Thursday, December 27, 2012

Hot Buttered Rum


Winter is a drag. If I had my druthers, I'd live in one of those places where it never dips below 70 degrees, "snow" refers exclusively to something squirted with blue raspberry syrup and eaten from a paper cone at the fair, and perennial humidity makes it possible for me to like my hair.


Alas, mine is no such clime. For example, this very morning, I spent an hour shoveling 6 million metric tons of frozen water off my driveway just so we could pull the car out. That is, in the event that we would want to go somewhere, which we would not, considering the fact that it was sleeting and slant-wise snowing out there.

Far better to stay home and read a book and drink a warming beverage. And so, I give you hot buttered rum, which has been a favored chill chaser since the Colonial days, and fairly effective at warming hands and bellies and even, dare I say it, making winter slightly more bearable.

Hot Buttered Rum

4 ounces butter, softened
2 cups light brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
Zest of 1 large orange (optional)
Pinch salt
Dark rum (e.g., I used Bacardi Select)
Boiling water

In a medium mixing bowl, beat butter, sugar, spices, salt, zest, and salt until combined. Use a tablespoon scoop or two tablespoons to form 12 balls of the butter mixture, placing them in a single layer in a plastic container with a tightly fitting lid. Refrigerate until firm or up to two weeks (freeze for longer storage).

To serve: For each serving, place a butter ball in a 12-ounce mug. Pour 11/2 ounces of dark rum over, and top off mug with boiling water. Stir well and serve.

Photo Credit: Top photo, Paris Smith

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Savory Smoked Habanero Cheddar Shortbreads

I am a closet Cheez-It fanatic. All right, perhaps not so closeted. I can't buy them because I can't be trusted to exercise moderation when it comes to those addictively yum orange, cheesey, orange, salty, orange crackers. This is my revenge against the savage hold those crackers have over me.

These are the cheese crackers that young Cheez-Its put pictures of in their lockers and on their bedroom walls. Cheez-Its want to be these when they grow up.

If you can't find ground smoked habanero pepper, feel free to substitute cayenne and replace the sweet paprika with smoky Spanish pimenton. Use yellow cheddar if you want the cheese to show up in the cracker.

These are just perfect with a glass of wine, white or red. Enjoy!

Savory Smoked Habanero Cheddar Shortbreads 

• 3 ounces butter, softened
• 4 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
• 2 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
• ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
• ½ teaspoon ground smoked habanero pepper (or cayenne)
• ¼ teaspoon sweet paprika
• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• Flaked sea salt for sprinkling (optional)

1. Combine butter, Cheddar, cream cheese, salt, habanero pepper, and paprika in the bowl of a standing mixer with paddle attached. Beat at medium speed until all ingredients are combined.
2. Add flour to cheese mixture, then continue beating until flour is incorporated.
3. Separate dough into 3 portions. Roll each portion into a long, thin cylinder. Wrap all three cylinders in waxed paper and chill for 30 minutes or until set.
4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
5. Use a sharp or serrated knife to cut the chilled rolls of dough into thin (about 1/6”) rounds. Place on baking sheet. These won’t spread, so you don’t need to space them out much. Sprinkle crackers with flaked sea salt.
6. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 15 minutes, until tops begin to turn golden brown. Let cool on pan 1 minute, then remove to rack to cool completely. Store in an air-tight container for up to one week at room temperature, or freeze for longer storage.

Recipe Note:

If you like a thinner, crisper cracker, instead of forming the dough into logs, roll it out into thin sheets and score with a pastry wheel into the desired cracker-size squares. Bake until golden, then let sit on pan till cool.

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