Zippy Summer Dessert:: Espresso Caramel Sauce

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Today I’m sharing a zippy summer dessert recipe for espresso caramel sauce. I made it for friends in Italy a few years ago, and I might have to recreate it again soon. It’s a quick and easy recipe for all coffee lovers out there, and you know how I love my coffee, especially espresso. I like to serve this sauce on gelato, but since it’s a caramel topping, it’s great on almost everything…especially chocolate desserts!

Espresso Caramel Sauce:
serves 6 to 8 on ice cream or pound cake
You will need:

– 1 cup sugar
– 1 shot of espresso
– 1 cup of heavy cream

To prepare:

Place sugar in a small sauce pan on medium heat.

Watch the sugar carefully, with a silicone spatula brush down the sides of the pan until combined and the sugar turns a deep amber color.

Pull the caramel off the heat and add the espresso while stirring until combined, it will bubble and spit this is normal. Next add cream very gradually while stirring the entire time until combined. If there are any lumps don’t worry they will melt once you put it back on the heat.

To Finish: Place the pan of caramel back on low heat, stirring continually until the caramel starts to slowly bubble not boil. This takes about 3 minutes.

Pull from the heat and place into a glass or ceramic container with a spout, place in the fridge until you’re ready to use.

Warning: With all hot sugar be extremely careful so as not to burn yourself. If you’ve ever burned yourself with hot sugar you know it’s very dangerous. This is not an activity for children.

xx Annette

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Summer Recipe:: Fire and Ice S’mores

While summer doesn’t technically start for a few more weeks, I always think of Memorial Day as the unofficial launch of the summer season. Is there anything more quintessentially summer than s’mores? S’mores are one of those gooey foods that are as fun as they are messy. Seriously. Have you ever NOT had fun making s’mores? I didn’t think so.

These fire and ice s’mores are a twist on the traditional. I’m adding homemade vanilla ice cream to mix things up. Of course, you can stick with the original ingredients, or you can give this one a try. No matter what, make s’mores a part of your Memorial Day Weekend gatherings.

Fire and Ice S’mores

You will need:

– Marshmallows
– Quality chocolate (try dark chocolate for extra indulgence)
– Healthy graham crackers – available at specialty markets like Whole Foods
– Sea Salt
– Olive Oil
– Vanilla Ice Cream (recipe below!)

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
You will need:
– 2 cups heavy cream
– 1 cup whole milk
– 3/4 cup sugar
– 1/8 teaspoon salt
– 3 vanilla beans – split lengthwise
– 2 large eggs
To prepare ice cream:

Combine cream, milk, sugar, and salt in a heavy saucepan. With the tip of a knife, scrape seeds from vanilla beans into cream mixture, then drop in pods. Heat cream mixture just to a boil. Whisk eggs in a large bowl, then add hot cream mixture in a slow stream, while whisking. Pour mixture into saucepan and cook over moderately low heat, stirring constantly, until slightly thickened and registers 170°F on thermometer (do not let boil). Pour custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean metal bowl, then cool, stirring occasionally. Chill, covered, until cold, at least 3 hours. Freeze custard in an ice cream maker. Transfer to an airtight container and put in freezer.

To Prepare S’mores:

Have guests assemble their S’mores outside by the fire.

In the meantime prepare individual bowls or glasses with a scoop of vanilla ice cream drizzled with a teaspoon on Olive Oil and sprinkled with sea salt.

Have guests grab a bowl and dip their s’more into the ice cream.

*Cooks’ notes: ·To cool custard quickly after straining, set bowl in a larger bowl of ice and cold water and stir until chilled. ·Custard can be chilled up to 24 hours.

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Using Jars to Elevate Dips & Sips

It’s clear that jars and small vessels are having a big moment in the food world. Desserts in jars, cocktails in jars, pickles of every imaginable variety in jars, sauces, salsa, spreads and salad dressing in jars. The best part is, this trend turned every day normal is a great way to recycle those small containers currently in your fridge and pantry. Just imagine the possibilities!

There are many ways that you can incorporate jars into your entertaining repertoire, but I’m sharing a few of my favorite styling tricks below.

