Tag Archive: alcohol

Jan 01 2014

#FirstOnTheFirst: Sticky Toffee Pudding

Getting Seasonal…

#FirstOnTheFirst Sticky Toffee Pudding

When we plan our challenges for First on the First, we try to take the time of year into consideration. Croquembouche, for example, was set for June because it is traditionally served at French weddings and June is often thought of as the height of the wedding season. When we get to projects we’ll be preparing around Christmas-time, treats like last month’s Homemade Candy Canes come to mind. It may not be a food we typically serve–I hadn’t eaten Sticky Toffee Pudding before this challenge, for example–but it shouldn’t seem completely out of place. I think we hit the mark quite well this time. Visions of Dickens’s A Christmas Carol filled my head as I got to work, transporting me to a Christmas past without the need of any spirits. Well, except for a little Cointreau.

Sticky Toffee Pudding

The funny thing is that, at least, according to Sharrow Bay Hotel in the UK, Sticky Toffee Pudding has only been around since the early 1970s, when it was invented by Francis Coulson. In other words, my idea of a traditional Victorian Christmas could use a little revision. I’m off by 100 or so years. Oops. I really should find more time to read…

Sticky Toffee Pudding

Regardless, you can’t get more Christmas-y than this sticky cake with its ginger undertones and deep, rich flavor. My husband surprised me by actually liking it (have I told you what a picky PITA he is?) and the kids couldn’t wait to have another serving. By baking in these mini Bundt-like pans, each was treated with his/her own cake to devour. The plates were all licked clean.

Getting Sappy…

Sticky Toffee Pudding

As we close out another year of First on the First, I want to thank Kate of Food Babbles for her unending patience! We’re pretty opposite in our planning strategies and she has been a saint in putting up with my last-minute nonsense! I want to thank all the participants for struggling along with us. Sometimes the challenges are–literally–a piece of cake. Other times, you wonder why you even bothered. But we’re in this together, and I appreciate you coming back, month after month, for more abuse. Last, I want to thank all of you for reading about our journeys! It’s not easy to share when something you’ve tried in the kitchen is a flop, especially for the whole world to witness. But you have made it easier to see the big picture and understand that, in the grand scheme, something good comes from each of these experiments. Your support and wonderful comments encourage us to keep on trying.

Getting Sticky…

Now…who wants some pudding? Grab a fork and dig in!

And for February…

We’ll be starting the year with Steamed Buns. Sounds like I need to pick up some new kitchen equipment first! If you’d like to join in, please click on the First on the First tab above for details. We’d love to see what you create!

Sticky Toffee Pudding

Sticky Toffee Pudding
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 10
  • 1 cup water
  • 1½ cups chopped pitted dates (about 6 ounces)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ cup candied ginger, chopped
  • ¼ cup (4 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing the pans
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the pans
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup organic sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large cage free eggs
Toffee Sauce
  • ¾ cup turbinado sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Lyle's Golden Syrup
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup (8 Tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • pinch flaky sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons Cointreau, or other orange-flavored liqueur (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream for serving
  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the water and dates and bring to a boil.
  2. Remove from heat and stir in the baking soda; it will foam up; then stir in the candied ginger. Set aside to cool a bit.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour 10 mini Bundt pans (or 10 cavities in 2 pans of 6-cavities... I know, that sounds confusing). Set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  5. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  6. Beat in the vanilla extract.
  7. Add 1 egg and beat until it's fully incorporated.
  8. Add half the flour mixture and half the dates, mixing until incorporated.
  9. Beat in the other egg, then add the remaining flour and dates, mixing until incorporated.
  10. Fill prepared mini Bundts half-way.
  11. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of one of the cakes comes out clean.
  12. Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then cover with a wire rack, invert, and release onto wire rack to cool.
Toffee Sauce
  1. Bring the sugar, syrup, cream, butter, and salt to a boil over medium-high heat.
  2. Boil gently for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently to keep from burning. Once it coats the back of a spoon, it's done.
  3. Remove from heat, add the Cointreau and vanilla extract (it will bubble up a bit--be careful!), and stir.
  1. Place a mini Bundt in the center of a shallow bowl. Spoon warm toffee sauce over the top of it. Top with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, if desired.
If you can't find Lyle's Golden Syrup in the baker's aisle of your local grocery store, you can substitute unsulphured molasses. You'll get a deeper, richer flavor doing this.

