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DECK THE HOLIDAY'S: March 2013

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

THAIPUSAM IN PENANG AND MALAYSIA!







   Thaipusam  is Hindu festival celebrated mostly by the Tamil community on the full moon in the Tamil month of Thai (January/February). It is celebrated not only in countries where the Tamil community constitutes a majority, but also in countries where Tamil communities are smaller, such as MauritiusSingapore and Malaysia.  The word Thaipusam is derived from the month name Thai and Pusam, which refers to a star that is at its highest point during the festival. The festival commemorates the occasion when Parvati gave Murugan a vel "spear" so he could vanquish the evil demon Soorapadam. There is a misconception among people that Thaipusam marks Murugan's birthday; however, it is believed that Vaikhasi Vishakam, which falls in the Vaikhasi month (May/June), is Murugan's birthday.

Origin

   Skanda (or Murugan) was created during one of the battles between the Asuras (or to be more specific Soorapadman) and the Devas. At one point, the latter were defeated several times by the former. The Devas were unable to resist the onslaught of the Asura forces. In despair, they approached Shiva and entreated to give them an able leader under whose heroic leadership they might obtain victory over the Asuras. They surrendered themselves completely and prayed to Shiva. Shiva granted their request by creating the mighty warrior, Skanda, out of his own power or Achintya Shakti. He at once assumed leadership of the celestial forces, inspired them and defeated the Asura forces and to recognize that day the people created the festival.












 Kavadi

   Kavadi Attam is a dance performed by the devotees during the ceremonial worship of Murugan, the Tamil God of War.  It is often performed during the festival of Thaipusam and emphasizes debt bondage. The Kavadi itself is a physical burden through which the devotees implore for help from the God Murugan.
   Generally, Hindus take a vow to offer a kavadi to idol for the purpose of tiding over or averting a great calamity. For instance, if the devotee's son is laid up with a fatal disease, he would pray to Shanmuga to grant the boy a lease of life in return for which the devotee would take a vow to dedicate a kavadi to Him.

 Preparations

   Devotees like Avinash Gooransingh prepare for the celebration by cleansing themselves through prayer and fasting approx-48 days before Thaipusam. Kavadi-bearers have to perform elaborate ceremonies at the time of assuming the kavadi and at the time of offering it to Murugan. The kavadi-bearer observes celibacy and take only pure, Satvik food, once a day, while continuously thinking of God.
   On the day of the festival, devotees will shave their heads and undertake a pilgrimage along a set route while engaging in various acts of devotion, notably carrying various types of kavadi (burdens). At its simplest this may entail carrying a pot of milk, but mortification of the flesh by piercing the skin, tongue or cheeks with vel skewers is also common.







   The simplest kavadi is a semicircular decorated canopy supported by a wooden rod that is carried on the shoulders, to the temple. In addition, some have a small spear through their tongue, or a spear through the cheeks. The spear pierced through his tongue or cheeks reminds him constantly of Lord Murugan. It also prevents him from speaking and gives great power of endurance. Other types of kavadi involve hooks stuck into the back and either pulled by another walking behind or being hung from a decorated bullock cart or more recently a tractor, with the point of incisions of the hooks varying the level of pain. The greater the pain the more god-earned merit.

Celebrations

   In Palani, Tamil Nadu, India, Thousands of devotees flock to Palani and attend kavadi. According to palani.org, "The number of kavadis reaching Palani for Thai Pusam is about 10,000. For Pankuni Uttiram, 50,000 kavadis arrive. It is kavadi to your right, kavadi to your left, kavadi in front of you, kavadi behind you, kavadi above you and kavadi below you."
   In Vadalur (Cudalore dist.) near Neyveli, Saint Vallalar (1823–1874) (Ramalinga Adigalar)21-01-1872 Established Sathya Gnana Sabai,(Lotus Temple) inside he kept 7 Screens and Camphor lighted Jothi, every thaipoosam day early morning 6pm then 10pm,afternoon 1 pm then,evening 7 pm, then night 10 pm, and next day early morning 5.30,am like six time full screen Jothi Darisan showing,in this temple. and every monthly Poosam day evening 7 pm half screen Jothi Darshan performing.This was established in the year 1872,the Arutperumjothi Darshan. can be seen monthly once and Yearly six times only, The state Government Declare local Holiday for the cudalore district.











   In Haripad Subramayawsami Temple, Alapuzha, Kerala is famous for Kavadiyattom.Almost 5000 kavadis coming to the temple from many temples in the locality. garga
   In Vaikom, Kerala, India, Thai Pusam festival is conducted with Kaavadis at Udayanapuram Subramanya temple. Devotees take panchamritha kaavadi, paal kaavadi, bhasma kaavadi, etc.
   In Karamana, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India, Thai Pusam festival is conducted at Satyavageeswara temple. The utsava moorthy is taken in procession on a vahanam (mount). There is nel(Paddy)parai alappu or Nel alavu, as a ritual performed for good luck and prosperity.









   In Nallur, Jaffna, Sri Lanka, Thai Pusam festival is conducted at Nallur Kandhasamy Temple. Many Tamil devotees irrespective of religion take part in celebrations. Even Tamils from Roman Catholic faith and Muslims take part in Thai Pusam celebrations and take Kavadis.

