Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Holiday Gift Guide Part 2: Edible Gifts

Christmas is almost here so if you're still looking for some gift ideas, here's the next installment of my mini-gift guide! It's a round-up of edible gifts, which I think are perfect gifts since rarely will you buy it for yourself, but you always enjoy it.

1 // delivery of assorted coffees every month to switch up their morning routine

2 // sourdough bread assortment to make delicious sandwiches and dunk in soup

3 // jeni's splendid holiday pint collection, because ice cream is always a good idea

4 // barbecue sauce sampler to dream of summer cookouts all winter long

5 // salted caramel sampler for a taste from the south

6 // beer making kit so they can serve a homemade brew for Superbowl

7 // vanilla extract kit so they can bake with (and brag about!) homemade vanilla extract

8 // a selection of gourmet dark chocolate pretzels for movie nights

9 // Murray's greatest hits cheese assortment, to take the guessing out of the cheese plate for their next soirĂ©e

Monday, December 16, 2013

Mocha-Espresso Cream Pie

When I was asked to bring a chocolate dessert to a Christmas party a couple of weeks ago, this pie that I had seen flipping through Southern Living last month immediately came to mind. It turned out to have that perfect cream pie consistency, and I found the balance of the chocolate and espresso to be spot-on. A friend told me it was my best pie yet, and I do have to admit it was pretty tasty. Happy Monday!

Mocha-Espresso Cream Pie
for the crust: 
1 (9 oz) package chocolate wafers
1/2 cup butter, melted

for the filling:
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 Tbsp instant espresso
2 cups half-and-half
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate baking squares, chopped
2 Tbsp salted butter

Prepare the crust: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Pulse chocolate wafers in a food processor 8-10 times or until finely crushed. (Alternately, place them in a Ziploc bag and crush them with a rolling pin.) Stir together wafer crumbs and butter. Press on bottom, up sides, and onto lip of a lightly greased 9-inch pie plate. Bake 10 minutes. Cool completely (about 30 minutes).

Prepare the filling: Whisk together sugar, cornstarch, and instant espresso in a large saucepan. Whisk together half-and-half and yolks in a large bowl. Gradually whisk egg mixture into sugar mixture; bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly. Boil 1 minute, whisking constantly; remove from heat.

Microwave chocolate in a small bowl for 1 1/2 minutes or until melted, stirring at 30-second intervals. Whisk butter and melted chocolate into sugar mixture; spoon into cooled crust. Place plastic wrap directly onto filling (to prevent a film from forming). Chill 4-24 hours. Top with whipped cream just before serving.

source: recipe slightly adapted from Southern Living, November 2013

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Holiday Gift Guide Part 1: DIY Gifts

With fewer days between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, I need all the time + help I can get to get my Christmas shopping done! I've put together a mini-holiday gift guide that I'll be sharing this month. First up is all DIY gifts, which I think add a special little touch.

1 // monogram tote for farmers' market hauls and afternoons on the beach

2 // gold dipped mug for sipping morning coffee by the fire

3 // wooden cutting board for putting together pretty cheese plates

4 //  colorful lip gloss to keep lips moist all winter long

5 // scented soy candles for freshening up your home

6 // bath salts for long + soothing baths after work