Sunday, May 25, 2014

Two-Ingredient Macaroons

I was inspired by something totally delicious-sounding that Marcela Valladolid made last weekend on Food Network's The Kitchen. They were cocadas, a Latin version of the macaroon, and hers required only two ingredients: shredded coconut and condensed milk. Now, as you may have noticed, I am a huge fan of simple recipes that only require a few ingredients. Just check out my list of recipes that use five ingredients or less. I was also intrigued by the health benefits of coconut milk (which are probably only partially cancelled out by the addition of condensed milk).

I just pulled these out of the oven. They are so delicious, with a nice contrast of textures going on: a crispy toasted coconut top, and a moist and chewy center, reminiscent of a Mounds bar.

I want to give Marcela Valladolid credit for her awesome recipe, so I'll direct you to the original recipe here. Because I'm me, I made some changes. I used unsweetened coconut, not sweetened, and my intuition was correct, because they turned out plenty sweet! I used the whole 12 oz can of condensed milk because I didn't want to have an awkward amount left over, and I love condensed milk. I stand by my decision, but I think a little bit less would also be fine if you want to save some condensed milk for your coffee. I would have used fat-free condensed milk, but the store I went to didn't carry it. I am skeptical that the paltry 1/2 cup that she called for would be enough if you use unsweetened coconut. I also added a teaspoon of vanilla, which, combined with the coconut, made the house smell like coconut cake. One thing that I was particularly excited about was that the whole batch fit into my small toaster oven pan, which meant I didn't have to heat up my whole house. I cooked it for 30 minutes, a bit longer than she directed, probably because of the added moisture.

My favorite part are the crunchy, caramelized edges, so next time I might roll these into balls like classic macaroons to maximize surface area crunchage. Other potential variations include mixing in several tablespoons of cocoa powder or adding chocolate chips for chocolate macaroons, or simple drizzling with melted chocolate to finish.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Infused Booze

Lavender-infused gin
I've been thinking a lot about lazy booze lately. A few weeks ago, I posted a bunch of three-ingredient cocktails. In the weeks that followed, I've gotten obsessed with infusing liquor. If you're interested in craft booze, but are intimidated by homebrewing beer, this it a great way to start creating! Or, in our case, we do homebrew, but sometimes this is a nice vacation from it.

Basically, you need two ingredients: your booze of choice and your flavoring of choice. Combine the two (or more) in a glass vessel, and let sit for a day or two. Taste each day, and once the booze has the right intensity of flavor, remove your flavoring. Alcohol is a very efficient flavor extractor. You can use pretty mediocre liquors for this. The flavors you add will overpower any subtlety or odd flavors in the booze. It's a good way to use up crappy liquors leftover from a party. There are lots of great blogs about infusing liquor, such as boozedandinfused.com, and www.nwedible.com/2013/10/infuse-your-booze-a-complete-guide-to-diy-flavored-liquors.html. I'm not going to reinvent the wheel and go into detail about all the possibilities, because they are really limitless. Here are the ones I've done so far.

Chipotle Tequila
My personal favorite. The smokiness of the chipotle gives the impression of a fine, smoky mescal. Use in a margarita or Tequila Fresca.
1 dried chipotle, pierced with a knife
2 cups tequila
Infuse 1 day

Jalapeno Tequila
Use in a margarita or Tequila Fresca.
1 jalapeno, halved
2 cups tequila
Infuse 1 day

Sweet Tea Vodka
My husband's favorite, this is a low-carb knockoff of Firefly Vodka. Serve 1 shot sweet tea vodka with 1/2 shot lemon juice and 2 shots water over ice.
2 black tea bags
2 cups vodka
1/3 cup Splenda
Infuse 2 days

Cucumber Gin
Makes a fab gin and tonic, Gin Gin, or Lime Rickey
1/4 english cucumber, sliced
2 cups gin
Infuse 2 days

Lavender Gin
Makes a fab gin and tonic, Gin Gin, or Lime Rickey
1/2 t dried lavender flowers or a few sprigs of fresh leaves and flowers
Infuse 2 days

Notes: You'll want to taste as you go to suit your own preferences--I recommend doing 1 or 2 days. I've been using pint-sized preserving jars. I saved the booze-infused jalapeno and chipotle in the freezer for the next time I make chili.