How to Match Wines with Desserts

A full course meal ends with a delectable dessert that’s why it is important to serve something that will leave the palate satisfied. Usually, the dessert is paired with a glass of wine because they compliment each other. No wonder many people go to Walt Disney World between September and November so they can satisfy their sweet cravings. This is the time that the annual Epcot International Food & Wine Festival is held – where people can indulge in a superb selection of desserts paired with the perfect wine. However, after this event there are some people who are often left clueless when it comes to wine and dessert pairing. You don’t need to be a sommelier like the award-winning wine critic Robert Parker to know what kind of wine to match the dessert. Just read below for some tips on how you can do that:

photo courtesy of Tobias Lindman

Matching the Color

The color of the wine usually matches the color of the dessert. If you’re having red fruits as the main ingredients of your dessert, then it is advisable to choose red wines like the Cupcake Red Velvet 2011. The Bordeaux Merlot 2010, on the other hand, matches strawberry shortcake topped with berries. White wines don’t go well with citrus, tropical, and berry-flavored desserts so avoid purchasing that when throwing a tropical-themed party.

Read the Wine Description

When choosing a wine, make sure to read the ingredients or description to give you a clue as to what kind of desserts will match it. For example, M&S described Moscatel de Valencia 2012 as “a really refreshing sweet wine – pale lemon with the scent of green grapes and peaches and a luscious, ripe flavor.” Just by reading its description, you will get an idea that the Moscatel will go well with fruit desserts. Actually this sweet wine was commended at the Decanter World Wine Awards 2013.

These are just some basic tips on how you can get that perfect dessert and wine combination. Just remember to try out different wines to see what works for you best.

Baking Tips: Angel Food, Chiffon and Sponge Cake

When you are looking for a lighter, fluffier sweet treat to make at home, you may want to direct your attention to the beauty of angel food-, chiffon-, and sponge cake recipes. While not everyone will enjoy the lightness or texture of this dessert, there are many different ways to enhance the taste by experimenting with spices, nuts, and flavored glazes.

What’s the Difference?

Angel Food Cake – This sponge cake is described as delicate, light and airy. Since egg whites are used instead of the entire egg, the dessert is low-calorie and virtually fat-free. The typical one-ounce piece of angel food is a little over 72 calories.

Chiffon Cake – Vegetable oil, eggs, sugar, flour, baking powder, and flavorings are used to make a rather light cake. A high oil and egg content produces a very moist cake.

Sponge Cake – A combination of flour, sugar, eggs and sometimes baking powder creates a firm, yet well aerated baked good.

Baking Tips

When making a light and airy dessert, most of your success will come when beating the eggs and mixing all the ingredients in the right manner. A few baking tips when making chiffon cake, angel food cake, and sponge cake include:

  • If your cake shows poor volume, you may not have beaten the egg whites long enough. You should beat the egg whites until they stand in straight peaks. When the beaters are removed, your egg white should look moist and glossy.
  • Do not overmix your cake batter when you add the flour – make sure to gently fold in the ingredients and combine well until the batter is just smooth.
  • Heavy frosting on your angel food cake will compromise the light texture and flavor of the cake. Instead, opt for a flavored glaze, such as lemon, orange or chocolate.
  • A chiffon cake with yellow streaks means that you added the yolks directly to the dry ingredients without making a “well” in the center of the dry ingredients. Oil should be added first – followed by the egg yolks.
  • Over-beaten or under-beaten egg whites will cause a layer to form in your chiffon cake. Only beat the egg whites until they are stiff and have a moist, glossy appearance.
  • Sponge cake that forms layers means that you did not beat the egg yolks long enough – remember that you should beat the yolks until they are thick and lemon-colored.
  • Blend your ingredients only until they are mixed or you run the risk of producing a tough cake from overmixing the batter when the dry ingredients are added.
  • Cakes that shrink or fall are a sign that the egg whites were beaten too long.

In the Spotlight: Homestead Favorites

Today, I’d like to introduce you to “Homestead Favorites”, a ranch with a long history, going back almost 150 years and 6 generations!

In 1849, John Carsten Grupe, embarked on a sailing vessel which brought him on the long voyage around Cape Horn to California. The young man had been attracted to the coast by gold prospects, later turned his attention to freighting to the mine fields from Stockton to Mokelume Hill. After a few years, he began a very successful agricultural career in the Linden area. This pioneering family established a diverse and very successful farm raising fruits, vegetables, grains, and cattle.

“Homestead Favorites” is in the Spotlight today for their cherry orchard and yummy cherry jellies!

Since 1960, when it was planted by Karl Potter Grupe, this orchard has continued to produce the finest cherries in the Linden area. Many of the original trees still bear pounds of fruit through the May to June harvest. The Bing cherries are shipped around the world as first class fresh market cherries.