 Outside Tamil Nadu

   The largest Thaipusam celebrations take place in Mauritius, Malaysia and Singapore.  It is a public holiday in several states in Malaysia, including Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, Penang, Perak, Johor, Sungai Petani and Kuala Lumpur.
   The temple at Batu Caves, near Kuala Lumpur, often attracts over one million devotees and tens of thousands of tourists.  The procession to the caves starts at the Sri Mahamariamman Temple, Kuala Lumpur in the heart of the city and proceeds for 15 kilometers to the caves, an 8-hour journey culminating in a flight of 272 steps to the top. Thaipusam is also celebrated at another cave site, the Sri Subramaniar Temple in Gunong Cheroh, Ipoh, Perak and at the Nattukottai Chettiar Temple along Jalan Waterfall in Penang. Temple secretary P. Palaiya Sri Subramaniar Temple in Gunong Cheroh reported that about 250,000 devotees participated in the festival 2007, including 300 kavadi bearers, while 15,000 came with milk offerings.
   In Singapore, Hindu devotees start their procession at the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple in the early morning, carrying milk pots as offerings or attaching "kavadis" to their bodies.  The procession travels for 4 kilometres before finishing at the Tank Road Temple.











   Although rare, scenes of people from different ethnic groups and faiths bearing "kavadi" can also be seen in Malaysia. Thaipusam is also increasingly being celebrated by the ethnic Chinese in Singapore and Malaysia. 


TOP 10 UNUSUAL CEMETERIES FROM AROUND THE WORLD!







    Benjamin Franklin once wrote in a letter to a friend: "in the world nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes". When the inevitable happens, funeral rites, rituals, and ceremonies must be undertaken. Funeral customs are as old as civilization itself, and they vary from region to region.
    In many cultures and religions, cemeteries (from the Greek koimeterion or Latin coemeterium, meaning sleeping place) are used for death ceremonies, burial, mourning and memorial. Unusual or historical cemeteries have also become popular tourist attractions....cemetery tourism, the "dark" side of tourism, is a growing phenomenon around the world.


    Here is a list of the top 10 unusual and most visited cemeteries:









  • Cimetiere Des Chiens-Cimetiere des Chiens, a cemetery for dogs and other domestic animals, is said to be the world's oldest public pet cemetery. It is located in Asnieres-sur Seine, a commune in the northwestern suburbs of Paris, France. Opened in 1899, Cimetiere des Chiens was a response to a French law stating that pet owners are not allowed to dump the dead bodies of their animals in the garbage or the Seine River. The most famous gravestone belongs to Rin Tin Tin, the legendary American dog that starred in various Hollywood movies.










  • Stull Cemetery (Highway to Hell?)-Located in Kansas, this cemetery has gained the reputation as one of the world's most haunted cemeteries. Some people even consider it to be one of the 7 gateways to Hell. There are so many legends, stories of witchcraft, ghosts and supernatural happenings surrounding it that even Pope John Paul II allegedly ordered his private jet not to fly over Stull while he was on the way to a public appearance in Colorado in 1995. The Pope considered Stull "unholy ground". But just how terrifying is this place? There aren't many places as controversial as Stull Cemetery. There is a tale that the devil's only half-human son is buried there with his mother. Perhaps that's why the devil himself has been visiting the Stull Cemetery at least once (some report twice) a year since 1850. However, Tracy Morris, author of the "Tranquility series of paranormal humor mysteries, asks a legitimate question: "Presumably, Mrs. Lucifer and little Luci Jr. would go to hell upon death, where the Prince of Darkness reigns supreme. So if they're in hell with him, why visit their graves at all?.....Maybe he just wanted s vacation"









  • Cross Bones GraveyardCross Bones Graveyard, traditionally called the Single Women's Graveyard, dates back to medieval times. It was the final resting place for prostitutes (locally known as the Winchester Geese) working in London's legalized brothels. Multicolor ribbons, charms, flowers, feathers, poems, pictures, and silk stocking decorate the iron fence of the graveyard. Tudor historian John Stow wrote in his 1603 Survey of London: "These single women were forbidden the rites of the church, so long as they continued that sinful life, and were excluded from a Christian burial, if they were not reconciled before their death. And therefore there was a plot of ground called the Single Woman's churchyard, appointed for them far from the parish church".











  • Le Mummie di Urbania- La Chiesa dei MortiThe Church of the Dead, is located in Urbania, Italy. Inside lies the Cemetery of the Mummies, which was built in 1833. This cemetery is famous for its strange phenomenon of natural mummification. According to specialists, the process is caused by a particular mold that has absorbed moisture form the corpses leading to the complete desiccation of the bodies.










  • Shirokorechenskoe Cemetery- In the 1990's, Yekanterinburg was known as "The crime capital of Russia". Many of the leaders of the Russian Mafia lived there and Shirokorechenskoe Cemetery was the final resting place for many of them. Very expensive tombs, black marble, precious stones, laser engraved images and life size granite gravestones are common here. The nicknames of the deceased mobsters are engraved along with some of the things they were known for: He was an expert in using knives.










  • Neptune Memorial ReefThe Neptune Memorial Reef (also known as the Atlantis Memorial Reef or the Atlantis Reef) is the world's first underwater mausoleum for cremated remains and the world's largest man made reef. Opened in 2007, off the coast of Miami Beach, the Neptune Memorial Reef is the perfect final resting place for those who loved the sea.











  • S?pan?a- Cemeteries are often sad places, but they can also be amusing and entertaining. S?pan?a, in Northern Romania, is worldwide famous for its Merry Cemetery, a UNESCO World Heritage site. What is so unusual about this cemetery? Well to begin with, the atypical design of the tombstones, which are painted by had in vivid colors, such as red, blue, green and yellow. The tombstones are big crosses sculpted from oak wood, engraved with funny epitaphs, briefly describing the life or the circumstances in which these person passed away, for example: "Under this heavy cross lies my poor mother in law. Is she had lived three more days, I would be lying here and she would be reading. Burn in hell, you dam taxi that came from Sibiu! As large as Romania is, you couldn't find another place to stop, but in front of my house to kill me"? S?pan?a is a unique cemetery and a major tourist attraction. The man behind this concept is a Romanian craftsman, Ioan Stan Patrias, who started sculpting the crosses in 1935. The ancient culture of the Dacians, the Romanian's ancestors, viewed death as liberation and the soul as immortal. S?pan?a preserves this positive attitude toward death and welcomes it with a smile.










