• Mystery Fig Jam

    fjamWhile gardening tends to require some attention to detail, sometimes it is simply best to roll with things. And our figs are a good example. A few years ago we had a Black Mission Fig Tree put into the orchard. We cheated a bit and bought a tree that was a few years old and already a few feet high (hey, we wanted figs sooner, rather than later). But that tree didn’t last long, the gophers ate the entire root ball and the tree literally fell over. Nature often gets the last laugh, and your best plans are laid to waste.

    fjam1fjam2But that doesn’t mean we stopped fighting. We got another fig tree, wrapped the root and planting area with wire mesh and planted again (insert Monty Python’s Holy Grail “Swamp Castle” joke here). And this time we beat the gophers…..sweet! Oh, except the figs were green, not black, and now we have no idea what they are. Kadota? Adriatic? Greek Royal? Who knows….we just know they ain’t Black Mission. Ah, nature.

    fjam3Regardless, we got a decent spring crop and an excellent fall crop of these green figs. When ripe, the figs are soft on the outside and have beautiful bright red flesh. And they taste great, too. The only problem is that the figs don’t keep well. You need to eat them quick. And we do. But when you have a couple hundred figs, it is time to make some jam.

    fjam4fjam5fjam6And fig jam is a treat (even if it isn’t the most attractive thing going). It works simply on toast, but the rich sweetness is an excellent foil for cheeses and charcuterie. In fact, if you want a perfect sandwich, make a good grilled ham and sharp cheddar sandwich with fig jam. A perfect dish.

    fjam7fjam9fjam10The recipe we use is adapted from the Blue Chair Cookbook, one of our favorites. It is just figs with sugar and lemon juice and a splash of Yellow Chartreuse and Benedictine for herbal notes. Being the cocktail nerds “cocktailians” we are, we actually have Chartreuse and Benedictine, but If you don’t have them, ignore or use some candied ginger (or go buy some and mix some drinks). The only bummer with this recipe is that it takes a while. Nothing really hard here, it is just that you are making jam and need to do some boiling, reducing, stirring, etc. But since the figs go bad quickly, this is your best option if you grow or buy a lot of them.  Now if we could just figure out what kind of figs they are…

    fjam11Fig Jam:

    (Adapted from The Blue Chair Cookbook)

    Notes Before You Start:

    • You can use any ripe, thin-skinned green figs here, but Adriatic are suggested. Kadota or Greek Royal also work.
    • If you have thicker-skinned figs, you want to precook the fig slivers in a little simmering water until tender, then use as directed.

    What You Get: Delightfully rich and sweet jam that works with sweet or savory dishes. A way to use your ripe figs.

    What You Need: A jamming setup. What? You don’t have one? Well, now is the time…

    How Long? Forever. Well, not quite. But free up a few hours.

    Ingredients:

    • 2 1/2 pounds plus 3 pounds Adriatic figs, stemmed
    • 3 pounds white sugar
    • 6 oz. fresh lemon juice
    • 2 ounces yellow Chartreuse
    • A few drops of Benedictine

    Assemble:

    1. Place 5 metal spoons on a plate and put them in your freezer for jam testing.
    2. Slice 2 1/2 pounds of the figs into 6ths or 8ths, depending on their size. Place the fig slivers in a large heatproof mixing bowl, add the sugar and mix. Let the mixture macerate while you make the rest of the recipe.
    3. Place the remaining 3 pounds of figs in a Stainless steel pot or kettle big enough to hold them in one layer. Add cold water up to 1/2 inch depth in the pot. Cover the pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Stir and decrease the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook another 5 minutes. Then, using a potato masher, crush the figs to release their juices. Stir, cover, and cook for another 20-30 minutes until the figs are mushy and translucent. Stir often to avoid any burning on the bottom of the pan.
    4. When the figs are done, put them through the a food mill with the finest setting and add to the slivered figs and sugar. Add anything that does not go through the food mill into the mixture as well, breaking up any large chunks. Stir everything together to dissolve the sugar, then add the lemon juice, Chartreuse and Benedictine. Transfer the mixture to a large nonreactive pot or kettle.
    5. Bring the jam to a boil over high heat, stirring regularly with a heatproof spatula. When the jam boils, lower to an active simmer. Simmer 7 more minutes and then mash again with the potato masher. Continue cooking another 25 minutes, stirring regularly and lowering heat of the jam starts to stick.
    6. Test the jam for doneness on the frozen spoons. Place the jam on a spoon, put it back in the freezer for 3-4 minutes, and then tilt the spoon. If the jam is gloppy and runs slowly, it’s done. If runny, cook a few more minutes and repeat the test.
    7. When done, pour the jam into sterilized containers and process per your manufacturer’s instructions (although we suggest processing in the oven, it’s much easier).
  • Banana-Chocolate Chip Squares

