Croquembouche: The Majestic French Celebration Cake

Prepare to wow your guests with a stunning croquembouche, the pinnacle of French pastry artistry. This towering masterpiece of caramel-glazed cream puffs, adorned with delicate spun sugar, is the ultimate showstopper for weddings, baptisms, and special occasions.

While crafting a croquembouche may seem daunting, our step-by-step guide will help you create this impressive dessert in your own kitchen. The name “croquembouche” literally means “crunch in the mouth” – a perfect description of the satisfying contrast between the crisp caramel coating and the luscious cream-filled puffs.

Mastering the Art of Cream Puffs

The foundation of any great croquembouche is perfectly baked cream puffs. Our recipe uses a classic pâte à choux made with equal parts water and milk for the ideal crisp exterior. A touch of sugar in the dough enhances flavor and browning.

For optimal results, we’ve determined that 1¼-inch puffs strike the perfect balance between a generous cream filling and a satisfying crunch. To ensure uniformity, we recommend creating a template for piping – this extra step pays off in a more stable and visually appealing tower.

A light dusting of powdered sugar before baking promotes even browning and minimizes cracks. After baking, we employ a clever trick: piercing the puffs and returning them to a cooling oven. This extra drying step ensures they retain their crispness, setting the stage for a truly crunchy croquembouche.

Crafting the Perfect Filling

Our croquembouche features a luxurious crème légère filling – a heavenly blend of classic pastry cream and freshly whipped cream. This lighter-than-air filling complements the crisp puffs beautifully. For variety, feel free to experiment with flavored pastry creams or whipped creams.

The Art of Caramel and Assembly

The caramel is the glue that holds your croquembouche together – both literally and figuratively. We use two separate batches of caramel: one for dipping the puffs and another for assembly. This method ensures you always have workable caramel throughout the process.

As you build your croquembouche, remember to angle the puffs slightly inward for a classically tapered shape. Don’t worry if your first attempt isn’t picture-perfect – even slightly wonky croquembouches are delicious!

The crowning glory of your croquembouche is a dramatic veil of spun sugar. This delicate web of caramel threads transforms your tower of puffs into a true work of art.

Recipe Details

Croquembouche

Ingredients

  • For the Cream Puffs:
  • One recipe choux pastry (made with a combination of milk and water, and the optional sugar), transferred to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain round tip
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting
  • One recipe crème légère (see note), transferred to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/4-inch plain round tip
  • For the Caramel:
  • 21 ounces sugar (3 cups; 600g), divided
  • 6 ounces water (12 tablespoons; 170g), divided

Directions

  1. Prepare the Cream Puffs: Position oven racks in the upper-middle and lower-middle positions. Preheat the oven to 400°F (205°C). Create templates on parchment paper by tracing 1¼-inch circles, spaced 1 inch apart. You’ll need two trays with 25 circles each. Flip the parchment over and secure it to the baking sheets with dabs of choux paste.

  2. Pipe the choux paste onto the prepared trays, filling each circle completely. To achieve smooth tops, dip a finger in cold water and gently pat down any peaks. Dust the puffs evenly with powdered sugar for perfect browning.

  3. Bake the puffs for about 25 minutes, rotating the trays halfway through. They should be puffed, golden brown, and feel hollow when gently tapped.

  4. While the puffs are still hot, create a small hole in the bottom of each one using a paring knife. Return them to the oven (now turned off) with the door ajar for 30 minutes to dry out completely.

  5. Fill each puff with the prepared crème légère, piping until the puff feels heavy and cream starts to overflow slightly. Wipe away any excess filling.

  6. Prepare your assembly station: Place parchment paper on a cake turntable or stand, topped with an 8-inch cake round or pan bottom wrapped in foil.

  7. Create the Caramel: In a saucepan, combine half of the sugar and water. Heat until it reaches a medium amber color, then carefully pour into a heatproof bowl.

  8. Wearing protective gloves, dip the top of each cream puff into the caramel and place them caramel-side up on a tray. If the caramel thickens, microwave briefly to loosen.

  9. Prepare a second batch of caramel using the remaining sugar and water, following the same process as before.

  10. Assemble the Croquembouche: Arrange 9 of the largest puffs in a circle on your prepared base. Dip one side of each puff into the fresh caramel and press it onto the base, angling slightly inward. Hold each puff in place until the caramel sets.

  11. Continue building layers, reducing the number of puffs in each successive layer by one. Position each puff in the gap between the two below it. Fill any spaces with sideways puffs to maintain the structure.

  12. For the top layers, create “doubles” by sticking two puffs together with caramel before attaching them to the tower. Crown your croquembouche with a single puff on top.

  13. Create a dramatic spun sugar decoration: Dip a fork into the caramel and drizzle thin threads around the croquembouche in a circular motion from top to bottom.

  14. Serve your masterpiece within 2 hours of assembly. Guests can break off puffs as desired, or you can use scissors to portion it out.