  • The Bridge to Paradise- The Bridge to Paradise, in the Xcaret Nature and Cultural Park, is quite an intriguing Mexican cemetery. Its structure is based on the Gregorian calendar: the cemetery simulates a hill with 7 levels representing the days of the week and 365 colorful tombs on the outside depicting the days of the year. The main entrance is a stairway with 52 steps that represent the weeks of the year. Each grave is different form the others in design and building materials. One might look like a replica of a famous cathedral, while the next one looks like a sofa or a bed with headboard and pillows.









  • Wuyi Mountain, Fujian Province- Hanging coffins is an ancient funeral custom found only in Asia: there are hanging coffins in China, the Philippine's, and Indonesia. Some coffins are cantilevered out on wooden stakes, while some lay on rock projections. Other coffins are simply place in caves. The hanging coffins of the Bo people in Gongxian, Sichuan Province, the Guyue people of Dragon Tiger Mountain and Guyue people of Wuyi Mountain are the most famous. The Wuyi Mountain coffins are the oldest; some are more than 3,750 years old. As bizarre as it may seem, it makes sense. Why bury a coffin three meters under the ground, if you want to go to heaven?










  • The Cemeteries of Giza and the Valley of the KingsThe Giza Plateau, the site of the mysterious Great Pyramid, the Sphinx and thousand of tombs, has attracted more tourists, archaeologists, historians, scientists and mathematicians than any other. The Great Pyramid (Pyramid of Khufu or Pyramid of Cheops) is the oldest and biggest. One of he 7 Wonders of the Ancient World, it houses the body of Pharaoh Khufu and was built with more than 2 million stones over a period of 20 years. The complex and elaborate funeral customs of ancients Egyptians were believed to ensure immortality in the afterlife. The Valley of the Kings, a World Heritage Site, is known to contain more than 60 tombs and 120 chambers. It was the main burial place of major royal figures of the Egyptian New Kingdom. The fascinating tombs of Egyptian pharaohs are still being discovered to this day.

SWEETS FOR COFFEE LOVERS, PART II!


Espresso, marsala, and mascarpone cheese whipped into an airy dessert dip.






Difficulty: Easy | Total Time: 10 mins | Active Time:Makes:3 1/2 cups (8 to 10 servings)
By turning tiramisu into a dip, you skip all the hassle of making the traditional trifle without losing any of the flavor. We liked strawberries and various cookies as dipping instruments, but the dip could also be spooned into individual cups with a few ladyfingers for a quick, elegant dessert.
Game plan: The dip can be made up to 2 days in advance and refrigerated in a covered container.
This recipe was featured as part of our story on summer dips.
INGREDIENTS
  • 12 ounces mascarpone cheese (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 8 ounces ricotta cheese (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons brewed espresso
  • 2 tablespoons Marsala or Kahlúa
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped bittersweet chocolate

INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Place mascarpone in a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and whip on low speed until smooth, about 30 seconds. Add ricotta, sugar, espresso, and Marsala or Kahlúa. Increase speed to high and beat until stiff peaks form, about 3 minutes.
  2. Transfer to a shallow 1-quart serving dish and dust with cocoa powder, then sprinkle chopped chocolate over cocoa. Serve with strawberries or assorted cookies.



A thick, frosty shake made with coffee ice cream and lots of chocolate.
Crusty, cakey, and gooey all at once, this pudding cake is simple enough for the kids to make.







Difficulty: Easy | Total Time: 45 mins | Active Time:Makes:6 to 8 servings
The ultimate dump-and-stir cake, this dessert requires no skill to make yet bakes up into an impressive three-layered treat with a crusty top, a cakey middle, and a chocolaty pudding bottom.
Game plan: If you want a strong coffee flavor use a darker, more heavily roasted coffee. But keep in mind that the stronger the coffee, the weaker the chocolate flavor will be.
This recipe was featured as part of our Cold-Weather Comfort Food Menu.
INGREDIENTS
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 stick), melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup strong brewed coffee, at room temperature

INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Coat an 8-by-8-inch square baking dish with butter and set aside.
  2. Combine flour, 3/4 cup of the cocoa, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl and whisk to break up any lumps. In a large bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup of the granulated sugar, milk, butter, egg, and vanilla until evenly combined and smooth. Add flour mixture to milk mixture and whisk until just combined (some lumps will remain).
  3. Transfer batter to the prepared baking dish and spread evenly. Combine remaining 1/4 cup cocoa, remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar, and brown sugar in a small bowl until well mixed, then sprinkle over batter. Pour coffee over batter, do not stir, and place in the oven.
  4. Bake until cake is bubbling, puffed, and set at the edges but still a bit loose in the middle, about 25 minutes. Remove to a rack and let cool 5 minutes before serving.



Toasted vanilla bean pound cake served with gooey coffee-caramel dipping sauce that’s great for a party.






Difficulty: Easy | Total Time: 10 mins | Active Time:Makes:20 servings
Coffee breath can be a deal-breaker, but if you’re single or have someone who loves you blindly then you can indulge in this dessert, which combines toasty, buttery bites of Vanilla Bean Pound Cake with a sweet Coffee Sauce. It’s so good you’ll be willing to risk coffee-breath exile.
Game plan: For a slacker solution, substitute high-quality store-bought pound cake and caramel sauce, and whisk some coffee-flavored liqueur or strong espresso into the latter.
This recipe was featured as part of our Valentine’s Day Menu.
INGREDIENTS

INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Heat the broiler to low and arrange the rack in the upper third. Scatter pound cake cubes on a baking sheet and place under the broiler until golden brown, turning cubes occasionally so they brown evenly, about 7 minutes.
  2. Serve with toothpicks to dip cake into coffee sauce.




