Category: champagne

New Year’s Rockin’ Eve.

A vintage NYE! (click through for NYE recipes)

Well it’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, as Dick Clark would say. In just a few short hours, 2014 will be here. In case you’re lacking recipe ideas for today, I figured I’d give you some. Consider it a belated Christmas gift. Most of them require nothing more than a bottle of champagne & a quick run to the grocery store.

  • Champagne parfaits: A delicious & easy “champagne jell-O” that takes absolutely no time to make. A grown-up jell-O shot, if you will. Click here for the recipe.
  • Champagne jelly: Excellent melted on roast chicken, or as a topping on a chicken sandwich. And also excellent with cheese on crackers. But I’m sure you can come up with other uses! Recipe can be found here. (FYI: these jars were also a 2011 Well Preserved Pimp That Preserve winner!)
  • Champagne cupcakes: No explanation needed! Champagne cupcakes with sweet champagne frosting. Get the details right here.

This year I knew I wouldn’t be around; I’m presently packing to go to Connecticut. Jay is playing a show tonight at The Webster in Harftord, so I’m going with him. I’ll be back tomorrow afternoon.. so therefore no NYE recipes for me this year. Boo hoo. But also kind of exciting- it’s the first time he’s been off for NYE since 2009! And that means it’s also literally a New Year’s Rockin’ Eve.

I hope you all have a fantastic New Year’s Eve, and an even better 2014. See you next year…

Happy New Year... A NYE recipe compilation! And most things don't even require more than an extra bottle of bubbly.

Auld Lang Syne.

Here we are. Arriving at the end of yet another year. Another year older, and hopefully another year wiser. For many, NYE is a melancholy event, and for others it’s just an excuse to party hard & wake up the next morning with no clue of how/where the previous year ended. Neither of those describe me. Like I said on Facebook a few days ago, my idea of the perfect NYE? In my pajamas, eating take-out or a variety of appetizers while watching The Honeymooners. Then, right before midnight, switching over to the New Year’s Rockin’ Eve just to see the ball drop while drinking some bubbly. No parties, no bar-hopping. The furthest I’ll go is out to dinner. I am just not the partying type (anymore). And of course, being the significant other of a police officer means there’s not a whole lot going on on NYE anyway; he’s usually working, even if it’s a “day off.”

So on that note, every year for New Year’s Eve, since I’m usually home, I make something fun using champagne (or rosé or prosecco…). I think since champagne is the drink of the evening, it’s only right that any desserts or meals that are served not only compliment champagne & vice versa, but include it somehow.

This year, I was at a loss until I stumbled upon something on the Food Network website that gave me the perfect excuse to buy that extra bottle of champagne:

CHAMPAGNE PARFAITS. Whaaaat. I know.

This is probably the easiest dessert you’ll ever make. I know, I know, I always say that. But this time it’s 100% true: it takes absolutely no time at all to make, about 8-10 minutes, actually. And the rest of the time it just chills out in the fridge. You can make it the night before or that morning. It tastes just like champagne… but in a jiggly form. It’s a grown-up, classier, fancier version of a Jell-O shot… no fake fruit flavor added. Add some berries (berries bring out the flavors in champagne) if you like, or a little fresh whipped cream, or just eat it plain. You probably have all, if not most, of the ingredients already. And if you don’t? They’re easy enough to get a hold of.

Plus, it just looks spectacularly beautiful.

