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    Spiced Rum Cake Mini Trifles

    These elegant mini trifles have big holiday flavor! Layers of rum-soaked cake and spiked vanilla bean custard are layered in small glasses and topped with fluffy whipped cream. 

    No matter what size your guest list is this year, it always helps to have recipes that can be made ahead. There’s so much to do even with a small dinner gathering – mains and sides to arrange on the buffet, glasses to fill, naughty little pugs to shoo out of the kitchen – it always helps to have a trick or two up your sleeve (and in the refrigerator).
    The components of this dessert can be made up to 3 days ahead and then assembled before serving. They are appropriately bold and rich for their small size. It’s like having the flavors of the holidays condensed into your own single serving. 

    The cake portion is studded with plumped dried fruit. Figs and apricots give it some heft, and even though it is rum-soaked I hesitate to call it ‘fruitcake’. It is not dense or tough, and it fluffs up when crumbled for the trifles. 

    Vanilla bean-rum custard is smooth and boozy, and just perfect with the cake. I think this dessert looks best serve in stemmed or footed glasses. It’s an elegant touch without being the least bit fussy.

    Whipped cream can be dolloped or piped on – whatever fits your time constraints and tools. Here I’ve used a large open star pastry tube.

    The cake portion of this recipe makes slightly more than you’ll need for the trifles. I used this as an opportunity to add an extra crumble on top of each dessert. A small sprig of rosemary will add a note of evergreen, but it’s completely optional and mostly just makes them look pretty. Serve these on a fancy tray and your guests are sure to feel special!

    Spiced Rum Cake Mini Trifles[Click for Printable Version]
    Yields about eight 4 oz. trifles
    Adapted from Christmas with Southern Living 2011Spiced rum cake
    1/2 cup (75 grams) chopped pitted dates
    1/2 cup (75 grams) golden raisins
    1/2 cup (75 grams) chopped figs
    1/2 cup (75 grams) chopped dried apricots
    1/2 cup (120 ml) orange juice
    1/2 cup (113 grams) butter, softened
    1/2 cup (90 grams) firmly packed light brown sugar
    3 large eggs
    1 1/4 cups (156 grams) all-purpose flour
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/2 cup (75 grams) chopped pecans
    2 teaspoons orange zest
    1/2 cup (120 ml) spiced rumVanilla bean-rum custard
    1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
    3 tablespoons cornstarch
    2 1/4 cups whole milk
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    3 egg yolks
    3 tablespoons spiced rum
    1 tablespoon butter
    1 teaspoon vanilla bean pasteToppings
    1 1/4 cups heavy cream, whipped to stiff peaks
    8 rosemary sprigs, optionalCombine the dates, raisins, figs, and apricots in a medium bowl; pour orange juice over the fruit and stir to evenly coat. Cover and let stand at least 30 minutes.Coat the inside of an 8-inch square pan with flour-based cooking spray and set aside. Preheat oven to 325°F.In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter at medium speed until creamy; gradually add sugar. Add eggs one at time, beating until well blended after each addition.In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. Mixing on low speed, gradually add flour to the butter mixture, scraping down sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure ingredients are well blended. Stir in pecans and orange zest.Drain the fruit mixture and discard orange juice. Fold fruit into the batter and spread evenly into the prepared pan. Bake for 40 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.Let cake cool slightly in the pan; do not turn out. Poke holes in the cake with a wooden skewer while it is still warm. Pour rum evenly over cake, allowing it to seep into holes. Cool completely in the pan on wire rack, about 1 hour.Vanilla bean-rum custard
    Combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a large saucepan; whisk in milk. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, for about 7 minutes or until mixture comes to a boil. Boil for 1 minute while whisking.In a separate mixing bowl, break egg yolks with a whisk and beat until consistently smooth. Gradually stir about 1/4 of hot milk mixture into eggs; then add yolk mixture to remaining hot milk mixture, stirring constantly. Bring to a boil and cook for 3 minutes, or until well-thickened, whisking constantly.Remove from heat and stir in rum, butter and vanilla. Cover and chill 2 to 24 hours. Whisk custard smooth before assembling desserts.To assemble the trifles, coarsely crumble about 3/4 of the fruitcake in the pan (you will have leftover fruitcake). Layer a spoonful of custard in the bottom of 4 oz. glasses. crumbled fruitcake in the bottom of 4 oz. trifle glasses. Top with a layer of crumbled fruitcake. Repeat custard and fruitcake layering so that you have two layers of custard and two layers of cake in each glass. Place whipped cream in a piping bag fitted with a large star tip and pipe whipped on top of trifles; add a few cake crumbles on top just before serving, and rosemary sprigs if using.Make ahead: The cake, custard, and whipped cream can be made ahead and stored airtight in the refrigerator for up to three days. Stir custard well before layering in the Spiced Rum Cake Mini Trifles By Heather Baird Published: Tuesday, December 15, 2020Tuesday, December 15, 2020Spiced Rum Cake Mini Trifles Recipe LEGGI TUTTO

