Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The King's Toddy, or My New Health Tonic

I have never been one to sip a little something when I'm not feeling well. I always thought it was an old wives' tale that having a dram of whiskey or something could cure your ills. I'm beyond thinking that now.

A few months ago, I was invited to the Boston launch of No. 3 Gin and The King's Ginger (a ginger liqueur) at Eastern Standard. I, of course, tried all the iterations of gin cocktails that were offered to me, but my favorite of the night was a simple hot toddy made with both No. 3 and King's Ginger. The King's Ginger especially was intriguing to me because it has a much better, richer, fuller ginger taste than the other ginger liqueur on the market. I couldn't wait to get a bottle for myself. Or I thought I couldn't. Instead, I forgot all about it.

Last week, though, after feeling sick for most of this month, I was reminded of the cocktails I had tried at the event, and I remembered just how much I had loved that hot toddy. I searched around for No. 3 and King's Ginger (eventually finding them at Downtown Wine and Spirits in Somerville) and got to work.

I've made these toddies a few times now, and it only takes a sip or two to feel its effects. Between stress at work (Christmas retail in a store with concrete floors is HELL) and whatever illness I have that won't go away, I'm definitely more tense than I should be, but a King's Toddy soothes like nothing else. The warmth coupled with the intoxicating ginger, the subtleties of the gin paired with lemon and honey all add up to love in a mug.

The King's Toddy
1 oz No. 3 Gin
3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
1/2 oz King's Ginger
tsp honey

In a mug, combine gin, lemon juice, ginger liqueur, and honey. Top with hot water and whisk to dissolve the honey. Garnish with lemon twist.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2011 - Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

When an event has a name like The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, you know it's going to be a big deal. In the past few weeks, hundreds of bloggers have been busy baking and mailing their holiday cookie creations. It's been a nice way of building community that I've enjoyed taking part in.

I had some trouble coming up with a recipe I wanted to use, but as soon as I tasted the Candy Cane Coal from Trader Joe's, I knew what I had to do. I used my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe and simply swapped out the chocolate for the candy cane bits, and I had a perfectly festive cookie. I made these a little smaller than usual, so they were a little flatter and crispier, but just as tasty.

Now I just need to stock up on this candy so I can make sure I can make these cookies in the future!

And since this was a swap, I got some wonderful cookies in return. I received double chocolate coconut cookies (top left) from Elizabeth at A Chronic Venture, chocolate lemon ricotta cookies (top right) from Janet at Food Beautiful, and hazelnut linzer cookies (bottom) from Athena Plichta. You can be sure that I've made short work of all these cookies.

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
1 egg
1 egg yolk
3-4 ounces chocolate-covered candy cane bits (like Trader Joe's Candy Cane Coal)

Preheat the oven to 325°. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Sift the flour, salt and baking soda and set aside.

Mix the sugars and butter just until thoroughly mixed, then add egg, yolk and vanilla and mix until creamy. Add the sifted ingredients and mix until just blended. Stir in the candy can bits, then drop dough in heaping tablespoons on a cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart, and bake for 15-17 minutes until golden and puffed. Slide the sheet of parchment off the cookie sheets and let the cookies cool without disturbing them for a few minutes. Once they have cooled slightly, move the cookies to a cooling rack.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Friday I'm In Love... with Trader Joe's Candy Cane Coal

It's seeming like every Friday I'm In Love post is candy from Trader Joe's, and rightfully so. There are always new products every time I walk in, and I can't help but walk out with at least one new item to try. And Christmas time is an even better time for new products - you never know what kind of gifty thing you're going to find there.

Case in point: Candy Cane Coal. It's got kind of a stupid name, but I'll let that pass, because it tastes so damn good. The box is small (although I like the simple design of a fireplace) and holds about 3.5 ounces of the candy. Doesn't sound like much, but there's lots of flavor in each little bit. The candy is tiny bits of crispy candy cane covered in dark chocolate. That's, like, two of my favorite flavors in one food. How could I not love this?!

I've already eaten plenty of these straight, but I've also done a little baking with them as well. Stop back on Monday for the recipe. I'm thinking I might have to stockpile this stuff after Christmas because I don't want to not have this in my life.