holiday Archive

Chai Snickerdoodles

We made it through the holidays! High fives all around.

Granted, my house is in shambles and my pants feel like they are two sizes too small. But that’s what the holidays are all about, right? In all seriousness, I had a wonderful Christmas. I spent a lot of quality time with my family (and adorable nieces), I ate a lot good food, and played a lot of Just Dance 3. (In case you were wondering, I’m absolutely horrible at Just Dance 3.)

However, the holidays aren’t technically over yet. We still have to ring in the new year! I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions – namely, I don’t like making promises I can’t keep – but I do plan on making a few dietary changes on January 1st. No, I am not going on a diet. I’m just going back to the way I normally eat. I like eating fruits, veggies, and whole grains. I feel better when I eat healthy and exercise (call me crazy, but I actually like feeling good). So, I’m going to listen to my body and I’m going to cut back on sugar, carbs, alcohol, etc.

But, that starts on January 1st. Meaning: I’ve got a few more days to eat cookies. And so do you!

So make these cookies now and gobble them up before your New Year’s resolutions begin. ;)

P.S. I’m aware that these cookies may appear to be sprinkled with black pepper, but I can assure you that they are sprinkled with Chai tea leaves (and cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, etc). And I can assure you that they are really, really delicious.

Adapted from The Novice Chef

2 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cream of tartar**
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), room temperature
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs

**If you do not have cream of tartar, you can substitute a 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice.

For the Chai sugar:
5 tablespoons white sugar
2 teaspoons Masala chai tea leaves (Use loose leaf, or empty the contents of a couple of tea bags)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

Using a food processor or mortar & pestle, grind the Chai tea until it is fine. Combine chai with the sugar and other spices in a small bowl. Set aside.

In another (medium) bowl, combine dry ingredients.

Using a stand mixer (or hand mixer), cream together butter until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time. Add in vanilla (and lemon juice, if substituting for cream of tartar).

Slowly add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, and mix until combined. Place dough in refrigerator to chill for a half hour.

Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper (or a Silpat).

Once the dough has chilled, remove from fridge. Using your hands, form dough into large balls (about 1″). Roll each ball in the chai sugar mix, and place on a baking sheet (leave space, as the cookies will expand during baking). Bake for 12-14 minutes, until edges are just barely beginning to turn golden brown. Allow cookies to rest for 5 minutes on cookie sheet before transferring to a cooling rack.

Hazelnut and Dried Cherry Biscotti with Orange and Cardamom

It feels good to sit down.

I’m taking a minute for myself. Elf is playing on the television, my (turquoise-themed) Christmas tree is twinkling in the background, and my cat is snuggled up next to me. It’s been a busy month, and I’ve not had many moments to myself recently. I blinked, and before I knew it my December schedule was filled with meetings, holiday parties, food swaps, catering gigs, meetings, baking, cooking, crafting, and so much more.

To be honest, I sort of love the hustle and bustle of it all. I’m the queen of overcommitment and I’m always busy, busy, busy. But, that gets old quickly. In fact, it’s downright exhausting. I have to remind myself to slow down, and to take things one day at a time. I desperately want to enjoy this holiday season, and the only obstacle standing in the way of a peaceful and restful holiday is me.

But, I’m working on it. Baby steps. Tonight, I snuggled with my cat and watched Elf and all felt right.

And the cherry hazelnut biscotti? They were part of my holiday stress-reducing plan. I needed something to bring to the PDX Winter Food Swap and I needed a treat to bring to a holiday party. So I made a double batch of biscotti and I killed two birds with one stone. The biscotti were an absolute hit at each event (i.e. they disappeared quickly), they were easy to make, and they crossed two things off my to-do list. Huzzah!

I’d like to say thank you (yet again) to my sister, Danielle, for baking with me. We baked the biscotti together while her baby and my bunny played together on the kitchen floor (and made a giant – but adorable – mess). Baking is so much better with company (if I do say so myself)…

Adapted from Williams Sonoma

Note: This recipe could easily be adapted to include various dried fruits and nuts (cranberries, blueberries, dates, pistachios, almonds, pecans, etc), I just used what I had on hand. And, of course, I decided to dip each biscotti in dark chocolate…because it seemed like the right thing to do.