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    Camembert-Stuffed Sausage Balls


    We’re taking this beloved, retro recipe up a notch with Italian sausage, gooey Camembert cheese and fresh herbs. Meet your new favorite appetizer, or a mighty fine addition to family movie night!

    This post is written in partnership with Cheeses of Europe. 
    Let’s bring a little retro back this season, shall we? Maybe you’ve heard of them or maybe they’re new to you – regardless, we’re willing to bet these cheesy sausage balls will be a hit at your next family gathering!
    Often made with sausage, boxed biscuit mix, and Parmesan, we’re celebrating a new version today that elevates this appetizer with French cheese, panko breadcrumbs and fresh herbs.

    What is Camembert?
    Camembert is a soft, creamy cow’s milk cheese that originated in Normandy in Northern France. Inside its white edible rind you’ll find a smooth, soft cheese that becomes stronger and gooier with age.

    How Do You Make Sausage Balls?
    Skip the biscuit mix and take the tried-and-true meatball route: use Panko breadcrumbs soaked in milk and egg to lighten the texture of the sausage and help the balls hold together.
    Once you’ve mixed the sausage with the breadcrumbs, the next step is to form them into balls and slip in a piece of cheese. Then it’s under the broiler they go, taking a mere 10 to 12 minutes to brown and cook through.

    What Kind of Sausage Should I Use?
    Buy loose sausage if you can find it, but perhaps the easiest is to look for large Italian sausage links that are on the mild side—too spicy and the flavor of the Camembert treasure inside gets lost.
    Can I Make These in Advance?
    Once you form your sausage balls and roll them in the herb coating, you can refrigerate them for up to 24 hours before cooking.

    How Should I Serve Sausage Balls?
    These little appetizers would be great for watching the game or serving along with a few finger foods on a special occasion. But hey, they’re easy enough to throw together on movie night or any day of the week.

    Camembert-Stuffed Sausage Balls Recipe

    For the Herb Coating:
    3/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs
    3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley, plus more for garnish
    For the Sausage Balls:
    Vegetable oil spray, or about 3 tablespoons olive oil, for pan
    1 large egg
    1/4 cup milk
    3/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
    1/8 teaspoon salt
    1/8 teaspoon pepper
    1 pound loose Italian sausage meat, or from links with casings removed
    3 ounces Camembert, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

    Toothpicks, to serve


    1 Preheat the oven. Set a rack about 6 inches from the broiler element and preheat the oven to broil.
    Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper and spray or brush with vegetable oil.
    2 Mix together the herb coating. Pulse the Panko crumbs for the coating in a food processor until they’re broken down into very fine crumbs; alternatively, place the Panko in a zip-top bag and roll over them with a rolling pin.
    In a shallow bowl, mix the parsley and breadcrumbs.