Special Equipment

Disposable latex gloves, cake turntable or stand, 8-inch disposable cake round (optional)

Notes

For alternative fillings, prepare a double batch of pastry cream (vanilla, chocolate, or lemon) or whipped cream (about 3 cups total). Feel free to mix and match flavors for a unique twist on this classic dessert.

Make-Ahead and Storage

For best results, enjoy your croquembouche within 2 hours of assembly. The caramel and puffs will soften over time.

Unfilled cream puffs can be frozen for up to 1 month. To refresh, bake frozen puffs at 350°F (177°C) for about 5 minutes until crisp. Cool before filling.

Crème légère can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days before use.

Vegetarian

Homemade Biscoff Cookies: A Taste of Belgian Speculoos

Experience the magic of homemade Biscoff cookies with this authentic Belgian speculoos recipe. Crispy, rich, and wonderfully aromatic, these cookies capture the essence of their famous counterpart. The secret? A perfect blend of Ceylon cinnamon and deeply caramelized Belgian-style brown sugar.

Embark on a culinary journey to recreate these beloved airplane treats in your own kitchen. This recipe isn’t just about making cookies; it’s about mastering the art of speculoos. We’ve cracked the code on what makes Biscoff so irresistible, allowing you to enjoy freshly baked, crispy, caramelized perfection whenever the craving strikes.

Uncover the mysteries behind Belgian brown sugar, Ceylon cinnamon, and the perfect spice blend that sets these cookies apart from ordinary gingerbread. Get ready to fill your home with the intoxicating aroma of freshly baked Biscoff cookies!

The Secret Ingredients: Decoding Biscoff’s Unique Flavor

Two key ingredients set authentic Biscoff cookies apart: Belgian-style brown sugar and Ceylon cinnamon. Unlike American brown sugar, which contains molasses, Belgian brown sugar is made with caramel, lending a distinctively deep, toasty sweetness to the cookies.

Ceylon cinnamon, often called “true cinnamon,” provides a warm, delicate, almost floral quality that’s worlds apart from the bold cassia cinnamon commonly used in American baking. This subtle difference is crucial in achieving that authentic Biscoff flavor.

Perfecting the Speculoos Spice Blend

While cinnamon takes center stage, a carefully balanced blend of cardamom, cloves, anise, and nutmeg adds depth and complexity to these cookies. Unlike gingerbread, speculoos aims for a rich aroma rather than heat, creating a sophisticated flavor profile that’s unmistakably Biscoff.

The Role of Baking Soda and Soy Flour

Baking soda isn’t just for leavening in this recipe – it’s a flavor enhancer too! A touch extra promotes Maillard browning, contributing to the cookies’ signature toasty flavor and crunch. Soy flour, while optional, adds a subtle nuttiness and improves texture, mirroring the commercial recipe.

Mastering the Technique

Creating perfect Biscoff cookies requires attention to detail. Proper creaming is crucial – don’t rush this step! The dough needs thorough mixing to achieve the right texture. And when it comes to shaping, think thin and geometric for that authentic look and satisfying crunch.

June 2017

Recipe Details

Homemade Biscoff (Belgian Speculoos Cookies) Recipe

Ingredients

  • 5 1/4 ounces light brown candi sugar, such as Brewer’s Best, or deeply toasted sugar (about 2/3 cup, firmly packed; 150g)

  • 3 ounces unsalted butter, soft but cool, about 70°F or 21°C (6 tablespoons; 85g)

  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda (4.75g)

  • 3/4 teaspoon Ceylon cinnamon (1.5g)

  • 1/2 teaspoon kinako (roasted soybean flour; 1g), such as Shirakiku, optional

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground or freshly grated nutmeg (0.25g)

  • Shy 1/8 teaspoon (0.35g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table salt, use half as much by volume or use the same weight

  • Shy 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves (0.15g)

  • 1/16 teaspoon ground cardamom (0.10g)

  • 1/16 teaspoon ground anise (0.10g)

  • 1/2 ounce tap water (about 1 tablespoon; 15g)

  • 5 1/2 ounces ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 1/4 cups; 155g)

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C) and position the rack in the lower-middle. In a stand mixer bowl with a paddle attachment, combine the candi sugar, butter, baking soda, and all the spices. Cream on medium speed for about 10 minutes until the mixture becomes fluffy, soft, and pale. Remember to scrape the bowl and paddle as needed.

  2. With the mixer running on medium speed, gradually add the water. Once incorporated, reduce speed to low and add all the flour at once. Mix until the dough starts to gather around the paddle.

  3. Turn out the dough onto a clean surface and gently knead into a ball. Shape into a rectangle, dust with flour, and roll to a 3/16-inch thickness. Use a ruler for precision. Loosen the dough with an offset spatula and brush off excess flour.

  4. Using a fluted pastry wheel, cut the dough into 3/4-inch strips, then crosswise to form 2-inch rectangles. Transfer the cutouts and scraps to a parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving an inch between each for spreading.

  5. Bake for about 16 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through, until the cookies are golden brown. Allow to cool completely on the baking sheet – they’ll crisp up as they cool. Enjoy with your favorite coffee! Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a month. Don’t toss the scraps – they make excellent cookie crumbs for other recipes!

