Chocolate Bourbon Pots de Creme With Orange Bourbon Cherries

I always need to get an early start on my Thanksgiving planning and preparations. In thinking about what desserts I might want to serve – a month from now – this is one that came to mind. Not only is it completely decadent, but it is also very easy to prepare … which is incredibly nice given all of the work that goes into the holidays. This dish requires only about 15 minutes of work, plus chilling time. The key to its success is the use of fine quality chocolate and bourbon.

ChocolateBourbonCoupe

Chocolate Bourbon Pots de Creme

makes 8 servings

Ingredients

• 14 oz. best quality bittersweet chocolate (finely chopped)

I used Ghirardelli Twilight Delight Intense Dark 72% Cacao bars.

• 2 lg. eggs (beaten)

• 3 T. really good bourbon

I used Woodford Reserve Bourbon.

• 1 1/3 c. half-and-half

• Lightly sweetened whipped cream, for garnish

• Orange Bourbon Cherries, for garnish (recipe below)

• Gold-colored decorator’s sugar, for garnish (optional)

Directions

1.Place chocolate, eggs and bourbon in the bowl of a large food processor.

2. Scald half-and-half.

3. While running the food processor, pour hot half-and-half through the feed tube. Process until perfectly smooth. (If you don’t have a food processor, beat ingredients in a large mixing bowl.)

4. Ladle into serving cups. Chill for at least three hours before serving. Cover with plastic wrap if making Pots de Creme more than a few hours in advance.

5. Meanwhile, prepare cherries.

6. Just before serving, whip cream. Garnish Pots de Creme with whipped cream, 3 cherries each, and decorator’s sugar.  (The sugar adds a little sparkle and also a little crunch.)

ChocolateBourbonPotsdeCreme1

Orange Bourbon Cherries

Ingredients

• 1 1/4 c. frozen dark sweet cherries (at least 24 cherries)

• 1/4 maple syrup

• zest from one mandarin orange (or a fragrant-skinned orange), about 1 T.

• 1/4 c. really good bourbon

I used Woodford Reserve Bourbon.

Directions

Place all of the ingredients in a medium-sized saucepan. Gently stir. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Transfer to a clean glass jar. Refrigerate uncovered until cool, then tightly seal jar. Store in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

ChocolateBourbonPotsdeCremeCherry

Enjoy! Happy Dining!

Pear Drop Cookies with Lemon Glaze

Sweet, soft cookies with bits of fresh pear, flavorful autumn spices and a zesty lemon icing.

PearDrops

Pear Drops

Makes about 24 cookies

1/2 c. peeled and diced pear

1 t. fresh lemon juice

3/4 c. all-purpose flour

1/3 c. rolled oats

1/2 t. ground cinnamon

1/4 t. baking soda

1/4 t. ground nutmeg

1/4 t. salt

1/3 c. unsalted butter, softened

1/4 c.  granulated white sugar

2 T. dark brown sugar, firmly packed

1/2 t. freshly grated lemon zest

2 T. of beaten egg

3/4 t. almond extract

1/3 c. sweetened dried cranberries

1 1/2 t. cinnamon sugar (or Lemon Icing, recipe below)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Toss pear chunks in lemon juice and set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine flour, oats, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg and salt. Set aside.
  4. In another bowl, beat together butter, sugars and lemon zest. Beat in egg and almond extract.
  5. On lowest mixer speed, beat flour mixture into butter mixture. Fold in pear chunks and cranberries.
  6. Scoop batter by rounded teaspoonful onto bakings sheets, spacing cookies 2” apart. Sprinkle cookies with cinnamon sugar, if not using Lemon Icing.
  7. Bake for approximately 12 to 14 minutes or until cookies are set and lightly browned. Place baking sheets on wire racks and allow cookies to cool.

Lemon Icing

A tart icing that enhances the citrus flavor in baked goods.

