This is a love story, but first, context.
As I mentioned in previous posts, Boozy Bakeshop was asked by Streetwater to cater Art=Mixx, an event sponsored by Flavorpill and HowAboutWe. I owe all of them a big, big thank you for the opportunity. Nothing more rewarding than seeing Boozy Bakeshop creations circulating amongst amazing works by artists like Borbay, Clintel Steed, Gili Levy, Jeremy Penn, Julian Rapp, Kelsey Montague, Lauren Purge, Paul Zepeda and Todd Bienvenu, (just to name a few), while Dandy Wellington & his Band provided an awesome soundtrack. These blogs recap the event better than I can, and give some shout outs to the food (yay!).
I have to admit, it was one of the more anxiety inducing things I’ve done lately, (What if no one likes it? I just want to do a good job and have people like me!), but the stress paid off and I’m excited for the next one.
Also: I fell in love.
While gingerly navigating the garden stairs in 4 inch heels while carrying a tray of wasabi goat cheese, making sure the honey sriracha drizzle didn’t drizzle over the edge, I looked up and my heart stopped. Dark, moody, handsome and complex, it was love at first sight. I ignored this siren call as passing fancy, sneaking only shy glances here and there, chatting with friends nearby but making sure not to stand too close. I tried to keep away for stretches of time, but that formidable presence didn’t really leave my mind for long, even while plating a few hundred cupcakes. Finally, as the last remaining guests trickled out, a burst of adrenalin high from the night bubbled up into over confidence (or maybe it was the combination of a lack of dinner and a glass of prosecco), and I decided: “I want that.”
A stunning mobius strip of bentwood from artist Jeremy Holmes’ Atmosphere series, is now happily living in my apartment. It is seductive and beautiful. This isn’t any summer fling; it is a real deal love story.
If food is love, (and I believe it is), and if cookies are made with butter plus love, (exhibit A), then this recipe of heavy cream bourbon soaked butterscotch buttery goodness is like that smokin’ hot bearded guy saying “hey baby, let’s head down to the Rockaways on my motorcycle and get tacos”.
Stop judging me. I live in Brooklyn.
I made this recipe for the Art=Mixx event this evening, because if I wanted to meet a a metaphorical date at an art auction, this dessert would be it: a square of plaid shirt wearing, free wheeling, entrepreneurial, un-ironic trucker hat wearing*, urban woodsman. With candied bacon garnish.
*can also be a beanie or jaunty cap
Bourbon Butterscotch Bread Pudding with Candied Bacon Garnish
For the butterscotch sauce
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/2 light corn syrup
- 1/2 teas salt
- 3 Tbs unsalted butter
- 1 Tbs bourbon
- 1 teas vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
For the Bread Pudding
- 1 lb bread, rustic white or challah, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 8 Tbs (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 5 eggs
- 1 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teas ground nutmeg
- 2 teas vanilla extract
- 3 Tbs bourbon
- 4 cups heavy cream
- Candied Bacon (optional)
In a heavy bottomed sauce pan over medium high heat, combine brown sugar, corn syrup, salt and butter. Whisk until mixture comes to a boil. Boil until mixture is syrupy or about 3-4 minutes. Remove fro heat. Slowly whisk in cream. Add bourbon and vanilla and mix until smooth. Can be made up to 3 days ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator. Rewarm before serving.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9″x13″ glass baking dish. Set aside. Melt butter and toss with bread cubes and place bread in an even layer in baking dish. In a medium bowl beat together eggs and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add spices, vanilla and bourbon. Beat in cream. Pour cream mixture over bread crumbs. Drizzle in half of the butterscotch sauce. Cover and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes or up to overnight. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remove from over and let cool. Serve with a drizzle of remaining butterscotch sauce. Garnish with candied bacon. Delightful hot or cold.
I’m making candied bacon. Why? Because I can. And because I can’t think of anything better to use as a swizzle stick in a bourbonbacontini.