Special Equipment

Stand mixer, rolling pin, pastry brush, offset spatula, two half sheet pans

Notes

The authentic Biscoff flavor relies heavily on specific ingredients. For the best results, try to source all the listed items. Each substitution will take you further from the true speculoos experience. Remember, patience is key when creaming the butter and sugar – it’s the foundation of perfect Biscoff cookies!

Read More

  • Speculoos (Biscoff Cookie Butter)
  • Spiced Biscoff Sandwich Cookies
  • Chocolate Biscoff Truffles
  • Speculoos-Stroopwafel Ice Cream
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
55 Calories
2g Fat
8g Carbs
1g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 32
Amount per serving
Calories 55
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 2g 3%
Saturated Fat 1g 7%
Cholesterol 6mg 2%
Sodium 39mg 2%
Total Carbohydrate 8g 3%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 5g
Protein 1g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 2mg 0%
Iron 0mg 1%
Potassium 7mg 0%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

Vegetarian,Mediterranean

Irresistible Japanese Fruit Sando: A Sweet Slice of Heaven

Indulge in the perfect harmony of juicy fruits, pillowy whipped cream, and soft milk bread with this delightful Japanese Fruit Sando recipe. A beloved treat that’s both visually stunning and utterly delicious!

Discover the Magic of Fruit Sandos

Transport yourself to the vibrant streets of Japan with every bite of these heavenly fruit sandwiches. Affectionately known as “sandos,” these treats combine the best of Eastern and Western culinary traditions. Picture plump strawberries, succulent mangoes, or tangy kiwis nestled in a cloud of luscious whipped cream, all embraced by two slices of ethereal milk bread. It’s like holding a piece of edible art in your hands!

The Secret to Sando Success

Creating the perfect fruit sando is an art form, but fear not! We’ve cracked the code to achieve that Instagram-worthy cross-section and melt-in-your-mouth texture. The key lies in a carefully crafted mascarpone-stabilized whipped cream and precisely chilled assembly. Get ready to impress your friends and family with these picture-perfect sandwiches!

Ingredients for Sando Bliss

  • 1/2 cup mascarpone (about 4 ounces; 120g)
  • 1 cup (240ml) heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons (14g) powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • 4 slices shokupan, homemade or store-bought (see notes)
  • 8 to 10 medium strawberries (1 to 2 inches wide), hulled, or assorted pieces of cut fruit (see variations)

Crafting Your Fruit Sando Masterpiece

  1. Whip up the dreamy filling: In a stand mixer bowl with the whisk attachment, smooth out the mascarpone on medium speed for about 1 minute. Add heavy cream, powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and salt. Whip on medium speed until stiff peaks form, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Be careful not to over-whip, as this can lead to a grainy texture. (See notes for a quick fix if you go too far!)

  2. Assemble with care: Lay out your shokupan slices and spread about 3 tablespoons of the whipped cream mixture onto each slice. For the classic strawberry version, arrange 4 to 5 berries on their sides in an “X” pattern from corner to corner on one slice. Cover with a second cream-covered slice, gently press to adhere, and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Pro tip: Use a marker to indicate where you’ll cut to reveal those beautiful fruit cross-sections!

  3. Chill for perfection: Refrigerate your wrapped sandos for about 1 hour. This crucial step allows the cream to set and makes slicing a breeze.

  4. Slice and serve: Unwrap your chilled creations and place them on a cutting board. Using a sharp serrated knife, carefully remove the crusts and cut diagonally, revealing the stunning fruit interior. Serve immediately and watch eyes widen with delight!

Essential Equipment

Stand mixer, offset spatula, plastic wrap, serrated knife

Pro Tips for Sando Success

Choose strawberries no larger than 2 inches tall for easier assembly. If your whipped cream becomes over-whipped, simply drizzle in 2 to 3 tablespoons of heavy cream and whisk on low speed until just incorporated – crisis averted!

Can’t find shokupan? Pain de mie or any fluffy white sandwich bread will work in a pinch.

Fruit Sando Variations

While strawberries are a classic choice, don’t be afraid to experiment with other fruits:

Kiwi Delight

Peel and halve 4 kiwis lengthwise. Arrange in an X pattern on your cream-covered bread for a striking green surprise.

Mango Tango

Peel a ripe mango and cut off each cheek. Place one cheek flat-side down on your prepared bread for a tropical twist.

Banana Cream Dream

Transform banana cream pie into sandwich form! Slice a banana into 2-inch segments and arrange on your bread for a comforting treat.

Storage and Serving

For the best texture and flavor, enjoy your fruit sandos within an hour of assembly. While it’s tempting to make a big batch, refrigerating for longer periods can cause the bread to become stale. These beauties are best savored fresh!

Treat yourself and your loved ones to the magic of Japanese Fruit Sandos. With their perfect balance of flavors and textures, these sweet sandwiches are sure to become a new favorite in your recipe repertoire!

