This summer, I’m basking in the daily slowness of life without school (even online school was an effort) and experiencing everything that we weren’t able to this past year. Seeing family, meeting friends for drinks, eating out, enjoying museums and parks; it all feels special. Though we’re still wearing masks and maintaining some sense of social distancing, this summer still feels so much different. I feel as if I have at least some of my life back.
To capture my summer mood, I needed a refreshing drink to sip on while enjoying the sunshine. My drink of choice couldn’t be easier: the Cherry Gin Rickey.
What is a Cherry Gin Rickey?
The Gin Rickey is a mixed drink that dates back to the early 19th century in Washington, D.C. It’s a combination of gin, lime juice, club soda, and ice for a tart, sparkling, and light drink. Sometimes simple syrup is added but my twist on this cocktail skips the syrup and uses a high quality maraschino cherry with a splash of cherry juice from the jar.
How to Make a Cherry Gin Rickey?
The Cherry Gin Rickey is made in this order: ice, gin, lime juice, club soda, maraschino cherry juice and finished with a maraschino cherry. It’s so incredibly balanced and refreshing. Perfectly chilled and sippable on a hot day.
Adding ice to the glass beforehand makes for a chilled drink that isn’t too watery. Trust me on this. I used to add the ice last and ended up using at least a quarter more club soda.
Best Ingredients for a Cherry Gin Rickey
Cherries & Cherry Juice – I do recommend buying a high quality maraschino cherry such as from Tillen Farms, which doesn’t include any artificial dyes or flavors. I find them to be perfectly plump, juicy, and fresh tasting. Just to be clear, this is not a sponsored post, I just really like these cherries!
Gin – I love Bombay for its floral notes but London Dry is also a great choice. Out of gin? It should be noted that the original Rickey was actually made with bourbon, so sometimes I replace the gin with an equal amount of Kentucky Straight Bourbon.
Lime juice – It’s best to use freshly squeezed! Lime is one of the main ingredients and there is a significant flavor difference between fresh squeezed and bottled lime juice. If out of fresh limes use lime LaCroix instead of club soda. The lime isn’t as strong but it still works in a pinch.
Club soda – Club soda is carbonated water with mineral additives included. The minerals make the drink slightly saltier than a straight carbonated water (such as LaCroix) that doesn’t include added minerals. I buy whatever I can find on the grocery shelves. Fever-Tree or Schweppes are good options for brand name club soda.
I hope you are out making memories and sipping cocktails in the sun. Cheers to summer!
Cherry Gin Rickey
1 ½ ounces gin
1 lime, divided
4 ounces club soda
1 maraschino cherry
1 splash of cherry juice from the maraschino cherry jar
Fill a rocks glass half full of ice. Cut the lime in half and squeeze one half over the ice. Add gin, club soda, and cherry juice over the ice and stir. Slice the other half lime into rounds for garnish Add the maraschino cherry and enjoy immediately.
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Do you have certain routines that you look forward to every day? For me, it’s after dinnertime. My husband fills the tea pot and sets it on the stove before heading to the pantry. He breaks us each off a square of chocolate to enjoy while we clean up and wait for the whistle of the kettle.
Our tea of choice is Tazo Passion, which is a blend of hibiscus, rose hip, and orange. The chocolate is always dark and usually has a hint of sea salt or a slight crunch of almond. With tea in hand and melted chocolate on the tongue, we head to the living room to catch our breath and reconnect after a busy day.
I’ve long wanted to develop a truffle recipe that blends our love of tea and chocolate but tempering the chocolate for the shell evaded me time and again until recently.
In January, I was given the opportunity to take a course from Learning with Experts and it didn’t take me long to decide which one it would be: The Art of Chocolate Making taught by Paul A.Young. I learned how to make the creamiest ganache, how to temper chocolate, how to make filled chocolates, plus multiple decorating techniques.
Each of the four pre-recorded lessons included a hands-on assignment to practice the skills taught. I was always a little nervous to turn mine in! Once I turned in the assignment, the next lesson was unlocked. Paul always took the time to comment on the assignment with helpful tips and encouraging feedback.
I’ve taken online classes before but none that taught me as many skills as this series did. I’m so excited to be able to share some of the techniques I learned.
Yet maybe you want more than one blog post? I encourage you to check out the class for yourself and make the handmade chocolates you’ve always dreamed of.
What is a Truffle
A chocolate truffle (not the fungi) is a confection consisting of rolled ganache coated with tempered chocolate or cocoa.
How to Make Ganache
Ganache is chocolate mixed with liquid. The high liquid to chocolate ratio keeps the chocolate from seizing and instead creates a soft mousse-like texture. In the class, my instructor Paul, recommended starting with melted chocolate to help ensure a smooth ganache. After it cools and is chilled in the refrigerator, the ganache is rolled into balls to create the center of the truffle.