You can make the cakes a day in advance and the toffee sauce as early as a few hours before serving. Just reheat the toffee sauce before spooning over the cakes.

Happy New Year!

May 2014 bring you good health, wealth, and happiness! I hope you’ll continue following our journey–and even consider participating!

Dec 31 2013

Closing out 2013

Parting is such sweet sorrow…

Another year comes to a close and I am full of gratitude. 2013 was an amazing year for me–one that brought many wonderful people into my life and a bevy of fabulous opportunities and events that I attended. I could not have predicted what the year held for me–nor would I change a thing.


I didn’t have the time to write about it, unfortunately, but I also attended the Family Garden Picnic at the New York Botanical Gardens in June, where I (literally) brushed elbows with Mario Batali. I, along with Amie of The Healthy Apple and Caroline of Devil and Egg, participated in a food blogging feature in the family events room. There, we encouraged children to write about herbs like a food blogger would, using all their senses. I was able to bring my mom and kids to the event with me–which they adored–and after we watched Mario Batali and Daphne Oz perform a cooking demonstration. The kids loved the cocktail hour that followed, where we sampled recipes from the demonstration. My son could not get enough of the strawberries. I sipped a delightful sparkling grapefruit beverage with thyme. My mom found a friend who helped us procure the much sought-after raviolis being served. Chef Batali walked right by us and my mother said hi to him, but I was too chicken to make a squawk. Eep! It poured that day and we were shuttled from building to building for the different events, but that didn’t matter. I loved every minute of it!

I participated in a food photography workshop in NYC and invested in a real light system (well, one Lowel Ego light). I keep on learning new things and trying to apply them. It’s not always easy with the busy lives we lead, but I do my best. That’s all I can really do, after all.

Top 5 Posts of the Year

Drumroll please…
Top 5 of 2013 - poet in the pantry

  1. Red Velvet Cake Shot
    • I discovered Pinnacle Cake-Flavored Vodka in 2011 and it looks like you still are loving it with me! There are a few recipes in this post, but the Red Velvet Cake Shot is my favorite of them.
  2. Irish Nachos
    • I have a confession to make–I almost never posted this. It was one of my first experiments with my hacked light set-up and I really wasn’t all that happy with how the photos came out. But I loved the concept and taste, so I held my breath, pressed publish and gave it a shot. I’m glad I did!
  3. Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies
    • Bacon, bacon, bacon. What can I say? I’m a little addicted. Some naysayers will tell you bacon doesn’t belong in dessert. They can kiss my pig. The salty smokiness of bacon adds such a wonderful dimension to plain old chocolate chip cookies. These are one of my favorite cookies, too!
  4. Strawberry Shortcake Gelatin Shot
    • One of the things I adore about this post in particular is that it came at the end of my Bachelor’s Degree program. I was elated to have finally finished and start the next phase of my life. The gelatin shots were just the icing on the cake. Still, a tasty one and great for parties at this time of year.
  5. Italian Stuffed Peppers
    • You all surprised me with this in the Top 5. For a blog that focuses mostly on the sweet side of life, I didn’t expect to see a savory dish get so many pageviews. Are you trying to tell me something? This needs to be investigated further in 2014…


What comes next? More local events, I hope. I really do love sharing the gems in my area with everyone. I also have a few ideas on fundamentals I’d like to master this year–and help you master, too. We’re in this together! First on the First will continue to be a part of our lives, pushing our limits in the kitchen, month after month. After that, the sky is the limit! I can’t wait to see what unfolds in the year to come! I hope you’ll be there with me to share in the joys in my kitchen! Thank you!

