2 ounces bourbon, such as Michter’s or Maker’s Mark
2 ounces dark rum, such as Appleton Estate
1 ounce cognac
Unsweetened freshly whipped cream, for serving
Freshly grated nutmeg, for serving
In a medium heatproof bowl, whisk egg yolks and 1/2 cup sugar until pale yellow and thick, about 2 minutes. In a medium saucepan, bring milk and salt to a bare simmer. Whisking constantly, slowly pour hot milk mixture into yolk mixture.
Pour yolk mixture back into saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until mixture is just thick enough to coat back of spoon and hold a line drawn by your finger, 3 to 5 minutes.
Pour mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl; discard solids. Let cool, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Add cream, bourbon, rum, and cognac; cover and refrigerate overnight.
Whisk remaining 1/4 cup sugar and egg whites in a heatproof mixer bowl set over (not in) a pan of simmering water. Whisk until sugar is dissolved and mixture is warm (it should feel smooth between your fingers), 2 to 3 minutes. (For fully cooked eggs, a thermometer inserted into meringue should register 160 degrees.) Remove from heat. With a mixer on high speed, beat until stiff peaks form, about 5 minutes. Fold into eggnog.
Pour into glasses (or a punch bowl); top with a dollop of whipped cream and sprinkle with nutmeg.
Matthew Lodes, the executive chef at the stylish Rose Bakery in New York City, does not mess around when it comes to gingerbread. Lodes, who is also a classically trained pastry chef, spends each Christmas season building towering gingerbread houses that take months of sketching, test runs and long hours in the kitchen. These are not the cardboard-like gingerbread houses that you find in your local supermarket: Most of the candy is made from scratch, the gingerbread is fresh and aromatic, and the houses are incredibly sturdy. Here, the gingerbread master himself tells Food & Wine how it’s done and shares his essential tips to help you make your most impressive, centerpiece-worthy house yet.
When it comes to the gingerbread: to buy or not to buy?
It’s absolutely important to make your own gingerbread. I know it sounds like a lot of work, but it gives your house a unique, personalized touch. Unless, of course, you want to buy one from me!*
How do you prevent your homemade gingerbread from baking into a giant blob?
When you roll out your gingerbread, let it rest for a few hours—ideally, overnight. Then bake it at a low temperature, say 300°. This way your gingerbread won’t rise and will keep its shape. If the gingerbread does become misshapen, you can pull it out of the oven halfway through baking to trim the edges with a serrated knife. Then return it to the oven to finish baking.
The day after decorating, my gingerbread house is always a big, naked cookie surrounded by a pile of candy. Tips for making it stick?
Absolutely. I always add a bit of distilled white vinegar to the royal icing—it aids in hardening. A lot of people skip this step.
What about candy—any favorite decorations?
In the past, I’ve made a lot of the candy myself, but in all honesty, it’s a pain. Candy-making is dangerous; coming into contact with cooked sugar is painful and the pain can last for hours. Not to mention, the scar it will leave!
My suggestion? Just buy it. The key to picking your candy is in the size. I like small candy so that you can fit more details onto the house, such as Skittles and Tic-tacs. They adhere nicely to the icing and the small size shows how much work you put into it. I also enjoy sticking with the traditional seasonal colors for candy and I’ll occasionally dye my royal icing, as well. Another favorite ingredient: nuts. Whole hazelnuts, almonds and pecans add nice texture and walnut halves make for great mini-wreaths!
What is the most extreme gingerbread house you’ve ever made?
The biggest one I’ve ever made was four feet wide and three feet tall; however, it had to go in a narrow space, so it was only nine inches deep. It was tricky because I had to carry it up two flights of stairs. My only tip for transporting a gingerbread house is to hold tight!
So we all want to know: Any gingerbread house epic fails?
Luckily, I’ve never had a major disaster, but one time I was doing an all-day demo at Williams-Sonoma and my tempered chocolate roof didn’t want to cooperate—chocolate and hot lights do not mix well. To make matters worse, a chocolatier friend of mine from Spain, Ruben Alvarez, was there to watch me. He understood the situation, but that didn’t stop my roof from almost collapsing in front of the whole audience!
Check out these easy at home center pieces and table top ideas to add some elegance and warmth to your dinner parties, wine tastings, or holiday gatherings.