Tips for Rolling Ganache into Balls
Once chilled, ganache is semi-solid and a little sticky. Paul taught us to dip our fingers in cocoa powder and then roll the ganache in between our fingers. It works perfectly!
How to Temper Dark Chocolate
Two different methods: tabletop and seeding. I’m using the seeding method, which is the best method for tempering small amounts of chocolate. It works by adding tempered chocolate to a bowl of melted chocolate and then stirring continuously. Having a scale to measure the chocolate and an accurate thermometer for reading temperatures is crucial for success. Full instructions are below in the recipe.
Tips for Tempering Chocolate
Use a quality chocolate that tastes good. I like Ghiradelli.
Don’t use chocolate chips. I’m always tempted to substitute but I tried it with chips and it really did not turn out well.
Use a quick read digital thermometer (such as a Thermapen)
Use metal bowls for the best temperature control.
Temper chocolate when you have the time to work uninterrupted from start to finish.
Set a square of parchment next to the bowl and spread a little chocolate on it to check to see if it is tempered.
Stir continuously at a moderate rate.
Working with Tempered Chocolate
In all honesty, this was the hardest part for me. I was always in a rush and thought if I worked quickly enough that I could skip this step. Wrong! By the fourth lesson of the class, I made my peace with the fact that I need to warm the chocolate before using it. The goal is to keep the chocolate between 86℉ and 88℉, but not above 90℉. This temperature range ensures that the chocolate is fluid and won’t set too quickly.
Use a hair dryer or heat gun to gently warm the chocolate for a few seconds.
Place a towel under the bowl to slow the cooling process.
Coating in Tempered Chocolate
For a professional-looking truffle, the trick is to coat the ganache balls in two very thin layers of tempered chocolate. Paul taught us to dip our fingers in the chocolate and roll the ganache in the chocolate on our fingers. The tempered chocolate sets almost immediately and then once coated, start at the beginning and give each a second coat.It really is quite satisfying to see shiny chocolate truffles lined up on a baking sheet.
While these truffles are pretty enough on their own, it’s quite fun adding a little embellishment.Brush edible glitter on the dried chocolate truffle for a pop of color or pipe thin lines over the truffles with the leftover tempered chocolate.
It feels so good to finally have the chocolate skills needed to make my Passion Truffle dreams a reality! Tazo Passion Tea adds a slightly floral flavor to the creamy ganache, perfect for celebrating the beginning of Spring. I love the satisfying crunch that the tempered chocolate shell gives each bite. These bite-sized chocolates are satisfyingly decadent without being heavy and I hope you give them a try!
Passion Tea Truffles
160 g (6 oz) dark chocolate, melted
160 g (scant ¾ cup) cream
60 g (1/3 cup) granulated sugar
1 Passion tea bag, tag removed
One strip of orange peel
Pinch of kosher salt
Tempered Chocolate Coating:
300 g (11 oz) dark chocolate, divided and chopped
1/4 cup cocoa powder, for rolling ganache
Make the ganache: Mix cream, sugar, tea, orange peel, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally. Take off heat and let it steep for two minutes. Stir to thoroughly distribute. Remove the tea bag and orange peel and pour tea mixture over melted chocolate. Whisk to combine into a smooth homogeneous ganache. Pour into a wide container and allow to cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate for an hour or overnight.
Rolling ganache: Bring ganache out of the refrigerator and cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Pour cocoa powder into a small bowl. Scoop a 1/2 tablespoon of ganache into your hand, dip fingers in cocoa powder and roll ganache into balls. Set on the baking sheet and continue until all the ganache is used. You should have between 30-40 balls.
Temper the chocolate: Fill a small pot with two inches of water and bring to a simmer. Fill a metal bowl with 200 g (7 oz) of chopped chocolate and set on top of the simmering water. Stir with a spatula and melt until chocolate reaches 140℉, about five minutes. Take the melted chocolate off the pot and dry the bowl with a towel.
Add the remaining 100 g (3.5 oz) of chopped chocolate to the melted chocolate, and stir at a moderate pace. Ensure that the bottom of the spatula is touching the bottom of the bowl and that the chocolate on the side of the bowl doesn’t harden. Stir continuously until the chocolate reaches 81℉, about 20 minutes. Test that the chocolate is tempered by spreading some on a square of parchment. Continue stirring and once the test is dry, shiny, and minus any swirling, the tempering is complete. Grab the heat gun (or hair dryer) and warm the chocolate to 86-88℉.
Coat the ganache: Dip fingers in tempered chocolate and roll the ball on your fingers to coat and place back on the baking sheet. Continue until all the balls are covered. Repeat for a second layer.