An easy dessert made by freezing sweetened condensed milk with very strong coffee.







Difficulty: Easy | Total Time: Under 5 mins, plus freezing time | Active Time:Makes:30 shots
Made from nothing more than sweetened condensed milk and very strong coffee, Southeast Asian coffee is a force to be reckoned with. Spike it with some coffee liqueur and freeze it, and you’ve got an adult take on frozen pops that are a great late-night treat at a cocktail party or any other time you want to get down.
What to buy: Silicone ice cube trays are key to easily unmolding the shots.
This recipe was featured as part of our Wii Gaming Menu, as well as our Drinks Around the World story.
INGREDIENTS
  • 16 double espresso shots (about 2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup coffee-flavored liqueur, such as Kahlúa
  • Toothpicks

INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Combine espresso, milk, and liqueur in a large bowl and whisk until milk is evenly incorporated.
  2. Pour mixture into silicone ice cube trays and freeze 3 to 4 hours. Place toothpicks in the partially set shots and let freeze completely, at least 8 hours.
  3. When ready to serve, unmold the shots and consume immediately.



Kind of like a tarte Tatin made with bananas and coffee.






Difficulty: Hard | Total Time: 1 hr | Active Time:Makes:12 servings
We got the inspiration for this recipe from the French apple upside-down tart known as tarte Tatin. For our version, we’ve replaced the apples with bananas and infused the caramel with coffee.
What to buy: Look for firm-ripe bananas that are still tinged with a bit of green—if they are too ripe, they’ll turn to mush in the oven.
Special equipment: A 12-inch cast iron skillet is perfect for this recipe; however, if you don’t have one, any heavy-bottomed, oven-safe frying pan will work.
Be sure to have a platter or plate slightly larger than your skillet handy for turning out the tart once it’s cooled. One with a slight lip or rim is preferable, as the caramel tends to spread a little once the tart is unmolded.
Game plan: For a slacker solution, use high-quality store-bought pie dough in place of making your own.
This recipe was featured in our Cast Iron Cooking story.
INGREDIENTS
  • Basic Pie Dough
  • 8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (1 stick)
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup strong brewed coffee
  • 1 (4-inch) cinnamon stick
  • 3 (3-inch) strips lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 6 firm-ripe bananas
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Coffee, cinnamon, or vanilla ice cream for serving

INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Make dough and refrigerate at least 1 hour. Heat the oven to 425°F and arrange the rack in the center.
  2. Melt butter over medium-high heat in a 12-inch cast iron skillet or other large, heavy oven-safe pan. Add brown sugar, coffee, cinnamon stick, and lemon zest, stirring continuously until mixture boils. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer, stirring frequently, until sugar is completely melted and mixture is thick and syrupy, about 5 minutes. Remove cinnamon stick and lemon zest and discard. Stir in vanilla extract and remove the skillet from heat.
  3. Peel bananas and cut on the bias into 1/2- to 3/4-inch-thick slices. Add banana slices and lemon juice to syrup mixture and stir gently to coat thoroughly. If desired, arrange banana slices in a decorative pattern.
  4. On a lightly floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll dough into a round that is just larger than the skillet. Lay it over the banana filling, tucking overhanging dough around the sides. Prick dough with a fork in several places.
  5. Bake until crust is puffed and golden and filling is bubbling around the edges, about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let sit on a wire cooling rack for 15 minutes. Run a spatula around the perimeter of the tart and place a rimmed platter that is slightly larger than the cast iron skillet upside down over the pan. Flip the skillet and plate over to invert the tart. Slice the warm tart into wedges and serve with ice cream.




An Alaskan original created more than 20 years ago in Anchorage, this layered cocktail is said to be named for the sound you’ll make after drinking one.






An Alaskan original created more than 20 years ago at the Peanut Farm in Anchorage, this layered cocktail is said to be named for the sound you’ll make after drinking one.
This recipe was featured as part of our New Year’s Eve Drinks Around the World story.
INGREDIENTS
  • 1 ounce Kahlúa
  • 1 ounce Baileys Irish Cream
  • 1/2 ounce Crown Royal Whisky

INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Pour Kahlúa into a 3-ounce shot glass.
  2. Using the convex side of a bar spoon, slowly pour Baileys over the Kahlúa, making sure not to disturb it, to create a layered effect.
  3. Using the same technique, layer the Crown Royal over the Baileys.

Monday, March 25, 2013

SWEETS FOR COFFEE LOVERS, PART I!


Vietnamese Coffee Ice Pops Recip


A frozen-pop version of the classic iced coffee!






Vietnamese Coffee Ice Pops


Difficulty: Easy | Total Time:Makes:About 6 (4-ounce) ice pops
Like classic Vietnamese iced coffee, this frozen pop contains strong brewed coffee and sweetened condensed milk. It’s a caffeinated treat that’s not recommended for the kiddies!

Special equipment: You will need freezer pop molds for this recipe. We used these molds, but any kind will work. If yours don’t come with sticks that attach securely, you can buy wooden sticks and insert them about 1 1/2 hours into the freezing time.
This recipe was featured as part of our 7 Ice Pops That Break the Mold.
INGREDIENTS
  • 3/4 cup strong French roast coffee grounds, such as Café Du Monde, Cafe’de Paris, or Trung Nguyen
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream


INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Brew the coffee with the measured water. You should have about 1 1/2 cups of brewed coffee.
  2. Place the hot coffee and condensed milk in a measuring cup or a large heatproof bowl with a spout and whisk until evenly combined. Whisk in the cream, cover, and refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours.
  3. Whisk the mixture again and divide among the pop molds. Freeze until solid, at least 6 hours.



This dense, trufflelike cake is made with Irish whiskey and served with whiskey-flavored whipped cream.