    3 Make the meatball mixture: In a large bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, Panko breadcrumbs, salt, and pepper together.
    Let stand for 5 minutes, or until the breadcrumbs are soaked with the liquid. Mash with a fork.
    Add the sausage meat and combine until well mixed.

    4 Form the meatballs: Portion the meatballs into 16 pieces that are each about 1 1/2-inches in diameter.
    Hold a meatball in one hand and press a piece of cheese into the center. Wrap the meat around the cheese and seal.

    5 Roll in coating: Roll the balls in the herb coating mixture, and set on the baking sheet. Spray lightly with vegetable oil spray, or dab lightly with a brush dipped in oil. (The balls can be assembled and refrigerated at this point for up to 24 hours.)

    5 Broil the meatballs: Broil for 10 to 12 minutes, or until browned and the meat is cooked all the way through.
    6 To serve: Transfer the meatballs to a serving platter and insert a toothpick into each. Sprinkle with more chopped parsley. Serve warm.

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    This post may contain links to Amazon or other partners; your purchases via these links can benefit Simply Recipes. Read more about our affiliate linking policy. LEGGI TUTTO

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    8 Ways to Virtually Share Thanksgiving With Your Family This Year

    From gratitude letters to a long-distance pie decorating contest, here are eight ways to celebrate Thanksgiving with your family this year, even if you’re not physically together.

    If there’s anything 2020 has taught us, it’s that plans change and we need to roll up our sleeves and get a little creative when it comes to connecting with our friends and family.
    And that’s exactly what I’m doing for Thanksgiving this year: making the best of the situation I’ve been dealt, and busting out some creative ways to involve my family members who live 800+ miles away!
    Sharing a Long-Distance Thanksgiving
    A nontraditional Thanksgiving? This is not an unusual concept for me.
    I grew up with my mom who worked night shifts as a nurse, so we never had traditional holidays. We’d often celebrate on a different day, or on the holiday itself, but then we’d eat hospital cafeteria food while she was on her break.
    Then, when I was a teenager, my youngest brother was diagnosed with cancer and life turned upside down. There were many times we couldn’t celebrate holidays or birthdays with family or friends, but my parents always taught us that no matter where we were, there were always ways we could connect.
    Wondering how you, too, can connect with your family this Thanksgiving, even over a long distance? Here are a few ideas!

    Does Grandma have a sensational mashed potato recipe? Does Uncle Herman love to make cranberry sauce from scratch?
    Ask your faraway family members to share their favorite recipes, then use a site like Zazzle to make a mini family Thanksgiving cookbook. That way you can all make the same recipes and participate in a family meal together … even while apart!

    There is nothing like receiving a hand-written note in the mail, and this is one way to make your family feel special across the miles.
    Draw names in your family, and have each person write a gratitude card to the person they drew. Or surprise your family and write little cards to each person!
    Send a list of items that can be found around the house to your family members then, when they find the items, have them take a picture and send it to a group family text! Or FaceTime while doing the scavenger hunt and see who can find everything the fastest. For example, take a picture of:
    Being wrapped up in a cozy blanket
    Playing in leaves
    Smiling with a pumpkin
    Peeking out from behind a tree
    Enjoying a slice of pie
    Sipping on a fall drink
    A list of five things you’re grateful for
    Carving the turkey

    Send your family a box with cut out leaves from construction paper, some homemade cookies, a Sharpie, some tape, and googly eyes. Have them assemble the cookie turkeys when they get the package and write what they’re grateful for on the leaves.
    Then share what everyone wrote on Thanksgiving!
    My mom absolutely adores Thanksgiving, so I always try to get her something new to decorate her house with. I found this darling table runner and plan to get us each one so we can have a piece of each other on Thanksgiving Day!
    Gather favorite songs from family members and put them all on a playlist. You can either listen to it during Thanksgiving dinner or have a dance party while FaceTiming your family! If you need some ideas to get started, this is what I’ll be playing!