8 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup white sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup hazelnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
1/2 cup dried bing cherries, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
12 oz. (1 bag) dark chocolate chips (I used extra dark, 60% cacao from Ghiradelli)

Preheat an oven to 350°F. Line one large baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer (or in the bowl of a stand mixer), beat butter on high speedy, until fluffy (1-2 minutes). Add in the sugar, and continue beating until well combined. Reduce the speed to low, and add in the eggs one at a time. Mix until blended, and then mix in the vanilla.

In a large bowl, sift together dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, cardamom and salt. Gradually add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and beat on low speed or stir with a wooden spoon just until incorporated. Gently stir in the hazelnuts, cherries and orange zest until evenly distributed. The dough should be very soft.

Turn the dough out onto a generously floured work surface and divide in half. With well-floured hands, transfer one-half onto one side of the lined baking sheet and shape into a log about 12″ long and 1.5 inches wide. Repeat with the remaining dough on the other side of the sheet, leaving at least 4 inches between the logs.

Bake the biscotti until the edges are golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Gently (and carefully) transfer the biscotti “logs” to a flat surface. Using a serrated knife, cut off slices of biscotti (1/2 inch wide). Place biscotti pieces on the baking sheet (on their side) and bake for 10 minutes more, or until golden. Remove from oven and allow to cool on wire racks.

Optional: Once the cookies have cooled, melt the chocolate chips, using a double boiler. (You could always try the microwave to melt the chocolate, but you can easily overcook the chocolate and then it becomes gritty and gross. I prefer the double boiler method.) Dip each biscotti in the chocolate, coating 1/4 to 1/2 of the cookie (I just like to coat the tip of the biscotti, so I dip it 1/4 of the way in the chocolate). Carefully place each biscotti on a piece of parchment or wax paper, and allow to cool.

Store biscotti in an airtight container. Makes about 2 dozen biscotti.

A photo of my biscotti at the PDX Winter Handmade Food Swap

Meyer Lemon Curd & A Handmade Holiday

This post is only slightly different than my handmade holiday post from last year. I was reading over last year’s post (to gain inspiration for this year) and I realized that it said everything that I want to say. I liked it so much that I just decided to repost it for this year. However, I changed out the recipe – last year I made Spicy Brown Mustard, and this year I went with a Meyer Lemon Curd. In addition, I’ve updated and added to my list of homemade and DIY gift ideas. Lastly, I’ve included a few links to organizations that you can donate to in lieu of giving gifts. I think that about covers it, so please read below.


This time of year is just so overwhelming. It seems that every year, the advertisements get louder, the Black Friday lines get longer, and the things I love about Christmas are seemingly lost in the throes of American consumerism. It all just seems so Charlie Brown, if you know what I mean. And I get so discouraged by insanity of it all! I feel like I need my own personal Linus to come remind me what Christmas is all about.

At the end of the day, I believe that Christmas is about a Savior who came to earth. It’s as simple as that. And whether or not you share my beliefs on Christmas, I do hope that we can all agree that there is something disconcerting about the modern American Christmas. The holiday has become a hallmark of greed, materialism, stress, waste, and so much more. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

For the past few years, my family and I have participated in the phenomenon that is known as The Advent Conspiracy. The Advent Conspiracy is trying to change how we do Christmas. Their motto is simple: Love All. Spend Less. Give More. I was struck by the simplicity of the statement: so much truth in so few words. To expand upon the motto, essentially The Advent Conspiracy challenges people to change their Christmas spending habits. Instead of spending bunches of money on traditional gifts, they challenge people to instead use that money to do good. They do not suggest that you forgo all gifts entirely, rather they encourage people to give thoughtful and handmade gifts, the gift of time (i.e. babysitting for someone, cooking a meal for someone), and other such gifts. (For more info, watch their fantastic promo video here.)

So, my family and I have done just that. We’ve gotten really creative with our gifts – it’s usually a combination of handmade items, secondhand items, or things purchased from local businesses. There are no hard and fast rules, we just do the best we can. And maybe I’m crazy, but I take so much joy in the process. For me, this is what Christmas is all about (Ahem…Charlie Brown). It is about taking the time to invest in those that you love, to gift meaningful and thoughtful gifts, and to use your resources in a way that will benefit others.

