Thursday, December 7, 2006

Encouraging indulgence

In the spirit of encouraging indulgence this Holiday season I have collected a few of my favorite recipes that should gratify the bon vivant in everyone.

Whisky Caramel Corn
1. Start with a large bowl about halfway full of popped popcorn, buttered and salted as you usually like it.
2. In a saucepan, melt a stick of butter with 1 cup of sugar over high heat while stirring constantly. Use a long handled metal whisk for best safety since the sugar is extremely hot when it starts to melt and caramelize. I use brown sugar but you can white sugar, raw cane sugar or a mix of any of these depending on the taste and consistency you like.
3. When the butter is melted and the mixture is bubbling add a splash of whisky - I use 2 or more tablespoons depending on who I am planning to share it with and a single malt that is not too smoky is the best (The Macallan!)
4. Keep stirring until the mixture is well caramelized but not burned. If you drip a little of the caramel into a glass of cold water and it gets a bit gooey then it is ready. If you want really crunchy caramel corn then let it caramelize until it makes a hard little ball when dripped in the cold water.
5. Pour the caramel sauce over the popcorn and start stirring/mixing until the popcorn is evenly coated. It is ready to eat as soon as it has cooled a bit but gets crunchier if it gets to sit and cool completely. I never manage to wait for long!
Note: If you add some heavy cream to this caramel sauce recipe it becomes a delicious butterscotch sauce for ice cream.

Swedish Lussekatter (Lucia Cats) Saffron Buns
1. Melt 50 grams of butter in a pan and when it has melted add 2.5 dl of milk. Warm the mixture to 37°C (100°F) and no more. Then pour a little of the liquid over 25 grams of live baker's yeast and stir to dissolve.
2. Add the rest of the liquid, 1/2 gram of saffron, 1 dl of sugar, 125 grams of sour cream and 8 dl of flour and mix to a smooth dough. Let the dough rise for 40 minutes.
3. Now, knead the dough and divide it into 16 pieces and form each piece into a ball and then roll between your hands to make a long "cat tail" and shape it in to the shape of and S or any other shape you like and place them on cookie trays that are either buttered or covered with baking paper. Cover your Lussekatter and let them rise for another 30 minutes. Make sure they have enough space on the trays to double in size.
4. Preheat the oven to 225°C (437°C). Whip an egg with a few grains of salt and when the Lucia cats have finished rising, brush them with the egg mixture. Bake your cats for 5 to 10 minutes in the middle of the oven - they should be yellow with golden 'tops'. They are best fresh out of the oven but will keep for a few days in an air tight container.

And the best for last...
Dark Chocolate Truffles
1. Melt 8 ounces of butter with a 1/2 cup of sugar. When it starts to just caramelize pour in 1/2 cup of heavy cream little by little and stir with a whisk till smooth and bubbly. Now pour 1/2 of good quality cocoa powder little by little while stirring constantly with the whisk. Remove from heat and keep stirring till shiny and smooth.
2. Now comes the fun part - divide the chocolate into a few different bowls and decide how to flavor each of them. Use can use vanilla, 2 tablespoons of whisky, cognac, rum or champagne, lemon or orange peel, nuts, peppermint ... well, you get the idea. Be creative. My favorites are whisky, champagne and peppermint. Put the bowls in the fridge to chill until firm.
3. When the chocolate has cooled use a teaspoon to scoop out chunks. Roll them into balls and then roll them in cocoa, powdered sugar, nuts or a gourmet sea salt. Hand rolling warms them up a bit so chill the truffles again before serving on beautiful plate. Space them out in one layer in an airtight container and keep them in the fridge or the freezer for up to two weeks.

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