2021 was for the birds- sure, we saw crazy strides in technology (like scientists successfully connecting human brains to computers wirelessly) and we managed to “free Britney”; but as “the new normal” continues to feel like anything but, most of us are chomping at the bit to return to the comforting traditions we enjoyed before facemasks became the hot new accessory.
While we here at ACT 3 can’t mend the rift between royal family members or convince your politically opinionated family members to take a break from social media, here are a few things we can suggest to make the year ahead just a little bit sweeter.
Whether your 2022 resolution is to be bubblier, stop making ‘pour’ decisions, or love the wine you’re with, you will be shouting “sip, sip, hooray” from the first bite of this fizzy float! Feed your inner child with this elegant upgrade on an old-school favorite, using raspberry ice cream in place of classic vanilla and champagne or prosecco instead of root beer! Don’t skimp on the homemade raspberry sauce, which adds a festive splash of color along with a double-dose of that sweet raspberry tang. And who says the party stops at midnight? Keep a bottle on ice and your berries ready to go for New Years Brunch in the morning, because sometimes you just gotta pop off.
1 bottle champagne or prosecco
1 pint vanilla frozen yogurt or ice cream
Fresh raspberries for garnish
12 ounces frozen or fresh raspberries, defrosted
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a saucepan over medium heat add the raspberries and sugar. Mash the berries until they've released their juices. Once the mixture is mostly smooth remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Press the raspberries through a mesh strainer to remove the seed and pulp. Chill the sauce.
In champagne flutes at a couple spoonfuls of raspberry sauce to the bottom of each flute. Add a couple small scoops of vanilla ice cream on top of the sauce.
Top off each champagne flute with champagne, fresh raspberries and a drizzle of raspberry sauce.
Okay, so these might not be your first choice if your resolution is better self-control- or to lose weight in the New Year- but dang it, the diet starts Monday! Tonight, be your most genu-swine self and go full ham on these brittle bites loaded with bourbon, pecans, and above all BACON! The secret here is a sprinkling of sea salt to enhance the harmonious blend of sweet and savory; just make sure to pay close attention to timing when you remove these beauties from the heat. Pro-tip: double the recipe and secure yourself a batch of easy giftables for your guests to take home at the end of the night; throw on a pretty bow and try to resist the urge to hog them all…
12 strips thick cut bacon
3 tablespoons bourbon
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons bourbon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup chopped pecans
sea salt for sprinkling
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Lay bacon strips on a foil lined baking sheet. Brush bacon with bourbon and sprinkle with brown sugar on both sides.
Bake for 13-15 minutes, until it starts to caramelize and becomes crispy.
Chop the bacon with a knife into small bite size pieces.
For the Brittle:
Spread the pecans on a baking sheet and lightly toast them in the oven at 400 degrees for 7 minutes.
Line a baking sheet with a silpat mat or parchment paper.
Make sure you have all the rest of your ingredients measured and ready to pour in the brittle when it gets to the candy stage. You can mix the vanilla and bourbon and the bacon and pecans together to make it easier.
In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup and water over medium heat. Stir constantly until the sugar dissolves and the mixture starts to boil.
Increase the heat to high and cook, without stirring, until it reaches 290°F using a candy thermometer. I recommend using one, but if you don't have one, boil until it turns a golden amber color. Once it reaches this temp add the bourbon, bacon and pecans. Mix and allow mixture to get to 310°F. Immediately remove from heat.
Quickly stir in butter, vanilla, and baking soda.
Pour mixture onto the prepared baking sheet as quickly and thinly as possible. Use a wooden spoon to spread it if necessary.
Sprinkle it with sea salt right away and cool for at least 20 minutes. Once it is set, break into pieces and enjoy!
Is it a cookie? A cake? A pie born of some unholy union between the two? Whatever it is; it tastes like the “sandwich” you would make as a kid by sticking two halves of a cupcake together using icing as the filling… making it exactly the sort of decadence you deserve while kissing this year goodbye! The booze-infused buttercream will have your guests shouting whoopie-pie-yay long after the ball drops and ensure good pie-brations well into the wee hours of the morning.