Vegetarian,Mediterranean

Refreshing Watermelon, Feta, and Mint Salad: A Perfect Summer Dish

Elevate your summer dining with this delightful Watermelon, Feta, and Mint Salad. This recipe combines the sweet juiciness of watermelon with tangy feta cheese and aromatic mint, creating a perfect balance of flavors that will tantalize your taste buds. Whether you’re hosting a backyard barbecue or looking for a light lunch option, this salad is sure to impress!

The Secret to Selecting the Perfect Watermelon

The key to a mouthwatering watermelon salad starts with choosing the right melon. Here are some top tips for picking the juiciest, most flavorful watermelon:

  • Choose a watermelon that feels heavy for its size – this indicates it’s packed with juicy goodness.
  • Look for a yellow spot on the bottom – this is where the watermelon rested on the ground and shows it’s ripe.
  • Give it a tap – a ripe watermelon should produce a deep, hollow sound.
  • Opt for smaller melons when possible, as they often have more concentrated flavor.

Choosing the Best Feta for Your Salad

Not all feta cheeses are created equal! For the best taste and texture in your salad, look for sheep’s milk feta from Greece or Bulgaria. These varieties offer a creamier texture and a perfect balance of saltiness and tangy flavor that complements the sweet watermelon beautifully.

The Zesty Secret Ingredient

Want to take your watermelon salad to the next level? The secret is in the zest! Adding finely chopped lemon zest not only brings a bright citrusy note but also enhances the flavors of the watermelon and feta. It’s a simple addition that makes a world of difference.

June 2024

Watermelon, Feta, and Mint Salad Recipe

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds seedless watermelon (about 1 small or 1/4 large), rind removed, cut into 1-inch chunks (about 2 pounds/1kg chunks after rind is discarded)
  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) juice from 1 lemon, plus 4 (2-inch) strips zest, removed with a sharp vegetable peeler
  • 1/4 cup (10g) roughly chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 3 tablespoons (45ml) extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • Up to 4 ounces (1 quart) arugula leaves (optional; see notes)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 ounces (110g) feta cheese (see notes)

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, combine the watermelon chunks, finely chopped lemon zest, lemon juice, chopped mint, and olive oil. If using arugula, add it to the bowl. Gently toss all ingredients until the watermelon is evenly coated. Season lightly with salt and pepper, remembering that the feta will add saltiness later.
  2. Transfer the salad mixture to a wide, shallow bowl or a large plate, spreading it out evenly. Crumble the feta cheese over the top of the salad. Sprinkle with the remaining lemon zest, drizzle with a little extra olive oil, and add a few grinds of fresh black pepper. Serve immediately and enjoy your refreshing summer salad!

Recipe Notes

The quality of feta cheese can make or break this dish. Opt for authentic Greek or Bulgarian sheep’s milk feta for the best flavor and creamiest texture. To make this salad more substantial, feel free to add arugula – it adds a peppery kick that complements the other flavors beautifully.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
176 Calories
13g Fat
12g Carbs
4g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 176
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 13g 17%
Saturated Fat 4g 20%
Cholesterol 17mg 6%
Sodium 225mg 10%
Total Carbohydrate 12g 5%
Dietary Fiber 1g 3%
Total Sugars 10g
Protein 4g
Vitamin C 13mg 64%
Calcium 108mg 8%
Iron 1mg 4%
Potassium 192mg 4%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

Gluten free,Vegetarian,Low-carb,Mediterranean

Creamy French Onion Sauce (Soubise): A Classic Reimagined

Elevate your dinner with this luxurious yet simple French onion sauce. Perfect for transforming everyday meals into gourmet experiences!

Soubise, a timeless French creation, is the secret weapon every home chef needs. This velvety onion sauce effortlessly transforms simple roasted meats and vegetables into restaurant-worthy dishes. Best of all? It’s incredibly easy to make and endlessly customizable!

Whether you’re looking to impress guests or simply elevate a weeknight dinner, this soubise recipe is your ticket to culinary stardom. Let’s dive into the world of French cuisine and master this versatile sauce!

The Magic of Soubise: More Than Just Onions

Soubise has evolved from its classic roots. While traditional recipes called for a bechamel base, our modern version uses cream for a lighter, more luxurious texture. The result? A silky-smooth sauce that’s both comforting and elegant.

We’ve skipped the blanching step, allowing the natural sweetness of the onions to shine through. A touch of curry powder adds depth and complexity, perfectly complementing the sauce’s creamy base.

Endless Possibilities: Customizing Your Soubise

The beauty of soubise lies in its versatility. Here are some exciting variations to try:

  • Cheese lover’s dream: Whisk in grated Gruyere for a decadent twist
  • Lighter option: Replace some cream with flavorful stock
  • Herb infusion: Add fresh thyme or tarragon for a burst of freshness
  • Spice it up: Experiment with different curry powders or spice blends

Perfect Pairings: What to Serve with Soubise

This versatile sauce complements a wide range of dishes:

  • Roasted chicken: A match made in culinary heaven
  • Grilled pork chops: The creamy sauce balances the meat perfectly
  • Pan-seared fish: For a lighter, yet indulgent meal
  • Roasted vegetables: Elevate your veggie game

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced

  • Kosher salt

  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream

  • 1 teaspoon curry powder or Vadouvan spice, optional (see note)

  • Ground white pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the sliced onions and a generous pinch of salt. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 20 minutes until the onions are soft and most of their liquid has evaporated. Pour in the cream and let it simmer for 5 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld.

