Tag Archives: bourbon

Lavender Vanilla Bourbon Cocktail

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It’s not hard to love lavender, with its sweet scent and beautiful soft purple blossoms. We have a huge more-or-less overgrowing lavender bush in our front yard. In June and early July, it’s bustling with bees and the fragrance is intoxicating. As we live right downtown in Ashland, there’s a lot of foot traffic along the sidewalk in front of our home. This particular overgrown, wildly reaching lavender beckons folks to pick a sprig here and there. One new experience this year that our lavender apparently instilled as I looked on from our front porch, included two grown women who stretched their arms wide, crouched to their knees, and took in a full frontal brushing from our [poor] sweet smelling lavender bush. It was very dramatic (although I suppose living in a town known for its nearly year-round Shakespeare Festival, that isn’t entirely surprising).

That aside, one other thing I was excited to learn about lavender not too long ago, was the culinary purposes it could provide. Lavender ice cream was my introduction and it was thoroughly delightful. Fragrant, floral, sweet. Perfect in a creamy ice cream. Most recently I saw a honey simple syrup that had included lavender steeped in it and instantly my mind went to cocktail hour. While I tend to prefer a drink that isn’t overly sweet, the balance of the following syrup and the rich warmth of bourbon works nicely. This is a great drink for the end of the week (or whenever you prefer) and the recipe is easy to double, or triple, if you’re preparing drinks for someone other than yourself (or merely find yourself really thirsty).

Cheers!

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Lavender Vanilla Bourbon Cocktail

Yields one drink, for one lady or sir. Easily doubled.

Ingredients:

For the honey lavender vanilla simple syrup:
1 cup water
3/4 cup honey
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
3 tablespoons culinary grade lavender

For the cocktail:
1 ounce of the above simple syrup
2-3 ounces of good quality bourbon (Knob Creek is my preferred)
1/2 a lime, squeezed
4 ounces ginger ale
ice and slice of lime for serving

Directions:

Make your simple syrup:
In a small pot, combine the water, honey, and sugar. Stir over medium-high heat until the honey and sugar completely disintegrates. Add the vanilla bean (scraped insides and the pod as well) and lavender, stirring to submerge them into the liquid. Bring to a low boil for 10-15 minutes, then cover and remove from heat. Cool to room temperature. Strain the syrup, removing the vanilla bean pod and the lavender. Keep refrigerated in a covered bottle for up to a week.

Cocktail time!
In a highball glass, or your preferred glass, fill with ice. Add the simple syrup, bourbon, lime juice, and ginger ale. Stir until well combined. Add a slice of lime for garnish and drink IMMEDIATELY ;)

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Peanut Butter Bourbon Brown Butter Brownie Cookie Cups

photo 1Some days require chocolate. Other days require chocolate and peanut butter. Sometimes a girl is simply in need of cookies. Bourbon? Hell yes, there are those days, too. Then there are those times when a person requires all of the above. This is no laughing matter. Serious business here! One must not take those times lightly, mind you. So here you’ll find the perfect solution to days that call for chocolate, peanut butter, chocolate cookies, brownie batter, and bourbon.

When I was in middle school, I had a mini cheesecake that came in a cupcake liner, whose crust was made from a Nilla wafer, which was topped with cheesecake filling, baked then topped with canned pie filling. This blew my mind at 11 or 12 years old. I quickly became a master at baking these mini cheesecakes. I decided to try other cookies. Oreo cookies were often present in our house, so those seemed like the next obvious “crust” choice. Topped with cheesecake? Oh yes. Topped with brownie batter? Oh yeah.

In the oven, the cookies soften under whatever batter you’re using, just enough to add a curiously delicious layer of flavor in whatever you’re baking. Back in those days I relied on boxed brownie mixes. Now that I am nearing 30, I rarely rely on boxed mixes because I think they’re overpriced for what you’re getting. Plus they’re often filled with things that don’t need to exist in most recipes. For the following brownie cups, I used chocolate cream Newman O’s, which are the healthier alternative to Oreo cookies. They add a cream filled crust to the bottom of these brownies, which also house a peanut butter center. The brownie batter itself contains brown butter, bourbon, and hopefully good quality cocoa. This adds a decadently rich element to the final product. I suggest eating these while they’re still warm out of the oven, but they’ll last for 2-3 days in an airtight container.

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Peanut Butter Bourbon Brown Butter Brownie Cookie Cups

Yields approximately one dozen standard sized “cupcakes”.

Ingredients:

1 stick unsalted butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 ounces good quality bourbon
12 chocolate cream filled Newman O’s (Oreos if you prefer)
6 teaspoons creamy peanut butter (I used Justin’s… so good!)

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Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line 12 muffin cups with liners.

Melt the butter over medium heat, in a small saucepan. Stir occasionally, until the butter begins to turn golden brown. The butter will get really frothy on top. Continue stirring constantly, paying close attention. (Golden butter goes to burnt butter very quickly!) The golden butter should start to smell semi nutty. Keep stirring until the butter reaches a dark golden hue. Remove from the heat and immediately whisk in the sugars. Once the sugar is fully incorporated, whisk in the eggs, one at a time (continuous whisking is important here – nobody likes scrambled eggs in their brownies!).

In a small bowl, sift together the cocoa powder, flour, baking powder and salt. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined. Carefully stir in the vanilla and bourbon until well incorporated.

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Place one Newman-O in the bottom of each lined muffin cup. Place a half teaspoon of peanut butter on top of each cookie, right in the center of it. Fill each muffin cup with brownie batter, spooning it over the peanut butter and cookie, until the cups are about three quarters of the way full.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of each brownie comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow the brownies to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, before transferring to a wire rack to continue cooling.