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  1. Cocktails: Putting a summer drink in a mason or jelly jar is something that people have been doing for years. It never gets old and is always a fun presentation. This idea is especially great for group gatherings like wedding and baby showers. Pre-make your beverages and add them to an ice bucket, so guests can self serve.
  2. Appetizers: Dips and spreads like tempanade are great in this recycled glass jar; it’s such a fun way to serve spreads. Plus, if there are any leftovers, you can easily close that jar and pop it right back into the fridge. Stylish presentation, and easy clean-up? Yes, please.
  3. Dessert: Almost any dessert, especially one that includes ice cream or pudding, can be served in a small jar. Layer different sweets together in a jar to make it as beautiful on the outside as it tastes on the inside.
  4. Almost anything else you can imagine! If you can think if up, give it a try. BBQ in a jar layered with slaw, beans, pork, pickles, and sauce? Yes. Salads for grabbing on the go or meandering throughout a party? Absolutely. You never know what happy styling accident you might stumble upon.

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Photos: Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

Cocktails : Style Me Pretty

 

 

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A Decadent Demonic Dessert

My Devil's Food Cupcakes are one of my go-to desserts for Halloween(or any time of year, really). They're a decadent demonic dessert if I do say so.

Halloween is one of my favorite times of the year. It’s so festive and fun, and it’s essentially the start of the holiday season. There’s so much fun to look forward to from now on.

My Devil’s Food Cupcakes are one of my go-to desserts for Halloween(or any time of year, really). They’re a decadent demonic dessert if I do say so.

Devil’s Food Cake is an alternative to a basic chocolate cake that is absolutely delicious. Get kids involved by encouraging them to add cute toppers like gummy worms or tombstones made with cookies. Halloween cupcake wrappers make them extra fun for kids of all ages.

A few years ago, Design Sponge used the recipe for a full-blown Halloween shin dig, and it turned out so cute.

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Find this recipe and other fabulous party ideas in my cookbook, Picture Perfect Parties Rizzoli NY.

Devils Food Cup Cakes
Makes 36 cupcakes

You will need:

For the cupcakes:
– ½ cup water
– 1 cup high quality cocoa powder
– 3 sticks butter softened (1 ½ cups)
– 2 cups sugar
– 4 eggs beaten
– 1 tablespoon vanilla
– ¼ cup canola oil
– 1 cup sour cream
– 3 cups all purpose flour
– 1 teaspoon baking soda
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

For the Chocolate Frosting:
– 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
– 7 tablespoons high quality cocoa
– 1 stick of butter softened
– 6 tablespoons evaporated milk

Cake Preparation:

In the microwave, place water, then place cocoa powder in hot water, set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle blade place butter and sugar combine until creamy. Add eggs one at a time, add vanilla and oil and sour cream add cocoa mixture, beat on medium speed until combined.

In a bowl mix flour and baking soda and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the chocolate mixture on slow speed until combined, and add chocolate chips. Spoon batter into muffin tins, lined with cupcake liners fill liner until ¾ full. Place in the oven for 10-15 minutes until a pick is inserted and comes out clean. Cool and then frost.

Frosting Preparation:

Sift sugar and cocoa together in a bowl set aside. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle, cream butter, add sugar cocoa mixture slowly to the butter alternately with the evaporated milk, until fluffy.

xx, Annette

Photos via Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn & Design Sponge

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My Favorite Easter Tablescape Inspirations

Hi Everyone! I’m Nicole, Annette’s web manager, and I’m back today to share some of my favorite Easter tablescapes. As you all know, Annette is renovating The Fortress in Italy. What you might not know, is that I started my own stateside renovation (on a much smaller scale) just a week after her.

As a result, we’ve been sharing our growing pains with renovations together, and it’s been so nice to lean on Annette for advice since this renovation isn’t her first rodeo. It’s always good to have someone to talk to!

Once our renovation is complete, we will finally have a real dining room. Until now, our home has had an eat-in kitchen, and our dining room space functioned as our office but not anymore! I am thrilled to have a real dining room table along with a space where I can host dinner parties for friends and family, especially for different holidays.

While we’re not quite ready for entertaining, I’ve been spending the past few weeks dreaming-up what my Easter tablescape would look like if I was hosting Easter this year. Sign me up for all the flowers, eggs, and bunnies, please!

Using tulips is not only seasonally appropriate but also a beautiful way to incorporate garden-like florals into your centerpieces. I also love the use of the green bunnies. It’s a cute way to be festive.

These egg place settings are sweet yet chic. It’s a great way to repurpose your dyed eggs (but make sure you save some for deviling!).

I know Annette likes to send guests home with a little something, and I think these baskets of miniature chocolate eggs would be perfect for exactly that. I would place them by the door, so no one forgets their treat!

What are your plans for your Easter tablescape this year?

xo, Nicole

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