  2. Transfer the hot onion and cream mixture to a blender. Add the curry powder or Vadouvan if using. Blend, starting at low speed and gradually increasing to high, until you achieve a smooth consistency. For an extra-refined texture, pass the sauce through a fine-mesh strainer, pressing on the solids. Return the sauce to the saucepan and season with salt and white pepper to taste. The ideal texture should be thicker than most sauces but thinner than a puree. Keep warm until ready to serve.

Special Equipment

Medium saucepan, blender, fine mesh strainer

Notes

Vadouvan, a French curry powder flavored with shallots and garlic, is available in specialty food stores and online. It adds a unique depth of flavor to the sauce.

Read More

  • Roasted Chicken with Soubise (Onion Sauce) Recipe
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
246 Calories
24g Fat
6g Carbs
2g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8
Amount per serving
Calories 246
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 24g 31%
Saturated Fat 16g 78%
Cholesterol 75mg 25%
Sodium 96mg 4%
Total Carbohydrate 6g 2%
Dietary Fiber 1g 2%
Total Sugars 4g
Protein 2g
Vitamin C 3mg 13%
Calcium 50mg 4%
Iron 0mg 1%
Potassium 128mg 3%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

Vegetarian,Low-carb

Homemade Orgeat Syrup: The Secret Ingredient for Tiki Cocktails

Discover the magic of orgeat, a luxurious almond syrup that’s the heart and soul of tropical cocktails. This DIY recipe will elevate your home bar game in just 15 minutes!

Orgeat (pronounced ‘or-zsa,’ like Zsa Zsa Gabor) is a fragrant almond syrup with a touch of orange blossom water. It’s the essential ingredient that ties together the complex flavors in Tiki drinks, adding depth and sophistication to your favorite tropical concoctions.

Why Make Your Own Orgeat?

While artisanal orgeat can be pricey and hard to find, making your own is surprisingly easy and cost-effective. For about $6 and 15 minutes of your time, you can craft a superior almond syrup using all-natural ingredients. Say goodbye to artificial flavors and preservatives – your homemade orgeat will be bursting with authentic almond goodness!

Ingredients for Homemade Orgeat

  • 2 cups raw almonds, sliced or chopped

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar

  • 1 1/4 cups water

  • 1 teaspoon orange flower water

  • 1 ounce vodka

How to Make Orgeat at Home

  1. Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C). Toast the almonds for 4 minutes, giving them a shake halfway through for even browning.

  2. Let the almonds cool, then blitz them in a blender or food processor until finely ground.

  3. In a saucepan, combine sugar and water. Heat over medium, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves and the mixture just starts to boil (about 3 minutes).

  4. Add the ground almonds to the syrup and simmer on low heat, stirring frequently. Just before it boils, remove from heat, cover, and let steep for at least 3 hours (but no more than 12).

  5. Strain the mixture through three layers of cheesecloth into a bowl, squeezing to extract all the flavorful syrup.

  6. Stir in the orange flower water and vodka. Transfer your homemade orgeat to a clean glass bottle or jar.

Essential Equipment

Blender or food processor, cheesecloth

Pro Tips for Perfect Orgeat

Store your orgeat in the refrigerator and use within one month for the best flavor. This recipe produces a richer, amber-colored syrup due to the almond skins. For a traditional milky-white orgeat, opt for blanched almonds. Remember to shake before each use, as the natural almond oils may separate.

Orange flower water can be found in well-stocked grocery stores, Mediterranean markets, or online retailers. It adds an authentic touch that truly elevates your homemade orgeat.

Shake Up Your Cocktail Game

Ready to put your homemade orgeat to the test? Mix up a classic Mai Tai for a taste of tropical paradise. For more Tiki fun, try a Scorpion or a Saturn. Craving something more sophisticated? The Japanese Cocktail showcases orgeat’s versatility in a refined, spirit-forward drink.

Don’t limit yourself to cocktails – a splash of orgeat in champagne or club soda creates a refreshing, nutty spritzer. Once you’ve experienced the rich flavor of homemade orgeat, you’ll never go back to store-bought!

November 2011

Nutritional Information

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
134 Calories
1g Fat
30g Carbs
0g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 10
Amount per serving
Calories 134
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 1g 1%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 2mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 30g 11%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 30g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 7mg 1%
Iron 0mg 1%
Potassium 16mg 0%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

Vegan,Vegetarian,Gluten free

Authentic Serbian Ajvar: Smoky Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Discover the rich, smoky flavors of traditional Serbian Ajvar, a versatile roasted red pepper sauce that’s perfect for grilling season!