Chocolate Whoopie Pies
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ¼ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon espresso powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter,, room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk,, room temperature
Bailey's Buttercream Filling
¾ cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
4 ½ cups powdered sugar, sifted
6 tablespoons Baileys Irish Cream Liqueur, or until desired consistency
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, espresso powder and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer (or using a hand mixer), cream together the butter and brown sugar, about 1 minute. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until light and creamy, about 2 minutes.
Add dry ingredients to butter mixture in three parts, alternating with buttermilk (so add one third flour mixture, half cup buttermilk, another third flour mixture, half cup buttermilk and finish with remaining flour mixture). Combine well after each addition.
Transfer batter to a frosting bag fitted with a round tip.* Pipe batter into circles two inches in diameter on the prepared baking sheet (each about three inches apart as they will spread slightly). Bake until tops are puffed and cakes spring back when touched, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely before filling.
Bailey's Buttercream Filling
In a bowl with a mixer, cream together butter, Baileys, and powdered sugar. Spoon frosting into a pastry bag fitted with the desired tip and pipe it generously on the flat side of the cakes. Top filled half with another cake to sandwich the buttercream. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
So, the Chihuly museum was far too expensive for your little soiree (and let’s be honest, most of your friends couldn’t be trusted around that much glass anyway). Go from sucker to sauvant and transform your liquor cabinet into a ‘licker’ cabinet by whipping up these gorgeous and whimsical sweets. You’ll be pontificating about the true meaning of art while quoting the New York Times in no time!
Pro-tip: as with the brittle, temperature and timing are key here; do not let the sugar caramelize if you want to achieve glass-like transparency.
3 cups sugar
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup corn syrup
1/4 cup triple sec (optional, or use your favorite liquor)
2 teaspoons lemon extract (or preferred flavorant)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Gel food colorings
Place 3 large pieces of parchment paper onto a flat surface.
Lightly spray each with cooking spray & then brush with a pastry brush to evenly coat the paper.
Place the sugar, water, & corn syrup in a medium saucepan over high heat.
Gently stir until the sugar mixture comes to a boil. Take care not to splash the mixture up onto the sides of the pan.
Once boiling, stop stirring & clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the saucepan. Be sure that the thermometer does not touch the bottom of the pan.
While the mixture boils, moisten a pastry brush with water & carefully wipe down the sides of the pan to wash any crystals forming on the sides.
Continue to boil until the thermometer reaches 300 degrees F -(hard crack)-. Note: The sugar will start to caramelize, and your lollipops will take on an amber appearance, at temperatures above the hard crack phase.
Allow to cool to 275 degrees & carefully stir in triple sec & extracts.
Pour out circles (two at a time) onto the parchment paper using a metal spoon.
Dip the lollipop sticks into the gel food coloring & quickly stir through the lollipop circle.
Lay the lollipop stick in the center of the lollipop & spin around so that the stick is surrounded by the candy.
Repeat with remaining candy. If the candy starts to become too stiff, heat it up slightly (on low) on the stovetop.
If desired, lightly push sprinkles into the candy.
Allow to cool for 20 minutes, or until completely firm.
Strawberries are steeped in folklore and history all over the world! The Romans associated strawberries with the goddess of love, Venus, and there is even an old legend that says if two people split a double strawberry they will fall madly in love. While we can’t say for sure that these berries are magical, they are crowd pleasers; steeped in something nearly as intoxicating as pure romance and berry sweet…
24 Strawberries Washed with leaves intact
750 mL Chocolate Flavored Vodka I used 360 Double Chocolate Vodka
12 oz Bittersweet chocolate chips
Chopped Nuts, sprinkles, shredded coconut, cookie crumbs. your preference
Place clean berries in a jar and cover with vodka. Refrigerate for at least 15 hours.
Remove strawberries from the jar and pat dry.
Melt chocolate chips in a double boiler or microwave for 30-second intervals, stirring after each, until smooth.
Assemble by dipping berries in chocolate holding onto the stem. Sprinkle with the desired garnishes. Place on wax paper and allow the chocolate to set.