Horchata is a sweet rice-based drink from Latin America that’s served over ice and topped with cinnamon. It is literally made of sugar and spice and everything nice.
The rice is soaked in water for about 10 hours, and then blended, and then the mixture is strained through a cheesecloth. The result is a white, mildly elemental base for a drink, which is then flavored with sugar and cinnamon.
I would take this over sweet tea 100% of the time, but let’s not tell my fellow Georgians. I used to be able to buy this at the supermarket by my Austin apartment, and when I’m homesick (which is a lot, in these early days), this is inevitably what comes of it.
The recipe below has (a smattering of) cashews–you can substitute in almonds, if they’re blanched/peeled, or omit the nuts entirely and just soak/blend the rice with the same amount of water. More nuts will make the drink creamier, less nuts will (depending on who you ask) make the drink more authentic.
- 1 cup long-grain white rice
- ¼ cup whole raw cashews
- 5 cups water, divided
- 2 short cinnamon sticks (more may be desired for garnish)
- ½ cup white granulated sugar
- ground cinnamon for garnish (optional but recommended)
- Combine rice, cashews, and 2 cups warm water in a blender. Pulse for 10 seconds--enough to break up the rice, but not enough to pulverize it.
- Transfer the rice and water to a jar or other closed container. Allow to soak, at room temperature, for at least 8 hours.
- Remove cinnamon sticks and blend rice and water together until rice is pulverized.
- Strain liquid through a double layer of cheesecloth or very fine sieve into a pitcher.
- Add 3 cups cold water and sugar, stir to combine.
- Serve over a generous helping of ice, and garnish with ground cinnamon and/or cinnamon sticks.
Living in Texas for the last 23 years has not really prepared me for seasons that are not Summer and January. This late-summer season is lovely–I can feel fall and cinnamon everything on the horizon, but it’s still hot enough out that I want to put all that in ice cream.
No matter the recipe, ice cream has a predictable pattern (albeit a more complicated one if you’re following the egg-inclusive French style, rather than the cream-heavy Philadelphia one): heat the dairy, temper the eggs (temper your patience too, because you don’t want to rush this step), chill for hours, churn for minutes, enjoy for weeks.
NOTE: When toasting cinnamon, supervise closely–there should be no smoking, and it should be just about done by 3 minutes on medium heat. This step is optional, but recommended.
Coffee and Toasted Cinnamon Ice Cream
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1½ cups milk
- 3 tablespoons instant coffee
- ⅔ cup white granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 small cinnamon sticks (more may be desired, for garnish)
- 6 egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Beat egg yolks together in a small bowl until they lighten in color (approximately 1 minute), set aside.
- In a small, dry, nonstick frying pan, toast 1 tablespoon cinnamon over medium-low heat for 1-3 minutes, stirring or shaking pan to prevent burning. When the cinnamon smells fragrant and spicy, remove from heat and set aside.
- In a large sauce pan combine heavy cream, milk, sugar, instant coffee, salt, and cinnamon sticks. Cook over medium heat for 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until mixture is steaming and hot but not simmering (boiling your custard will give you scrambled-egg ice cream). Remove from heat.
- Add ¼ cup of the milk/cream mixture to the egg yolks, whisking constantly until combined. Repeat 2-3 times before returning the liquid and egg yolks back to the saucepan.
- Continue to cook the custard for 3-4 more minute over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens (it should coat the back of a spoon or spatula).
- Remove from heat and allow to cool--an ice bath may be used to cool the custard quickly.
- Once mixture has cooled, add vanilla extract.
- Chill custard in the fridge for 2-10 hours. Remove cinnamon sticks after chilling.
- Churn in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer instructions.
I need a business-casual outfit that screams “I am reliable! Let’s make flashcards together! But also sometimes go to happy hour!”
…How does one pull that off without trying too hard?
Growing up, I was 100% not the cool kid in school. I was way outside of anything awesome or awful, safe in the largely unnoticed neutral zone. So picking out an outfit to wear on the first day of school required about.00094 seconds of thought.
The day before grad school orientation (which has a “business casual” dress code and opens with a photo session what is up with that???), I have tried on 9. What says “Please like me, people who have interests similar to mine” and won’t make me look fat in photographs? This was never a relevant question in grade school, but then I (almost) always had friends walking in.
I’m better at food than fashion: I think the answer to getting someone to like you is almost always cookies. Especially these cookies–the Tollhouse ones that have been on the bag forever, but thicker, with chunks of chocolate and toasted walnuts, and some sea salt on top if you’re feeling a little unconventional. These are classic, timeless, eat-them-with-milk-and-make-friends cookies.
