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DECK THE HOLIDAY'S: DIY HOLIDAY GIFTS, PART II!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

DIY HOLIDAY GIFTS, PART II!

   This comes from http://www.chow.com/ .  Enjoy and good luck!


Homemade Amaretto Recipe


Homemade Amaretto

Difficulty: Easy

Total Time: 20 mins, plus macerating, filtering, and infusing time
Makes:About 4 cups
The beauty of making your own amaretto lies in controlling the sugar content of this almond liqueur. In a side-by-side tasting of our homemade amaretto and popular commercial brands, ours was less sweet and had a true almond flavor. For the sweet tooths out there, just add more sugar.
What to buy: Apricot kernels are the dried seeds of fresh apricots. They have an almondlike yet bitter flavor and can be found online.


Bottled or purified water is important because any impurities in the water may affect the final flavor of the liqueur.
Special equipment: You’ll need a flat-bottomed, basket-style paper coffee filter. (The smaller, cone-style coffee filters are not big enough and tend to fall over during the filtering process.) Try bumming one from your local coffee shop or buy some online.

You will also need two large pieces of ultrafine woven cheesecloth. It can be purchased at cooking supply stores or online.


Game plan: After the soaking and combining the macerating ingredients, there is a 4-week waiting period, so if you’re planning on giving your homemade amaretto as a gift, be sure to factor in the month of infusing time.


INGREDIENTS


For the macerating mixture:

•1/2 cup coarsely chopped dried apricots

•3/4 cup bottled or purified water

•2 cups vodka

•1 3/4 cups whole, skin-on, coarsely chopped almonds

•1 cup brandy

•1/4 cup coarsely chopped apricot kernels

•1/4 cup coarsely chopped dried, unsweetened cherries



To finish the liqueur:

•1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar

•1/2 cup granulated sugar

•1/2 cup bottled or purified water

•1 cup vodka

•2 teaspoons almond extract

•1 teaspoon vanilla extract



INSTRUCTIONS


For the macerating mixture:

1. In a 2-quart jar with a tightfitting lid, soak the apricots in the bottled or purified water until they’re rehydrated and most of the liquid has been absorbed, about 3 hours.



2. Add the remaining ingredients to the jar, cover, and shake.


Place in a cool, dark place to macerate for 4 weeks, shaking once per week.



3. After 4 weeks, line a medium fine-mesh strainer with two 13-by-15-inch pieces of ultrafine cheesecloth and place over a large bowl.


Drain the contents of the jar through the cheesecloth and into the bowl. Press on the solids, then gather the corners of the cheesecloth and squeeze the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. (Be careful not to let any solids drop into the strained liquid.)



 Discard the cheesecloth and solids; reserve the liquid.

4. Rinse and dry the strainer and place it over a second large bowl. Set a flat-bottomed paper coffee filter inside the strainer and pour the reserved liquid into the filter. (Be careful not to spill into the bowl.)


Let the liquid filter undisturbed until all of it has passed through and only a sludgelike beige film is left in the filter, about 5 hours.



 Remove the strainer, discarding the filter. Measure the liquid in the bowl—you should have about 1 3/4 to 2 cups. (The amount of liquid will determine how much sugar syrup you’ll add later.) Return the liquid to the bowl.


To finish the liqueur:

1. While the macerating mixture is filtering, make the sugar syrup. Place both sugars and the bottled or purified water in a small saucepan set over medium heat, stirring until the sugars have dissolved, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

2. Add the vodka, almond extract, and vanilla extract to the reserved filtered liquid and stir to combine. Add about half of the sugar syrup and taste the liqueur.





Depending on how much filtered liquid you have and how sweet you like your amaretto, you may want to add more or all of the syrup. Stir to combine. Transfer to a 1-quart container with a tightfitting lid or small individual containers and store in a cool, dark place for up to 6 months.


Lemon Digestif Recipe



Lemon Digestif


Difficulty: Easy

Total Time: 10 mins, plus steeping time
Active Time: 10 mins
Makes:3 1/3 cups


Like an alcoholic Lemonhead, our take on limoncello is both tart and sweet, and is a nice finish to a big meal.
What to buy: We chose Everclear 151 grain alcohol to use in our digestifs; it picks up the flavoring elements much faster than vodka.



INGREDIENTS

•4 medium lemons

•2 cups grain alcohol, such as Everclear 151

•1 1/2 cups Rich Simple Syrup



INSTRUCTIONS


1. Using a vegetable peeler, remove lemon peel in wide strips, making sure to avoid the white pith.

2. Place peels in a 1-quart glass jar with a tightfitting lid, add alcohol, cover, and let steep undisturbed at room temperature for 6 days.

