted some bad ones myself. But the recipe that my mother got from a former neighbor Mrs. L._ (who have since passed away, God bless her soul) has become a family favorite. Mrs. L._’s fruitcake is neither dry nor brick-like, it’s not overly stuffed with candied peels and nuts and the melding of spices and spirit is nicely balanced. It is heady and moist and utterly delectable. If one uses the best ingredients, there is no reason for a fruitcake to taste like cardboard.
While I was clearing our ref a few days ago for some space to store cupcakes I made for a wedding project, I chanced upon this fruitcake that I had baked a year ago. It was part of a batch I made for my friend M._ who asked me to bake one for her fruitcake-loving husband. To my delight, it was still moist! And it tasted just as it did when it was freshly baked, only better—divine!
Happy new year everyone!
January 3rd, 2010
Mimosa Cupcake – soft, fluffy orange cupcakes with Mimosa truffle topping and decorated with candied orange zest. Price available upon request.
bring on the bubbly!
I love the taste of freshly squeezed orange juice. I also love sucking on orange wedges. However, I just found this article that says that habitually sucking on orange, lemon and grapefruit wedges will result to a loss of the front teeth enamel because of acid erosion. Yikes! Since, I don’t habitually suck on those juicy wedges, I guess my pearly whites are safe.
2009 is nearly here and I was thinking of what cupcake to make to celebrate this momentous occasion. Champagne came to mind. What’s more appropriate to escort out the old year and usher in the new one than sipping some bubbly? I tried a recipe called New Year’s Eve Pink Champagne Cupcakes. I don’t know if I did something wrong—the description promised a light cupcake but mine turned out dense, almost pound cake-like. I am not of the dense cake camp so this cupcake did not appeal to me at all.
While Googling for information on champagne, some results showed Mimosa. Now what is a Mimosa? A Mimosa is a cocktail of freshly squeezed orange juice and champagne. The ratio of champagne to orange juice varies from recipe to recipe, sometimes depending on personal tastes. Some call for two parts champagne to one part orange juice or vice versa or equal parts of champagne and orange juice.
So why not a Mimosa cupcake? The Cupcake Project has a recipe that I think has been making the rounds of cupcake blogs everywhere—I’m sure it tastes great. However, I concocted my own. I adapted one of my recipes into an orange-flavored one. I contemplated on adding orange extract but in the end, I just added lots of orange zest which is really a powerhouse of a flavoring besides being more natural than the commercial extract.
The cupcake tasted heavenly—it was fluffy and tender— and the citrusy aroma just permeates the air. The children in our house liked them so much that nothing was left for me to frost so I had to bake another batch. The Mimosa truffle topping I made has a subtle hint of champagne—it does not stand out but one can definitely taste it.
For the final touch, I chose candied orange zest. The recipe I followed stressed that “if any pith remains on the peel, scrape it away” so scrape away I did. The resulting candy was a joy and it delivers a happy burst of sunshine to the taste buds. I was quite proud of this feat as I never imagined myself making candied zest.
I would add this cupcake to my list of favorites. To me, oranges bring happiness and champagne evokes celebration and that’s what this cupcake reminds me of.
Candied Orange Zest from The Cake Bible
3 oranges, thick skinned
1 c sugar
1 c water
1 tbsp corn syrup
Peel the oranges with a sharp knife; avoid any white part of the peel when doing so. Cut the peel into julienne strips. Place in a heavy saucepan of boiling water, reduce to simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Drain; rinse with cold water. Place in the same pot as it was cooked in and add in the sugar, water and corn syrup. Bring to boil stirring constantly, then stop stirring. Add in the zest and cover with a tight fitting lid. Reduce to simmer and cook over low heat for 15 minutes without disturbing. Remove from heat and allow to cool in pan covered. Refrigerate the candy in syrup in airtight container. Store up to a month.
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a champagne by any other name . . .