    spelt2spelt1speltWhen life gives you lemons, make lemonade. And when bananas turn black, might as well start baking. In fact, for many (ok…me), old bananas baked into desserts are a much better way to leverage the soft, sweet fruit than raw preparations. And if you happen to add some dark chocolate and some spice, well then you are onto something. Something good. Something called Banana-Chocolate Chip Squares.

    spelt5spelt6Happily, Carolyn hates to be wasteful, so when those bananas get black, the boys and I get this treat. But Carolyn is still a Mom (with a capital M) and that means if we get sweets, something healthy often gets snuck in as well. Usually this means some whole wheat flour in baked goods. And while we like whole wheat flour, sometimes it makes for dense and somewhat bitter-flavored dishes. That is OK for bread, but for sweets, a total bit of a bummer. But Carolyn has an answer (doesn’t she always?).

    spelt7spelt8In the case the hack solution is to use spelt flour rather than whole wheat. Spelt is an ancient “proto-flour” that behaves in similar fashion to whole wheat but with softer flavor. So you get some of the nuttiness of whole wheat, but very few bitter notes. In fact, other than slightly denser texture, it would be hard for even a trained palette to notice and bitter flavor at all. And since you get a big dose of the sweet bananas and chocolate, along with spice, all you will really notice is how good these squares are. And if you add in some vanilla ice cream, it is even better. Think “banana split as it should have been” and you might be close.

    spelt9spelt10Like many of our recipes, Carolyn adapted the basics from King Arthur Flour (no, we aren’t on the payroll yet, but one can always hope…). The main adaptation is substituting white chocolate chips for chopped walnuts. Our kids don’t love walnuts in baked goods, so why not add more chocolate? And besides, we are using spelt to avoid bitter flavors, so why risk it with a tannic ingredient like walnuts?

    spelt11Nope, we will always take more chocolate. And like we said, if you serve this with ice cream, the dish goes from good to great. Now maybe we need to add some burnt caramel sauce…maybe even a hint of salt…hmmm….

    spelt4Banana-Chocolate Chip Squares:

    (Adapted from King Arthur Flour)

    Notes Before You Start:

    • Nope, get cooking.

    What You Get: Something like a Blondie, but much better. A good use for over-ripe bananas.

    What You Need: Old bananas.

    How Long? About an hour, or so. Mostly inactive time. You can make this dish any time you have the over-ripe bananas.

    Ingredients:

    (Makes 2 dozen, 2-inch squares)

    • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks, 6 oz.) unsalted butter, softened
    • 1 1/4 cups (9 3/8 oz.) dark (or light) brown sugar
    • 3 very ripe medium bananas, about 8 oz. peeled
    • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
    • 1 large egg
    • 1 3/4 cups (6 1/8 oz.) whole spelt flour
    • 1 cup (6 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips
    • 1 cup (6 oz.) white chocolate chips

    Assemble:

    1. Place a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9×13-inch baking pan.
    2. Cream the butter and sugar in a medium bowl until smooth. Beat in the bananas, lemon juice, vanilla, baking powder, salt and spices, scraping the sides of the bowl. Add the egg, beating until smooth and scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl, again. Stir in the flour, mixing thoroughly.
    3. Spoon the batter into the prepared baking pan. Allow the batter to rest for 15 minutes, it will thicken slightly. Sprinkle the chocolate chips on top of the batter.
    4. Bake the squares in the oven for 35-40 minutes, or until the center is moist, but not liquid. Remove the pan from the oven and cool on a rack.
    5. For the best texture you can cool the squares overnight (if you have the patience). Cut and serve with vanilla ice cream, if you like.
  • Attempting The Zuni Caesar Salad

    Zuni Caesar Salad.

    Zuni Caesar Salad.