That’s my reasoning for making a lot of my Christmas gifts, anyway. I’m not particularly crafty, but every year I challenge myself to try something new. This year, I’m making a few darling yarn wreaths, as well as Meyer Lemon Curd, Crema di Limoncello, Apple Butter, and a few other fun things that I’m not allowed to mention (yet). I haven’t personally tried all the recipes and/or crafts on this list, but they’re all on my list of “things to eventually make”.

I hope that you’re inspired this holiday season, and a happy handmade holiday to all of you.


*Yarn Wreaths with Felt Flowers
*Homemade Creme de Menthe
*Grapefruit Cranberry Marmelade
*Crema di Limoncello
*Cute Little Marble Magnets
*Homemade Vanilla Extract
*The Cutest Little Holiday Snow Globes
*Moss Terrarium | Tiny Terrarium | Hanging Succulent Terrarium
*Chai Tea Mix
*Ina Garten’s Chipotle and Rosemary Spiced Nuts
*Hot Chocolate on a Stick
*Vodka Infusions (Rosemary Lavender & Rhubarb)
*Pumpkin Butter
*Basil & Wine Jelly
*Balsamic Fig Thyme Jam
*Hazelnut-Lavender-Coconut Granola
*Maple Cinnamon Granola
*(Really Cool) Vintage Tin Candles
*Spice Blend: Herbs De Provence
*Vanilla Sea Salt
*Homemade Curry Powder
*Slow Cooker Apple Butter
*DIY Reed Diffuser (Air Freshener)

I highly encourage any/all of you to give back this holiday season. Here are just a few (of many) organizations that could benefit from your charitable donations:

Give a goat to a family in need (via Oxfam)
Clean Water for Haiti
The International Justice Mission
The Oregon Food Bank
Women for Women: The Women of South Sudan
Chickens for Christmas
No Kid Hungry: Share Our Strength

And finally, here’s one of my absolute favorite recipes for gift giving!

Meyer Lemon Curd
Confession: I’ve already posted recipes for Lime Curd and Grapefruit Curd on my blog, so at this point I think I’m what you’d call a “curd enthusiast”. But, my aunt gave me a whole bag of Meyer Lemons from her trees in Palm Springs, California. I had no choice but to make Meyer Lemon Curd!

1 and 1/2 Cups of fresh squeezed Meyer lemon juice* (from 10-12 lemons)
10 tablespoons of chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
6 eggs, plus the yolk of one egg
Zest of 2 lemons (cut into large pieces for easy retrieval)
1 cup of sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

*If using normal lemons instead of Meyers, you may need to add a touch more sugar.

Juice the lemons. Rolling the lemons with your palm on the counter will yield much more juice. Pour juice through a strainer or cheesecloth to remove any seeds and large bits of pulp.

In a saucepan, whisk the eggs (and yolk) together. Add in lemon juice and sugar, and whisk until well combined. Turn your stovetop on, and gradually heat up the mixture over medium-low heat, whisking constantly. Once the mixture is warm, turn the heat up to medium and add in the strips of zest. Next, begin to add the butter pieces, bit by bit, whisking the whole time. Continue whisking, adding butter all the time, until you’ve added all the butter. Continue whisking, being careful not to burn (or allow the eggs to curdle), and cook for 7-10 minutes, or until curd is thick and creamy.

Remove from heat and cool at room temperature for an hour. I put a piece of plastic wrap over it (so a film doesn’t form on top). Transfer to sterilized jars. These can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.

Sautéed Sweet Potatoes with Whiskey, Brown Sugar, Cayenne and Rosemary

I absolutely hated sweet potatoes when I was a kid. Or, at least I thought I did. Really, I think I was misinformed about sweet potatoes. My only real experience with sweet potatoes was with the famed Thanksgiving side, “Sweet Potato Casserole”. You know the dish I’m talking about, right? The bright orange casserole, which was usually made with canned sweet potatoes and was topped with some sort of marshmallowy substance. The whole thing was devoid of texture and sickeningly sweet. (I apologize if I’m stepping on any toes here, I do know that there are many out there who love this classic Thanksgiving dish. I’m just not one of them!)

This is what I knew of sweet potatoes, and I did not like it one bit.

But then I grew up and figured out that sweet potatoes are awesome. They’re a surprisingly versatile little root vegetable, and can be used in various sweet or savory applications. In addition, they’re classified as a “superfood“. I’m not entirely sure what that means, but I’d like to pretend it means that sweet potato fries aren’t bad for you. Fried superfood is still a superfood, right?

