Beaujolais Nouveau Day Celebration

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There’s probably no holiday I look forward to more than Beaujolais Nouveau Day.  It’s my favorite excuse to gather all my friends for a night of cheap wine and expensive cheese, and this year’s celebration was one of the best.  All told, I think we managed to cram fourteen cheeses, eighteen wine bottles, and more than twenty friends into our tiny apartment.  It was a cozy, laughter-filled night, and I still feel so warm and fuzzy from spending a wonderful night with such good people.

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Bourbon and cake

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The Mister has always been a big fan of birthdays, and this year marked his thirtieth.  We knew we’d be out of town on his actual birthday for a wedding celebration, and while we made fun plans for the day itself, a thirtieth birthday is something special.  Wanting a chance to celebrate with his nearest and dearest, we figured we could throw a little shindig at our apartment the weekend before.

That Saturday night, we hosted about twenty of our closest friends for a night of bourbon tasting.  We had a few nibbles from Trader Joe’s, some amazing cheeses, and, of course, our favorite dark chocolate cake with raspberry preserves between the layers.  The real highlight however, was the ten or so bourbons, ryes, and whiskeys set out for guests to try.  The Mister even made up info sheets for each bottle with details about their make and price.

He was in his element that night, giving mini-lectures about the different varieties, telling stories about our travels along the Kentucky bourbon trail, delighting everyone with the giant spheres of ice he’d made for the tasting, and teaching our friends to make quick bourbon cocktails with his homemade ginger or burnt sugar syrups.  I’m usually more of a gin and tonic kind of girl, but that night the pretty bottle of Willett was just my speed.

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Citrus and rosemary sparklers

Citrus syrup, champagne, ice, rosemary, candied citrus peel

Citrus syrup, champagne, ice, rosemary, candied citrus peel

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I had fun making Shutterbean’s candied citrus peel.  One of the happy byproducts of the candying process is a jar of bright citrus syrup, perfect for making cocktails.  The abundance of amazing citrus is the best part of winter, and this syrup, mixed with a little sparkling wine and a sprig of rosemary, made for a perfect cold weather treat.

This sort of drink is often served in a champagne flute, but personally I like both the heft of a tumbler in my hand and a little ice in my cocktail.

Citrus and rosemary sparkler

  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 2-3 spoonfuls citrus syrup
  • 5 oz chilled champagne, cava, prosecco, or other sparkling wine (preferably on the dry side)
  • 1 candied citrus peel

Add a couple of ice cubes to a tumbler.  Twist and pinch the rosemary sprig a little—this helps the oils in the leaves steep into your drink—then place in tumbler.  Add citrus syrup and champagne.  Give the drink a good stir, garnish with one of your freshly candied citrus peels, and enjoy.

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Chocolate Chaud

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I haven’t been feeling great lately and with the gloomy weather, I was in need of a little pick me up.  What could be more comforting than a little mug of hot chocolate?

Rather than a packet of cocoa and hot water, I was in the mood for something more indulgent.  I like the French approach to hot chocolate: very rich and thick with chocolate.  In general, I prefer desserts that are subtly sweet, so for this drink I used bittersweet chocolate and unsweetened coconut milk, which made for a rich and comforting mug of hot chocolate that wasn’t too sugary.  This recipe made enough for two small mugs–perfect serving sizes for such a decadent drink.  As with many desserts, a tiny pinch of sea salt is a little trick to making the chocolate really flavorful.

Chocolate Chaud

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup unsweetened condensed coconut milk
  • 3 oz dark chocolate
  • pinch sea salt
  • marshmallows

In a small saucepan, heat the regular milk and coconut milk over medium-low heat until steaming but not boiling.

I had used a double boiler earlier to melt my chocolate for a different cooking project–but you can melt it in the microwave or chop it up and add it straight into the hot milk.  Whisk constantly to incorporate.  This will take 1-2 minutes if you previously melted your chocolate, and 3-5 if you did not.  When chocolate is fully melted into the milk and no more lumps remain, remove from heat and whisk in the pinch of sea salt.  Pour into two mugs, add as many marshmellows as you desire.

Dark chocolate, milk, marshmellows, coconut milk, sea salt

Dark chocolate, milk, marshmellows, coconut milk, sea salt

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