    Everyone could bake the same pie and decorate it in different ways, or you could let people really go wild and have them decorate a pie in any way they want. Then have a family vote on who had the best pie decoration!
    If you come from a competitive family, assign some family members to be judges, and have specific categories on how the pie needs to be decorated. Share your pies virtually via text, email, or video!
    Pick a recipe beforehand that you’d all like to try (Looking for some inspiration? We have a fabulous list of Thanksgiving recipes here!), then make the same recipe.
    However you connect with your family this Thanksgiving, I hope it’s a day filled with love, hope, laughter, and good food. Cheers to the many blessings we all have! LEGGI TUTTO

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    Black Forest Cake

    1 Preheat the oven and prepare the pans and bowls: Heat the oven to 350˚F. Place parchment paper circles in the bottoms of two 8-inch wide, 1 1/2-inch deep round cake pans; coat the pans with nonstick spray.
    Place the bowl and whisk (stand mixer, hand mixer, or stand-alone bowl and whisk) you’ll use for making whipped cream in the freezer.
    2 Make the cake: To a large bowl add both the granulated and brown sugars, breaking apart any large clumps of brown sugar with your fingers. Add the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and whisk to combine.
    In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, oil, and extract. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir to combine. Gradually whisk in the hot coffee to form a fairly loose batter.

    3 Divide the batter and bake the cake: Divide the batter between the cake pans and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes.
    Let the cakes cool for 30 minutes in the pans before turning out onto a cooling rack to cool for 30 minutes more.
    Note: If you don’t want to finish assembling the cake, let the cakes cool completely and wrap each cake round individually in plastic wrap, then foil and refrigerate for a few days or freeze the cakes for up to three months.

    4 Cook the cherries: While the cakes are cooling, put the cherries and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the fruit has softened and released a lot of its juice, 15 to 20 minutes.
    Strain the fruit. Reserve both the liquid and the cherries. You will use them at different stages. (You should have about 1 cup cherry juice.)

    5 Make the cherry syrup: Return the cherry juice to the saucepan over medium heat and reduce until thick and syrupy, 10 to 15 minutes. You should have about 1/3 cup once it’s reduced. Stir in the Kirschwasser.

    6 Cut the cake rounds and brush them syrup: The cakes could be slightly sticky or tacky. To prevent them from sticking once sliced, place them on a square of parchment or have a large cake lifter or metal spatula nearby to help with transferring the rounds.
    Cut the cakes in half horizontally so you have 4 circles. Using a pastry brush, brush the cut sides and the edges of the cakes with the cherry syrup, to prevent them from drying out. You should end up using all of the syrup, but it’s okay if there’s a little bit leftover. Let the liquid soak in and wait for the cakes to finish cooling, about 30 minutes.

    7 Make the whipped cream: Remove the bowl and whisk from the freezer. Using either a stand mixer, an electric hand mixer, or brute force, add the heavy cream, powdered sugar, and extract to the bowl; gradually increase the speed to medium-high and whisk until the cream holds stiff peaks, but isn’t lumpy. If using a stand mixer this comes together within a couple of minutes so don’t walk away.
    If making stabilized whipped cream find instructions for that here.

    8 Assemble and decorate the cake: Place one cake round on a plate cut-side up and top with a quarter of the whipped cream. Spread within a half inch of the edge and then scatter with a third of the cooked cherries; place another cake round on top and repeat for two more layers. Place the last cake round cut-side down on top and spread with the remaining whipped cream.
    Decorate with the shaved chocolate and cherries as desired.

    9 Serve: This cake is best eaten the day it’s assembled or the following day. But you can still enjoy any leftovers for a day or two after that so nothing goes to waste. LEGGI TUTTO

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    Kale and Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad with Bacon

    This hearty Brussels sprouts and kale salad is full of crunchy nuts and bacon, and tossed with a tangy dressing. Plus, several elements can be prepared ahead, making assembly a breeze for your holiday table or weekday lunch.