And because this is a prime example of the fact that there are no bad decisions. Just decisions, and we roll with the results of our choices, like how I might feel if I really make and drink a bourbonbacontini. Otherwise we get paralyzed by the good vs bad and do nothing until we lash out and eat all the bacon. Raw. Which is decision with terrible results.
- 1 pack of bacon (real bacon, non of this turkey nonsense)
- brown sugar (approx 1/2 cup)
- 1 teas cinnamon (optional, but encouraged)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil. (Do a really good job with this. You do not want to ruin your cookie sheets with charred bacon goo.) In a small bowl, mix cinnamon if using and brown sugar. Coat bacon strips and lay out on cookie sheet. Bake for 20 minutes or until carmalized and crispy. Remove from foil. Eat.
I don’t know what got me stuck on turning watermelon into hearts. I’m not normally that twee with my summer fruits. Gelled, these look a bit like toro; I like the idea of serving up a plate of raw simplicity – put it out there and see who digs in. A heart on a tray certainly seems more formal than keeping on your sleeve.
I was in a play where each character carried their heart on a jar. We used pig hearts. I got to squish mine halfway through the show, squelching the samonella and stage blood combo between my toes, looking into the wings for the Clorox wipes. I could be rough with it; I had a replacement heart for each performance.
I like the idea of the heart somewhere else, in a jar, away from the body, kept safe and brought out for special occasions like the good china. I like it placed on a bookshelf, forgotten, but you smile when your fingers graze over it while searching for that Cormac McCarthy you never finished. If hearts were in jars instead of bodies, they wouldn’t be damaged by injuries emotional or physical. Pass the cheese loaf, we have no arteries to clog.
They wouldn’t attack, that’s for sure. Better yet, if in jars, hearts would be contained. They wouldn’t be wild. We could dust them. My grandfather would have kept his in the basement, next to old coffee cans filled with odd nails and pennies and green bingo chips. My uncle probably would have carried his with him, in some teflon/gortex/unbreakable otterbox that could survive the climb to base camp on K2. Medicare must not have explained this option to them.
Lately, I wear mine at the end of a chain. Torch-fired by some Etsy artisan, it is tiny, delicately crafted and made of glass, pyrex really, tempered to be much stronger than it looks.
Unfortunately, these watermelon hearts are delicate. They can slip through your fingers; you need to pop them in your mouth quickly, but they give a delightful burst of flavor when you do. The recipe makes quite a few, so you can chew through as many hearts as you want.
Watermelon Hearts with Crystallized Cilantro Leaves
- 4 packets Knox unflavored gelatin
- Fresh watermelon (about 3 lbs of fruit)
- Fresh or frozen raspberries (about 2 cups)
- 2 Tbs sugar
- Crystallized cilantro leaves
Puree fresh watermelon chunks. Pass through a sieve and measure out 3 cups of juice. Repeat with frozen or fresh raspberries, measuring out 1 cup of juice. Mix juices together. Place one cup in a bowl and add gelatin. Heat the remaing 3 cups liquid and sugar over medium high heat until boiling. Remove from heat. Whisk in cold juice/gelatin mixture, making sure there are no lumps. Pour into jelly roll pan or edged cookie sheet. Refrigerate on an even surface over night. Cut out with 1½ inch heart shaped cookie cutter. Place on serving tray or sheets of wax paper in an air tight container. Chill until serving. Garnish with crystallized cilantro leaves.
I have been delinquent baker lately. Sunshine in NYC calls for bikes, beaches, BBQs and not baking. However, an exciting chance to work with Streetwater and provide some boozy treats for Art=Mixx, an evening of amazing art, meeting new people, cocktails, and live jazz, made me turn the oven back on.
Last night, I crystallized cilantro leaves for garnish. It’s a bit time consuming, so I called my mother and over analyzed all of my recent life choices while I was at it. Revelations: my mother is concerned about my display of typical piscean tendencies and there is a pleasing monotony to crystallizing.
This post from Mouth of Wonder was wonderfully informative. I preheated my oven to 150, turned it off and then made the leaves. By the time they were ready to go in the oven, it was the perfect temperature to dry them out (like a classic meringue) without baking them to a crisp.