Similar to the “Popcorn Keneral Candles” we shared with you last month, this centerpiece is a unique way to use some food items you may already have in your cupboards. Buy a candle that will fit into your cynical container leaving about ½ an inch from the glass all the way around. Simply slide a cookie stick around the candle, leaving no gaps. To finish it off, wrap twine at least 4 times around the glass and tuck the end into place, or tie a bow. You could also change this look a bit by trying it out with candy cane sticks and red ribbon on the outside!
This elegant centerpiece is the ultimate “reuse” project! You are going to need some old jars, long stem flowers, lace, and ribbon. Assemble the band for the jar before attaching it to the jar. When using one width strip of lace, find a decorative ribbon that matches with the party’s colors and hot glue it onto the middle of the lace strip. When using two smaller strips of lace, glue the edge of both lace strips onto the sides of your favorite ribbon. One the band is assembled, just glue the edges onto the jar and let dry. Feel free to mix it up a bit and alternate ribbons and/or widths of lace strips.
Comfort, warmth, and elegance, and nature are all wrapped up in this simple centerpiece. You do not have to use your fancy cake stand for this, buy a cheap one from a local store (as long as it has a nice foot to stand on!). Place a cluster of candles around the center of the stand by making a small circle around one candle placed in the middle of the stand, using about 7 candles in total. These candles can be in holders, or not, it is up to you! Alternating between one large pine cone and a piece of evergreen, place the decoration alongside the corners where each candle meets another candle.
Here are some playful and elegant holiday center pieces and table top ideas for the celebratory weeks to come!
Create a winter wonderland in the center of your table. Place a minature shrub or tree in the center of your table. Cover the pot with a piece of brown paper and a ribbon. Lay faux snow around the pot of the plant and sprinkle some onto the leaves of the plant. (Buy the snow that has a bit of sparkle already built in to catch your guests’ eyes!) Lastly, place a glass dome over your mini winter wonderland.
Have some old garland or ornaments away in storage? Fill a festive bowl filled with various ornaments and garland in one color make an elegant centerpiece for any holiday. This centerpiece not limited to Christmas. You could fill your bowl with blue, gold, white, or silver ornaments for a wintery chic look.
Preheat oven to 300°. In a large bowl, combine cherries, pineapple, walnuts and raisins; set aside.
In another large bowl, cream shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Combine flour, baking powder and salt; add to creamed mixture and mix well. Pour over fruit mixture and stir to coat.
Transfer to a greased and floured 10-in. tube pan. Bake 2 hours or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to cool completely.
Wrap tightly and store in a cool place. Slice with a serrated knife; bring to room temperature before serving.Yield: 16 servings.
Originally published as Holiday Fruitcake in Country December/January 2001, p51
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wrap exterior of a 9-inch springform pan in 2 layers of foil.
On a generously floured piece of parchment, roll dough to a 13-by-10-inch rectangle, about 1/4 inch thick. Brush off excess flour. Slide dough and parchment onto a baking sheet. Bake until firm and golden brown, about 14 minutes. Let cool completely on sheet on a wire rack. Break into large pieces, then pulse in a food processor until finely ground.
Combine butter, 1/4 cup sugar, and 2 cups cookie crumbs in a bowl. Press mixture firmly and evenly into bottom and one-third of the way up sides of prepared pan. Bake until set, about 10 minutes. Let cool on rack.
Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Beat cream cheese with a mixer on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in remaining 1 1/2 cups sugar and the vanilla, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Reduce speed to low. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping sides of bowl as needed. Beat in molasses, salt, spices, and lemon zest. Pour filling into cooled crust.
Place cheesecake in a large, shallow roasting pan. Transfer to oven, and carefully add enough hot water to roasting pan to come about halfway up sides of springform pan. Bake until cheesecake is set but still slightly wobbly in center, 60 to 65 minutes. Carefully remove springform pan from roasting pan, and let cool on a wire rack. Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 8 hours (preferably overnight).
Before serving, run a hot knife around edges of cheesecake to loosen, and remove sides of pan. Arrange gingerbread cookies in center of cake in a circle (with heads facing inward and arms touching, alternating light and dark).
Woman’s Day shows us which foods to eat in the month of October.
Grocery shopping is already a pretty time consuming task, but not knowing what to buy when you get there can be overwhelming and pricey. However, purchasing seasonal foods is a healthy and cost effective way to approach food shopping. Grocery stores tend to stock up on these items in bulk because they are plentiful, making them less expensive for you—especially when they go on sale. So at the beginning of each month, WomansDay.com will let you know which seasonal foods should be on your grocery list—making your weekly trip to the store easier on you (and your wallet).