Ajvar, pronounced “eye-var,” is a beloved Balkan condiment that brings a burst of smoky sweetness to any dish. This recipe captures the essence of authentic Serbian cuisine, transforming simple ingredients into a complex, flavor-packed sauce that will transport your taste buds to the heart of the Balkans.

The Magic of Ajvar: A Balkan Treasure

Originating in Serbia, Ajvar spread throughout the Balkans after World War II. This delicious sauce is traditionally prepared in autumn, taking advantage of the bountiful pepper harvest. Ajvar isn’t just a condiment; it’s a celebration of seasonal abundance and culinary craftsmanship.

While recipes may vary slightly across the region, the core ingredients and preparation methods remain consistent. Ajvar is the perfect companion to grilled meats, particularly cevapi (Balkan sausages), but it’s also delightful as a spread or standalone dish.

The Secret to Spectacular Ajvar

The key to creating an outstanding Ajvar lies in two crucial steps: grilling and simmering. Grilling the peppers and eggplant over a live fire imparts a distinct smokiness that elevates the sauce. Simmering the mixture afterward intensifies the flavors, creating a harmonious balance of sweetness and tanginess.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Authentic flavors: Experience the true taste of Serbian cuisine
  • Versatile: Use as a spread, dip, or sauce for grilled meats
  • Healthy: Packed with vegetables and beneficial nutrients
  • Make-ahead friendly: Stores well for future use

September 2024

Recipe Details

Authentic Serbian Ajvar (Roasted Red Pepper Sauce)

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds red bell peppers (about 5 medium peppers)

  • 1 medium eggplant (about 3/4 pound)

  • 5 teaspoons freshly minced garlic (about 5 medium cloves)

  • 1/4 cup sunflower or olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar

  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt, plus more to taste

  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Fire up your grill! Light one chimney full of charcoal. Once the coals are covered with gray ash, arrange them on one side of the grill. Set the cooking grate in place, cover, and preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grate. Grill the peppers on the hot side until they’re blackened all over, about 10-15 minutes. Transfer them to a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let them steam for 20 minutes. Once cool, remove the charred skin, seeds, and cores.

  2. While the peppers cool, prepare the eggplant. Pierce its skin all over with a fork, then place it on the cooler side of the grill. Cover and cook for about 30 minutes, turning halfway through, until the skin darkens and wrinkles and the eggplant is uniformly soft when pressed. Let it cool for 10 minutes, then trim the top, split it lengthwise, and scoop out the flesh.

  3. Time to blend! In a food processor, combine the roasted peppers, eggplant pulp, and garlic. Pulse until roughly chopped. Add the oil, vinegar, and salt, then pulse until the peppers are finely chopped and everything is well incorporated.

  4. Now for the final touch! Transfer the sauce to a medium saucepan and bring it to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let it simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. This step intensifies the flavors and creates that perfect Ajvar consistency. Remove from heat, season with salt and pepper to taste, and let it cool to room temperature. Enjoy immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Special Equipment

Grill, chimney starter, food processor

Notes

  • Type of fire: two-zone indirect
  • Grill heat: medium-high

Serving Suggestions

  • Spread on crusty bread for a quick appetizer
  • Serve alongside grilled meats, especially cevapi
  • Use as a dip for fresh vegetables
  • Stir into pasta for a quick, flavorful sauce
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
37 Calories
2g Fat
4g Carbs
1g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 24
Amount per serving
Calories 37
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 2g 3%
Saturated Fat 0g 2%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 54mg 2%
Total Carbohydrate 4g 1%
Dietary Fiber 1g 3%
Total Sugars 2g
Protein 1g
Vitamin C 65mg 325%
Calcium 6mg 0%
Iron 0mg 1%
Potassium 84mg 2%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

Gluten free,Vegan,Vegetarian,Mediterranean,Low-carb

Irresistible Gluten-Free Potato Gnocchi: A Summer Delight

Dive into a plate of tender, fluffy potato gnocchi without a hint of wheat flour. Perfect for those warm summer evenings!

While firing up the oven in summer might seem counterintuitive, the payoff is worth it. These pillowy gnocchi pair beautifully with summer staples like pesto, caponata, and fresh tomato sauce. Plus, you can make a big batch and freeze some for later, ensuring quick and delicious dinners all season long.

The Secret to Perfect Potatoes

In the absence of gluten, starchy potatoes become our structural heroes. Russet or Idaho potatoes are the key players here. Baking the potatoes, rather than boiling, is crucial. This method not only intensifies the potato flavor but also prevents excess water absorption, resulting in gnocchi that hold together beautifully during cooking.

Flour Power

Thanks to our starchy, baked potatoes, we can keep the flour blend simple. A mix of white rice flour and sweet rice flour does the trick. The sweet rice flour, ground from glutinous short-grain rice, adds just the right amount of bite without any grittiness.

Crafting the Perfect Dough

Once your potatoes are baked and cooled, it’s time to create gnocchi magic. Pass the peeled potatoes through a ricer or food mill for the smoothest texture. In a pinch, grating or mashing works too. Incorporate the eggs gently, then add the flour blend gradually until you achieve a firm, not sticky, dough.