    Photography Credit: Kalisa Marie Martin

    Salad doesn’t always get the glory it’s due, but that’s not the case here. With toasted nuts, dried fruit, crispy bacon, and a sweet and tangy vinaigrette, this salad can stand proudly on its own—or right alongside your holiday show-stoppers.
    The kale and Brussels sprouts provide the perfect base for these sweet and savory accompaniments, and the recipe itself is quite flexible. Want more cranberries? Go for it! No bacon? That’s fine, too. See below for ideas on swaps and substitutions.
    Whether you follow this recipe exactly or put your own spin on it, you’ll end up with a hearty salad with great texture and an exciting combination of flavors.

    While you could use a food processor to shred your Brussels sprouts and kale, a sharp knife works just as well and leaves fewer dishes to wash!
    For the Brussels sprouts, peel off any dry or wilted outer leaves and trim off the stem end. Cut them in half lengthwise and, with the flat side down, thinly slice the sprouts into shreds.
    For the kale, remove the leaves from their stems, and then slice the leaves into thin strips.

    When it comes to this salad you can swap almost every ingredient for something else to keep the flavors fresh and new every time you make it.
    As far as types of kale, both curly and lacinato can be used. The bacon adds a nice salty and savory bite so, if you omit it, use salted nuts to maintain the balance.
    Nuts: If you don’t have pecans, other nuts like walnuts, almonds, or pistachios would be delicious. Need it to be nut-free? Pumpkin seeds would also be great.
    Dried Fruit: You could replace the dried cranberries with dried cherries or golden raisins or even fresh fruit like pomegranate arils.
    Cheese: If you’d like to add cheese to this salad, you could go just about any direction. A soft goat cheese, funky blue cheese, hard pecorino—whatever you like! Use between 1/2 to 3/4 cup (based on your preference) and add to the salad right before serving.
    This is a great make-ahead dish because several of the components can be prepared at least one day in advance.
    Shred the kale and Brussels sprouts and store them in an airtight container in the fridge the day before you want to serve the salad.
    Toast and chop the nuts a week in advance. Store them in an airtight container at room temperature.
    Make the dressing three days in advance. Just keep it in the fridge.
    Once all of the ingredients are combined, you still have time on your side. It actually needs 10 to 30 minutes for the kale to soften and the flavors to combine but, after that, it’s best eaten that same day. It will still be delicious a couple of days later, though the dressing will continue to soften the kale especially, making the salad wilt.


    Kale and Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad with Bacon Recipe

    This salad is best enjoyed the day it is prepared. After a couple of days, the dressed salad, though wilted, will still be delicious. I use two kinds of mustard, but if you only have one or the other that’s okay too.

    For the Salad:
    1 pound Brussels sprouts, wilted outer leaves peeled off and discarded
    1 pound fresh kale, about 1 large bunch, rinsed and patted dry
    6 strips of bacon
    1 cup pecan halves
    1/2 cup dried cranberries
    For the Dressing:
    1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
    2 tablespoons maple syrup
    2 teaspoons whole grain mustard
    1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    1/2 cup olive oil


    1 Cook bacon: In a large skillet lay bacon in individual slices, cook until desired level of doneness. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Cool and chop.

    2 Toast the pecans: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread pecans out over a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 5 to 8 minutes, stirring once, until toasted and fragrant. Transfer to a cutting board to cool then roughly chop.

    3 Prepare the Brussels sprouts and kale: Trim off the bottom of the Brussels sprouts and cut them in half, lengthwise. Then, with the flat side down, thinly slice the sprouts into shreds.
    Remove the kale leaves from their stems and, using a knife, thinly slice the leaves into strips. Discard the stems or save for another use. Into a large bowl, add the Brussels sprouts and kale. Mix to combine.