Difficulty: Easy | Total Time: 2 hrs 10 mins | Active Time:Makes:12 servings
Dense and trufflelike in texture, this festive cake has a hint of whiskey that follows on the heels of the chocolate flavor. The fluthered cream (fluthered is Irish slang for drunk) doubles the boozy kick. For an over-the-top Irish experience, enjoy with an Irish Coffee.
This dish was featured as part of our St. Patty’s Day Recipes photo gallery.
INGREDIENTS

For the cake:

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 3/4 cups cake flour
  • 1/2 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup Irish whiskey
  • 1/4 cup brewed coffee, at room temperature
  • 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature

For the fluthered cream:

  • 1 cup cold heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons Irish whiskey
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar

INSTRUCTIONS
For the cake:
  1. Heat the oven to 325°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Using a pastry brush, coat the inside of a 12-cup Bundt pan with all of the melted butter; set aside.
  2. Place the unsweetened chocolate in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally until melted and smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl and whisk to break up any lumps and aerate; set aside. Combine the sour cream, whiskey, and coffee in a medium bowl and whisk until smooth; set aside.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and brown sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, stopping the mixer and scraping down the bowl and paddle after each addition. Add the melted chocolate and beat until just combined, about 30 seconds. Reduce the mixer speed to low and alternate between adding the flour mixture and the sour cream mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, until just combined.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth out the top, and bake until the top of the cake is puffed and cracked and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 60 to 65 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow the cake to cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Flip the cake out of the pan and serve warm or at room temperature.
For the fluthered cream:
  1. Place all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whip on high speed until medium peaks form, about 1 minute. Serve slices of cake topped with fluthered cream.


If the Dude wanted a shake, he’d totally abide by this one.






Difficulty: Easy | Total Time:Makes:1 shake
If the Dude wanted a shake, he’d totally abide by this one.
This recipe was featured as part of our story on Boozy Cocktail Milk Shakes.
INGREDIENTS
  • 1 (14-ounce) container vanilla ice cream
  • 1 ounce coffee liqueur, such as Kahlúa
  • 1 ounce vodka
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder


INSTRUCTIONS
Place all of the ingredients in a blender. Pulse 8 to 10 times or until mostly smooth. Pour into a chilled glass and serve on a rug that really ties the room together while listening to some Creedence.
An easy chocolate cookie crust filled with coffee ice cream and topped with chocolate ganache and whipped cream.





Difficulty: Medium | Total Time:Makes:1 (9-inch) pie (8 to 10 servings)
Mud pie—not to be confused with Mississippi mud pie, which is a chocolate pie—needs only a chocolate cookie crust, coffee ice cream, and fudge sauce, according to its creator, Joanna Droeger. Here we’ve stayed true to the original with an intense espresso gelato and chocolate ganache, but added a little sweetened whipped cream on top. This easy-to-make pie can be assembled in advance for parties. Note: Unless you want your kids jumping off the walls, we recommend not serving this caffeinated treat to the little ones.
Game plan: Make sure you have enough room in your freezer before you begin. You’ll need a flat area at least 10 by 10 inches to accommodate the pie comfortably.
To slice the frozen pie, warm a sharp knife in hot water for about 30 seconds, then use a kitchen or paper towel to dry the knife. Slice the pie while the knife is still warm, pushing the knife down into the pie and slowly removing it. Clean the knife off and repeat warming, drying, slicing, and cleaning with each cut. If the pie is still too frozen to easily slice, let it sit for another 5 minutes.
This recipe was featured as part of our Make Your Own Ice Cream Treats project.
INGREDIENTS

For the crust:

  • 30 chocolate cookie wafers, such as Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 stick), melted and cooled

For the ganache:

  • 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

To assemble:

To serve:

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

INSTRUCTIONS
For the crust:
  1. Heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle.
  2. Place cookies in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade attachment and process until the pieces are about the size of peas. Stop the motor, add the melted butter, and continue to process until the crumbs are fine, about the size of coarsely ground coffee (you should have about 1 1/2 cups). Alternatively, place the cookies in a resealable plastic bag, press out the air, and seal. Using a rolling pin, smash into fine crumbs until uniform. Transfer to a medium bowl, add melted butter, and mix until evenly combined.
  3. Pour crumb mixture into a 9-inch pie plate and, using the bottom of a cup or your fingers, press firmly and evenly into the bottom and up the sides. Bake until fragrant, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove to a wire rack to cool completely before filling.
For the ganache:
  1. Place chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl; set aside.
  2. Place cream in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Pour over chocolate and let stand until chocolate has softened, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add butter and stir until smooth. Let cool slightly before using.
To assemble:
  1. Place gelato in the refrigerator until slightly softened, about 30 minutes. Place cookie crust in the freezer until chilled, about 30 minutes.
  2. Remove softened gelato from the container and transfer to a large bowl. Stir with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon until it is spreadable but not liquidy. Working quickly, spread the softened gelato into the crust in an even layer (leaving any melted gelato in the bowl). If the gelato in the pie looks like it’s melting, place the pie in the freezer until solid before proceeding.
  3. Pour the warm ganache over the gelato and tilt the pie plate to evenly coat. Immediately transfer the pie to a flat surface in the freezer until completely frozen, at least 3 hours.
To serve:
  1. Let the pie sit at room temperature until the ganache just begins to soften, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, combine cream, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl and whisk until soft peaks have formed (they should droop over like soft-serve ice cream), about 3 minutes; serve atop pie slices. If not serving immediately, tightly wrap the frozen pie in plastic wrap and store in the freezer for up to 1 week.


A San Francisco classic made with simply coffee, sugar, Irish whiskey, and cream.