    There are few more iconic dishes in the San Francisco Bay Area than the Zuni Caesar Salad. The Caesar Salad may come in and out of style, and heaven knows there are some truly criminal insipid versions out there, but here in Norcal it is still a dish that puts butts in seats at the best restaurants (and the best homes….or farms). And while there may be better versions out there to discover, we make an (almost) annual pilgrimage to Judy Rodger’s Zuni Cafe to get our Caesar Salad….and it is still amazing.

    zuni2zuni3zuni4And a good Caesar Salad is a true masterpiece. Crunch from the romaine and croutons, a rich but acidic dressing and a big dose of umami from anchovy and parmesan combine into true alchemy, a dish that is more than the sum of its parts. But oddly enough, we don’t make many Caesars here at the farm. We weren’t sure why, but we decided to remedy the situation and try to make Caesars at home. And since the Zuni Cafe Cookbook is one of our favorites, we just had to open it up and give the “best” Caesar recipe a try. Easy enough.

    zuni5zuni6zuni7Except that it isn’t really easy at all. The recipe itself is very simple. Judy Rodgers has no tricks that a good home cook wouldn’t know or couldn’t follow. She just gives you solid technique and a list of common ingredients (and the Caesar is made from readily available ingredients). But that is what makes it hard. There is no place to hide. Like many classic dishes (think Caprese Salad) there is no way to mask inferior ingredients or shoddy work. You need to find the best ingredients and then do everything to make them shine. No shortcuts, no appliances, no pre-made, no pre-grated, to pre-peeled, no pre-washed and no making things ahead of time. Just manual labor at the time of service. This salad is real work. But good work.

    zuni10zuni8zuni9So is it worth it? Hell yes. Was ours as good as Zuni’s? Hell no…but damn good, nonetheless. And better than almost any other restaurant version we’ve had. We will make this at home much more often, even with the extra effort. But here are our key takeaways: homemade croutons from good artisan bread are a must (we knew this, but for a Caesar even more important), you need fresh garlic with no bitter green shoots, be very picky with the romaine and take only the best pieces, wash the romaine and then totally dry the leaves (bone dry, seriously, take the extra two minutes and dry those greens), and be very generous with the parmesan….that may be real key.

    zuni11zuni12zuni13And the parmesan really is the key (IMHO). You need good anchovies (salted are better but quality, well-drained oil-packed anchovies will work). You can’t do without good olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice or fresh eggs for the dressing. But in the end, this recipe is a crunchy parmesan delivery service. You must use the real thing, and three ounces of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano is a lot, but the genius of the recipe is that even when a bunch of the parm sticks to the bowl (and it will) there is enough to coat almost every leaf and crouton. So you get alternating bites of bread with parmesan and then romaine with parmesan, or a combination. Think about that….yes, think about that. Uh-huh, we thought so…hard to do better. Continue reading

  • Tiramisu Layer Cake

    Tiramisu Layer Cake.

    Tiramisu Layer Cake.

    We gather that Tiramisu means “pick me up” in Italian. While a fitting translation, in our family it might as well mean “disappearing cake” (or in my case “expanding waistline”). We enjoy all sorts of desserts here at the farm, but everyone (and quite a few friends) agree that Tiramisu is a very special treat. This stuff goes fast. Tiramisu is hard to resist, and as a big cake, it is even harder. Too easy to go for seconds….way too easy.

    tira3tira4In truth, we have a local bakery that makes an excellent version of Tiramisu cake that we occasionally bring home. But Carolyn and the boys decided to make their own, and we are glad they did. After looking at a few recipes, they combined elements from King Arthur Flour, Martha Stewart and our favorite basic yellow cake recipe into a simple, delightful recipe. This cake looks complicated, but it is easier than you might think.

    tira5tira6This Tiramisu cake is really three basic recipes combined into one dish. You have a simple yellow cake, a coffee syrup and the mascarpone filling / frosting. For gear, all you need are cake pans, a springform pan (nice but not required) and an electric or stand mixer and you are business. The only tricky thing about making this dish is cutting layers from the yellow cake. A cake cutter is a nice tool here, but otherwise a serrated knife and some patience will do the trick.

    tira7tira8As for time, this recipe has only 30ish minutes of active time, but the dish does require a few hours of inactive time. First, you do need some time to bake and cool the cake. Next you need to cut the cake layers, brush on the coffee syrup, apply the mascarpone filling and dust on some cocoa powder. Easy enough. But then you need to let the cake set up in the fridge for a few hours, and at least 4 hours is better. For me some of us, those hours did seem to pass sloooowly….but our patience was eventually rewarded with a perfect bite. This cake has everything; light, moist cake, sweet coffee, creamy filling and a blast of cocoa. And it was big enough for a second piece. Excellent.

    tiraTiramisu Layer Cake:

    Notes Before You Start:

    • For cleaner edges and better presentation it is best to build this cake in a springform pan, but you can go without. The cake will still taste great.
    • The yellow cake recipe yields two cakes. You only need one for the recipe, but now you have extra cake. Always good to have extra cake, and this cake freezes well. Otherwise, halve the recipe, if you like.