3. After 6 days, remove peels and add simple syrup. Stir to combine. Store in the freezer.

 
French Chocolate Macarons with Chocolate Ganache Recipe
 



French Chocolate Macarons with Chocolate Ganache
 

Difficulty: Hard

Total Time: About 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hrs, plus chilling time
Active Time: About 25 mins
Makes:About 25 cookies


I love watching people stare at macarons in shops like Pierre Hermé and Ladurée in Paris and Paulette and Miette in San Francisco. The little sandwich cookies in myriad pastel colors turn perfectly sophisticated adults into eager children.
Macarons are not difficult to make, but they can be so finicky that they have a reputation for turning bakers’ hair gray. They often spread into odd shapes or form dark stains on top. But don’t be scared to try these, because even if they don’t turn out as beautiful as the ones in the shop windows, they’ll still taste delicious. Some tips: Let the raw macaron rounds sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes, don’t overmix the meringue or batter, and, when possible, use older egg whites.

Special equipment: You will need a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch tip. If you don’t have one, you can either spoon round dollops of batter onto the baking sheet or make a pastry bag by snipping off one corner of a large resealable plastic freezer bag.

What to buy: You will need almond meal or almond flour, which are the same ingredient—raw blanched whole almonds that have been ground into a fine powder. If you cannot find almond flour/meal, you can grind blanched almonds until very fine.


INGREDIENTS
For the macarons:

•2 cups powdered sugar

•1 cup almond flour/meal

•3 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder

•1/4 teaspoon fine salt

•3 large egg whites, at room temperature

•Pinch cream of tartar

•3 tablespoons granulated sugar


For the ganache filling:

•4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

•1/2 cup heavy cream

•2 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/4 stick), at room temperature and cut into cubes



INSTRUCTIONS

For the macarons:

1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. Fit a large pastry bag with a 1/2-inch plain tip; set aside.

2. Place the powdered sugar, almond flour, cocoa powder, and salt in a food processor fitted with a blade attachment and pulse several times to aerate. Process until fine and combined, about 30 seconds. Sift through a flour sifter into a large bowl; set aside.

3. Make a meringue by placing the egg whites in the clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Beat on medium speed until opaque and foamy, about 30 seconds. Add the cream of tartar, increase the speed to medium high, and beat until the egg whites are white in color and hold the line of the whisk, about 1 minute. Continue to beat, slowly adding the granulated sugar, until the sugar is combined, the peaks are stiff, and the whites are shiny, about 1 minute more. (Do not overwhip.) Transfer the meringue to a large bowl.

4. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the dry mixture into the egg whites in four batches until the dry ingredients are just combined. (The meringue will deflate.)




 With the final addition, stop folding when there are no traces of egg whites, the mixture runs like slow-moving lava, and it looks like cake batter. (Do not overmix.)



5. Transfer the batter to the pastry bag. Pipe out 1-1/4-inch rounds about 1 inch apart onto the baking sheets, about 25 per sheet. Pick up the baking sheets and bang them against the work surface to help create the macaron base, or foot. Let the rounds sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to dry the tops and ensure even cooking.




6. Heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Bake the macarons one sheet at a time for 7 minutes. Rotate the sheet and cook for 7 minutes more. Transfer the sheet to a rack to cool completely.



For the ganache filling:

1. Place the chopped chocolate in a large bowl.

2. Warm the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until it just starts to boil. Stir it into the chocolate without creating bubbles. Let sit for 1 minute. Add the butter and stir until smooth. Chill in the refrigerator until thickened but still spreadable, about 30 minutes.



To assemble:

1. Pair macarons of similar size. Remove the ganache from the refrigerator. If you choose to pipe the ganache, transfer it to a resealable plastic bag and snip about a 1/2 inch off a bottom corner. Squeeze or scoop the ganache to about the size of a cherry (about 1 teaspoon) onto the center of a macaron half.





 Top with another half and press gently so that it looks like a mini hamburger. The filling should not ooze out the edges. Refrigerate, covered, at least 24 hours before serving.




Take No Prisoners Hot Sauce Recipe

 

Take No Prisoners Hot Sauce

Difficulty: Easy

Total Time: About 35 mins
Makes:1 1/2 cups or 2 (6-ounce) bottles


When it comes to hot sauce, our photographer, Chris Rochelle, likes it fiery. For the faint of heart, we suggest using his sauce as a light seasoning in things like chili, tacos, eggs, hummus, and curry. A little goes a long way.


INGREDIENTS
•2 medium carrots (about 6 ounces), cut into 1/2-inch rounds

•16 serrano peppers (about 4 ounces), stems removed

•1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (from about 5 to 6 limes)

•3 tablespoons water

•1/2 teaspoon onion powder

•1/2 teaspoon fine salt

•1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar



INSTRUCTIONS


1. Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the carrots and boil until easily pierced with a fork, about 12 minutes. Drain in a colander and set aside to cool slightly.

2. Place the carrots and remaining ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until smooth, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a glass container, cover, and refrigerate for 2 days to allow the flavors to meld.

3. Thoroughly clean and dry 2 (6-ounce) glass bottles. Transfer the hot sauce through a funnel into the bottles and seal. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.

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