A cocktail to start the weekend with

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We all have those weeks in which you just want it to end ASAP.  For me that was this week.  Sometimes living in Germany can be the best thing in the world, while other times it can just be a little annoying.  In any case I wanted a cocktail to start my weekend off right.  That’s where I remember a wonderful cocktail I had in Frankfurt back in October at the Luna Bar.  It was a ginger julep.  A few of my friends know my love of ginger, so once I saw this, I was sold.

Now a traditional mint julep, which you would generally find during Kentucky Derby time, will have mint, sugar, and of course bourbon.  However for the one at Luna Bar, they used vodka, mint, ginger, lime juice, and soda.  Funny thing is I didn’t realize this until after I made my own, especially since every recipe I looked for to make mine said bourbon.

You have several different ways to make a ginger julep.  For this time around I made a ginger syrup, which has a great flavor.  Put this together with the mint (which we are growing ourselves) and the at this point crystallized ginger, you get something good for sure.

It turned out to be pretty solid.  It totally helped me through my Friday evening and into my weekend.  I’ll have to try it out with vodka soon though.  I’m sure the flavor profile will be very good.

Ginger Julep

  • 5 sprigs of mint
  • 2 lime wedges
  • 3 pieces of crystallized ginger
  • 1 ounce of ginger syrup, recipe to follow
  • 3 ounces of bourbon, in this case I used Jim Beam
  • Soda water
  • Ice
  • Mint, for garnish
  • Crystallized ginger, for garnish

Combine the mint, lime wedges, and ginger syrup in a tall glass.  With a muddler or the end of a wooden spoon, crush the three ingriedents together until you smell the aroma of the mint, along with it being well broken down.  Add a little ice, then the bourbon, stir together, then add a little more ice, followed by topping it off with the soda water, stir slightly.  Garnish with mint and ginger.

Ginger syrup

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 ounces of ginger, thinly sliced

In a heavy-duty saucepan, combine all the ingredients.  Bring the water to a slight boil, letting the sugar dissolve, then turndown the heat to medium-low.  Let the ginger syrup go for about 30 minutes.  Remove from heat and less cool slightly.  Then strain the syrup to a jar putting a lid on it or a squeeze bottle that you can cover.  Keep the ginger since now it is crystallized, which means you can use it for your drinks, or to get as a snack.  Chill the syrup until you are ready to use it.  Syrup should be stored chill and will last you for 2 or 3 weeks.

Yield: 1 drink

Gooey Bacon Brownies, yes please!

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I think it is fair to say that a lot of people love bacon.  Some like it crispy, some will like it a little chewy. While others love a nice maple or applewood flavor.  Once you have gone and decided all of that, you can decide where and how you are going to eat it.  You can put it on a burger, eat it in some pasta, or of course just eat it alone.  However did you ever think of putting into a brownie recipe?

It was a few months ago and I was looking for a present to give to my mom for her birthday.  I decided to give her a few books for the Kindle fire I bought her for Christmas.  While doing this I came across 21 Bacon Dessert Recipes by Diane Dixon.  It has a lot of recipes that are pretty interesting, like putting bacon into chocolate chip cookies and oatmeal cookies.  Using it in cupcakes, along with your “standard” chocolate covered bacon.

One of the first few recipes are the Gooey Bacon Brownies with Caramel Sauce.  That’s right brownies with bacon in them.  However they have a twist.  You are making a bacon caramel sauce, then layer it over the brownie batter.  This gives it the brownies their gooeyness, along with keeping them very moist   and pure melt in your mouth texture.

Now I changed a few things in the recipe.  One of the main things is the fact that I added a few tablespoons of bourbon, in this case it was vanilla bourbon.  Once the brownies are done, and have cooled for a little bit, you get that fabulous aroma of the bourbon and the vanilla.  This is of course along with the normal chocolatey brownie smell, not to mention the caramel and bacon.  Basically you have a lot things going on here.

These brownies take about 35-45 minutes to cook, but you will want to under bake them, because once they come out, you will let them cool for about 20-30 minutes, then for clean cutting refrigerate them for an hour or more.

I’ve made them several times now and each time they go very quickly.  Try them out, they will be a very big hit for you.

Gooey Bacon Brownies with Caramel Sauce

Prep time: 20 minutes                    Cook time: 35-45 minutes,

Ingredients 

  • 2 slices of bacon, A thick cut is best
  • 1/2 cup of heavy cream
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut in to pieces
  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla bourbon (optional)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, a mix of either 1 cup cake flour, or a mix of a 1/2 cup of cake flour, with whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 slices of cooked bacon, chopped

Cooking Method

Caramel Sauce: In a saucepan, fry two slices of bacon until crisp. Remove bacon and add cream to hot pan and let cool. When bacon is cool, crumble or chop finely.

In a larger pan, heat the sugar over high heat until the mixture is liquid. Mix in the butter and the cooled bacon cream. Stir until the butter is melted. Add the chopped bacon. Remove pan from heat and let the mixture cool thoroughly.

Brownies: Preheat the oven to 350° F (175° C) degrees. Line an 8-inch square pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper that covers the bottom and sides of the pan. If using foil, grease the foil with butter, if using parchment, then just butter the pan and lay paper in the pan.

Melt the butter and chocolate chips by microwaving in a microwave-safe bowl in 15 second intervals. Stir after each melting. Add the cocoa and mix until smooth. Next add in the eggs one at a time. Add the sugar, vanilla, bourbon, if using, along with the flour and baking powder.  Stir until combined.

Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan. Over top of that, spread a third of the bacon caramel in an even layer, if caramel is stiff, reheat slightly to allow for easier spreading. Spread the rest of the brownie batter over the top and finish with the remaining caramel sauce over the top of the brownies.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes.  The brownies will have a nice rise, along with bubbling.  You can stick a toothpick in an area where there is no caramel, if comes out slightly clean, remove from the oven, and let cool.  For clean cutting refrigerate for at least 1 hour, then cut into squares.

Yield: 12 to 14 servings