Orange & Chocolate Treats for Halloween

With Halloween-related recipes making the rounds, I figured it was time to celebrate two of my favorite colors and flavors… chocolate and orange.  (Chocolate qualifies as a color and flavor, yes?)  First up, orange…

I grew up (or came of age) in an era when dessert drinks were popular.  The Brandy Alexander.  The Grasshopper.  Basically anything booze with ice cream!

It seems incredible now that we often ordered them after a substantial dinner.  Of course, there were “lighter” dessert drinks, too — The Pink Squirrel and The Golden Cadillac, to name a few.  (Booze and half & half… not quite as “dessert-y” to me, though.)

Clearly a compromise is needed to solve this dessert drink dilemma! ;)

Recently, I found myself with a leftover shot of Jose Cuervo.  (Bear in mind, I started with one of those teeny, tiny bottles — not the whole shebang.)  Anyhow…

What does one do with an ounce of pure Gold?

The first thing that came to mind was a Tequila Sunrise — or an orange-flavored Margarita.  (The contents of my fridge voted for the latter option.)  So, I spent the better part of a lazy Sunday afternoon messing around with a simple syrup infused with orange peel.

Ta da… The Orange-arita!

I took a sip… hmmm… close, but not quite.  (It was really sweet and I was out of limes or I would’ve rendered some sourness promptly!)

It needed… something.

Hmmm again.  (Opens fridge.)  Aha!

Heavy cream… the perfect compromise between ice cream and half & half.  (I love “aha” moments!)  After a gentle stir and a tentative sip, I deemed it creamy… dreamy… and much better than the traditional (vodka) versions I’ve tasted, in my opinion.

No trick — it was a treat!

The Tequila Dreamsicle

1 oz. Jose Cuervo Gold (or to taste…)

1 1/2 oz. freshly squeezed orange juice

1 1/2 oz. orange-infused simple syrup (recipe to follow)

1 1/2 oz. heavy cream

1 orange peel twist, for garnish

In a shaker over ice, combine Cuervo Gold, simple syrup, and orange juice; shake until combined.

Strain mixture into a chilled Margarita glass.

Stir in heavy cream until smooth.  Enjoy!

Orange Infused Simple Syrup

1/4 c. water

1/4 c. sugar

Orange peel (including pith) from 1/2 an orange

In a small saucepan, combine water and sugar; bring to a boil.

Reduce heat; add orange peel.

Simmer several minutes until orange essence is infused.

Remove from heat; cool mixture to room temp.

Remove orange peel before adding syrup to shaker.

Note:  These quantities make one drink.  Feel free to multiply. ;)

And now for the chocolate… actually, chocolate and orange!

Trick or Treat!!!

Wish I could take credit for this delectable dessert, but it’s a photo of the beautiful chocolate-orange cake that my son surprised me with when I was in the middle of care-taking in August.

Thoughtful young man that he is, he invited me to a “night off” from cooking, including picking out a dessert from a local bakery that he knew would tickle my fancy.  (It did!)  He also treated me to his signature burgers hot off the grill (a recipe I hope to share with you one day) and garden-fresh potatoes sauteed to golden goodness.

I love thoughtful treats, don’t you? xo

Wishing you a Happy Halloween.  Be safe and have fun!

Enjoying a lil’ dreaminess in moderation,

~ Kim

Not Your Average Joe (Two Tone Chocolate Mocha)

After my last post, it rained for two days straight (hallelujah!), and with the rain came a renewed sense of purpose… and a whole lot of coffee drinking.

Bear in mind, I admire folks who can contain themselves to a single cup per day — an early morning jolt, a mid-afternoon pick-me-up, or a post-dessert accompaniment.  I also marvel at those who partake of coffee now and then — truly a matter of self-controlled savoring.

As for those who abstain from it altogether, I have nothing but the deepest respect.  Coffee isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. :)  I also believe our differences are what attract us to each other — seeing how the other half lives, eh?  (Cause for celebration, not condemnation!)

As for moi… well, I grew up drinking the stuff.  It’s part of who I am.

After all the years The Man Of Few Words and I spent over-the-road drinking “mud,” we’ve pretty much adapted to the constant influx of caffeine.  Addicts?  No.  Acclimated?  Yes.

So as not to bounce off the walls with our near-IV consumption of java, our “home brew” falls somewhere between strong enough and weak enough.  We’ve also worn out three or four coffeemakers in the course of our eleven year or so marriage.  Who’s counting?

(Coffeemakers or anniversaries.)

So as the recent rain fell, coffee was brewed and cups were refilled.

Again and again.  Ahhhh…

It seemed appropriate to mark the occasion with something out of the ordinary — something more than just cream and sugar (which I enjoy once in a rare while) — or, at least cream and sugar in a different form.  In other words, not your average Joe.

I decided on a variation of my White Chocolate Mocha.  Made with a chocolate ganache base, it settled into an amusing (and quite satisfying) two layers.

(Three, counting the chocolate sludge on the bottom…)  But again, who’s counting?

Not nearly as sweet as the typical coffee-house version (with the addition of unsweetened chocolate), drinking it was rather like a duel between coffee and chocolate in my mouth.  Both of them won.

Two Tone Chocolate Mocha

Freshly brewed black coffee (whatever strength you desire)*

Chocolate Ganache, divided (recipe to follow)

Whipped Chocolate Ganache, for garnish

Chocolate chips, for garnish

For each 6 to 8 ounce cup of coffee, stir in 3 tablespoons of chilled chocolate ganache mixture.

Whip remaining chocolate ganache (see below.)

Top beverage with a dollop of whipped chocolate ganache.

Sprinkle randomly with chocolate chips.

(Note: most of the whipped ganache melted on contact, but that’s okay — I was going to stir it in anyway.  Also, all but one of the chocolate chips sank.  Oh well.)

*If coffee doesn’t tickle your fancy, try preparing this with hot milk for a grown-up Hot Chocolate.

Chocolate Ganache

1/2 c. heavy cream

1/2 c. milk chocolate chips

1/2 oz. (1/2 square) unsweetened chocolate, chopped

In a small saucepan, heat cream just to boiling; remove from heat.

Add chocolate chips and chopped chocolate; let sit for several minutes until softened.

Whisk until combined.  (I was in a hurry; mine had residual chocolate “flecks” — not a bad thing.)

Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate until chilled.  (I chilled the beaters at the same time, too.)

Reserve half the ganache mixture for stirring into coffee.  Store “leftovers” — if any — in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Whip remaining ganache with an electric mixer ’til soft peaks form.

Average Joe, meet Empress Josephine… love at first sip.

Technical difficulties aside, this treat did the trick.  I feel right as rain.

Enjoying java in all its glory,

~ Kim

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