Shaping Your Gnocchi

Divide your dough and shape it into logs, then cut into bite-sized pieces. For that classic gnocchi look, roll each piece over a fork or gnocchi board. This not only creates an appealing texture but also helps the gnocchi hold onto more of that delicious sauce.

June 2012

Recipe Details

Gluten-Free Potato Gnocchi Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds russet potatoes, washed

  • 1 cup white rice flour

  • 1/2 cup sweet rice flour

  • 2 large eggs

  • Kosher salt

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 400°F (205°C). Pierce the potatoes several times with a knife and place them on a baking sheet. Roast for about 1 hour until tender. Let them cool before handling.

  2. Mix the white rice flour and sweet rice flour. Flour your work surface. Peel and rice the potatoes onto the counter. Mix eggs with 1 teaspoon salt and pour over the potatoes. Gently incorporate the egg mixture into the potatoes until they start to come together.

  3. Gradually work in 1 cup of the flour mixture. Once a dough forms, knead by hand until all flour is incorporated. The dough should be firm and not sticky. If needed, add more flour, 1/4 cup at a time. Test by boiling a small piece – it should hold together.

  4. Divide the dough into eighths, working with one portion at a time and keeping the rest covered with a damp paper towel. Roll each portion into a log, cut into bite-sized pieces, and shape by pressing an indentation or rolling over a fork or gnocchi board.

  5. Place shaped gnocchi on a lightly floured baking sheet. You can freeze them now or cook immediately.

  6. To Cook: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook half the gnocchi (fresh or frozen) until they float, about 4 minutes. Test one to ensure it’s cooked through. Remove with a skimmer and transfer to your sauce. Repeat with remaining gnocchi. If not serving immediately, toss with a little oil to prevent sticking.

Special Equipment

Potato ricer

Make-Ahead and Storage

To freeze, place the baking sheet of uncooked gnocchi in the freezer. Once frozen, transfer to a freezer bag. They’ll keep for up to two months. Cook from frozen as directed above.

For larger batches, prepare multiple single batches rather than doubling the recipe, as a larger quantity of dough can be challenging to work with.

Read More

  • Gnocchi Alla Bava (Potato Gnocchi With Fontina Cheese Sauce)
  • Gnocchi Alla Sorrentina (Baked Gnocchi With Tomato and Mozzarella)
  • Light and Tender Potato Gnocchi With Sage-Butter Sauce
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
329 Calories
2g Fat
66g Carbs
10g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 329
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 2g 3%
Saturated Fat 1g 3%
Cholesterol 62mg 21%
Sodium 255mg 11%
Total Carbohydrate 66g 24%
Dietary Fiber 4g 16%
Total Sugars 2g
Protein 10g
Vitamin C 13mg 63%
Calcium 44mg 3%
Iron 3mg 18%
Potassium 896mg 19%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

Gluten free,Vegetarian,Low-carb

Guasacaca: The Tangy Venezuelan Avocado Salsa

Discover the zesty cousin of guacamole that will revolutionize your snack game!

Move over, guacamole! There’s a new avocado-based dip in town, and it’s taking the culinary world by storm. Enter guasacaca, Venezuela’s answer to the classic Mexican dip. This vibrant, tangy creation is about to become your new favorite party snack, game day essential, and all-around flavor booster.

Guasacaca comes in various forms, ranging from chunky to smooth, but our version strikes the perfect balance. It’s thick enough to cling to your chip yet smooth enough to drizzle over your favorite dishes. What sets guasacaca apart is its irresistible tanginess, courtesy of a generous splash of vinegar and a squeeze of lime juice.

Our foolproof recipe combines creamy avocados with a medley of fresh ingredients. Onion and bell pepper provide a crisp foundation, while cilantro and parsley infuse the dip with herbaceous notes. A hint of jalapeño adds a subtle kick, perfectly balanced by the cooling green pepper. The result? A velvety smooth, flavor-packed salsa that’ll have your taste buds dancing!

Guasacaca isn’t just a one-trick pony. This versatile sauce shines as a condiment for arepas, elevates grilled meats to new heights, and pairs perfectly with crispy tequeños (Venezuelan cheese sticks). Whether you’re hosting a fiesta or looking to spice up your weeknight dinner, guasacaca is the secret weapon your culinary arsenal needs.

February 2013

Recipe Details

Guasacaca (Venezuelan Avocado Salsa)

Ingredients

  • 2 ripe Haas avocados, seeded and roughly diced

  • 1 small onion, quartered

  • 1 small green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and roughly chopped

  • 1 medium jalapeño, stemmed, seeded, and roughly chopped (optional)

  • 2 medium cloves garlic

  • 1/2 cup packed roughly chopped fresh cilantro leaves

  • 1/4 cup packed roughly chopped fresh parsley leaves

  • 1/4 cup white vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon lime juice from 1 lime

  • 1/3 cup olive oil

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Combine avocados, onion, bell pepper, jalapeño (if using), garlic, cilantro, parsley, vinegar, and lime juice in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse until finely chopped, pausing to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

  2. With the motor running, slowly drizzle olive oil through the feed tube. Continue processing until the sauce reaches a smooth consistency.

