24 2 / 2012

It’s February.  Generally the coldest month of the year for us here in the mid-atlantic region. It’s the time for hot chocolate, sledding, sleeping in, fleece blankets, and mulled wine.  Today, it was 72 degrees.  Snow count for winter 2012 where I’m located: 0.2 inches.  Needless to say, nature seems ready for summer.  On the other hand, society is longing for a blizzard.  In this warmth, I’m longing for a snow cone…and my favorite mulled wine. Solution: Mulled Wine Granita in a dark chocolate cup.

"Granita": It can be best described as Italian ice, or shaved ice. 

Here are the ingredients:

  • 1 bottle of sweet red wine or red table wine
  • juice of 1 orange as well as it’s rind (for the mulled wine and for garnish)
  • juice of 2 lemons as well as 1 rind for mulled wine
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 6-8 whole cloves
  • 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • chocolate chips (dark, milk, or white-you pick!  In this recipe I use the dark chocolate chips)
  • Fresh mint sprigs (for garnish)

Other supplies: chocolate molds for making chocolate cups (these can be found at art supply stores like Michael’s.  These cups are made of a thin rubber which allow the chocolate cups to be removed from the mold quite easily. 

Step 1: The mulled wine
In a large pot, add the bottle of wine, lemon juice, orange juice, lemon rind, 3/4 of the orange rind, cloves, cinnamon stick, and sugar.  Slowly, bring the mixture to a boil.  Once it is boiling, reduce to a simmer and allow it to simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes. 

Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.  Once cooled, pour into a shallow, flat bottomed plastic container and pop it into the freezer until solid.

P.S. The mulled wine will make your home smell amazingly good.

Step 2: The cup

While the wine is in freezer, make the chocolate cups.  Melt the chocolate chips (I used half a bag for 4 cups, use more or less depending on the amount of cups you’re making).  Then, fill your mold with the melted chocolate.  Then, turn the mold upside down for the excess chocolate to empty out.  This will leave you with just enough chocolate to make your cup!  Set the cup aside until the chocolate is solid.  To quicken up the process you can put the mold in the fridge until the chocolate is solid.

Once the chocolate cup is solid, gentlyyyy peel back the mold taking care not to break the cup.  If you’re anything like me, it’ll drive you up the wall.  Set cups aside.  You’ll fill these with the granita once it’s ready to scoop!

Step 3: The garnish

For the garnish we will use fresh mint sprigs and flaked candied orange rind.  in order to make the candied rind, first make a small batch of simple syrup by adding 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water to a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer for about 6 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Using a wooden spoon, gently dip each piece of rind into the simple syrup, and then immediately roll it around in granulated sugar.  Allow them to dry and you have a nice little garnish!

Step 4: Putting it all together

Now that the granita is fully frozen you’re ready to serve!  Using a table spoon, simply scrape the granita and place it into the chocolate cup until it’s full.  Garnish with a mint sprig and a flake of candied orange rind.  Super refreshing but yet keeps your soul in touch with winter. Enjoy! ^_^

~Isabella

15 2 / 2012

It’s mid-week and the day after Valentine’s Day.  Let me just say, yesterday was nuts.  People dashing frantically into grocery stores last minute to pick up roses and cheap chocolate like it’s the apocalypse.  Romantic, eh?  Anyways, being around all the hustle and bustle made me want to offer the poor souls a drink.  A chocolate-y, easy to make cure for the madness.  (drumroll) Rum Balls!

Bam!  So here’s how it’s done:

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of dark rum (you can use any rum but I like the taste of the dark)
  • 2 Tablespoons of Cocoa Powder
  • 1 Box of Vanilla Wafers
  • 1/2 cup coarsely ground or chopped pecans, walnuts, almonds, etc.
  • 2 1/2 Tablespoons of honey
  • 1 cup Powdered Sugar
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Nutmeg
  • Toppings: extra cocoa powder, powdered sugar, jimmies/ sprinkles, white chocolate, dark chocolate, vanilla sugar, or whatever else your heart desires!

In all, this recipe takes about 20 minutes to complete:

  1. Toast the nuts in the over for extra flavor.  To do this, spread a thin layer on a cookie sheet and pop them in over on 375F for about 6 minutes. Set aside to cool, then chop by hand or give them a whirl in a food processor.
  2. Place the vanilla wafers in a food processor until they are finely ground.
  3. Sift the cocoa, cinnamon, nutmeg, and powdered sugar in a large bowl and add the rum and honey.  Mix well and then add the nuts and ground wafers.
  4. Mix well and then place mixture in the fridge for about an hour, or in the freezer for 15 minutes.  (I’m slightly impatient, so I took the freezer route) The mixture will look dry, but do not fear-it’s perfect!
  5. Taking the mixture between your palms, form balls.  If you shoot for about a 1 inch diameter, then you’ll come out with roughly 40 rum balls.
  6. Roll the balls in whichever coatings you choose! If you’re rolling them in chocolate, add a bit of butter while melting the chocolate for an easier to work with consistency. 
  7. Place the rum balls in mini cupcake liners for a nice finishing touch.  Then, pack them in an air tight container and leave them in the fridge over night…they get better with time!

And there’s your cure for Valentine’s Day madness.  Nothing like a little rum and chocolate to help ease anxiety. =)

Until next time,

Isabella