Thursday, November 24, 2011

Hot Buttered Rum

The first time I had Hot Buttered Rum was at the ski resort I used to work at. It was wonderful, but they made it with an elaborate batter I couldn't hope to duplicate. The only thing the bartender would tell me was that it had vanilla ice cream in it.

Years later, on a chilly Thanksgiving morning, my dear friend Jenn offered me a hot buttered rum and I readily agreed. It was delicious, but was very basic. Just rum, hot water, butter, and a few sprinkles of spices. This is where I learned what a classic Hot Buttered Rum was. It was wonderful, and I still make them just like that, relying solely on the butter to give each sip it's richness.

But sometimes... Sometimes I crave the rich, creamy ski resort version. I still haven't figured out their batter recipe, although I am getting close. But, I did devise a halfway point between the two that I enjoy greatly.

Lee's Hot Buttered Rum

1 1/2 oz shot of dark rum (I prefer Myers's)
1/2 tbsp butter
2 tsp sugar
1 1/2 tbsp heavy whipping cream
drop or two of pure vanilla extract
sprinkle ground cinnamon and nutmeg
hot water to fill mug

Add rum and butter to mug, pour in a bit of hot water to heat the rum and melt the butter. Then stir in the other ingredients, topping the mug off with hot water. Stir and enjoy!

Note: be careful not to add too much cinnamon (sprinkle, not pour), as cinnamon becomes mucilaginous when cooked in liquid. No choking on cinnamon slime! It's not what the cool kids do.

I prefer Myers's Dark Rum, because it gives a richness that I find regular and spiced rums lack. But, really, just use what you have. Also, see that cinnamon stick? Notice how it isn't propped up artistically in the mug below? That's because what I was showing is that the 'ground cinnamon' in that old bottle is actually fresh cinnamon from a stick, that I ground up in my coffee-grinder-converted-to-spice-grinder-because-I-bought-a-cheap-grinder-that-ended-up-being-too-cheap-to-grind-coffee-well grinder. Because that's what I do. If you buy the cinnamon sticks on the funny little display of mexican spices in the vegetable section at the grocery, you'll spend a lot less and get a better product.

You are just lucky I took the time to take this picture, before I drank it. Lucky, I tell you!

PS. Ignore the Starbucks label on the mug. It's the only clear mug I own and I wanted to show you the color of the drink.

PPS. Oh, also, you can substitute a heaping spoonful of good vanilla ice cream in place of the whipping cream and vanilla, but be sure of two things. 1) It needs to be Good (expensive) ice cream that doesn't have any thickeners in it. No guar gum, no xanthan gum. Just milk, cream, eggs, vanilla, sugar. The thickeners are pretty gross when melted. 2) Get the kind without the vanilla bean flecks. Those are really just finely ground vanilla pods, not the tiny little seeds, and they don't like being mixed with hot water (see note about the cinnamon).

Next up, Chicken Liver Pate. (Shut up. It's good!)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Grown Up Pumpkin Pie

Once upon a time, I was convinced that the best pumpkin pie was straight off the label of a Libby's can, and it is pretty good. Let's face it, chances are, it's the pie you grew up with. But thing of it is... we all grew up, so why didn't our pie?

Somewhere along the line, I read an article by someone who's name forever escaped me. In it, she recounted a time she was out of evaporated milk and decided to substitute sweetened condensed milk and a touch of cognac to thin it out a bit. I tried it and liked it. Then I tried it again with brandy and liked it better. I also have a heavier hand with spices, loving richly spiced foods from around the world, so my pies changed from the Libby recipe to something much bolder, richer, and spicier.

Then I got married.

Pumpkin pie is probably the biggest disagreement John and I have had. Eventually, I decided to bake one his way (Libby), one my way, and a dish of a 50:50 mix of the two custards.

One bite of each and the disagreement was over. The mixed custard was the absolute best pumpkin pie either of us had ever had.

Grown Up Pumpkin Pie

1 1/2 C sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
3/4 tsp ground cloves
pinch of ground mace
4 large eggs
1 can (29 oz) Libby's 100% pure pumpkin
1 can (12 fl oz) evaporated milk
1 can ( fl oz) sweetened condensed milk
1/4 C brandy
2 9 inch deep dish pie crusts (or 1 10 inch deep dish crust)

Mix dry ingredients in a small bowl. Beat eggs in a large bowl, then add the pumpkin, evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, brandy, and mix well. Then add the sugar mixture and stir throughly. Pour into pie shell, and move into middle rack of 425F oven for 20 minutes. Then reduce over temp to 350F and cook until the custard is done, approximately 35-50 minutes. A knife inserted in the center will come out almost clean, but I used the time-tested 'jiggle method', and call the pie done when only the center few inches jiggle when I bounce the oven rack.

If you use a 10 inch deep dish Le Creuset pie dish, the total bake time can approach 1 hour 20 minutes.

Cool pie on rack at least a hour before serving, but this pie is also very good made a day in advance.

Separately mixing the dry and wet ingredients before combining will prevent little clumps of spices from forming.

Mmm... breakfast of champions!

I didn't have whipped cream. There is no excuse for me.

Next up, Hot Buttered Rum!