    What You Get: Tiramisu as a cake. A very good make-ahead dessert for a crowd.

    What You Need: A mixer and 8 or 9 inch cake pans. An 8 or 9 inch springform pan is nice to have.

    How Long? 4 hours with about 30 minutes of active time. You can make this dish any time, just plan ahead to allow the time in the fridge.

    Ingredients:

    (Makes a cake with 12-16 servings)

    Yellow Cake:

    • 3 cups (12 3/4 oz.) all-purpose flour, sifted
    • 1 tablespoon baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
    • 2 cups (14 oz.) granulated white sugar
    • 4 large eggs
    • 1 cup whole milk
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

    Coffee Syrup:

    • 1/2 cup water
    • 2 teaspoons espresso powder
    • 1/4 cup sugar

    Mascarpone Filling:

    • 1 cup heavy cream
    • 8 oz. mascarpone cheese at room temperature
    • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
    • Cocoa powder, for garnish

    Assemble:

    Yellow Cake:

    1. Grease 2, 8 or 9 inch round cake pans with shortening and then dust evenly with flour. Tap out excess flour. Place the rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    2. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
    3. In the large bowl of your mixer beat the butter until soft and smooth. Add the sugar and beat until light and smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Stop and scrape the sides of the bowl a few times while mixing.
    4. With the mixer at slow speed, alternately add the flour mixture and milk, starting and ending with the flour. Stir in the vanilla.
    5. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans. Smooth the batter in the pans so they cook evenly. Bake in the oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean and the cake tops are lightly springy.
    6. Remove the cakes from the oven and cool in their pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Then remove the cakes from the pans and place on a wire rack. Allow the cakes to cool completely before cutting or frosting.
    7. You will have an extra cake with this recipe. You can wrap the cake tightly in plastic and freeze for future use, if you like. (Or just eat some cake.)

    Coffee Syrup:

    1. In a small saucepan stir the syrup ingredients over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a full rolling boil, remove from the heat, and set aside to cool.

    Mascarpone Filling:

    1. Using your mixer at medium speed, whisk the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Do not overbeat the cream, as the you want a smooth texture.
    2. In another bowl, whisk together the mascarpone and the confectioners’ sugar until smooth.
    3. Gently fold the whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture until completely incorporated.

    Tiramisu Layer Cake:

    1. Remove the top brown crust from the cake (so the syrup will soak in). Cut the cake in half horizontally. Place one layer of cake into a springform pan that’s been lined with a piece of parchment or waxed paper.
    2. Sprinkle the cake with half of the coffee syrup. Spread half of the mascarpone filling onto the cake. Top with the second piece of cake. Sprinkle with the remaining coffee syrup and let it sit for several minutes, then top with the remaining mascarpone filling. Refrigerate for several hours or until well-chilled.
    3. To serve, run a thin spatula around the edge of the pan. Remove the springform. Move the cake to a serving platter. Sprinkle with cocoa powder. Serve cold. Refrigerate any leftovers.
  • House-Smoked Almonds (And A California Salad)

    almond

    House-Smoked Almonds.

    almond1

    California Salad.

    Summer is drawing to a close here at the farm. Not so much the weather, it will be warm and sunny for a while, but the kids are returning to school and things start to get busy again. We would like to say that without the rest of the year we wouldn’t enjoy summer as much, but that is just a lie. We like our “slow” time with the kids, friends and family. It doesn’t ever get old. But such is life…the rest of the year arrives whether we like it or not.

    almond4almond3Meanwhile, we do have a few more summer cooking projects to tackle and have worked hard to fit them in. The first was trying sous-vide, deep-fried, all-belly porchetta from j.Kenji Lopez-Alt at Serious Eats (recipe here). It was simply AWESOME, but so rich we will save it for special occasions. Sad to say, no photos, there was a lot going on and when we deep fry we prefer not to be distracted by taking pictures (it’s that hot oil and fire thing). But now that we made the dish, you may see a post for this recipe around the holidays.