Or something like that.
Walnut Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Author: Adapted slightly from the TollHouse Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe
- 1 cup/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup white granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla paste (may substitute vanilla extract)
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour
- 10 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
- 1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat baking sheets.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the butter, sugars, and vanilla, stirring until smooth.
- Add eggs, mixing completely after each addition.
- Sift flour, baking soda, and salt into batter in 3 parts, stirring well after each addition.
- Fold in chopped chocolate and walnuts.
- Refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour.
- Drop dough onto prepared baking sheet in rounded tablespoons, leaving 2 inches between cookies for spreading.
- Bake for 9-11 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven, allow cookies to rest for 2 minutes before removing to cool.
Over the weekend, I got a very, very exciting email.
I’ve been a labor & delivery nurse for about a year an a half. I love it. My favorite part of birth is watching the mom realize her own incredible, inherent strength. My other favorite part is watching her partner.My other favorite part is hearing someone with very small lungs cry at their very first birthday. My other favorite part is all the parts. Labor is awesome. Birth is sometimes difficult, always incredible. I have been way lucky, to have such an amazing start to my nursing career.
…And I hope I’m as lucky after graduate school, when I’m working as a midwife or nurse practitioner. That was the email on Friday. The subject line was “Welcome to Emory!” And the next sentence was “Congratulations on your acceptance to the Masters of Science in Nursing program!”
So I propose a toast. But a toast with cake, because the best toasts involve cake.
To graduate school! To letters behind names! To moving!
And also to having some tiny internal seizures related to those things, which are great but require a lot of changes to my status quo (and I really like my status quo).
Red Wine Chocolate Cake with Red Wine Ganache
- For the cake:
- 1 cup red wine
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
- ¾ cup cocoa powder(preferably dutch-processed)
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups sugar
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs
- ⅓ cup sour cream
- For the ganache
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons wine
- 12 ounces dark chocolate
- For the Cake:
- Preheat oven to 350.
- In a small saucepan, heat the butter and wine together until melted and barely simmering. Remove from heat and whisk in cocoa powder until smooth. Set aside.
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt until uniform.
- In a large mixing bowl, stir together sour cream and eggs until smooth.
- Add the wine-butter mixture to the eggs, and then the dry ingredients, stirring until smooth after each addition.
- Transfer batter into a prepared 9-inch round pan, or 5 prepared ramekins.
- Bake for 40-50 minutes for the round pan, 25-28 minutes for the ramekins.
- For the Ganache:
- Chop 12 ounces dark chocolate, place in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- Bring the heavy cream and wine to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat.
- Pour the heated cream and wine over the chocolate, let stand for one minute.
- Stir until smooth. Pour over cooled cake, spreading with spatula if necessary. For a thinner ganache, increase heavy cream by 2 tablespoons.
Bourbon has been having a moment. A funky-fonted, mason-jarred, fabulously-mustached swelling of support from some of Austin’s more hipster haunts (I’m looking at you and your happy hour specials, Rainey Street).
I’m not going to act like I haven’t swung way over into hipster territory, in a lot of ways: I’m typing this on a macbook, while sitting in an aging apartment in a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood, sipping iced coffee I bought at a food co-op, out of a mason jar I last used to make cheese, for which I used raw milk I got from a goat I gained access to via a herd-share program I joined 4 months ago. I bike-commute and wear red lipstick. But I haven’t quite jumped on the bourbon train.
I can’t say this sauce has made me a bourbon convert, but oh, it tries. It is so good. It is spoon-licking, sundae-topping, mason-jar scraping delicious. It is potentially worth buying bourbon you’re not convinced you’re into yet.
NOTE: the recipe below makes a full litre of sauce, which is maybe a lot of sauce for one person, but is the perfect amount of sauce for making friends via food-bribery. Adjust as desired.
Bourbon Pecan Caramel Sauce
Author: Adapted from Jill O'Conner's book Sticky Chewy Messy Gooey
- ½ cup bourbon
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 2 cups white granulated sugar
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon vanilla paste (may substitute extract)
- 1 cup pecans, roughly chopped and toasted
- In a high-sided saucepan, pour the bourbon and lemon juice. Gently pour the sugar into the center of the pan, allowing it to spread towards the edges--do not stir.
- Cook over medium heat for 4-6 minutes, swirling the pan occasionally. Keep a close eye--the sugar can quickly burn as it changes color. When it is a dark amber, remove from heat.
