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Wednesday, December 27, 2017

The Classics We Enjoyed this Holiday Season

Seasonal Recipes of the Week
Yes, I still hate Christmas, Chanukah, New Year's Eve (because everyone always fails at having fun), and even Kwanzaa. What can I say? I'm an equal-opportunity Grinch. I hate the stressful over-shopping, the insanity in parking lots, the parents lamenting about their materialistic kids (“I learned it by watching you, Dad!”), and the required overindulgences. BUT! I do love the getting together with friends and sharing a meal or a cocktail. So here are three recipes I made this year to share with neighbors and friends. They are all classics and can be served anytime. So sit back, watch the yule log burn on TV, and relax. Don't worry, it's almost over.

Crème Brûlée

1 extra-large egg
4 extra-large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for each serving
3 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. In a bowl, mix the egg, egg yolks, and 1/2 cup of the sugar together until just combined. Meanwhile, scald the cream in a small saucepan until it's very hot to the touch, but not boiled. Now slowly add the cream to the eggs. Add the vanilla and orange liqueur, mix to combine, then pour into 6 to 8-ounce ramekins until almost full.

Place the ramekins in a baking pan and carefully pour boiling water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the custards are set when gently shaken. Remove the custards from the water bath, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate until firm.

To serve, spread 1 tablespoon of sugar evenly on the top of each ramekin and heat with a kitchen blowtorch (or under the broiler — watch it!) until the sugar caramelizes evenly. Allow to sit at room temperature for a minute until the caramelized sugar hardens.


2 cups hot water
3 tablespoons instant espresso powder
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
3 tablespoons rum
4 large egg yolks
1/3 cup dry Madeira
1 pound mascarpone (2 1/2 cups)
1 cup chilled heavy cream
36 crisp Italian ladyfingers
Unsweetened cocoa powder for dusting

Stir together water, espresso powder, 1 tablespoon sugar, and rum in a shallow bowl until sugar has dissolved, then set aside to cool. Beat egg yolks, Madeira, and remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, using a whisk or handheld electric mixer until tripled in volume, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove bowl from heat. Beat in mascarpone until just combined. Beat cream in a large bowl until it holds stiff peaks. Fold mascarpone mixture into whipped cream gently but thoroughly.

Dipping both sides of each ladyfinger into coffee mixture, line bottom of a 13 × 9 × 3-inch baking pan with 18 ladyfingers in 3 rows, trimming edges to fit as necessary. Spread half of mascarpone filling on top. Dip remaining 18 ladyfingers in coffee and arrange over filling in pan. Spread remaining mascarpone filling on top and dust with cocoa. Chill, covered, at least 6 hours. Let tiramisu stand at room temperature 30 minutes before serving, then dust with more cocoa.

Hazelnut Linzer Tart cookies

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar, plus more for decorating
3 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
3 large egg yolks
1 1/4 cups hazelnuts, finely ground in processor (about 1 1/2 cups ground)
jam filing of your choice (I like to mix raspberry and apricot)

In a medium bowl, whisk dry ingredients together. In a large bowl, beat butter, 1 cup powdered sugar, and citrus zest until fluffy. Beat in egg yolks. Beat in dry ingredients in 4 additions, then beat in nuts. Gather dough into ball, then flatten into disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.

Preheat oven to 325°F. Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll out half of dough on lightly floured surface to a 1/8-inch thickness. Using 2-inch round cutter, cut out rounds. Using 3/4-inch round cutter (or a shape that's about the same size, like I did), cut out the centers of half of the rounds to make rings. Transfer rounds and rings to prepared sheets. Gather dough scraps, chill, and re-roll to make more cookies. Repeat until all dough is used.

Bake cookies until golden, reversing sheets after 10 minutes, about 22 minutes total. Cool completely on sheets.

Arrange cookie rings on work surface. Sift powdered sugar over. Spread 1 teaspoon jam on each cookie round. Press rings onto jam on rounds. Can be assembled 1 day ahead. Store between sheets of waxed paper in airtight container at room temperature.

Do ahead: Before filling, you can store baked cookies airtight at room temperature up to 2 days, or freeze up to 2 weeks.

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