Dec 04 2013

Toasted Almond and Molasses Cookies with Kahlúa Buttercream #client #KahluaHoliday

Christmas time is cookie time in my family. Not only is it a tradition to gather in my mom’s kitchen and bake together, but we do it with a purpose–to share those treats with our extended family on Christmas Day. My sister and I have been doing this for nearly 20 years now and I don’t see an end in sight.

Molasses Cookies with Kahlúa Buttercream

Cookies are a wonderful way to show you care. You put your heart and soul in the baking of them and offer it to your loved ones, a token of your affection for them. Nothing says I love you quite like homemade cookies. They are an essential holiday gift.

Molasses Cookies with Kahlúa Buttercream

Traditionally we bake a dozen or more varieties and assemble trays from our combined efforts, a cornucopia of the best the season has to offer. Candies are sprinkled over the cookies before packaging up and shipping out to the various family parties for all to enjoy. I love this time of year.

Molasses Cookies with Kahlúa Buttercream

The Molasses Cookies I’m sharing with you today are a variation of the very same molasses cookies I’ve been baking with my little sister since I was a teenager. We usually roll them out and make cut out cookies, but I have less and less patience for that the older I get. With my method, you still get the wonderful spicy flavor with a lot less effort. Sandwiching a layer of Kahlúa Buttercream between these already awesome cookies makes for an unbeatable treat. Everyone will rejoice when you share these cookies!

Toasted Almond cocktail

To pack an even bigger punch, add a bottle of Kahlúa Coffee Liqueur to your cookie tray as a hostess gift. You’ll surely be asked back again and again after such generosity! And if your host needs any suggestions on what to use that bottle for, kindly offer her a Toasted Almond. One of my most favorite drinks of all, evoking childhood days spent chasing the ice cream truck for the frozen treat of the same name. Forget cookies and milk–give me cookies and Toasted Almond any day!

Toasted Almond cocktail

Happy Holidays! May they be oh-so-sweet!

Kahlúa Buttercream
Prep time
Total time
Recipe type: frosting
  • ½ cup (8 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2½ cups confectioner's sugar
  • ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 Tablespoons Kahlúa Coffee Liqueur
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer cream the butter and half of the confectioner's sugar, starting on low and working your way up to medium speed. Beat for 4 minutes.
  2. Add the salt, Kahlúa, and remaining confectioner's and beat for an additional 3-4 minutes, or until smooth and creamy.
  3. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Molasses Cookies
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: cookie
Serves: 20 sandwich cookies
  • ¾ cup (12 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • 1 large cage free egg
  • 1 teaspoon ginger paste (look in produce aisle)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup organic sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes.
  3. Beat in the molasses.
  4. Scrape the sides and beat in the egg; it may take a few minutes for it to not look curdled.
  5. Scrape the sides and add the ginger paste, ground cinnamon, ground cloves, salt, baking soda, and flour.
  6. Start the mixer on low and gradually move up to medium speed, beating until just incorporated.
  7. Place the organic sugar in a small bowl or ramekin.
  8. Portion out the dough with a #60 cookie scoop, rolling each ball in the sugar before placing on the baking sheets. Dough will be quite sticky and will need some room to spread; I placed 8 dough balls per sheet for baking.
  9. Bake for 8 minutes, or until the edges are dry and just starting to brown.
  10. Leave on baking sheet for 2 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool.
  1. Spread some Kahlúa buttercream on the bottom of one cookie, place the bottom of another over that, and make a cookie sandwich.
  2. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Toasted Almond
Prep time
Total time
Recipe type: cocktail
Serves: 1
  • 2 parts Kahlúa Coffee Liqueur
  • 2 parts amaretto liqueur
  • 1 part cream
  1. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice.
  2. Over the ice, pour the Kahlúa, amaretto, and cream, cover, and shake for 20 seconds.
  3. Strain and pour into a rocks or martini glass and enjoy.