But, I digress.

The point is, sweet potatoes are fantastic. I could eat them a million different ways; in pies, biscuits, soups, stews, gratins, and more. But of all the ways to enjoy sweet potatoes, there is one recipe that is my clear favorite. I like to sauté them with butter, whiskey, rosemary, shallots, brown sugar, and cayenne. Just take a moment and let your eyes wander back over that sentence. Yep. There are a lot of good things in that sentence. And when you combine all of those good things with sweet potatoes, it’s downright magical.

Bulleit Rye | Rosemarried

The potatoes are buttery, salty, sweet, and a little bit spicy. The whiskey and the brown sugar work together to give the sweet potatoes beautiful brown, caramelized edges. (I’m making myself hungry as I type this. Seriously.)

And the best part about these potatoes? They’re really, really easy to make. And, you can do a lot of the prep work ahead of time. If you boil your sweet potatoes a day ahead of time, they only take 10 more minutes to cook. TEN MINUTES. I used to over-complicate the holidays and make ridiculous dishes that required me to slave over the stove all day. I’ve since learned my lesson, and I try to relax and actually enjoy the holidays. That’s one of the reasons I love this recipe, it allows me to do just that.

All of that to say, these sweet potatoes will be making an appearance on my Thanksgiving table this year. And who knows, maybe they’ll end up on your table as well. :)

(P.S. In the spirit of “Thankful November” I would like to mention that today, I’m thankful for the company of a good book and a snuggly cat. Oh, and I’m thankful to have a working heater. It is COLD out there!)

SP2 (1)

Sautéed Sweet Potatoes with Whiskey, Brown Sugar, Cayenne and Rosemary
Serves 4-6

4-5 medium (red flesh) sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 small shallots, diced
3 sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped finely
2 tablespoons salted butter
2 tablespoons whiskey
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Salt & pepper, to taste

This step can be done ahead of time: Place sweet potato cubes in a medium size pot and cover with water. Add a dash of salt, and place over high heat. Allow the water to come to a boil, and then reduce heat and allow the potatoes to simmer until soft (20 minutes or so). Drain water, set potatoes aside. If you do make the potatoes ahead of time, store them in the fridge in a sealed container until you need them.

In a large non-stick skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add shallots, and cook for 2-3 minutes, until translucent. Add in sweet potatoes, and gently stir to coat with butter. Allow to cook for 2-3 more minutes. Sprinkle cayenne, brown sugar, rosemary, salt and pepper over the potatoes while they cook. Be careful not to over-stir, so that they potatoes retain their shape (and don’t get mushy. You want them to remain in cubed form!). Turn the heat up to high, and deglaze the pan with half of the whiskey. Allow the sweet potatoes to caramelize. Once slightly browned on one side, turn the potatoes over (or give a quick stir) and sprinkle with more brown sugar. Add in the rest of the whiskey, and cook until potatoes have caramelized and have light to medium browning. If the potatoes begin to stick at any point, add in more butter.

Taste, and adjust seasonings if needed. I like them to pack a punch, so I use more cayenne than indicated. Sprinkle a bit more fresh rosemary over the top of the potatoes and serve immediately. If you really want the potatoes to pack a bit of a punch, drizzle just a touch more whiskey over the top of the potatoes before serving.

Crema di Limoncello

I went to the grocery store over the weekend, and while I was there my husband texted and asked me to pick up a can of red hair spray for his Halloween Costume (he dressed up as Ron Weasley). I went to the Halloween section, which just days before had been full of costumes, candy, and Halloween decor. But now, just 3 days before Halloween, the section was reduced to a measly and picked over half-aisle. I wandered down the aisles to see if there were any other Halloween supplies, but only found aisle after aisle of Christmas merchandise. It was red and green as far as the eye could see.

It’s all a little bit ridiculous, isn’t it? Christmas seems to come earlier every year. I’m just not ready for it — for all the holiday crowds and obnoxious renditions of Jingle Bells playing on repeat in department stores (does a non-obnoxious version of Jingle Bells exist?).

And yet, here I am posting about Christmas on Halloween. I’m just as bad as the grocery store, apparently.

But, the actual recipe has nothing to do with Christmas. The recipe is for Crema Di Limoncello, which is a creamy lemon liqueur that can be enjoyed year-round. I made a batch of limoncello a couple of weeks ago, with the idea of getting a head start on my Christmas presents this year. You see, I make most of my Christmas gifts by hand and so I figured that if I got started on gifts in October, then I’d be less stressed in December.

