The Quick Cook Hangs Up Her Apron
Before we get to today’s recipes, I must inform you all that this is my final column for The Pinewood News. It’s been a good run for me, and I hope for you as well, but the time has come, my friends, for me to step aside.
About a year ago, I noticed that my sense of taste had significantly diminished. Not a virus reaction, but old age and a genetic gift from my dad has made it very difficult for someone who loves cooking and tasting food. I simply am unable at this point to know if something is delicious, and that means I can’t honestly encourage you to try the foods I create. Therefore, this is my last column, and I am very sad about that.
But you all should keep cooking and experimenting and trying new cooking techniques and ingredients. The kitchen has always been my happy place, and I hope it is yours as well.
— Sharon Moore, The Quick Cook
This month’s foods are ones that I have made in the past and can vouch for as tasty and, given it is February, I am sharing red foods! And what else is V-Day about, other than love? Sweets! So here you go. Recipes to make for your sweetie(s)!
I always thought Cherries Jubilee fit that wonderful category of being easy to do with dramatic impact. Created for Queen Victoria in the late 1800s, this dessert has drama. My version of this simple dessert, traditionally made by cooking fresh cherries and using a couple of different liqueurs, can be even easier using canned cherry pie filling and one alcohol.
Because my recipe is not like the original, I call mine Jubilant Cherries. I figure they’re pretty happy guys with the extra sugar and alcohol.
I typically use brandy or sherry, but you can use other fruit liqueurs such as Kirsch, Chambord, Cointreau, Limoncello, or other favorites.
Have sugar, alcohol, and lighter or matches at the ready. Light the cherries in a spot that won’t set off your smoke alarm!
1 can of cherry pie filling
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons brandy
Heat cherries in a skillet to almost boiling. Remove from heat and sprinkle on the sugar. Immediately drizzle on the liqueur and light a match close to the skillet, flaming the cherries.
Scoop flaming cherries onto dishes of vanilla ice cream or, alternatively, wait for the flame to die down and scoop on then. Delicious!
Gummy Wine Hearts
Even grown-ups like the childhood association of gummy snacks. But these are NOT for the kiddos. While they won’t make you tipsy, it’s still best to keep alcohol treats away from the underage, right?
1 cup wine
4 tablespoons gelatin powder (like Knox)
1/2 teaspoon stevia (optional)
2-4 tablespoons maple syrup
Note: The amount of maple syrup you use will depend on (1) how dry your wine is and (2) how sweet you want your gummies! You’ll have to taste it as you go and add more as needed. Also, you can double or triple this–it works just the same!
In a saucepan, warm the wine on low heat. Put a thermometer in it and make sure it doesn’t go much above 90 degrees. Wine boils at 159 degrees F, and so you want to keep it well below that so all the alcohol doesn’t burn off. No thermometer? Just keep it on the lowest heat.
Add the gelatin one Tbsp at a time, and stir very well before adding more. While stirring the gelatin/wine with a whisk, it might get frothy. This is ok! It still works, and the froth gels too–but if you want your gummies not to have a little froth on the bottom, scoop it off.
After the gelatin has completely dissolved, add the other ingredients. Taste the mixture after adding each one—you’ll have to use your taste buds as a gauge for how much sweetener to add! Keep in mind that the more sweetener you add, the less you’ll taste the flavor of the wine! I prefer a little less sweet than a regular gummy bear.
Once your mixture is ready, either use a spoon to fill a mold or dump the whole batch into a pan (for cut gummies).
Put them in the fridge to set. You don’t have to do this, but it speeds up the process. They’ll be the texture of Jello jigglers pretty quickly–go ahead and eat them this way if you want to. But they get better if you wait. In fact, I recommend chilling for at least 2-3 hours. They really do become the texture of gummy bears.
When firm, cut the gummies into shapes of your choice. Hearts are a nice idea!
Another alcohol-flavored treat I’ve made is mini-bundt cakes with red wine batter and glaze. I put the extra cakes (glazed) into the freezer for a fast dessert in a few weeks.
The cake batter was very thick, and yes, the wine will curdle the milk, but that’s okay! This cake isn’t hard to make, but it does take paying attention as you will have several things going at once.
Red Wine Chocolate Cake with Red Wine Glaze
(makes 12 mini-bundts and 2 small bundt cakes)
½ cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 whole egg + 1 white, lightly beaten
1 cup flour + 1 tablespoon
½ box sugar-free black cherry gelatin (heaping 1½ teaspoons)
¼ cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate
½ cup red wine (I used pinot noir)
¼ cup milk
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ cup red wine
½ cup confectioners’ sugar, plus more for serving
¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Red Wine Chocolate Cake
Preheat oven to 350°.
You are going to need one each of small, medium, large bowls.
In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, gelatin, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
Melt chocolate in the top of a double boiler over simmering water. When chocolate is melted remove from the pan of water and let cool 5 minutes.
In a small bowl, combine red wine and milk. Set aside.
In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs. Beat well. Mix in the cooled chocolate.
When chocolate is well-blended, add wine mixture and flour mixture to the butter mixture. Beat well, for about 3 more minutes, using a spatula to scrape down batter from the side of the bowl.
Spoon batter into prepared 12 mini-bundt and 2 two small bundt pans. Bake for 20-22 minutes and test with an inserted toothpick. Bake up to 25 minutes, if required.
Red Wine Glaze
Add butter, wine, and confectioner’s sugar to a medium sauce pan.
Whisk ingredients constantly as you bring to a boil.
You are making a reduction, so occasionally tilt the pan. When the wine sauce is glazing the bottom of the sauce pan, remove from the heat.
Whisk in vanilla. Set aside until time to glaze the cakes. Spoon glaze evenly over the warm bundt cakes and let sit to absorb some of the glaze. Pick up each cake so the glaze spreads across the plate. Set cakes back down on the glaze so they absorb from the bottom, too.
Ice cream anyone? Cake and ice cream makes an even more decadent finish to your Valentine’s Day dinner. Here’s my version of Cherry Garcia
Cherry Garcia CopyCat Ice Cream
2 cups heavy whipping cream
½ cup milk
14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
3 teaspoons vanilla (if adding cocoa powder, omit vanilla)
2 tablespoons dark cocoa powder (optional)
½ cup shaved dark chocolate
½ cup frozen sweet dark cherries, quartered
Whisk for several minutes, all ingredients except shaved chocolate and cherries. You shouldn’t be able to see any color variation from the sweetened condensed milk.
Pour into your ice cream maker and process as the directions say (about one half hour). When ice cream is thick, toward the end of processing, add shaved chocolate and dark cherries.
Put in a container and freeze for a couple of hours before serving. Hmm. Maybe some Jubilant Cherries on top?