CHAMPAGNE “JELL-O” STYLE OR CHAMPAGNE GELATIN PARFAIT (adapted from a recipe by Claire Robinson at the Food Network)

Ingredients:

  • 1 bottle champagne/rose/prosecco (750 ml)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 (1/4-ounce) packets unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoon’s confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup raspberries or strawberries (if you prefer, it’s optional)

Directions:

  1. Put the champagne, 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes to burn off some of the alcohol.
  2. Remove from the heat and slowly whisk in the gelatin until completely dissolved. Pour into parfait glasses, champagne glasses or a 9 x 11″ baking dish. Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate to set up for at least 4 hours.
  3. When you’re ready to serve the parfaits, in a large bowl, whip the cream to medium stiff peaks, adding the confectioner’s sugar slowly. Then add vanilla. Whip with a hand mixer using a whisk attachment until desired thickness, but not so much it turns to butter!
  4. Remove the glasses with the gelatin from the fridge. If you’ve used a baking dish, cut the gelatin into 1 by 1-inch cubes and put into parfait or champagne glasses.
  5. Top each with a dollop of fresh whipped cream and berries.* Then enjoy!

*Another idea is to put the berries into the room temperature mixture before refrigerating it. Then they’d be “floating” in the champagne!

I am IN NO WAY encouraging anyone to pour a steaming hot liquid into a crystal vessel or a non-heatproof glass vessel. I can’t take responsibility for anyone ruining their good crystal by pouring hot champagne Jell-O mixture into it. That said, after allowing the mixture to cool (not to room temperature, just slightly above) and warming the crystal under hot water first (and gradually), I poured it into the champagne flutes and then let it come to room temperature. Once it was cooled enough, then I transferred them to the refrigerator where they stayed until serving time. Any quick change in temperature can cause glass & crystal to crack or even simply shatter. So if you are planning on serving these in the flutes, you have a few options:

  1. Do as I did: heat up your gelatin mixture, and let it cool off the heat enough so that it’s not scalding hot, but just very warm. Meanwhile, let cool water, then lukewarm water, then warm water, then hot water run over your crystal champagne flutes. When they’re prepared for the hot champagne mixture, place a thin tea towel on your table or kitchen counter and place the warm flutes on it. Put a small metal spoon in each one, then you can pour the mixture into them slowly. Then remove the spoons. Allow them to cool completely and come to room temperature, then place them in the fridge for 4 hours or until it’s time for dessert. The idea is that the spoons absorb the heat, and help disperse it, and the tea towel absorbs the shock making it less likely you’ll break the flutes. I’ve had no problem with this method- but again, do it at your own risk.
  2. Use cheap dollar store champagne flutes or wine glasses to attempt it- if you don’t want to risk your good crystal. I’d still use the method above.
  3. Use disposable plastic champagne flutes from a party store. If you personalized them (either the glass or the plastic) with Sharpies, your guests could then take them home! You don’t need to prep plastic first, they should hold up just fine with the warm liquid (not boiling!)
  4. Use parfait glasses. Since they’re usually thicker glass, there’s really less concern with breakage. I’d still run the hot water over them first like I said in #1.
  5. Use a heatproof glass baking dish, let it come to room temperature, and then put it in the fridge the same way. Then simply cut it into 1″ squares once it’s ready, and place it into the flutes/wine glasses/bowls for serving. Heatproof glass doesn’t need to be heated before having boiling hot liquid poured into it, it’s just fine to use & withstands drastic temperature changes pretty damn well.

If you’re frightened, then don’t do it. Use a baking dish, and cut it to serve, or use the plastic champagne glasses. But I will say that these are my grandmother’s crystal champagne flutes from 1940, and they held up just fine with the method I explained above.

Just as with the champagne jelly, you shouldn’t use an expensive champagne for this. Any champagne will do- don’t waste your Tattinger, Perrier-Jouet or Veuve Clicquot. Because after all, don’t forget, you’re boiling it & adding sugar to it anyway. Why use something really expensive when you won’t get the full taste? I used Andre extra dry which is about $4.99 a bottle for the 750ml, and it turned out excellent. Plus, there’s more sugar in cheaper champagne as a rule, so they make a better dessert. You don’t really want a parfait that isn’t sweet. If you prefer very dry champagne that isn’t sweet for drinking, that’s fine. But in a dessert, served with whipped cream & berries? You want a little bit of sweetness.