This idea was good in theory, until my husband and I consumed all the limoncello (OK, we didn’t consume all of it…I did swap some of it at the last PDX Food Swap). Oops. This stuff is dangerously delicious. I suppose this is one gift I’ll have to wait and make in December, as it simply won’t last long at our house. It is too good!

That being said, maybe I shouldn’t recommend that you make limoncello for Christmas gifts. Maybe you should just make a batch and drink it with friends and loved ones. However, if you’re one of my friends or loved ones, you probably shouldn’t make any as I will most likely be giving you a bottle for Christmas. ;)

Anyway…Happy Halloween (and Happy Reformation Day)! I’m going to celebrate with a big bowl of pumpkin curry, and I might just drink the last few drops of limoncello that I have left. Be warm, safe, and happy tonight.

Crema di Limoncello
Adapted from Vanilla Garlic

(**Note the original recipe makes twice this amount. My recipe starts with a pint of Everclear, as opposed to a full 750ml bottle. In addition, the ratio of milk to alcohol is 2 to 1, and yet this limoncello still packs a punch. I was dubious about the 4 cups of milk to 2 cups of Everclear, but it works, trust me.)

5 lemons
2 cups Everclear (You could substitute another brand of vodka in this recipe, but Everclear has a higher alcohol content than other vodkas. If you use another vodka, reduce the amount of milk used)
4 cups of whole milk
1.5 cups of sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla (or half a a vanilla bean)
Cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer

Zest the lemons (using a grater, or by peeling strips off with a knife/peeler). Place Everclear and lemon zest into a jar and seal. Store in a cool, dry place for one week (or more. I let mine steep for two weeks). Strain using cheesecloth or strainer to remove zest.

In a small pot or saucepan, warm the milk over medium heat. Add in the sugar and the vanilla, and cook (stirring frequently) until the sugar has dissolved. Remove milk mixture from heat and allow to cool.

Once cool, mix milk and infused Everclear together in a large bowl or pitcher. Funnel into bottles, jars, or other tightly sealed containers. Store in the fridge or freezer. Serve chilled.

Note: Limoncello is usually served as an after dinner cocktail. I like to serve it in small glasses, poured straight out of the freezer. The colder the better!

Happy Thursday: Grapesicles!


This past weekend I had the pleasure of hosting a birthday party for my favorite little two year old, Lillian. Not having kids myself, I wasn’t sure what to snacks make for a child’s birthday party… but then I saw these gems on Pinterest. Grapesicles! So pretty and so clever.

To make these darling grapesicles, I simply skewered red and green grapes and froze them. They take an hour or two to freeze completely, but that’s really all the time they require. Easy as pie. I did make sure to cut the sharp ends off the skewers. I didn’t want to be “that girl” – you know, the one girl who doesn’t have children who then gives all the kids sharp skewers so they can poke their eyes out? No thank you.

And let me just say…the grapesicles were a hit. The kids quickly figured out that the grapesicles were tasty and they could also double as swords. It was a win-win situation for all. I refrained from using my grapesicle as a sword, but I did eat one or two (or three or four) and enjoyed every delicious icy bite. Move over, popsicles. Frozen grapes are my new best friend.

recipe swap: persimmon panna cotta

A few weeks ago, a fellow food blog buddy – Christianna Reinhardt over at Burwell General Store – came up with an ingenious idea. She came across an old cookbook at a swap meet (more on the cookbook on her blog. I will say this…its a hymnal and cookbook all in one. I love it.) and suggested that we use the old cookbook to inspire a recipe swap. Essentially this meant that we would take a recipe from the book and loosely re-interpret the dish according to our own tastes. Then, we’d post the results on our blogs and “swap” recipes. We gave ourselves time to locate ingredients, brainstorm, test, and post – and decided that today would be the great unveiling.

The recipe that she selected for our first swap was an Autumn Persimmon Pudding. The original recipe was quite simple and straightforward, and I imagine the end result was more of a British style “pudding” (bready: akin to bread pudding or figgy pudding).