1 c. confectioner’s sugar

1 T. + 1 t. fresh lemon juice

1/2 t. fresh lemon zest, optional

1/4 t. lemon extract, optional

  1. Place confectioner’s sugar in a small bowl.  Stir in lemon juice until the mixture is perfectly smooth and a workable consistency. (Icing should run off a spoon in a thick stream.) If desired, stir in 1/2 t. fresh lemon zest or 1/4 t. lemon extract for a stronger flavor.
  2. Drizzle or pipe onto baked goods right away. (This is thick enough to pipe thin lines but not thick enough to pipe firm shapes.)

Enjoy! Have a great weekend!

A Beautiful Day in the Autumn Garden

Here in Manhattan, Kansas, we’ve been having unseasonably warm weather this October with recent day time highs hovering around 80 degrees F. (It is actually supposed to get up to 85 here tomorrow.) So it seems as though nearly everyone is giddy over the sunshine and warm temperatures. I took advantage of the weather today to get some photos of the gardens. Enjoy!

Roses

PeachMiniAutumn

RoseInAutumn

Toad Lilies

ToadLilies

Chrysanthemums

OrangeMums copy

MumsInFountain 2

Hibiscus (This is probably the latest I’ve had one bloom. My other three are already dying back for the season.)

HibiscusHotPink

Quince

QuinceOnShrub

Asters Raydon’s Favorite

AstersRaydonsFavoriteWithBee

Beauty Berries & Asters

BeautyBerry&Asters

Japanese Maple Garnet 

JapaneseMapleStartingToTurn

Liatris (stalks)

LiatrisStalks

Viburnum Leaves

ViburnumLeaves

Wishing you a lovely autumn!

Willow’s Story

WillowSteps2

This is Willow. Yay!

We recently adopted her through a rescue organization for Boston Terriers.

Willow is what is called a “red Boston” … i.e. a Boston Terrier with a recessive gene that makes her coloring reddish brown in areas where otherwise it would be black or brindled. So most of her coat, and her nose and  lips, are reddish brown. Even her eyes are a lighter brown. Though red Bostons are not AKC-recognized because of their coloration, they are still true Bostons – with that lovable Boston Terrier personality.

Here is Willow’s story, such as we know it.

Willow is 4 years and 8 months old. She spent the first 2 years and 9 months of her life in a puppy mill in Missouri – most likely one where they were trying to create “designer Bostons” – before she was surrendered by the breeder to a dog rescue organization outside of St. Louis. At this point, there is a gap in Willow’s history for almost 2 years.  Then in September, she was  taken in by a breed-specific rescue organization.

We contacted MidAmerica Boston Terrier Rescue about a month ago, looking for a companion for Penny who, understandably,  has been very sad since Abbey’s passing back in July. Our application was circulated amongst the rescued dogs’ foster families so that they could try to find a great match for our household. Willow’s caregiver persuaded me that Willow was the one for us.

Despite her early life experiences – and a few related issues that we are working on – Willow is an amazingly happy dog. She dances and wags her hind end and flaps her ears when she is happy; and when she is really happy, she smiles so enthusiastically that her top lip curls. She will also very gently hold my hand in her mouth and wag her tail. It is very sweet.

Penny and Willow are becoming friends. They are content to lie near each other when they are resting and have worked up to playing chase together several times a day. That is a good start. I am sure that they shall be wonderful for each other in time. We’ve had Penny since the day she turned 8 weeks old and Penny grew up with Abbey. So Abbey can’t just be replaced for Penny any more than she can be for us. And Willow needs time to adjust to family life. She does not yet know how to play with toys … something that we are working on. Penny will be a good role-model in that area. Willow has a very hearty appetite, though, and frequently begs for treats … an enterprise for which Penny appreciates having an accomplice.

Well, I need to sign off now. I have some little doggies to pay attention to before I get back to work. Snacks, anyone?

Wishing you a great weekend!

Red Rose of September

Weather-wise, it has been a wonderful September for the garden. Lots of sunshine, warm days and “coolish” nights. Here is a  picture of Mr. Lincoln from my garden earlier today. With the cooperation of Mother Nature, I should have roses blooming for another four to six weeks. Roses are the backbone of my front garden … the nearly the first and always last to bloom.

RosesMrLincoln

Have a great evening!