- Immediately add the cream--don't be alarmed as the caramel seizes and hisses. Stirring with a wooden spoon, return the pan to low heat and cook until the sauce thickens (5-10 minutes).
- Add salt and vanilla, stir to combine. Add pecans.
- Store sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Sauce will keep for up to 1 month.
Maillard reaction: the term for a variety of potential reactions (all requiring heat greater than ~280 degrees fahrenheit, amino acids, and sugar), that make food taste delicious and look brown (see above).
It’s what happens every time you sear meat (though not when you steam it–the Maillard reaction doesn’t love water, because it the boiling point of water is below the heat threshold required for the reaction), and every time you stick a marshmallow under a broiler. The end flavors depend on what food is undergoing the reaction; the steak mentioned above doesn’t taste like the marshmallow pictured above, because the amino acids and sugars being exposed to the heat are (obviously) very different.
There are a lot more sugars here than there are in steaks, and the sugars here are mixed with gelatin and then coated in cornstarch and more sugar–which makes them really, really amenable to browning/the Maillard reaction.
You don’t have to brown your marshmallows into furanone-laden pockets of bliss, but I think you should.
And you don’t have to use marshmallows as an excuse to geek out over the Maillard reaction, but I kind of think you should do that, too (this site is good for that).
NOTE: there is no way to make these without making a huge mess. It’s worth it, by a factor far greater than the convenience of opening a bag of Kraft Jet-Puffed. I recommend the liberal use of cooking spray and cornstarch.
Author: Recipe from the Joy of Cooking cookbook
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- ¼ cup powdered sugar
- 1 cup water, divided
- 4 packets (3 tablespoons) unflavored gelatin
- ¾ cup light corn syrup
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 cups white granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons vanilla
- Line a 13x9 inch pan with aluminum foil and spray with cooking oil. Combine the cornstarch and powdered sugar, and dust the coated pan. Tap excess into a small bowl and set aside for dusting the marshmallow tops.
- In a large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, sprinkle 3 tablespoons (4 packets) unflavored gelatin over ½ cup cold water, set aside. This will "bloom" or solidify as the sugar mixture is prepared.
- In a medium saucepan, pour corn syrup and ½ cup water. Add the sugar and salt to the center of the pan.
- Bring mixture to a boil over medium heat, swirling the pan occasionally (do not stir). When the mixture is 240-244 degrees fahrenheit on a candy thermometer ("soft ball" stage), remove from heat.
- Start the stand or hand mixer on a slow speed, breaking up the gelatin. Add the hot sugar syrup in a slow but steady stream.
- Beat mixture on "high" for 12-15 minutes, or until the mixture is white, glossy, fluffy, and stiff, but still warm.
- Using a greased or oil-sprayed spatula, transfer the marshmallow mixture into the prepared pan. Tap the pan a few times--air bubble should rise to the top of your mixture, though they may not pop.
- Allow mixture to set until cooled completely, at least 6 hours.
- Using the reserved cornstarch/powdered sugar, dust your work surface and the top of the set marshmallows. Turn the marshmallow out onto a cutting board or work surface.
- Cut into cubes with greased kitchen shears or a greased chefs knife before tossing in powdered sugar (to prevent sticking). Marshmallows will keep in an airtight container, at room temperature, for up to a week (though they rarely last that long).
It took me a really long time to get into coffee. Before my night-shift days, I didn’t have a practical reason to indulge. And even when caffeine seemed like a necessity, coffee was an acquired taste.
Things change. Taste. Acquired.
I could wax poetic about my love for coffee, but so could any other convert. It’s one of the delights of my morning. There are few rituals that make me as reliably happy as my french press (my french press that my significant other sometimes uses to bring me coffee before I even get out of bed. I swoon).
It’s almost Valentine’s Day, and I think that means the internet is supposed to talk about pairs–whether you like them or you don’t, whether you’re part of one or you’re not. And I guess I’m all for that, as long as at least one of the pairs we talk about is coffee and chocolate, and as long as we get to eat that later.
Note: This pairing is not casual. There is a not-insignificant amount of coffee in this. Adjust as desired.
Chocolate Covered Espresso Bark
- 6 ounces dark chocolate
- ¾ cup espresso beans, unground
- In a double boiler, melt dark chocolate until smooth. Stir in espresso beans, ensuring beans are entirely coated.
- Pour chocolate-espresso mixture onto ungreased parchment paper. If necessary, use a spatula to spread the chocolate until the beans are approximately single-layer.
- Allow chocolate to set until firm, then break into pieces for serving, gifting, or storing. Bark will keep in a sealed container at room temperature for up to 1-2 weeks.