Save the good champagne for guzzling !

I hope you have a safe & happy end of 2012 & beginning of the year, and a healthy 2013 throughout. I’ll see you back here next year!

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne…

For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

 

The name “Jell-O®” is a registered trademark of Kraft Foods U.S/the Altria Group. & this company or the makers of J-ello have nothing to do with me, this recipe or this post. I’m using the name as a generic term for a gelatin -based dessert, i.e. the way “Band-Aid” or “Kleenex” is used to describe bandages or tissue paper.

A toast of champagne.

Champagne jelly, that is. It’s only appropriate to feature such a thing at this time of year, right? Of course. But before I go any further, let me just brag a bit- this jelly is a:

I made that image right there, just to brag. Can you tell I’m proud? And yes, you read that right, these jars are a Pimp That Preserve 2011 winner! Winner, winner, chicken dinner. Or in this case, champagne dinner? Whatever. So what does this mean? It means I pretty much rock the monkey. To quote the father from A Christmas Story, “It’s a major award!”

Anyway, enough bragging- let’s get to the jelly. Last year I did champagne cupcakes. They were awesome-sauce, but I hate repeats. Being that I was looking for a special New Years’ Eve snack or treat, I once again reached for that book that provided me with that deliciously amazing tea jelly; Canning For a New Generation by Liana Krissoff. In the book (which I love) she has a fantastic recipe for champagne jelly, and after the rousing success of the tea version, how could I not try it? Plus… it is New Years’ after all. What else would one have today but champagne.

The golden color was just so pretty. Actually, more like stunning. But let me make a confession- I used a dry white wine, not champagne.

*gasp* I know, I know. I kinda lied & misled you. But since all my jars went so quickly, I plan on making it again very soon with real champagne (perhaps Cold Duck, just to get that pretty magenta color) but it doesn’t really matter either way, the flavor would be so similar at any rate. When added to the sugar, the difference probably wouldn’t even be noticeable. The wine I used was a dry, medium-sweet fruity wine called ‘Sweet Romance’ from the Mount Hope Winery in PA. The ‘Vidal Blanc’ they sell would’ve been amazing to use as well; it’s far drier & has a slight herbal taste. I used this wine that had been sitting in between the Jameson & the Stoli for over 3 years, waiting for its time to shine for a few reasons; one, back in 2008 when I bought it on a trip to PA I was more of a white wine fan- however I’ve grown to love reds & so haven’t had the urge for white in ages, two, I knew it was good wine so it wouldn’t fuck up my jelly, and finally three… this poor bottle was sitting, waiting for a special moment, for literally 27 months. Every other bottle we bought that day is long gone. It was time for this one to shine.

And shine it does. But any champagne would do smashingly, too, of course. I wouldn’t use the Cristal or even the Veuve Clicquot in this, personally, I’d save that for drinking. A cheap yet decent quality champagne is fine. The dryness is what makes the jelly so interesting, so if it’s extra dry, then great.

By the way, I write this with the assumption that you know basic canning principles & practices. If not, please read this in its entirety before attempting it. It’s not difficult but you do need some “equipment” & knowledge before you begin.


CHAMPAGNE JELLY

Ingredients:

  • 1 (750 mℓ) bottle champagne, sparkling white or rosé or any dry-ish white wine
  • 3 ¼ cups sugar
  • 3 cups green apple pectin stock (see recipe here) or 1 package Certo liquid pectin
  • ¼ cup strained fresh lemon juice

Directions:

  1. Prepare for water bath canning: Sterilize the jars and keep them hot (in water) in the canning pot, put a small plate in the freezer, and put the flat lids in a heatproof bowl.
  2. Boil the champagne/wine over high heat until reduced to about two cups, about 20 minutes.
  3. Stir the pectin/pectin stock, lemon juice and sugar into the champagne. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture registers about 220° F on a candy thermometer or a small dab of it passes the freezer test (place some on the frozen plate and put back in the freezer for one minute, then remove; if the mixture wrinkles when you nudge it, it’s ready), about 25-30 minutes.
  4. Ladle boiling water from the canning pot into the bowl with the lids. Using a jar lifter, remove the jars from the canning pot, carefully pouring the water from each one back into the pot, and place them upright on a clean, folded dish towel. Drain the water off the jar lids.
  5. Ladle the hot jelly into the jars, leaving ¼ inch headspace at the top. Use a damp paper towel to wipe the rims of the jars, then put a flat lid & band on each jar, adjusting the band so it’s fingertip tight.
  6. Return the jars to the canning pot in a canning rack, making sure the water covers the jars by at least 1 inch. Bring to a boil, and boil for 5 minutes to process. Remove the jars to the folded towel and do not disturb for 12 hours, except to check the seal after one hour by pressing down on the center of each lid; if it can be pushed down it hasn’t sealed, and must be refrigerated immediately. After 12 hours, label sealed jars & store.

After Pimp That Preserves, I find myself dressing my jars up in appropriate garb more often now. I think it’s very cute, plus you never know when someone will need to receive a jar.. & it’s nice to get something that looks as special as it tastes. I entered this lovely photoset in that contest back in early December. And uh, like I may have mentioned, I WON.

I bought a gold wire-edged ribbon with sparkles that I thought embodied not only champagne but New Year’s. I just cut a length of it for each jar, gathered & stitched it together with a few tiny stitches, then I pinned or sewed on a specific little charm or trinket. The snowflake is a brooch, the recipient can remove it & wear it. The other sparkly one is a charm that can be removed & worn on a necklace (& it’s not as pink as it looks in the bottom picture, it’s bright & clear, like in the first). The little champagne bottle is a cupcake topper. I sent my mother’s friend Mara the snowflake jar with instructions that once the jar is opened, she can wear the brooch. I think that sorta thing is nice. Ultra-personal. Of course I had to label them in style too.

It did in fact make 5 half-pint jars, but I kept two plain for my own use & decorated the rest for giving (& photographing). I don’t need to dress up my own jars. Sitting in my pantry they don’t get many flashbulbs going off. I’d rather make ‘em fancy when they’re going to a good home. I did end up sending one of the plain jars to Heather, so now I have just one extra jar left. And I think my friend Miss Melanie will end up with that one, since she seemed so enthused about it on Facebook. So my last, lonely little bottle of white wine from Pennsylvania ended up in New York, not to mention Florida & Texas reincarnated (& loved) as a delicious jelly. Talk about a “new start.”

I’ll be honest: 2011 sucked in a lot of ways, & I’m happy to bid her a not-so-fond farewell. But Cupcake Rehab has grown a lot this year, as have I, & that’s never a bad thing. I lost important people to me, but gained some. I expanded my knowledge in many areas, formed some new skills. It was a bittersweet year in too many ways to count. So many people have passed away, so many babies born. But new opportunities & new reasons for happiness are bound to come with the new year & therefore new reasons to be optimistic. That’s the best part- the mistakes & sorrows of last year are just that, & while they never really disappear, there’s hope for this new clean slate we’ve been given. I’m going to try & be more forgiving this year, however I’ll certainly not be a doormat. Life is short, why hold grudges or waste time or negative emotions or negative people? It’s a lot for me to strive for, I know that. Especially since I hate everyone (almost). But like I said… clean slate. One thing I will not be doing is cleaning up my potty mouth. I like my truck driver vocabulary. But I am going to make a conscious effort to weed out the unnecessary items & people in my life in 2012 and focus on only the necessary. Good riddance, ’11, here’s hoping 2012 is a far better- and healthier- year for all!

Happy New Year to all my readers, the old & loyal and the new & hopefully just as loyal alike. I really value every reader & commenter & “fan”; & I’ll continue to work very hard to make sure that you’re all still interested & not bored in the new year. Now let’s ring in this new year & enjoy some hooch like these two lovebirds… I’ll see you next year.