I don’t often cook with persimmons (Read: I’ve never cooked with them) but I’ve had them before in various dishes and have always enjoyed them. That being said, I wasn’t entirely sure how to approach this recipe swap. My first thought was to make a persimmon curd, but after scouring the internet for recipes and ideas I couldn’t find anything that stood out to me. (The only persimmon curd recipe I found online looked a little bit gross, actually.)

But, then I came across this gem of a recipe: Persimmon Panna Cotta with Maple Glazed Pecans.

The recipe looked simple, straightforward, and it was still in the same vein as the original persimmon pudding. Oh, and did I mention that it sounded completely decadent and wonderful? I’ve never attempted a panna cotta before, and so I thought this would be a great opportunity to try it out.

So, I made the recipe with a few twists of my own. Right off the bat, I knew that I would scrap the maple pecan topping, and instead chose to “invent” a spicy caramelized hazelnut topping. Hazelnuts are an Oregon staple, and I wanted to be sure to highlight this local favorite. I absolutely adore hazelnuts, and I am fortunate enough to live in a region where they abound. Therefore, I had no choice but to highlight our regional ‘darlings’! For the actual panna cotta, I didn’t stray too much from the original recipe, as I wanted to ensure that the panna cotta set properly. I did fiddle a bit with the seasonings, and I used a combination of whole milk and cream (rather than all cream).

I must say: I was terribly pleased with the results. The panna cotta set beautifully, the flavors were simple and lovely, and the crunch and spice of the hazelnuts paired nicely with the sweetness of the silky persimmons panna cotta. This is a beautiful and seasonal dessert, and I will definitely make it again. The first recipe swap was a great success!

For those who are curious as to the other recipe in this “swap”, head over to Burwell General Store to see CM’s post. She made Persimmon Crème Brulee with Blackberries (!!!). I am so bummed that we don’t live in the same state, because I could really use a bite of persimmon crème brulee right about now!

(Fun fact from Wikipedia: apparently every year in Mitchell, Indiana there is an annual persimmon festival, complete with a persimmon pudding contest. CM – too bad we don’t live in Indiana? We would totally win.)

Anyway, the panna cotta turned out beautifully – I dare you to try it yourself. Here is the recipe:

Persimmon Panna Cotta with Caramelized Hazelnuts
(Adapted from Bon Vivant)

For starters, you’ll need to poach persimmons for this recipe:

Poached Persimmons
2 cups water
1 cup granulated sugar
4 Fuyu persimmons, peeled and roughly chopped
1 cinnamon stick

Bring the water and sugar to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and add the persimmons and cinnamon stick. Make sure that there’s enough water to cover the fruit. Simmer, uncovered for up to 30 minutes, then turn off the heat and leave to cool until needed.

Persimmon Panna Cotta
14 ounces poached persimmons, pureed until smooth (*I found that 4 fuyu persimmons, after poaching did not quite equal 14 oz – it was more like 12 oz. but I just used what I had!)
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
dash of ground cloves
2¼ teaspoons gelatin
3 tablespoons cold water
2 cups cream or half and half (I used 1 cup half and half, and 1 cup whole milk)
¼ cup granulated sugar

Stir the cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves into the pureed persimmons, mix and set aside. Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water in a medium sized bowl and let it stand while you prepare the rest of the panna cotta.

If you’re planning on serving the panna cotta in their molds, then skip this step. But if you’d like to serve them on a plate (“free-standing”) you will first need to oil 4 ramekins (or bowls) with a neutral-tasting oil.

Heat the cream and sugar in a saucepan, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Once the sugar is dissolved (it will only take a few minutes), remove from heat and stir in the persimmon mixture. Then pour the warm contents of the saucepan over the gelatin and mix until the gelatin is completely dissolved.

Pour the mixture into molds and refrigerate for at last 4 hours before serving.

Caramelized Hazelnuts
1 cup hazelnuts, roughly chopped
3/4 cup sugar (all I had was light brown sugar on hand, but white sugar works as well)
dash of cayenne
dash of cinnamon
dash of black pepper
dash of nutmeg
a “bit” of water

Mix sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly (don’t burn the sugar!) until the mixture reduces to a thick syrup. Stir in the spices and seasonings (to your liking. I wanted it to be a little spicy!) and then add in the hazelnuts. Remove from heat, and spread nuts out on parchment or wax paper. Once cooled (and the sugars have hardened), sprinkle a healthy amount of the caramelized nuts over the panna cotta when you are ready to serve.