Courtesy of Homestead Favorites, here are a few recipes:

Cherry Almond Focaccia Recipe (Awarded 1st place at Linden Cherry Festival)
Ingredients:
– 1 can refrigerated cinnamon rolls with icing
– 1/2 c. cherry jelly
– 1/4 c. sliced almonds
– 1/2 c. granola, grape nuts or any crunchy cereal

Directions:
1. Heat oven to 375° F;
2. Cut each roll into 4 pieces, arrange 1/2″ apart in greased pan. Gently press pieces together to form a crust.
3. Spoon cherry jelly over crust and top with almonds & granola.
4. Bake for 18-20 minutes & drizzle with icing.

Chutney Chicken Summer Salad
Ingredients:
– 1/2cup mayonnaise
– 1/2 cup cherry chutney
– 1 tsp. curry(?)
– 2t. lemon zest
– 1/4 cup lemon juice
– 1/2 t. salt
– 4 cup diced cooked chicken in cubes

Directions:
1. Mix dressing, add chicken, add 1 chopped apple or pear, 3/4 almonds or pecans & 1/2 c. raisins or cranberries.
2. Set on a bed of lettuce

The Grupe homestead is one of the last surviving family ranches in the Linden area and they even received an honorary award from the California Chamber of Commerce!

Their cherry jellies can be found at a few wineries in Northern California. If you’d like to buy some of their cherry jelly, please visit them at www.homesteadfavorites.com and contact them through their contact page.

Chocolate Brulees Dessert Recipe

Recipe and image courtesy of our friends at Pillsbury.com.

INGREDIENTS:
2 containers (6 oz each) Yoplait® Thick & Creamy French vanilla yogurt
2 tablespoons semisweet chocolate chips
2 teaspoons fat-free half-and-half
6 raspberries

DIRECTIONS:

1. Spoon 1 container yogurt into each of two 6-oz brulee dishes or small custard cups.

2. Place chocolate chips and half-and-half in small microwavable bowl. Microwave uncovered on High 15 to 20 seconds; stir until smooth. Spread over top of each dish of yogurt in thin layer.

3. Refrigerate brulees until chocolate hardens, about 15 minutes. Top with raspberries.

Photo courtesy of Pillsbury.com

National Pie Day and Laura’s Sticky Toffee Pudding Apple Pie Recipe

Throwing a pie baking – and pie tasting – party for friends or coworkers, or to raise money for a favorite charity, are all delicious ways to celebrate National Pie Day on Monday, Jan. 23, 2012. Why is National Pie Day celebrated on Jan. 23 or 1/23? Because celebrating the wholesome goodness of pie is as easy as 1-2-3!

Bakers of all skill levels are invited to enter the 18th Annual APC/Crisco® National Pie Championships® to be held April 27-29, 2012 in Orlando. Entry forms will be posted soon at www.piecouncil.org. Those who prefer to appreciate the nuances of pie without all the work won’t want to miss the APC Great American Pie Festival sponsored by Crisco®, featuring the Never Ending Pie Buffet, held April 28-29, 2012 in nearby Celebration, Fla.

Here is a winning recipe from last year, courtesy of The American Pie Council.

Laura’s Sticky Toffee Pudding Apple Pie
Linda Hundt, DeWitt, Mich.
Crisco® Innovation Best of Show
Professional
2011 American Pie Council Crisco® National Pie Championships


Pie Crust
1 ½ cups of flour
¼ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
¼ cup cold butter cut in small pieces
½ cup of refrigerated Crisco® shortening

Mix all above ingredients in Kitchenaid style mixer on medium speed swiftly until crust appears “pea-like.” Carefully sprinkle water in crust mix until it starts to become moistened and gathers together. Pat into a disc, wrap and refrigerate for at least one half hour. Roll out on to floured surface and make and crimp crust. Freeze until ready to use.

Apple Filling
Five medium to large Michigan Cortland, Ida Red Apples, peeled, thinly sliced, diced
1 cup brown sugar
3 Tablespoons flour
4 Tablespoons melted butter
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon lemon juice
¼ teaspoon salt
Cook above ingredients in large pan on medium heat until cooked halfway. Stir in 3/4 cup homemade caramel until melted.

Homemade caramel – recipe below
Praline pecans – recipe below

Sticky Toffee Pudding Filling
½ cup praline pecans
1 stick of butter softened
½ cup brown sugar
2 T heavy cream
1 T lemon juice
1 egg – beaten
½ cup self-rising flour
Mix above ingredients just until blended.

Crumb topping
¾ cup of flour
1 cup sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 stick of butter softened

Mix all together all crumb topping ingredients by hand or a pastry blender until fine and crumbly.

