Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Cooling off with mint iced tea

It's been hot in Virginia already. And humid... so humid. But one thing I love about those hot days is the opportunity to drink something refreshing like mint iced tea. Mint aids in digestion and has anti-inflammatory properties - both mint and tea are packed with antioxidants. And, based on the fact that I have mint growing in a planter outside, it's easy to grow. (I have chosen peppermint but there are at least 16 varieties to choose from, including chocolate, lavender, apples and lime.)

Here's a run-down on making a simple mint syrup to complement your tea. You may also substitute basil for mint and iced tea or lemonade.

Mint Iced Tea

1 Handful of mint
1 cup sugar
Brewed iced tea (I use Tazo Black Iced Tea)

To make simple mint syrup, heat sugar and one cup of water on med-high heat until sugar has dissolved, about 5 minutes, without stirring. Remove from heat and add mint. Let sit for 5 minutes and remove leaves.

Depending on your sweet tooth, add syrup to tea to taste. Syrup may be stored in the fridge for up to a couple of weeks. Enjoy served over lots of ice!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Things you should know before you get married, Part 2: How to make a molten cake

When we were dating, my husband took me to Morton's for dessert and drinks after dinner one night. We sat in the bar and I ate my first ever chocolate (Godiva) molten cake. This experience was one of many that made me feel like I'd been living under a rock - where had this cake been all my life? Seriously, lava cake is the quintessential chocolate fix and can make any occasion special.

So after we were married I set out to make this cake for my hubby to celebrate the end of his first semester in law school. What surprised me is that it is SO EASY (shhh, don't tell the husband) and SO GOOD. Knowing how to make this cake is a must for anyone getting married because I'm convinced that it's molten-y goodness can melt any troubles away.

After trying a few different recipes, I've settled upon this one from Martha Stewart which makes 2 small ramekins of cake. Should you want more, you can easily double the recipe and you may keep the leftovers in the fridge for the next night. This batter can be made ahead. And if you don't have espresso powder or instant coffee on hand, you can use a dash of leftover coffee from the morning's pot.

Molten Mocha Cakes

Serves 2.

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for ramekins
  • 1/3 cup confectioners' sugar, plus more for ramekins and serving
  • 2 ounces semisweet chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder
  • Pinch salt
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter two 6-ounce ramekins, then dust with sugar. Place butter and chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high in 20-second increments, stirring after each, until melted. Let cool slightly.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together egg, egg yolk, sugar, espresso powder, and salt. Add chocolate mixture; whisk to combine. Add flour, and whisk just until combined (do not overmix). Pour batter into prepared ramekins. (Recipe can be made ahead up to this point.)
  3. Bake until a toothpick inserted 1/2 inch from edge of ramekins comes out clean, and a toothpick inserted in center comes out wet, 10 to 12 minutes (do not overbake). Cool 10 minutes on a wire rack. Run a knife around inside of ramekins to loosen. Invert cakes onto serving plates. Dust with sugar; serve immediately.