Decorate truffles: Brush edible glitter onto the truffles or pipe a simple decoration using any remaining chocolate.
Store: Store finished truffles in an air-tight container at room temperature for one week.
Thanksgiving is right around the corner and though I like turkey and stuffing, it’s pumpkin pie I crave. The classic baked burnt-orange pumpkin pie isn’t what I grew up eating. No, the pie I crave is a modestly spiced, creamy, no-bake, marshmallow pumpkin pie with a graham cracker crust. My mom made this every year and I always loved it but for some reason hadn’t made it myself. I decided to give it a try (with my own spin of course!) and was not disappointed.
No-bake pumpkin pie recipes are prolific on the internet and for good reason. First off, because they aren’t baked, there isn’t any worry about unseemly cracks on the top of the pie. Another plus? The no-bake version leaves my oven free to use for other Thanksgiving dishes.
The original version uses a premade graham cracker crust and Cool Whip. I wanted to up the flavor in the crust by making a homemade version with brown butter. For the pumpkin filling, I replaced the Cool Whip with freshly whipped cream. These simply changes amped up the flavor without over complicating an easy-as-can-be pie.
There are a few tips to note regarding this pie: be sure to chill for at least four hours or overnight before serving. You’ll be able to tell that the pie is set by pressing on the center. It should be firm to the touch. Another tip for this pie is to make sure to choose the right size pie plate. The crust recipe makes enough for a 9-inch pie with 1-inch sides. A taller sided or larger pie pan will need extra crust and filling. I would 1.5x the recipe for a different sized pie.
The end result is a perfectly creamy pumpkin pie to remember for years to come.
What is Brown Butter?
Brown butter is when the butter solids are browned, usually in a saucepan over low heat.(surprising, I know! It imparts a nutty flavor that compliments the warm spices in the pumpkin filling.
Tips for Making a Graham Cracker Crust
I’ve made my share of crumbly graham cracker crusts and have learned a thing or two along the way. The main mistake is to not add enough butter. It should pack like wet sand and not be crumbly when pressing into the pan. Thankfully it’s an easy fix. Just add more butter! The other tip is to spray the pie tin to help the crust not stick. Lastly, I like to bake my graham crusts, though you don’t have to, I like how it ensues a firm crust and helps fend off moisture.
I used these adorable dish covers throughout the whole process (thanks Halo!)
No-Bake Pumpkin Pie
10 tablespoons unsalted butter
190g Graham cracker crumbs (12 sheets)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (244g) pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon cinnamon
⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon kosher salt
10 ounces marshmallows
1½ cup (4 ounces) heavy whipping cream, divided
Whipped Cream Topping
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Brown butter: Melt butter in a small saucepan set on medium heat and stir often. Once melted, simmer the butter until the butter solids are brown on the bottom of the pan. The butter foams and then the butter solids will brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a small glass measuring cup to cool.
Crust directions: Heat oven to 350℉. Break graham crackers into the bowl of the food processor and process until fine crumbs, about 15 seconds. Add sugar and salt and pulse to combine. Drizzle most of the brown butter into the food processor while it’s running and thoroughly mix. Stop the processor and use a flexible spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl and then squeeze the mixture and see if it holds together. If not, then add another tablespoon or two of the brown butter and pulse again. The graham mixture should look like wet sand.
Spray a 9 inch pie tin with cooking spray. Remove the blade from the food processor and take handfuls of graham mixture and press it into the pie pan. I find it helpful to start with the sides and work my way around the pan and then finish with the bottom. Press using steady, gentle pressure until the pan is covered evenly. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until it is golden brown throughout and firm to the touch. Let cool on a wire rack for about 30 minutes.
Pumpkin filling directions: In a medium saucepan, whisk the pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt. Add marshmallows and cook, stirring often, on low until the marshmallows are melted. Transfer to a medium bowl and set aside to cool.
In a small bowl, use a hand mixer to whip ½ cup heavy cream to stiff peaks, about one minute.
Assemble pie: Fold whipped cream into cooled pumpkin mixture. Fold until the mixture is homogeneous. Scrape filling into the cooled graham crust and spread evenly. Cover and refrigerate for at least four hours. Press the center of the pie to make sure it is firm to the touch before removing from the refrigerator and serving.
Finish and serve: Use a hand mixer and whip the remaining 1 cup of heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar, salt, and vanilla extract to stiff peaks.
Cut pie into 8 slices. For the cleanest cuts, cut while the pie is cold and wipe off knife in-between each cut. Serve pie either at room temperature or chilled alongside a spoonful of whipped cream. Leftovers will keep for 3 days if well-wrapped and stored in the refrigerator.