    4 Make the dressing and dress salad: In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the vinegar, maple syrup, mustards, salt, and pepper.
    Whisk in the oil until thoroughly combined and then pour the dressing onto the combined Brussels sprouts and kale. Mix until well coated and let sit at room temperature 10 to 30 minutes (refrigerate if longer).

    5 Assemble and serve: When ready to serve, add most of the pecans, bacon, and cranberries and stir to combine. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with the remaining pecans, bacon, and cranberries.

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    Kalisa Marie Martin
    Kalisa Marie Martin is a classically-trained chef with a background in food science and nutrition, based in the Philadelphia area. She shares her unique perspective on food with the world at Kalisa Marie Eats. Kalisa has also been gluten-free for over 15 years and loves the challenge of recreating whatever she might be craving.
    More from Kalisa LEGGI TUTTO

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    Slow Roasted Pork Shoulder with Apple Gravy

    The pork shoulder should be marinated in the rub overnight or up to two days.

    For the spice rub:
     2 tablespoons packed, fresh thyme leaves, lightly chopped, or 1 tablespoons dried thyme
    2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves, lightly chopped
    1 tablespoon fennel seeds, toasted
    2 teaspoons black peppercorns
    2 teaspoons Kosher salt
    4 medium garlic cloves, minced
    Extra virgin olive oil (optional)
    For the pork shoulder roast:
    4 to 5 pounds (1.8 to 2.2 kg) boneless pork shoulder, sinew and excess fat (beyond 1/4 inch) trimmed
    4 medium good cooking apples, such as Fuji or Jonagold
    1 medium yellow onion
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    Salt and pepper, to taste
    1/2 cup (120 ml) dry white wine (can sub water)
    1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
    Freshly ground black pepper


    1 Make the spice rub: Put the fennel seeds, peppercorns, thyme and rosemary leaves, garlic and 2 teaspoons salt into a spice grinder or coffee grinder and grind to a paste. (Alternatively, you can pound the mixture with a mortar and pestle.)
    Transfer the mixture into a bowl and stir in 2 tablespoons olive oil.
    2 Marinate roast overnight in spice rub: Rub the mixture evenly all over the pork shoulder. If the roast is tied, untie it to rub the inside with the rub mixture as well, then retie it.
    Wrap the roast tightly in plastic wrap to hold the rub against the skin and marinate overnight (or up to two days).

    3 Prep apples and onions: Peel, halve, and core the apples. Cut each apple half into about 4 wedges. Peel the onions. Cut in half from tip to root. Trim the root and tip. Cut each onion half into about 12 thin wedges.
    Put the onions and the apples together in a bowl, toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and season with a little salt and pepper.

    4 Preheat the oven to 450°F (232°C).
    5 Place roast on bed of apples and onions: Place the apples and onions in the bottom of a roasting pan or Dutch oven with a cover. Place the marinated pork shoulder on top of the apples and onions.

    6 Roast: Roast uncovered for 30 minutes. Turn the oven heat down to 325°F and add the wine. Cover the roasting pan and slow roast for 2 1/2 to 3 hours until the pork shoulder is falling apart tender and pulls apart easily when probed with a fork.

    7 Make sauce: Transfer the pork shoulder to a serving plate and cover with foil to keep warm. Put the apples and onions into a blender. Add about 1/2 cup water and the mustard and purée.
    Check the texture, and add water until you get the desired thickness for the gravy. Press through a sieve for a silky smooth textured gravy. Check the seasoning and correct to taste.

    8 Serve: Cut the roast into pieces and serve with the apple gravy. Leftovers will keep refrigerated for up to 5 days or frozen for 3 months.

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    Chocolate Lark Cocktail (Low-Proof)

    A chocolatey riff on the classic Adonis cocktail, this drink is made with crème de cacao, sherry, and vermouth. This low-proof cocktail feels so special you won’t know what you’re missing. It’s equally perfect for a holiday cocktail party or Friday movie night!