    almond5almond6The other, easier, project was smoking our own almonds for snacking and adding to salads. This is something that is just as awesome, even if it seems a bit more umm…normal pedestrian. Smoking your own almonds over fruit woods (with just a touch of hickory) gives you a light smoke flavor, with clear fruity notes that takes the almonds to another level. Finished with a touch of fine salt and olive oil, you have an almost perfect snack with multiple flavors and a delightful crunchy texture. And these are nothing like the heavy salt/fake smoked almonds you buy in a can. These are better in every way. Hard. To. Stop. Eating. Them….Must. Stop. Eating. Them….. 😉

    almond7And smoking your own almonds is incredibly easy, it just takes time and a bit of gear. For the gear you need a stove top or outdoor smoker, but any rig you have for smoking meat will work. You also need a cheap, disposable aluminum pan with holes poked in it to hold the almonds but still let smoke through. For wood, we heavily suggest a mix of 90% fruit wood (apple or cherry) and 10% hickory. The fruit wood is sweeter and the touch of hickory gives that slight “bacony” flavor without overwhelming the almonds.Then smoke the almonds at 225 degrees F for 30 to 120 minutes, depending on your taste (and you can taste during smoking). We went about 80 minutes and thought the flavor had good balance. One note is that the smoke favor will strengthen a bit as the almonds cool, so we suggest you take the almonds out just before you think they have enough smoke flavor.

    almond8While the almonds were warm, we added a touch of fine salt and some olive oil just to coat the nuts. We went about 1 teaspoon of salt and 2 teaspoons of oil to coat 1 pound of nuts, but we suggest you slowly mix and taste as you go, it is all part of the fun. You could add other seasonings or even a touch of citrus zest, if you like. Then let the almonds cool and have at them.

    almond9How to serve the almonds? As a snack is the obvious choice, but smoked almonds truly sing in salads. The sweet, salty, smoky and crunchy notes of the almonds bring almost any greens to life. We like a simple salad of sweet greens, chopped smoked almonds, diced apples and blue cheese with a simple vinaigrette. And since we have both Macintosh and Gravenstein apples ready in the orchard, we got to use our own apples in the salad. We made a “California-grown” theme of it and used local greens (we ate all of ours from the garden already) and blue cheese (Point Reyes Blue) along with the apples and almonds. Delightful, and it could almost compete with the porchetta…almost. But it was a good complement, and we will certainly enjoy this salad more often.

    almond2House Smoked Almonds:

    Notes Before You Start:

    • You want to smoke raw, unsalted almonds if you have access to them. But you can smoke roasted and salted almonds, just smoke for less time and do not add much seasoning.
    • You can experiment with other woods like oak for smoking, but almost all resources suggest using mostly fruit woods to keep the smoke from smothering the sweet almond flavor.

    What You Get: The best almonds you’ve ever had.

    What You Need: An indoor or outdoor smoking setup. A cheap aluminum pan.

    How Long? 2-3 hours, with 20 minutes of active time. Weekend dish, but the almonds keep for a while and can be enjoyed any time.

    Ingredients:

    • 1 pound raw, unsalted almonds
    • Fine salt
    • Olive oil
    • Fruit wood and hickory chips or chunks, for smoking

    Assemble:

    1. Soak your wood chips for at least 30 minutes. Set up your smoker to smoke at 225 degrees. Add the wood chips.
    2. Take a medium aluminum pan and poke holes in the bottom. Place the almonds in the pan and then put the pan in the smoker. Smoke the almonds for 30 to 120 minutes, tasting after 30 minutes. Remove the almonds from the smoker when you get to the desired smoke flavor.
    3. While still warm, place the almonds in a bowl and slowly add the oil and salt, mixing and tasting as you go. When you reach the desired level of salt let the almonds cool and serve.

    California Salad:

    Ingredients:

    (Serves 6-8 as a side salad)

    Salad:

    • 2 heads sweet green lettuce like green-leaf, mache or butter lettuce
    • 1 cup chopped sweet / tart apples like Macintosh
    • 1/2 cup chopped house-smoked almonds (recipe above)
    • 1/4 cup blue cheese, crumbled
    • Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

    Vinaigrette:

    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 2 teaspoons red wine or sherry vinegar
    • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
    • Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

    Assemble:

    1. For the vinaigrette, combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk until combined. Taste and adjust oil, vinegar and seasoning. Set aside.
    2. Wash the greens and make sure they are completely dry. Tear the greens into small pieces and them place in a large salad bowl. Dress the greens with half of the vinaigrette and add more as needed. Season with salt and pepper.
    3. To finish the salad, place the dressed greens on plates and top with a mix of the almonds, apples and blue cheese. Serve.
  • Mixology Monday LXXVI Cocktail: Special-Ti’

    Special-Ti' Cocktail.