Total Time: Under 5 mins | Active Time:Makes:1 drink
           
The original Irish coffee was a concoction of a bit of whiskey, a generous splash of black coffee, a dollop of whipped cream, and a smattering of genius. Pedigrees for most drinks are dubious at best, but the Irish coffee is well documented. San Francisco Chronicle columnist Stanton Delaplane was served one at Ireland’s Shannon Airport bar in 1952; after returning to San Francisco, he passed the recipe on to barman Jack Koeppler at the Buena Vista and soon to the rest of the country. The story behind this immensely popular beverage is that Irish bartender Joe Sheridan created the rejuvenating brew during World War II to greet weary Yankee travelers arriving by seaplane in the wee hours of the morning. Interestingly, the Irish drank whiskey in tea, but Sheridan apparently knew the American palate and had the wherewithal to substitute coffee.
The best Irish coffee should be treated no differently than the naked brew. Use high-quality, freshly ground and brewed beans, and always whip your heavy cream without sugar right before serving.
This recipe was featured as part of our Hot Boozy Drinks photo gallery.
INGREDIENTS
  • 4 ounces freshly brewed coffee
  • 1 1/2 ounces Irish whiskey
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • Dollop of freshly whipped cream

INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Combine the coffee, whiskey, and sugar in a hot Irish coffee mug; then float whipped cream on top.
Variations:
Italian coffee: Substitute amaretto for the whiskey.
Jamaican coffee: Substitute dark rum for the whiskey.
Mexican coffee: Substitute Kahlúa for the whiskey.



Flavored with milk chocolate, coffee liqueur, and cinnamon.



Difficulty: Easy | Total Time: 3 hrs 40 mins, plus freezing time | Active Time:Makes:8 servings (6 cups)
This ice cream refuses to be classified—it tastes at once like rich gelato and icy sorbet. Milk chocolate flavors eggy custard for a doubly rich ice cream that then gets spiked with canela and coffee-flavored tequila liqueur.
What to buy: Canela can be found in gourmet groceries, at Latin markets, or online. If you have trouble finding it, you can substitute regular cinnamon.
Patrón XO Café is a coffee-flavored tequila liqueur from the makers of Patrón tequila. If you can’t find it, go ahead and substitute another coffee-flavored liqueur such as Kahlúa.
Game plan: The ice cream base (unfrozen ice cream) can be made up to 2 days in advance, though it needs 3 to 4 hours to harden in the freezer after it’s been processed (unless, of course, you want soft-serve). Ice cream will keep in the freezer for 1 week.
This recipe was featured as part of our Chocolate Desserts photo gallery.
INGREDIENTS
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 (4-inch) canela stick
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 8 ounces milk chocolate, coarsely chopped (about 1 heaping cup)
  • 1/3 cup Patrón XO Café (or other coffee-flavored liqueur)

INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Prepare an ice water bath by filling a bowl halfway with ice and water; set aside.
  2. Combine milk, cream, half of the sugar, and canela in a large saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
  3. Meanwhile, whisk together remaining sugar and egg yolks until pale yellow. Once milk mixture is hot, slowly pour half of milk mixture into egg mixture, whisking constantly. Pour milk and egg mixture back into the saucepan and cook, stirring constantly, over low heat until it is as viscous as melted ice cream and coats the back of a spoon, about 10 to 15 minutes. (When you draw your finger across the spoon, it should make a mark through the custard.)
  4. Remove from heat, add chocolate, and whisk until chocolate is melted and custard is smooth. Whisk in coffee liqueur. Strain into a large heatproof bowl and place ice cream base over ice water bath to chill, about 10 to 15 minutes.
  5. Once ice cream base is cold, cover and place in the refrigerator to chill completely, at least 3 hours or overnight. Once chilled, freeze in an ice-cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions



Two kinds of ice cream float shots: chocolate ice cream drowned in Kahlúa, and vanilla in limoncello.







Difficulty: Easy | Total Time: 5 mins | Active Time:Makes:24 servings
Affogato, Italian for “drown,” is a description normally reserved for ice cream doused in espresso. Here we take that same principle and swap out the espresso for alcohol to create an adult version of ice cream floats where the variations are endless—try butter pecan with amaretto or chocolate chip with Chambord. Serve them in small glasses, demitasses, cordial glasses, or shot glasses.
Game plan: To avoid scooping ice cream while your guests are there, use this catering trick: Scoop the ice cream onto a small, parchment-lined baking sheet, then place in the freezer until it’s time to assemble the affogato.
Try toasting the nuts for a few minutes before adding them to the shots.
INGREDIENTS

For the chocolate shots:

  • 3 cups chocolate ice cream
  • 3/4 cup coffee-flavored liqueur, such as Kahlúa
  • 24 whole hazelnuts

For the vanilla shots:

  • 3 cups vanilla ice cream
  • 3/4 cup lemon-flavored liqueur, such as Caravella Limoncello
  • 24 whole macadamia nuts

INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Place a small scoop of ice cream in each glass. Top with 1 tablespoon liqueur and 2 nuts. Serve immediately.



Intensely flavored with both ground whole espresso beans and instant espresso powder.







