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Cocktail Cherries | Relishing It

It’s no secret that my husband and I enjoy a good cocktail on occassion.  I’m lucky that Radd is quite a talented “mixologist”– though I don’t really like that term.  Even so, it’s true.  So since I have access to his skills, I’m planning to share a few of our absolute favorite summer cocktails in the coming weeks here on Relishing It.  They’re mostly classics or variations of well-established cocktails– because, to be honest, those are the best ones.  Today’s recipe (if you can even call it that) coincides with that.

Cocktail Cherries | Relishing It

Cocktail cherries are the perfect accompaniment to so many drinks, and making your own is simple.  You can use whatever type of cherries you have.  I used sweet cherries, because they are readily available here in Minnesota.  When sour cherries eventually show up in the markets, I’ll definitely be making another batch using those.  You can use a variety of different liqueurs to make a cocktail cherry.  For instance, I recently asked a bartender that makes a brilliant margarita here in town what they use to make their cherries (brandy and simple syrup).  For this recipe, I wanted something a little-less sweet.  These soak in a maraschino cherry liqueur.  The longer the cherries sit in it, the more developed the cherry becomes.  Two weeks usually does it, though we definitely used them sooner.  And don’t throw out the liqueur when the cherries are gone.  You can use it along the way to add to other cocktails.  Be creative!  We love to put them atop this margarita, in particular.  Enjoy!

Cocktail Cherries | Relishing It

The Recipe: Homemade Cocktail Cherries

(makes 1 quart)

About 1 1/4 pounds sweet cherries (sour cherries would be excellent, too)

2 1/2 cups Maraschino Liqueur (I used Luxardo)

*Pitting the cherries is totally optional

Fit the cherries snuggly into a clean quart jar.  Bring the liqueur to a simmer in a saucepan and then pour it over the cherries.  Let cool at room temperature.  Then, put a lid on and refrigerate.  They will taste the best if you are patient and let them marinate for about 2 weeks.  I’m not nearly so patient and used them earlier.

Thanks for stopping by Relishing It!

Laurie

 

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I’ve finally gotten around to baking a pie for Relishing It.  (I don’t believe this galette and these hand pies count.)  I’m not sure how it worked out that this Chocolate Pecan beauty is my first pie here– especially since (confession time) I generally don’t much care for pecan pie.  I figure this has something to do with my insatiable sweet tooth.  If a typical pecan pie were the only choice, then yes I’d eat it, but it would never be my first choice.  How’s that for a ringing endorsement?  Come to think of it it, maybe that’s how to convince you to make this dessert as well.  Even though I’m not a pecan pie fan, this is one of the best pies I’ve EVER tasted.

So what convinced me to make a pecan pie?  Two words: bourbon and chocolate.  I love desserts that layer typically sweet ingredients with the subtle flavors of a good spirit.  Here, combining oaked smokey bourbon with the sweetness of chocolate and earthy nuts is perfect.  The flavors are just so interesting that I kept wanting another bite.  The crust is almost croissant-like, yet really holds up well to the liquid filling.   This ended up being one of those rare pies that was perfect.  Perfect texture, perfect flavor combinations.  Just perfect.  Enjoy it with a cup of coffee or a shot of bourbon– both pair nicely.  And save a spot at your Thanksgiving table for this dessert (and this one)– I will be making both.

The Recipe:  Bourbon-Chocolate Pecan Pie

For the Pie Dough:

7 1/2 ounces (1 2/3 cups) all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

6 ounces (3/4 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

5 to 7 tablespoons ice water

For the Bourbon-Chocolate Filling:

8 large egg yolks

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 ounces (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces

2/3 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup light corn syrup

1/2 cup heavy cream

3 tablespoons bourbon (Maker’s Mark or Knob Creek are good choices)

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/2 cups pecan halves, toasted, cooled, and coarsely chopped

4 ounces chopped bittersweet chocolate  (Ghirardelli 60% cacao works well)

To make the pie dough: Place the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse to combine.  Add the cold butter and pulse for 8-12 one-second pulses, or until the butter is roughly the size of corn kernels.   Drizzle 5 tablespoons of ice water over the  flour mixture and pulse until the mixture becomes moist and crumbly, another 4-6 pulses.  It should hold together when squeezed in your hand.  If it doesn’t, add another tablespoon or two of water and test again.   Turn the dough out onto a work surface and form a disk shape.  Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour or up to two days.  Dough can be frozen for up to 1 month, defrost in the fridge overnight before using.

To Make the Crust:  Let the dough sit at rom temperature to soften slightly.  It should be firm, but not rock hard, 5-20 minutes (depending upon how long it was refrigerated).  I find that I prefer to roll pie crust on a piece of parchment paper to be the best method for me.  I lightly flour my rolling pin. If you prefer to roll it on the counter-top, just be sure to use as little of flour as possible.  As too much flour makes for very tough pie crusts.  When rolling the dough on the parchment paper, use a rolling pin and roll from the center outward.  You want your dough to get to be about 13-inches wide and about 1/8-inch thick.  Flip the dough into a 9-inch pie plate (Pyrex worked great).  Gently peel the parchment paper away.  Make sure that the dough is pressed firmly against the pie-plate.  Tuck the extra over-hang underneath to build up the edge of the crust.  Gently make it as uniform as you can.  I used every bit of dough for the pie and didn’t have to cut any away.  Crimp the edge of the crust with your fingers.  With the tines of a fork, prick the crust all over.  Chill for up to 1 hour in the refrigerator, or 30 minutes in the freezer.

To Bake the Crust: Position a rack in the center of an oven.  Preheat it to 425°F.  Line the piecrust with aluminum foil and fill it with dried beans or pie weights.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Remove the foil and weights.  Reduce the oven temperature to 375°F and continue baking until the bottom looks dry and the edges are golden,  About 10-12 minutes more.  Cool on a rack while you prepare the filling.  Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F and place a large rimmed baking sheet on the oven rack.

To Make the Filling:  Place the egg yolks in a medium bowl set on a kitchen towel and add the vanilla.  Combine the sugar, butter, corn syrup, cream, bourbon, and salt in a 1-quart saucepan.  Heat over medium heat just until the butter is melted and the mixture is hot, but not boiling, 3-5 minutes.  This is key — whisking vigorously and constantly, very slowly pour the hot sugar mixture into the yolks, this will keep the yolks from curdling.  Strain through a fine strainer set over a 1-quart measuring cup.

Spread the pecans evenly over the piecrust.  Sprinkle the chopped chocolate evenly over the pecans.  Slowly and in a spiral pattern pour the  filling over the pecans/chocolate.  Doing it slowly and in this pattern will prevent the nuts/chocolate from moving too much.  Place the pie onto the baking sheet and bake until the pie is slightly firm to the touch and the filling doesn’t wobble when nudged, 35-40 minutes.  Let cool for at the very least 1 hour before serving.  However,  I enjoy the pie the most hours or a day after it’s been baked and has a chance to properly set.  It keeps well and can be made a day ahead of time.  Store it at room temperature and cover with a tea towel.  Enjoy!

Source:  Adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine, Oct/Nov 2011

So happy you stopped by today — it’s always a pleasure!

Laurie

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