Rip Van Sprinkle

Over the past several years I’ve developed a tendency toward over-organization (and have even tip-toed into the territory of pleasantly neurotic). When I can’t sleep (a problem Rip Van Winkle never had), I relax by unfolding stacks of t-shirts just so I can refold them. I make to-do lists that include “make to-do list” as the first item. And this afternoon, in a surge of Christmas cheer, I divided a container of multi-colored sprinkles one by one to extract the reds and greens. And though that is definitely forty minutes of my life I’ll never get back, the result was a perfect addition to this Christmassy dessert!

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Gingerbread Terrines

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temp

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 cup molasses

1 egg, room temp

1/2 cup applesauce

1 tbsp. Cognac

1/2 tbsp. vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. cinnamon

2 tsp. ground ginger

1/2 tsp. cloves

1 tsp. salt

1 cup hot water

Instruction:

  1. Cream butter and sugar in standing mixer until light and fluffy.
  2. Gradually add in molasses, egg, applesauce, Cognac, vanilla extract.
  3. Sift flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, salt into the standing mixture.
  4. Finish by gradually adding hot water and mixing on low speed until smooth.
  5. Bake in lined muffin tin 350 degree oven for about 25-30 minutes OR in a cake pan for a bit longer (until toothpick comes out clean).

 Cognac Cream Cheese Icing

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temp

8 oz. cream cheese, room temp

1 oz. Cognac

2 cups powdered sugar (or more, as needed for thickness)

Pinch of salt

Instruction:

  1. Beat butter, cream cheese, Cognac, and salt until smooth. Gradually add in powdered sugar and beat until smooth and thick.
  2. Pipe onto cooled terrines or cupcakes and garnish with Christmas sprinkles!
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Enjoy gingerbread terrines and Cognac cream cheese icing with Washinton Irving’s Rip Van Winkle, and check in at http://warandpeach.com for future recipes and book reviews!

Atone-Mint

Tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day, and this past weekend I celebrated in the best way possible. With my sister’s tailor-made Celtic playlist on repeat, I sat in a cozy pub in a small English river town and watched the Ireland v. Wales rugby game. Though loyalties in the pub were split down the middle (and Ireland ultimately lost the game), the sense of community was very strong.

There are, however, things I miss about the US (and particularly, the Boston) way of celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. I miss the kelly-green clothing exploding on sidewalks, wondering about the disgusting process that must go into turning beer green, and most of all, sipping on a McDonald’s shamrock shake.

In so many years past, I haven’t questioned the decision to consume a frozen, neon green, fast food drink. Now, as a somewhat grown up, I can look back on the decision to partake in such an unnatural dessert. Like Briony, Ian McEwan’s main character in Atonement, decisions and judgment calls made in younger years must now be called into question. I’ve retained the minty flavor and festive sentiment, but have attempted a slightly more refined presentation. Sometimes we need to atone for our past choices.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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Peppermint cupcakes:

1 cup flour

1/3 cup cocoa powder

1/2 cup boiling water

50 g dark baking chocolate (or milk chocolate if you prefer)

3/4 cup sugar

Pinch of salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 tsp peppermint extract

2 eggs

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup vegetable oil

Instruction:

1. Whisk boiling water, cocoa powder, and baking chocolate in medium bowl.

2. Continue to whisk, adding peppermint extract, eggs, sour cream, and vegetable oil.

3. Sift flour, baking soda, and salt in gradually.

4. Pour smooth mixture into greased or lined cupcake tin. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean.

5. Let cool, then decorate with favorite icing recipe.

Enjoy peppermint cupcakes with Ian McEwan’s Atonement, and check in at http://warandpeach.com for future recipes and book reviews!