Happy New Year!

It’s officially 2011!

I wish every one of you a safe, happy, and most of all, healthy New Year! See you later

on “this year” for more recipes & goodness… but in the meantime…

champagne cupcakes & Auld Lang Syne!


Everybody likes to have champagne on New Years Eve. Hell, even when I was a kid I had some champagne on New Years! So here’s a new twist on it; champagne cupcakes! Big thanks to Gimme Some Oven & AllRecipes for the recipe. My advice? Use really sweet champagne. I used Korbel Brut*, and it tasted delicious, but it might be too “dry” for some. And stay away from extra dry champagnes; use maybe an Asti or rose, or  even strawberry champagne (or Cold Duck, if you like… it’d make them a lovely reddish pink color). They’re not a moist, delicate cupcake you can eat 2 of in one sitting. They’re an elegant, dense cupcake that’s the ultimate dessert… perfect served with champagne. And maybe strawberries, since they bring out the flavor of champagne.

I used one of those little mini bottles that come in a 4-pack. The guy at my liquor store was kind enough to break up the pack when I explained I was making cupcakes with it, so that I didn’t have to waste an entire large bottle. He also looked at me very strangely. I’m used to that, though.

I sprinkled some edible pearls on top that reminded me of the bubbles in champagne, as well as gold sugar crystals.

Of course, I had to ring in the new year Cupcake Rehab-style with shiny pink foil liners from Sweet Cuppin Cakes!

2010 was a great year for Cupcake Rehab. So many amazing things happened, like the official Tru Blood Beverage website posting about my True Blood Velvet cupcakes back around Halloween, TLC asking me to interview Pamela Ahn, contestant on Buddy Valastro’s new show The Next Great Baker, and getting an e-mail from Martha Stewart’s marketing team. Big things may have started in 2010, but they’re only going to get bigger & better in 2011! I would like to take a second to thank all my readers, followers, “fans” & even you crazy lurkers. You’re (mostly) all amazing and the real reason I’m still doing this. Because yeah, I’d do it for a while (at least) if no one commented… but if no one read it- it’d start to get tedious and boring talking to myself. So thank you, thank you, thank you! I’m so happy to have shared the last 3 years (and almost 4 months) with you. Here’s to 3 more years… hopefully longer, but time will tell! *cheers*

I know New Year’s isn’t just a time for celebrating; but for some a time of reflection and remembering. But I hope that during that reflection, none of you get too melancholy. It’s a time for new beginnings, new resolutions, turning over new leaves. So take a deep breath and put 2010 and all it’s accompanying mistakes  and sadness behind you. Not to forget them, but not to dwell on them, to allow a new hope and optimism to take over. Welcome 2011 and the chance for new opportunities with open arms.

And if all else fails, drink.

CHAMPAGNE CUPCAKES

Ingredients:

  • 2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ⅔ cup butter
  • 1 ½ cups white sugar
  • ¾ cup champagne
  • 6 egg whites

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a cupcake pan with liners.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until very light and fluffy. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together, and then blend into creamed mixture alternately with champagne.
  3. In another large clean bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold ⅓ of the whites into batter to lighten it, then fold in remaining egg whites. Fill the cupcake liners about ⅔ full.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.

SWEET CHAMPAGNE BUTTERCREAM FROSTING

Ingredients:

  • 3 ¼ cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup butter, at room temperature
  • ¼ – ½ teaspoon vanilla extract, depending on taste
  • 3 tablespoons champagne, at room temperature

Directions:

  1. With an electric mixer, beat together sugar and butter. Mix on low until well blended, and then on medium for another two minutes.
  2. Add vanilla and champagne, beating on medium for another minute. Tada!

*I wasn’t in any way compensated for using or mentioning Korbel. I WISH!