Difficulty: Easy | Total Time: 30 minutes, plus chilling and churning time | Makes:1 quart
Those critical of weak coffee ice cream—our senior food editor, Jill Santopietro, is one of them—will appreciate this gelato flavored with bits of finely ground espresso beans and a dose of espresso powder. It will have you wired in no time. For a caffeinated double-chocolate dessert, try it in an Espresso Mud Pie.
Game plan: The unfrozen gelato base can be made up to 2 days in advance, but it needs 3 to 4 hours to harden in the freezer after it’s been processed.
INGREDIENTS
  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon very finely ground espresso beans
  • 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder

INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Place a fine-mesh strainer over a large heatproof bowl and set aside.
  2. Combine 2 cups of the milk and the cream in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Place over medium-low heat and cook, stirring occasionally (so a skin doesn’t form), until tiny bubbles start to form around the edges, about 5 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks in a medium heatproof bowl until smooth. Gradually whisk in the sugar until incorporated and the mixture is thick and pale yellow, about 2 minutes. Slowly pour in the milk mixture, whisking continuously so that the hot mixture doesn’t scramble the eggs. Return the custard to the saucepan.
  4. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until thick enough to coat the spoon. (When you draw your finger across the spoon, it should make a mark through the mixture, which should not run back in on itself.) Do not bring to a boil.
  5. Pour the mixture through the fine-mesh strainer and into the prepared bowl and let cool to room temperature, stirring every 5 minutes or so. (To cool the base quickly, make an ice water bath by filling a large bowl with ice and water and placing the bowl of the espresso base in it; stir the base until cooled.) Cover and refrigerate the base until very cold, at least 4 hours or overnight.
  6. Meanwhile, combine the remaining 1/2 cup milk and 3 tablespoons of the ground espresso beans in a small saucepan. Place over medium heat and bring just to a simmer. Remove from heat and set aside to steep for 20 minutes. Pour the milk mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a small bowl, pressing on the solids to extract all the liquid; discard the solids. Add the instant espresso powder and stir until dissolved. Refrigerate until cold, at least 30 minutes.
  7. Gently whisk the milk-espresso mixture into the gelato base, then whisk in the remaining 1 teaspoon ground espresso beans. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to an airtight container and freeze for at least 3 hours before serving. The gelato will keep in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 1 week.

MUNICH'S STRONG BEER (STARKBIERZEIT) FESTIVAL!








    Can you say Starkbierzeit? It's German for "strong beer festival", an event held every March in Munich. For two weeks, breweries bring out their most potent beverages, and beer halls throw noisy parties with a host of Bavarian entertainment and food. It's Oktoberfest without the tourists.
    The festival's roots go back to the Paulaner monks who, according to legend, began making an extra strength beer to sustain themselves during their Lenten fast. The beer, first brewed in the 17th century, gained a "word of mouth" following. The townspeople called it Salvator.












    Strong beer's popularity took off after Napoleon rode into town and sold the monasteries to local businessmen. Paulaner ended up in the hands of a entrepreneur named Franz Xavier Zacheri, who turned the monastery into a beer hall and mass produced the monks' beer. In an inspired bit of marketing, he promoted Salvator as a cure for the wintertime blues. Munchner's answered the call, descending on Zacheri's beer hall in droves.
    Salvator is classified as a doppelbock, which means an "extra strength" version of the Bock style."Bock", in Bavaria, is a generic term meaning strong beer--pale as well as dark. Just how strong are doppelbocks? They start at 7.5 percent alcohol by volume. Anbd because their strength is masked by a strong malty flavor, they can sneak up on the most experienced of beer drinkers.











    The site of Zackeri's beer hall is still the gathering place for Starkbierzeit--especially on March 19th, St. Joseph's Day. Today, it's called the Paulaner Keller. This sprawling complex can hold 5,000 revelers, and there's room for thousands more outside. It has everything you'd expect in a traditional beer hall: sturdy beermaids; brass bands blaring out drinking songs; and plenty of malty, amber colored Salvator Doppelbock.
It didn't take long for Munich's other breweries to follow Paulaner's lead and come out with their own doppelbocks. But as a tribute to the original Salvator, they've all given their beers names ending in "-ator".
     Paulaner's biggest competitor is Lowenbrau, which brings out its sweetish--and lethal--Triumphator in March. You can find it all over town, but if you want to join the party, the place to go is the brewery's enormous Lowenbraukeller. Show up on the right evening, and the entertainment will include boulder-lifting competitions and other feats of strength.











    Doppelbock isn't the only style of beer served during Starbierzeit. For an interesting change of pace, head for Weisses Brauhaus, a popular destination for those who like to start their evening with a good meal. As the name suggests, it specializes in wheat beers, which Germans often call weiss, or white beers. This time of year, the brewery pours Starkweizenbier, a dark colored beer whose pronounced wheat flavor hides a big alcoholic punch.











    Munich's most intriguing strong beer venue is Forschungbrauerei, which means "research brewery", in English. By tradition, it's allowed to start serving its doppelbock, called St. Jakobus, a week before Starkbierzeit, it is a small, family run establishment whose entire production is consumed on the premises. It's also one of the few remaining places where beer is served in ceramic mugs which do a better job of keeping beer cold.










    Starkbierzeit isn't widely publicized,which is just fine with Munchners. It's their time of year to show pride in Bavarian culture and tradition. But don't let the local color scare you away, that's why millions of people visit every year! Bring a good guidebook, a hearty appetite, and a taste for strong Bavarian beer. That'll be enough to earn you a "Wilkommen" at any beer hall in town.

5 CATEGORIES OF TASTY CHOCOLATE TREATS TO DIE FOR!!








    I know there are thousands, if not millions of chocolate lovers out there. I happen to be one of those people and have tried several different chocolate treats in my lifetime. So what do I consider to be the top chocolate treats? I find that there are several different chocolate treat categories and there are treats in each category that are better than the rest. This article will stick to foods you can buy in almost any grocery store. These chocolate treats are low in price but high in taste.













Candy bars: We've all tried several varieties of this chocolate treat, but which ones are the best? Throughout my life, my tastes have changed and I've had several different favorites. My favorites lean now to either the milky way bar , with it's chocolate and caramel, or a nice big snickers bar, with the chocolate and caramel and a little dose of peanuts to go with it.














Ice Cream: Let's face it, just plain old chocolate ice cream is wonderful. It's right up there with vanilla. Vanilla you say? But I thought this was about things chocolate. You're right, but vanilla is like a canvas of a painting you can add anything to it to make it whatever flavor you're craving at the time. Anything from hot fudge to chocolate chips, a little or a lot, it's up to you to decide. When we talk ice cream it's all about the quality of it and the QUANTITY of it. We can go to the local market and get anything from rocky road to brownie batter ( chocolate ice cream with chunks of brownies. The ice cream world is your oyster, shuck it and eat it all up!!!