    Photography Credit: Sam Schick

    The Chocolate Lark accomplishes the near-impossible: surprising complexity and body for a low-alcohol cocktail, enshrouded in a deliciousness that stops shy of being a dessert. This cocktail is one any host should have up their sleeve.
    In fact, as a lower-proof cocktail, its character is entirely built on the interplay of its compelling ingredients—specifically, sherry, vermouth, and creme de cacao.

    Shy with alcohols, gregarious with flavor: The Chocolate Lark sees a sherry complemented by a deep, rich vermouth, and a dark crème de cacao. Each is a character in its own right, but together, they practically sing.
    Amontillado sherry is an aromatic, intriguingly dry fortified wine. Aged in oak barrels and beneath a layer of flor (yeast), this sherry’s concentrated aroma and dynamic flavor are rich in the nose, but light on its feet. Amontillado is the rosé of the sherry world: darker, less dry than fino sherry, but lighter than oloroso. Lustau Los Arcos Amontillado Sherry is your best fit, but this recipe also works well with light, dry sherries, such as manzanilla or fino.
    Carpano Antica Formula (a vermouth) has a strong body, dark complexity, and self-assurance that has made it a standard in bars the world over. Its strong vanilla notes are joined by cacao nib, orange peel, and dried cherry. If you want something more than a basic sweet vermouth but cannot find Carpano, try Coccchi Vermouth di Torino, Cinzano Rossocchi Vermouth di Torino, or Cinzano Rosso.
    A dark crème de cacao provides the chocolate wheels on which this cocktail rolls. Too often misused and abused, crème de cacao is best when used with some restraint (no more than 3/4 ounce). This will add just enough richness, sweetness, and depth. Tempus Fugit Crême de Cacao à la Vanille, a recipe recreation from the liqueur’s heyday, is a great choice, as is Marie Brizard Brown Cacao Liqueur.

    Chocolate Bitters are going to amplify not only the chocolate of the crème de cacao, but also the deep body of the vermouth. You can make your own, go with Fee Brothers Aztec Chocolate Bitters, or be really interesting and try Bittermens Xocolatl Mole Bitters.
    Fresh lime juice pairs wonderfully with the chocolate while brightening the cocktail. Reserve a single wedge of lime to coat the rim of the coupe glass if you are going to garnish the cocktail.
    Black sugar is a useful, if not necessary, garnish. (I’ll confess that I often skip the sugar.) It’s an unrefined brown sugar (the molasses content of which makes it black) and lends the rim of your glass a sweet, gravelly ring. Your best bet to find it will be local specialty shops or Amazon.
    We get some specialness out of this drink precisely because its chocolate is not allowed to overwhelm; it’s like an ingenue doing a surprise turn as a character actor: definitely noticed in every frame, but holding enough back as to draw your attention, rather than force it.
    We get balance (not easy to come by without a stronger base spirit and the risk of oversweetening the concoction) from the surprise combination of sherry and lime juice, as they together bring a welcome acidity and brightness alongside the rich seasoning of the vermouth and sweetness of the crème de cacao.

    This cocktail is a riff on The Adonis cocktail, a sherry, vermouth, and bitters number that dates back to the late 1880s, and is named for the first Broadway musical. (The Adonis was itself a riff on the Bamboo, which went with a dry, “French” vermouth.) So why are we calling this a “lark”? For that, you can thank Shakespeare, whose poem “Venus and Adonis” refers to a “gentle lark,” which is perhaps the best description of this cocktail.
    Now, cocktails and sherry go back a long way—once upon a time, sherry was as common a base ingredient as gin or whiskey. And for good reason: the fortified wine provides both body and acidity, levity, and complexity while leaving room for a broad range of other flavors to play their parts.
    Port of Adonis: Add 1 ounce of Tawny Port, and reduce the vermouth to 3/4 ounce, to introduce a dark stewed fruit flavor against the briny minerality of a drier sherry.
    Stronger Adonis: You would be sacrificing the drink’s coveted status of low-ABV, but substituting cognac for the sherry, and a tawny port in place of the Carpano will go down very well indeed.
    Chocolate Coronation: Substitute Maraschino for the simple syrup, and Marie Brizard’s Cacao Blanc for the dark creme, and you’ll have a chocolatey riff on the Coronation, an aromatic, delicately fruity cocktail from Harry Craddock’s 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book.