    Special-Ti’ Cocktail.

    ti2Time for another Mixology Monday, the monthly online cocktail party. Let’s start with thanks to Fred Yarm at Cocktail Virgin Slut for keeping the party going and to this month’s host, the Muse of Doom at Feu de Vie (another excellent cocktail blog). The theme, a fitting one in a very hot August, is “Fire!”. Here is the announcement post and the details:

    mxmofire_zps75bb9668Tiki-philes have their flaming spent lime shells and scorpion bowls. Classic cocktailers have the magic of a flamed orange zest. Molecular mixologists have their Smoking Guns. …You don’t have to go full Blue Blazer, not nearly — heck, you could go full Fireball Whiskey! (or Fire Rock Pale Ale, etc.) You could riff on the Old Flame or come up with an inventive name of your own. You could even use a good firewater or burned wine. (and if you’re grilling fruit, save some for me, will ya?) In essence, bring the heat! Bring the Fire! Bring your inspiration!

    ti3Great theme. At first we thought of making a flaming tiki drink, and even ran a few fun experiments with Lemon Hart 151 in all sorts of vessels (it lights easily, btw). But after a while, we figured that we would see plenty of flaming tiki, and in better tiki bowls and cups than we have at the farm (we are working on adding to the collection). We also looked at flaming citrus peels over classics, as the announcement post suggests, but nothing really popped. But then a few days ago we used a brulee torch to make Chocolate S’more-bet Sundaes and we decided to use the torch in our Mixology Monday cocktail. Might as well use the thing…

    ti4So what to make? This part was surprisingly easy. We decided to deconstruct one of our favorite summer desserts, pineapple with lime zest and molasses, into a cocktail. We started with the garnish. We cut wedges of pineapple, coated them with dark brown sugar (turbinado or muscovado would also work), caramelized the sugar with the brulee torch and then added lime zest. You could eat this on its own and it is quite good, but a bit one-dimensional.

    ti5But we then made a hack of the standard Ti’ Punch (lime, cane syrup, rhum agricole) and dipped the caramelized pineapple wedges into the drinks and ate the pineapple. We tried a bunch of rums from dark to light, regular rum to a few types of rhum agricole. In the end, we liked Rhum Barbancourt 5-Star, an 8 year-old rhum from Haiti best. We also went light on cane syrup, as we learned that the caramelized sugar from the pineapple would mix into the drink and sweeten as we went along.

    ti6ti7So what did we get? A successful cocktail dessert. Both the cocktail and the garnish would be OK by themselves. But when combined, the sweet acidity of the pineapple, the intense (almost buttery) rum, sour lime and deep sugar flavor all play very well together. The extra texture of the pineapple and lime zest is also welcome. Great fun and something we will make again.

    ti8So thanks again to the Muse of Doom and Fred Yarm for another great Mixology Monday. We can’t wait to see he roundup.

    ti1Special-Ti’:

    Ingredients:

    Garnish:

    • Pineapple wedges
    • Dark brown sugar
    • Lime zest
    • Wooden or metal skewers

    Cocktail:

    • 2 oz. rum (Barbancourt 5-Star)
    • 1 oz. lime juice
    • 1/2 oz. cane syrup (or rich simple syrup)

    Assemble:

    1. Push the skewers lengthwise through the center of the pineapple wedges.
    2. Liberally sprinkle the pineapple wedges with the brown sugar and then caramelize the sugar with a brulee torch (or place on a baking sheet under a very hot broiler for about 30 seconds, or until brown). Quickly sprinkle on the lime zest before the caramelized sugar hardens.
    3. Place the pineapple wedges in the fridge for a few minutes to help the caramelized sugar harden.
    4. Meanwhile, combine the rum, lime juice and cane syrup in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until well-chilled and strain into a chilled cocktail glass or coupé.
    5. Garnish the cocktail with the pineapple wedge and serve.
    6. We suggest starting by dipping and eating the pineapple and then finishing the remaining cocktail. Enjoy.