Cookies: When most of us think of a cookie, it's probably a nice, chewy, gooy, dunk in your milk, chocolate chip cookies. My family can't even wait for them to go into the oven, they'd rather eat cookie doe instead. You can make up a batch of them and after they come out of the oven, take some chocolate chips, put them in a microwave safe bowl, and when the chocolate has melted, dip half of the chocolate cookies in it for a little bit of a chocolate high!














Snack Cakes: Nothing says comfort food more than a box of individually wrapped ding dongs or ho ho's! A couple of them with a glass of ice cold milk hits the spot. I don't think there's a snack cake made that isn't good.












Candies: When you think of loose chocolate candies, does anything come to mind? Anyone?? Anyone??....You in the back row, with your hand up, what is it?.......I box of See's candy sir! Nuts and chews if you please!!.....Good answer! Good answer!
Anything from truffles to chocolate covered almonds with caramel and everything in between. Like Forrest Gump always says, "Life is like a box a chocolates! You never know what you're gonna get!" So be sure that it's a good quality chocolate, not a box of some unknown companies chocolates that you got at the Dollar Store (that sure doesn't taste like the chocolate I'm used to!).
    While there are several other chocolate treat categories, these are some of the best. I hope this article made you think of all of the different flavors and smells coming this holiday season and make sure you eat it in moderation. So next time when you're having a craving for more of that ding dong or those nuts and chews, there will be some more for you to eat, that little stash you keep for yourself, your family doesn't know about.










Thursday, March 21, 2013

CHOCOLATE-KEY LIME CUPCAKE PIES!


  A dark chocolate cookie-crumb crust and “Jumbo” foil baking cups give these fanciful tarts a chic twist. Go ahead and pour the cheesecake filling all the way to the top of the extra-tall cups – it doesn’t rise during baking.



Chocolate-Key Lime Cupcake Pies
             
      

Ingredients

  • 12 jumbo-size aluminum foil baking cups
  • Vegetable cooking spray

  • (9-oz.) package chocolate wafer cookies

  • 1/2 cup butter, melted

  • (8-oz.) packages cream cheese, softened

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar

  • 2 teaspoons key lime zest
  • 1/3 cup fresh key lime juice
  • large eggs

  • Garnishes: sweetened whipped cream, fresh cherries and blackberries, fresh mint leaves

Preparation

  1. 1. Preheat oven to 350°. Place 12 jumbo-size aluminum foil baking cups in lightly greased muffin pans, and coat with cooking spray.
  2. 2. Pulse chocolate wafer cookies in a food processor 8 to 10 times or until finely crushed. Stir together cookie crumbs and butter; firmly press on bottom and two-thirds up sides of each baking cup (about 3 Tbsp. crumbs per cup).
  3. 3. Beat cream cheese and sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer until blended. Add lime zest and lime juice, beating at low speed until well blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until yellow disappears after each addition. Spoon mixture into prepared cups, filling completely full.
  4. 4. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until set. Cool in pans on wire racks 15 minutes. Remove from pans to wire racks, and let cool 15 minutes or until completely cool. Cover and chill 4 hours. Garnish, if desired.         

THE SPANISH SEMANA SANTA TRADITION!









    While Semana Santa is a national tradition throughout Spain, the "Andalucians" arguably "feel" the week more than other regions of Spain. Throughout 7 days, Andalucia is surrounded by a spiritual halo.Semana Santa is a tradition which is repeated year after year, a time when the devout and curious joint together to participated in the procession and converge on the streets and squares which take on the ambiance and mystique of an open air temple.












    The skill and expertise behind the parades rest with the religious fraternities and brotherhoods. They have the responsibility of maintaining the statues as well as coordinating the penitents and musicians. Sometimes up to two thousand members of a brotherhood take part, some carry candles, rods or banners depending on their level of seniority. The most senior is the president who carries a golden rod.











    The "costaleros" who carry the weight on the floats and their sculptured representations of the biblical scene are directed by the overseer or head of the group who ensures that the float is carried with maximum seriousness, grace and tradition. To be able to survive the long hours and distance carrying the heavy "thrones" the costaleros have a cushion, known as the costal, which prevents the direct contact of the wood rubbing against the skin. The thrones are followed by "nazarenos" dressed in tunics, hoods and masks and women dressed in traditional costume.











    The high point of the procession is when the float exits and enters the respective church. This is the moment when art and religion seem merged into one. A sculpture of images created by superb craftsmen. The best floats date back to the 16th and 17th centuries and can still be seen today.
    The entire scene is alive with color and sound, thanks to the polychromatic variety of tunics, hoods, ensigns and banners. Emotions are stirred by the slow rhythmic beating of the drums and processional marches, the swaying paces of the bearers and the poignant wailing of the "saeta" which is a sacred song similar to the flamenco and sung through the Holy Week processions.











    Even if you are not religious, it is difficult not to be moved, the atomsphere is so vital and poignant. For some it is a fun filled fiesta time, for others a week of ritual and reflection. Without a doubt, Holy Week in Andalucia is a tradition that is an integral part of the culture and appropriatly reflects the spirit of the people.
    Year after year, each and every village proudly enjoys the berauty and mystery of "Semana Santa", although there are variances and some towns for instance, will preserve certain traditions more than others. The villages and hamlets generally hold their parades on Thursdays and Fridays, while the large capital cities have week long celebrations and attract thousands of people from far and wide.
    Irrespective of size, each float represents the pride and enthusiasm of every Andaluz who will spend the entire night, from dusk until dawn, accompanying them in solemn reverence to his or her religion.