Store in an air-tight container. If you have any leftovers, of course!

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Homemade Ginger Ale and a Bourbon Ginger Cocktail

Let’s get real here. I love a cocktail. An adult beverage, if you will. I try not to keep an excessive amount of alcohol stocked up in our kitchen, though. If it’s easily accessible, I’ll make a drink while cooking. Then I’ll often have another with dinner. Perhaps after dinner, too. If it’s not there, that doesn’t become a daily habit. So far so good.

We also don’t drink a lot of soda. That’s an on-purpose-habit. I grew up with sodas always accessible in our house. I don’t remember asking to drink them before popping open a can, from elementary school well into high school. Easily, I probably drank two or three a day. I haven’t minded cutting out that unnecessary sugar in my adult life. On occasion I’ll buy a ginger ale if my stomach is feeling funky, but other than that I couldn’t tell you the last time I drank a soda just for the hell of it.

That said, I wanted a bourbon and ginger drink the other day, but realized that making my own ginger ale probably wouldn’t have as much sugar, it would be fresher tasting and with good quality bourbon, would probably make a delicous drink. There are two recipes here: homemade ginger ale that is fresh and easy to customize to your liking – more sweet, less gingery, more gingery and hardly sweet at all… it’s entirely up to you. And another recipe for the adult-version I’ve been drinking for the last couple days. It isn’t overly sweet, the ginger and bourbon work nicely together. I like the addition of fresh lime and bitters, which round everything out quite well.

 

Homemade Ginger Ale and a Bourbon Ginger Cocktail

Ingredients:

For the ginger water:
1 cup fresh ginger, peeled and finely minced *
3 cups water

For the simple syrup:
1 cup cane sugar
1 cup water

club soda
fresh lime

* Once the ginger has been peeled, you can also use the smaller grating surface on a box grater to “mince” the ginger.

Directions:

In a small saucepan, combine the ginger and 3 cups of water. Bring the mixture up to a boil, then turn off the heat and set the pot aside for 30 minutes to cool. (You can also make this ahead of time, refrigerate it, and find that the ginger taste is even more intense.)

While the ginger water is cooling, mix the one cup of sugar and one remaining cup of water together in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil until all the sugar has dissolved (3-4 minutes). Cook for an additional minute, then remove from heat and allow the mixture to cool to at least room temperature. Congratulations, you’ve just created a simple syrup.

To serve the ginger ale by the glass, fill your cup with ice and then combine a ½ cup of ginger water, ½ cup of club soda, ¼ cup of simple syrup, and a small squeeze of fresh lime juice. Stir and serve.

 

Bourbon and Ginger Cocktail

Makes one drink.

Ingredients:
¼ cup ginger water
¼ cup club soda
2-3 tbsp. simple syrup
2-4 oz. bourbon
2 tbsp. fresh squeezed lime juice
dash of Angostura bitters
ice

Directions:

Fill a tall glass (pint size) with ice. Combine the ginger water, club soda, simple syrup, bourbon, lime juice, and bitters. Stir well to evenly distribute everything. Serve immediately.

Fudgy Bourbon Brownies

I’ve got to admit, I like my booze. I also like my dessert. Not in an excessive, over-the-top, drunkard, gluttonous sort of way. But… thoroughly. I try to make a point of creating desserts no more than once a week, though not always successfully. When we’ve got company for dinner, inevitably I wind up making something sweet to finish the meal. I’m not sure where these brownies came from. I didn’t intend on bourbon in my chocolate. In fact, I’d planned on “Mexican spice brownies,” featuring Mexican chocolate and the ceylon cinnamon I use in my homemade horchata. But after an already long day and facing cooking a full dinner for 8 people, I opened up the cabinet housing our liquor and discovered a bottle of Knob Creek bourbon. After realizing I’d also forgotten to pick up my Mexican chocolate at the grocery store, I poured a shot, then proceeded with curiosity into my planned brownie recipe.

The following resulted with happy, tasty, fudgy results. The only time I remember being able to taste the booze in my dessert was at an Italian restaurant when I was 18, where I’d ordered the tiramisu and distinctly remember the heavy flavor of alcohol and espresso. It was delicious and not just because I was underage for consuming alcohol on its own. I was worried that the bourbon in these brownies wouldn’t hold up to the chocolate, but as it turned out, there was no reason to worry. They were more than slightly bourbon-flavored, without being overwhelming. I suggest using a good quality bourbon though, since you can actually taste the alcohol.

 

 

Fudgy Bourbon Brownies

yields one 9 x 13″ pan of brownies


Ingredients:

2 sticks unsalted butter
1½ cups granulated sugar
½ cup light brown sugar, packed
4 eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup plus 2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
1½ tsp. vanilla extract
¾ tsp. ground ceylon cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground ginger
pinch of fresh nutmeg
1/3 cup good quality bourbon

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a 9 x 13” pan with parchment paper so it hangs over at least two sides by an inch or two. Lightly brush with oil.

In a medium-sized pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Whisk in the sugars, stirring until fully incorporated. Remove the pot from the heat, then quickly whisk in the eggs (work fast so they don’t cook – nothing worse than scrambled egg brownies!) and  vanilla.

In a separate bowl, sift together the cocoa powder, flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet, stirring just until incorporated. Stir in the bourbon then pour the batter in your prepared baking pan. Bang the pan on your counter a couple times to let some of the air bubbles escape. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of your brownies comes out clean or with few crumbs attached.

Allow the brownies to cool for about 15 minutes, then run a knife on the sides touching the pan, pull out by the parchment paper overhang and place on a cooling rack. Either cool to room temperature or if impatience gets the better of you, cut and serve while warm! :)