Want more holiday recipes and ideas? Be sure to follow Kahlúa on Facebook and Pinterest.

To get inspiration for more great recipes and entertaining ideas with Kahlúa and for a chance to win the ultimate holiday party, please visit www.kahluaholiday.com.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Kahlúa. The opinions and text are all mine.

Nov 27 2013

Kahlúa Pumpkin Spice Fudge and Martinis #client #KahluaHoliday

There’s very little I won’t try to add alcohol to. Not only is the idea just appealing to me in the most general sense, but it can often give a wonderful dimension in flavor that wasn’t there before. Liqueurs are flavor enhancers that can take ho-hum treats to “Oh, wow!” status just by their inclusion. Pretty neat, huh?

Kahlúa Pumpkin Spice Fudge and Martini

As you already know, true fudge and I are not friends right now. 3 failed attempts at it in September have put our relationship on the rocks and until true fudge becomes more cooperative and a better team player, I don’t see us getting together anytime again soon. Microwave fudge and I, however, remain best buds. Especially now that my 4-month experiment in living without a microwave has come to an end and the microwave won. Making some microwave fudge seemed like an appropriate way to welcome it back into the kitchen.

Kahlúa Pumpkin Spice Fudge and Martini

There are two versions of this fudge I’ve made before: in 1, you add the alcohol before microwaving; today’s version involves stirring it in at the end. It’s up to you which one you prefer. Theoretically, cooking the liqueur could burn off some of the alcohol, but it’s in the microwave for so little time that I doubt it will make a difference. Consider it a bonus instead and just enjoy it for all it’s worth–I know I did!

Kahlúa Pumpkin Spice Fudge and Martini

You can’t have fudge without something to sip! I’m really digging this new Kahlúa Pumpkin Spice liqueur and I had to incorporate it in something else–this time, a martini. A cinnamon stick would have made a nice garnish but, alas, I was out of them. The shake of cinnamon on top, however, is the perfect little accent. Pumpkin Spice season will be over before you know it-enjoy!

Kahlúa Pumpkin Spice Fudge and MartiniNote: If you have a hard time finding Kahlúa Pumpkin Spice, you can use the original Kahlúa Coffee Liqueur instead.

Kahlúa Pumpkin Spice Fudge
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: candy
Serves: 64
  • 3 cups bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • ¼ cup (4 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut up
  • 1½ ounces Kahlúa Pumpkin Spice (or regular Kahlúa Coffee Liqueur)
  1. Butter an 8x8 glass baking dish and line with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. In a 2-quart microwave safe bowl, combine the chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk.
  3. Add the butter and microwave at 50% power for 1 minute.
  4. Stir and microwave again at 50% power for 1 minute.
  5. Continue stirring and microwaving at 50% power for 30 second intervals until everything is melted and smooth.
  6. Stir in the Kahlúa Pumpkin Spice and spread into the prepared pan.
  7. Refrigerate until firm, at least 3 hours, before cutting and serving.
  8. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Kahlúa Pumpkin Spice Martini
Prep time
Total time
Recipe type: cocktail
Serves: 1
  • 1 part Kahlúa Pumpkin Spice (or regular Kahlúa Coffee Liqueur)
  • 1 part vodka
  • 1 shake ground cinnamon
  1. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice.
  2. Pour over the ice the Kahlúa Pumpkin Spice and vodka. Cover, shake for 20 seconds, and strain into a martini glass.
  3. Sprinkle with cinnamon before serving.

Want more holiday recipes and ideas? Be sure to follow Kahlúa on Facebook and Pinterest.

To get inspiration for more great recipes and entertaining ideas with Kahlúa and for a chance to win the ultimate holiday party, please visit www.kahluaholiday.com.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Kahlúa. The opinions and text are all mine.

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