    Chocolate Lark Cocktail (Low-Proof) Recipe

    1 ounce Amontillado sherry
    1 ounce Carpano Antica
    3/4 ounce crème de cacao
    1/4 ounce fresh lime juice
    1/4 ounce simple syrup
    2 dashes chocolate bitters
    Black sugar (garnish)


    1 Garnish the glass: Just before serving, use a lime wedge to wet the outer rim of a chilled coupe glass. Turning the glass on its side, dip the outer rim into a small bowl filled with black sugar, and coat the outer top of the glass.
    2 Make the cocktail: In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add the sherry, Carpano Antica (or vermouth), crème de cacao, lime juice, and simple syrup. Shake until cold to the touch, and strain into a chilled coupe glass.

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    Sam Schick
    Sam Schick is a designer and drinks historian living in Seattle, WA with his joy Megan Gordon (our Marketing Director!) and their two small kids. There he helms the design firm Neversink, savors every quiet last sip of an Islay Scotch, and tirelessly works on new chartreuse recipes.
    More from Sam LEGGI TUTTO

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    Pumpkin Pie Bars with Candied Ginger Whipped Cream

    1 Prepare the oven and pan: Preheat the oven to 350℉. Line a 9×13-inch ungreased glass baking dish with parchment paper, leaving enough of the paper hanging over the sides to use as a sling to remove the bars once they’re baked.

    2 Make the crust: Add the graham crackers to the bowl of a food processor and pulverize them until they are finely ground and resemble sand. You should have a little over 3 cups once ground. (If you don’t have a food processor you can also do this by placing the graham crackers in a ziptop bag and smashing them with a rolling pin.)
    Add the melted butter, light brown sugar, and salt; pulse until fully combined.
    3 Transfer to the prepared baking dish: Spread the graham cracker mixture evenly in the prepared baking dish. Use your fingers and the bottom of a dry measuring cup to help press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of the dish.

    4 Bake the crust: Transfer the baking dish to the oven and place it on the center rack. Bake  for 12 minutes, or until the crust darkens a bit and smells slightly caramelized. Remove from the oven and cool slightly.
    5 Make the custard: In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, light brown sugar, cream, eggs, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, cardamom, nutmeg, salt, and vanilla, until smooth and well-combined. Pour the custard over the graham cracker crust.

    6 Bake the bars: Transfer the pan to the oven and bake until the custard is set (the surface should look dry, taut, and the center should be firm), 50 to 60 minutes.
    7 Remove from the oven and cool: Place the baking dish on a wire rack, and cool completely, at least 2 hours. Transfer to the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
    8 Make the whipped cream: While the bars chill in the refrigerator, make the whipped cream.
    In a well-chilled bowl, whisk together the cream and vanilla until stiff peaks begin to form. (If doing this by hand, this could take 10 to 15 minutes or more.) If you want to learn all about properly whipped cream read our post: How to Make Whipped Cream.
    Once the cream has been whipped to stiff peaks, fold in the finely chopped candied ginger. If you’re piping the whipped cream onto the bars, pay close attention to how finely chopped the ginger is so it doesn’t clog the piping tip.

    9 Cut the bars: When the bars are chilled, lift the parchment ends and remove from the pan. Use a long sharp knife to cut the pie into bars. For the cleanest lines, cut straight down rather than dragging the knife through the bars, and carefully wipe the blade between each cut.
    10 Serve: Spoon or pipe a dollop of whipped cream on top of each bar, garnish with a piece of candied ginger, and serve. LEGGI TUTTO