Photo: Lara Ferroni
For the meringue mushrooms to decorate her Tiramisu Yule Log, Gina Marie Miraglia Eriquez definitely did not want to go the traditional route. “Do I have to do the boring white mushrooms?” she asked. “How about I add a little cocoa to the meringue and do mushrooms that look like cremini,” she continued, her voice rising with enthusiasm.
“Great idea!” I shot back, because although I’m a fan of meringues of any kind, especially ones made to mimic mushrooms, I’ve often thought they looked too bright a white up against the chocolate brown bark of the log.
When Eriquez turned in her Christmas menu recipes, she was particularly proud of how her mushroom idea turned out. “Just wait till you try them,” she told me, “they’re really cute.”
It’s no surprise, then, that her Yule log with the mushrooms was the first recipe I tested. Everything was going beautifully until it came time to pipe the cocoa-tinted meringue onto the baking sheet. The meringue was super stiff when I began folding in the tiny amount of cocoa Eriquez called for, but when I tried to pipe the “stems,” which are supposed to stand straight up on the baking sheet, the tops kept leaning over. Continue reading
Photo: L.A. Burdick
After a demanding afternoon of searching for thoughtful Christmas presents for every member of my extended family (and ending up with scarves), I was in dire need of a hot chocolate break. Serendipitously, an L.A. Burdick outpost was on route, so I stopped in for a rich dark cup, which was beautifully blended with Macallan 12 (a household favorite). I had department stores to tackle, after all.
Typically, when I’m concocting my own boozy hot cocoa, I tend to use lower quality liquor, but this was a special occasion (I was stressed). At L.A. Burdick, they mix 6 to 8 tablespoons of their shaved chocolate with 3 quarters to 1 cup of scalding hot milk and a half ounce of Scotch. If you’re making yours at home, you can sub in whatever bittersweet (60 percent cacao) or semisweet chocolate you prefer and add a good deal more alcohol. Depending on your mood, Cointreau, vanilla vodka, peppermint schnapps, Baileys, and of course any flavor of Kahlua will transform your hot chocolate to the next level of bliss. Gourmet’s Grasshopper Hot Chocolate, which uses crème de menthe, is a nice cooling option. Personally, I prefer the warming elements of a brandy or whiskey to top off my drink (they play better with chocolate than vodka or liqueurs) but no matter the spirit, this winter staple will ward off any shopping-induced temper tantrums.
What do you spike your hot chocolate with?