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12 Days of Cocktails: Dynamic Duos

Posted on Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2014


Whoever thought of adding booze to desserts should be awarded, let’s see… a shiny medal, a private island, and a pile of gold coins in which to swim around a la Scrooge McDuck. There hasn’t been such a perfectly odd pair like booze and sweets since another genius put chicken and waffles together.  (Confession: I hate to bake, so any recipe I can master that will result in a sweet treat but involves NO baking is always a bonus.) Today, I have two delightful recipes to share. One is a chocolatey bourbon treat, and the other is a chewy plum candy called plum pâtes de fruits, which sounds incredibly fancy, but is so easy to make! The candy is rolled in booze-infused sugar. This is the standard template that I use for infused sugar, so have fun and swap out the booze and flavoring agents to create all sorts of tipsy sugars for your dessert pleasure. Bourbon vanilla? Coffee rum? The sugar world is yours!

Bourbon Bites:
1 cup pecans or walnuts
2 cups vanilla wafer cookies, finely crushed
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar (powdered or icing)
2 tablespoons Dutch processed cocoa powder or regular unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tablespoons light or dark corn syrup
1/4 cup bourbon

To toast nuts: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the pecans on a baking sheet and bake for about 6-8 minutes, or until lightly browned and fragrant. Let cool completely. Process the pecans and vanilla wafer cookies in your food processor until finely chopped. To this mixture add the confectioner’s sugar and cocoa powder; process until combined. Add in corn syrup and bourbon, mix well. Chill the batter for about 15 minutes, then shape into 1 inch balls. Roll in confectioner’s sugar or Heath Bar pieces for extra crunch.  Makes approx. 30 bourbon bites. 

Plum pâtes de fruits:
4 pounds damson or italian plums, pitted and chopped
2 tbsp water
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tsp culinary quality dried elderflower blossoms
4 cups sugar

*I cup orange liqueur cardamom infused sugar for dusting.

In a large, heavy enameled cast iron pot (or other non-reactive pot), combine plums, water, and lemon juice along with elderflower blossoms. Place over low heat and cook until fruit is very soft, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat.  Puree plum mixture through a fine mesh food mill screen, or process in blender, then force it through a fine sieve held over a bowl. Measure puree and return to pan, and add equal amounts sugar as the puree.  Cook over low heat stirring constantly until fruit reduces then thickens and begins to hold together as a mass (about 40 minutes).

Line a 9×12 rimmed baking sheet with plastic wrap or parchment, overlapping the edges.  Carefully pour plum paste onto lined pan and spread evenly with rubber spatula.  Cool, cover, and allow to sit out at room temperature for 48 hours.  The paste will firm on standing. Invert pan onto cutting board, peel off plastic wrap, and cut paste into about 36 squares. Roll in infused sugar, for a sparkly, finished look.  Arrange in layers on waxed paper and store in airtight plastic container at room temp.

4-6 cardamom pods cracked open
8 cups raw (turbinado or demerara) sugar
6 teaspoons orange liqueur, Cointreau, Grand Marnier or any orange flavored aperitif will do.

Fill a wide-mouthed half-gallon mason jar about halfway with raw sugar, place ½ the caradamom pods into the sugar and pour 2 teaspoons of the liqueur into the jar. Pour more sugar into the jar until it is about 2/3 full. Pour in another 2 teaspoons of liqueur. Tighten the lid on the jar and shake the jar HARD and repeatedly to distribute the ingredients well. Open the lid, fill the sugar to the bottom ring of the jar.  Add the remaining 2 teaspoons of liqueur, tighten the lid again and shake it, shake it, shake it like a polaroid picture.  Place the jar in a cool, dark place for at least a week before using.

DON’T WORRY: If you don’t want to use elderflower you can swap it out for another floral like lavender, or omit it completely and substitute a vanilla bean or orange peel.  You can also use regular sugar to dust the candies if you don’t have the time to make a tipsy sugar, but trust me it is so easy and you will be addicted to creating all sorts of flavored sugars.

Cheers, and stay sweet!

Your neighborhood bartender,
Catherine Manabat