  3. Season the guasacaca with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a serving bowl and enjoy immediately!

Special Equipment

Food processor

Read More

  • Tequeños (Venezuelan Cheese Sticks) Recipe
  • 19 Condiment Recipes Perfect for Summer Grilling
  • 36 Dips, Guacamoles, and Salsas to Make for Super Bowl Sunday
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
281 Calories
27g Fat
12g Carbs
2g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 281
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 27g 34%
Saturated Fat 4g 19%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 115mg 5%
Total Carbohydrate 12g 4%
Dietary Fiber 7g 26%
Total Sugars 2g
Protein 2g
Vitamin C 29mg 147%
Calcium 23mg 2%
Iron 1mg 5%
Potassium 563mg 12%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

Gluten free,Vegan,Vegetarian,Paleo,Keto,Low-carb

Craft Your Own Artisanal Gin at Home

Embark on a flavorful journey and create your own top-shelf gin using a handful of aromatic botanicals and a bottle of vodka. This DIY gin recipe will transform your cocktail game and impress your friends with its unique, homemade charm.

Gin, once described as tasting like an “evil Christmas tree,” has become a beloved spirit for many cocktail enthusiasts. The distinctive piney flavor comes from juniper berries, but the beauty of gin lies in its versatility. From citrus zest to coriander seeds, cinnamon to anise, the botanical possibilities are endless.

As a gin aficionado, I’ve come to appreciate its chameleon-like nature in cocktails. Bold in some drinks, subtle in others, gin truly is the backbone of many classic and contemporary concoctions. While I initially hesitated to make my own, fearing it might be sacrilegious, I took the plunge and was pleasantly surprised by the results.

The World of Store-Bought Gin

While gin is readily available in liquor stores, creating your own allows for a truly personalized experience. Some of my current favorites include Bluecoat for its bold juniper and herbal notes, Nolet’s for its light, floral character, and Hendrick’s for its gentle rose petal hint in Champagne cocktails.

The DIY Gin Advantage

At its core, gin is a neutral spirit infused with juniper and other botanicals. This DIY recipe creates a compound gin, similar to some commercial methods. The result? A gin that’s just as complex and delicious as store-bought varieties, which I fondly call “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Gin” (though it’s selling it short, as it’s every bit as good as commercial gin).

The true joy of homemade gin lies in customizing the botanical blend to suit your taste preferences. Whether you prefer floral notes like lavender and chamomile or bolder flavors like rosemary or cinnamon, the choice is yours. It’s an easy, fun way to geek out on something you love using ingredients from your local grocery store.

While the resulting gin will have a light amber hue due to the infusion process, it won’t affect the appearance of your cocktails significantly.

Putting Your Homemade Gin to Work

Once you’ve crafted your gin, the possibilities are endless. Try it in a homemade gin and tonic for a drink that rivals any high-end bar offering. For a refreshing twist, mix up a gin rickey or Tom Collins. Your DIY gin will shine in cocktails featuring fresh ingredients, such as a fizzy gin and Lillet punch, an Aperol gin punch, a watermelon crawl, or a Sergeant Pepper.

June 2024

Recipe Details

DIY Artisanal Gin Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 cups vodka (see notes)

  • 2 tablespoons juniper berries

  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds

  • 1 teaspoon chamomile

  • 1/2 teaspoon lavender

  • 3 cardamom pods, broken

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 4 allspice berries

  • Two 4-inch pieces of grapefruit peel, with no pith

Directions

  1. Start by combining vodka and juniper berries in a sealable glass jar. Let this mixture steep for 12 hours to infuse the base spirit with the essential juniper flavor.

  2. After the initial steeping, add the remaining botanicals: coriander, chamomile, lavender, cardamom, bay leaf, allspice, and grapefruit peel. Seal the jar tightly and give it a good shake to mix everything together. Allow this botanical blend to steep for an additional 36 hours, letting the flavors meld and intensify.

  3. Once the steeping is complete, it’s time to strain your gin. First, use a strainer lined with cheesecloth to remove the solid botanicals. For an extra-smooth result, strain the liquid through cheesecloth once more before bottling. Your homemade gin can be stored at room temperature and enjoyed for up to 1 year.

Special Equipment

Cheesecloth, fine mesh strainer

Notes

For the best results, select the most neutral-tasting vodka you can find. This will allow the botanical flavors to shine through without any competing tastes.

Read More

  • The Serious Eats Guide to Gin
  • DIY Tonic Water Recipe
  • 15 Quick and Easy Gin Cocktails
  • What to Make With Gin: 45 Great Cocktails
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
68 Calories
0g Fat
1g Carbs
0g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 16
Amount per serving
Calories 68
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 1mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 1g 0%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 1mg 5%
Calcium 6mg 0%
Iron 0mg 1%
Potassium 15mg 0%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

Gluten free,Vegan,Vegetarian,Low-carb