Directions:
Spread sticky toffee pudding mixture on bottom of crust. Put apple mixture over pudding mixture. Sprinkle with crumb topping. Bake in preheated 400 degree oven for one hour or until knife easily slides into center of pie with no resistance. If pie becomes too brown before done, turn down oven to 350 degrees to finish baking and cover with foil completely.

Top with a generous amount of homemade caramel and praline pecans.

Homemade Caramel
1- 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
½ stick butter
1 Tablespoon real vanilla extract

In heavy 3 quart saucepan, combine all ingredients, but vanilla. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, covering all parts of bottom of pan with wire whisk to avoid scorching. Stir until mixture comes to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook, constantly stirring, until mixture comes to a boil. Reduce heat to low and continue stirring until caramel reaches 244F on a candy thermometer or firm-ball stage. Pour in glass container. Cool to use.

Praline Pecans
1 cup of chopped pecans
2 T butter
2 T brown sugar
Melt butter in small pan on medium –low heat until melted. Add pecans and sugar and stir ingredients until you start smelling the nuts roasting. Take off heat and cool. Crumble.

***

The American Pie Council® (APC), the only organization committed to maintaining America’s pie heritage, offers pie lovers plenty of reasons and ways to celebrate. The APC offers recipes on its website www.piecouncil.org and many APC members offer activities, specials and more in celebration of the special day. The APC is comprised of amateur, professional and commercial pie manufacturer members. Any amateur pie maker or pie lover can join for just $40 for a lifetime membership.

What are Sipping Chocolates?

Sipping chocolates are not the same thing as drinking your typical mug of hot chocolate. The cacao tree produces beans that are used to make a variety of drinks – one of which was a sipping chocolate originally flavored with spices, wine, and chili peppers. A cup of hot cocoa is made with cocoa powder (which has the fat of cocoa butter pressed out of it), while sipping chocolates are made from real chocolate using the cocoa solids, which are then melted to create a creamy chocolate drink.

History of Sipping Chocolates

Sipping chocolates have a long history that traces back 3,000 years to the Mayan and Olmec civilizations of Central America when cacao was an important part of the culture. In 1528, the Spanish explorer Cortes introduced chocolate to the rest of the world after his Central American conquests. When he returned to Europe, he brought back cacao beans and samples of the Aztec chocolate drink.

In 1585, the first shipment of chocolate arrived in Spain. The Spaniards took the original recipes and started heating the mixtures while adding sugar to offset the natural bitterness of the drink. Instead of using chili peppers like the Mayans and Aztecs, the Europeans added cinnamon, vanilla and other spices.

In 1657, the first chocolate house in London was established – serving the drinking chocolate that became an instant hit with the upper class in Europe. The sweet treat became a luxury by the late 1600s. Around the same time that London delighted in the drinking chocolate, Dutch colonists brought the drink to North America.

Buy Sipping Chocolates

If you are interested in sampling the sipping chocolates of today, consider some of the following:

Thanksgiving Turkey Cookies Recipe

INGREDIENTS
1 roll (16.5 oz) Pillsbury® refrigerated sugar cookies
1 container (16 oz) chocolate creamy frosting
Candy corn
Orange decorating icing
Black decorating gel
Miniature candy-coated chocolate baking bits

DIRECTIONS
1. Heat oven to 350°F. Bake cookies as directed on roll. Cool completely, about 20 minutes.
2. Spoon chocolate frosting into resealable food-storage plastic bag; seal bag. Cut small hole in bottom corner of bag. On each cookie, pipe frosting on outer edge of half of cookie. Arrange candy corn over frosting for feathers.
3. Pipe orange icing onto each cookie to resemble turkey face and feet. Use orange icing to attach baking bits to turkey face for eyes. Pipe black gel on baking bits for centers of eyes.

This recipe is courtesy of Pillsbury.com.

photo courtesy of Pillsbury.com

Poppin’ Fresh Citrus-Glaze Crullers Recipe

This recipe is courtesy of Pillsbury.com.
INGREDIENTS
Rolls
1/4 cup LAND O LAKES® Butter, melted
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 can (11 oz) Pillsbury® refrigerated bread sticks
Glaze
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon grated orange peel
1/4 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1 tablespoon orange juice
1 teaspoon lemon juice

DIRECTIONS
1. Heat oven to 375°F. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper, or spray with CRISCO® Original No-Stick Cooking Spray. Place melted butter in shallow dish. Place granulated sugar in another shallow dish.
2. Unroll dough; separate into breadsticks. Dip both sides of each breadstick in butter; coat with sugar. Twist each breadstick; place on cookie sheet. Press down ends firmly.
3. Bake 13 to 17 minutes or until golden brown.
4. Meanwhile, in small bowl, mix glaze ingredients. Remove rolls from oven. Immediately drizzle glaze over rolls. Remove from cookie sheet. Cool 5 minutes. Serve warm.