By William Brand
Wednesday, November 26th, 2008 at 9:43 am in Uncategorized.
THE holidays are descending on us with warp speed. The economy sucks, my 401k is becoming a 201k or worse. I’m afraid to look. So, as we gear up for the season, I thought I’d add a little cheer into the mix.
Here are two of my favorite holiday dessert recipes using my two favorite alcoholic beverages: beer and cider.
The desserts — pears poached in apple cider and chocolate stout mousse — can be made in minutes. And the poached pears are stunning.
It’s important to use a proper fermented cider – the kind with alcohol – to poach the pears. That means don’t use apple juice even if the label says “cider.” Apple juice is too sweet.
My current favorites are Two Rivers Cider, and Ace Pear Cider, both made here in Northern California, and Aspall Dry English Draft Cider, a delicious import. Both are available in stores with good stocks of beer. But any fairly dry apple cider will do.
Don’t worry about the alcohol; it boils away, leaving the taste of a fine cider infused into the flesh of the pears. Take a bite of the succulent, moist poached pear. Follow it with a spoonful of rich, vanilla ice cream. Heaven.
Chocolate stout mousse sounds awful, but, in fact, dark chocolate and a powerful stout marry perfectly. The recipe — which I found long ago on a beer chat group on CompuServe (yes, that long ago) — originally specified Guinness Stout. It’s an excellent choice, but in recent years we’ve made it either with Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout from Anderson Valley Brewing or Old Rasputin Imperial Stout from North Coast Brewing. Any decent stout will do. But don’t overdo it. (And many thanks to Jenny Slafkosky for figuring out the calories and fat content.)
POACHED PEARS IN APPLE CIDER
4 D’Anjou or other firm winter pears
3 cinnamon sticks
1/2 cup dried, sweetened cranberries
Approximately 3 cups of cider
- Peel pears. Slice off a thin layer from the bottom of each pear so the pears will stand upright. Place pears in a saucepan large enough to keep upright pears from crowding.
- Add cider until pears are about one-third to one-half covered. Add cinnamon sticks and dried cranberries.
- Cover pot and bring cider to a simmer. Simmer for about 20 minutes or until pears are easily pierced with a fork.
- Serve pears upright with French vanilla ice cream. Serves 4.
Per Serving: 213 Calories; 1g Fat; 1g Protein; 55g Carbohydrate; 10g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 8mg Sodium.
CHOCOLATE STOUT MOUSSE
3/4 pound high-quality dark chocolate, chopped
11/2 ounces unflavored gelatin
2 ounces stout
1 pint heavy cream
3 large eggs
13/4 ounces (dry measure) sugar
1 ounce hot coffee (we’ve been using Peet’s Espresso Roast)
- Melt chocolate in double boiler set over simmering water, stirring occasionally.
- Bloom gelatin by stirring it into the stout. Set aside.
- In a mixer, whip heavy cream until it forms soft peaks. Scrape into a bowl and place in refrigerator.
- Using the mixer, whip eggs until frothy, add sugar and beat until sugar is dissolved.
- Dissolve the gelatin and stout mixture in the coffee.
- Add chocolate and gelatin-stout mixture to the eggs, mixing until well-blended. Fold in whipped cream and let it set for two to four hours in refrigerator.
- Serve topped with chocolate shavings and a glass of North Coast Old Rasputin Imperial Stout or other favorite stout. Serves 4-6.
Per Serving: 639 Calories; 49g Fat; 8g Protein; 52g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 202mg Cholesterol; 82mg Sodium.