Nowadays, a true champagne is one that is produced in the Champagne region of France. All others that employ the same method of fermentation are called sparkling wines. Sparkling wines produced in various parts of the world have their own designations: Spain, cava; Italy, spumante; (Italian sparkling wines made with muscat grape is called DOCG Asti); South Africa, cap classique; Germany, sekt.
December 31st, 2008
Tiramisu Cupcake – ethereal chiffon cake drenched with coffee syrup and topped with Kahlua-spiked cream flecked with grated chocolate. Price available upon request.
who doesn’t love tiramisu?
This is my take on the beloved Italian dessert—a cupcake form. Though the form is different, I did not stray too much from the traditional flavor which includes cream, espresso and chocolate. It is also a bit heady due to the addition of Kahlua, a coffee-flavored liqueur.
The potent and rich flavor of tiramisu is so popular that you can also find it reincarnated in ice cream, cheesecake, blended coffee and even pizza. Recipe variations also include “new” ingredients such as strawberries, green tea, eggnog, and Nutella, the luscious hazelnut spread. I wonder what Italians have to say about the ever evolving twist in their much loved dessert?
September 3rd, 2008
Days of Wine and Roses Cupcake – light chocolate cupcake with grated bittersweet chocolate, a hint of cinnamon and a splash of Cabernet Sauvignon, with red wine-infused bittersweet chocolate ganache topped with red rose made of pliable candy. Price available upon request.
life is a cabernet
There used to be rules on how to pair wine with food but as people’s palates became more adventurous, there seems to be no more right or wrong combinations. It all depends on one’s experimentations. There is still this basic guide, though: light foods goes with light wine, and robust food goes with heavy wine.
This is also true when serving wine with chocolates. Strange bedfellows, one might say, but their combination can actually be a match made in heaven. However, this unusual pairing is not for everyone. Again, it depends on individual tastes and preferences. You should try this though and see what works and what does not.
This cupcake recipe calls for dry red wine, and I use Cabernet Sauvignon for its bold flavor which also goes well with bittersweet chocolate, one of the cupcake ingredients. If you happen to get hold of a recipe calling for dry red wine, you can either use a Zinfandel, a Merlot, a Shiraz or a Cabernet Sauvignon. Just remember, if you wouldn’t drink it, don’t cook (or bake) with it.
As I was mixing the batter, I tasted some and I liked it. Rightfully so, I also liked the baked product. So this was what I learned: if the cake batter tastes good, the resulting cake will also taste good.
The ganache topping also has a splash of Cabernet. I wanted to name this creation “Days of Wine and Roses” so what better decoration to put than a life-like red rose (molded from pliable candy) on top?
By the way, I think this cupcake can also be served during weddings or debuts. While I cannot change the color of the rose (alas, the candy only comes in red color), the motif can be reflected in ribbons tied around the cupcakes. You can also choose which cupcake flavor to go with this type of decoration. Kindly contact me for details.
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Some useful wine terminology:
Aroma – the smell of a wine, especially young wines
Bouquet – the complex of aromas that develops with age in fine wines; young wines have aroma, not bouquet
Dry – not sweet, except in sparkling wines, where dry means sweet
Full-bodied – full proportion of flavor and alcohol; big, fat
Legs – the viscous rivulets that run down the side of the glass after swirling or sipping, a mingling of glycerin and alcohol
Long – fine wines should have a long finish, or aftertaste
Oenology – the science and study of all aspects of wine and winemaking from the grape harvest to bottle
Oenophilia – love of wine
Oenophile – lover of wine
Tannin – a natural component found to varying degrees in the skins, seeds and stems of grapes; most prominent in red wines, where it creates a dry, puckering sensation in young reds of concentrated extract; mellows with aging and drops out of the wine to form sediment; a major component in the structure of red wines
Vintage – the year in which a particular wine’s grapes were harvested
You can find more wine terminology here.
August 23rd, 2008