Kachemak Cuisine: Start making holiday treats

Our Thanksgiving dinner and weekend was filled with great food and family and friends, old and new. We shared a delicious dinner and enjoyed the homegrown turkey my husband raised, potatoes he grew, cranberries we brought back from Wisconsin, eggs from our chickens and stuffing from the bread my son made.

My turkey preparation consisted of a 24-hour dry brine. On Wednesday morning I rubbed Diamond Crystal Kosher salt on and into every nook and cranny of the bird, 1 tablespoon for every 4 pounds, and tucked it away in the extra refrigerator. On Thursday morning I rinsed it well and let it hang out in the kitchen with me to get the chill off it a bit prior to roasting. I then dried it well with paper towels and rubbed it with soft butter. I tented the entire bird with foil and roasted it at 350 degrees F. I kept liquid in the roasting pan as it roasted in order to have drippings for gravy. It came out fabulous.

Now it’s time to think about those homemade goodies which need to be made in advance. I am inspired to make chocolate cherry cordial candy. They need to ripen in the fridge for 2 weeks to allow the centers to liquify.

Chocolate Cherry Cordials

2 cups powdered sugar

1⁄4 cup butter

1⁄4 cup sweetened condensed milk

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon almond extract

1 pinch salt

60 maraschino cherries with stems, drained

1- pound good quality chocolate for dipping

I like to use a dark chocolate, but feel free to use milk chocolate or white chocolate if that is what you prefer.

Directions

Drain cherries on paper towels for at least an hour.

Line a baking sheet with waxed paper and set aside.

Combine the powdered sugar, butter, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla and almond extracts and salt until well blended and knead until smooth. Place in fridge until firm.

Scoop out about ½-1 teaspoon of filling and form into a ball around each cherry.

Place coated cherries, stem up, on prepared baking sheet and freeze for 1 hour after you have formed them all.

Line another baking sheet with waxed paper and set aside.

Melt dipping chocolate. * see note below on dipping candy

1. Holding cherries by stems, dip one at a time into chocolate coating; if necessary, spoon coating over cherries to coat. (Be sure to completely seal cherries in coating to prevent juice from leaking.) Let excess coating drip off. Place cherries, stem sides up, on prepared baking sheet.

2. Chill until coating is firm.

3. Remove cherries carefully as not to break them open and loose the center.

4. Store in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator. Let candies ripen in refrigerator for 1 to 2 weeks before serving. (Ripening allows powdered sugar mixture around cherries to soften and liquefy.) Makes 60 pieces.

Place in an airtight plastic container and keep in a cool dry place for up to 1 month.

• Both candy coating and melted chocolate are used for dipping candies. Candy coating, a chocolate like product sometimes called almond bark or confectioner’s coating is probably the easiest way to coat candy. It comes in chocolate and vanilla flavors, doesn’t speckle as it hardens, melts easily, and does not need to be tempered before dipping.

• Semisweet, milk and dark chocolate usually need to be tempered before dipping. This refers to a process of melting and cooling chocolate to the correct dipping temperature. Without tempering, the surface of chocolate develops speckles or gray streaks as it hardens, which affects only the appearance of the candy and not the taste. Look up the process on-line if you are interested in how this is done.

• I use these regular chocolates and haven’t experienced too many affects unless they are stored in the refrigerator.

I’d like to make some more limoncello liquor and would be a nice gift for my friends who enjoy a little touch of something special after a dinner. Purchase some small shot type glasses to add to your gift. Tell the recipient to store them in the freezer to serve the limoncello in.

Start this process right away, as the lemon peelings need time to infuse the alcohol and then again to mellow out after it’s blended with the sugar syrup. The time in the bottle turns it into the delicious golden elixir of sunshine. You can find the recipe and instructions in the May 3, 2018 edition of the Homer News.

A friend gave me a gift of homemade eggnog. She suggested that it should age in the fridge for a while to be enjoyed at its’ best. It needs time to mellow, becoming silky and decadently delicious.

Annabelle’s Homemade Eggnog

12 large fresh eggs

2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup heavy cream

1 qt (4 cups) whole milk

1-liter (about 4 cups) bourbon, such as Jim Beam

1/2 cup Myers’s dark rum

1/2 cup good Cognac or other brandy

Pinch kosher salt

Fresh ground nutmeg

Directions for the eggnog: Separate egg yolks and whites. Save whites for another use. Combine yolks and sugar in a large mixing bowl and whisk until well blended and creamy. Add cream, milk, bourbon, rum, Cognac, and salt, then stir.

Bottle it right away and refrigerate it. An empty liquor bottle works great.

Keep refrigerated for at least 3 weeks, or up to a year if you can.

To serve (optional):

Serve the aged eggnog on the rocks with some freshly grated nutmeg on top.

To serve the eggnog in the traditional way:

10 egg whites

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

Pour eggnog into a punch bowl.

In separate bowls, whip 10 egg whites and 1 1/2 cups heavy cream to soft peaks and fold them into the eggnog. Serve in punch cups, garnished with freshly grated nutmeg.

Here’s to the start of a wonderful, magical and delicious holiday season.

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