SideBar: White North

by Trav

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The Pie’s favourite cocktail is a White Russian—cream, coffee liqueur, and vodka—so I decided that on his birthday this year, I would ply him with some variations on the original recipe. The Dirty Russian, which uses chocolate milk instead of cream, was really gross, because we picked up a thin, low-sugar chocolate milk that tasted of chalk. I also found a recipe for a White Canadian, which is vaguely offensive and also very strange; it substitutes goat’s milk for cream. How is a goat particularly Canadian? They could’ve at least suggested moose milk.

But anyway, we got to wondering—what substitution would actually make for a Canadian variant? In a booze-soaked fit of genius, I realized there was a perfectly Canadian drink that could replace the Russian vodka: Sortilège, a maple whisky.

I enjoy a bit of Sortilège straight, but I’ve been trying to find a good mixing use for it, and this one turned out even better than I’d hoped.

We hemmed and hawed about the name for a while, since the “White Canadian” is 1) terrible and 2) already taken. I believe Ali came up with the “Great White North,” and I suggested we shorten it to “White North” to make it clear it’s a variation on a White Russian.

I played with the ratios a bit, given the different base spirit, and I think this is the most pleasing recipe:

2 oz cream (use either full-on 35% cream, or 18% table cream)
1.5 oz Sortilège maple whisky
1 oz coffee liqueur (e.g. Kahlua or Tia Maria)

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Put some ice cubes in an old fashioned glass or tumbler, and then pour in the Sortilège and coffee liqueur.

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Then, gently and slowly, pour the cream over the mixture. It should float a bit, especially if you’re using the higher-fat cream. If you really want clear layers, try pouring slowly over the back of a spoon.

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Most people tend to mix it all together, though.

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And that’s it. Very simple, and really tasty. Even people who aren’t whisky drinkers will love it.

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Coffee Raisin-Nut Bars

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We’re at that stage in the fall where we’re starting to get sick of pumpkin things, but the chocolate and peppermint of winter is still too far away.  At this point I like to rely on coffee and spice to bolster me through.  This quick plate of squares is adapted from The 250 Best Brownies, Bars & Squares, because Esther Brody has not disappointed me yet (well, except for that one time).

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Preheat your oven to 350°F and butter a 9″ x 13″ baking dish.  Make yourself a cup of coffee.

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In a small bowl, whisk together 1 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves, 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice, and 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg.

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In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together 1/4 cup room temperature butter with 1 cup packed brown sugar until it’s all turned into one big bowl.

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Add in 1 egg and 2 teaspoons vanilla and beat until combined.

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Pour in 1/2 cup hot coffee and mix (drink the rest of it — I know *I* need the caffeine).

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Blend in your flour mixture, a bit at a time.

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Then tip in 3/4 cup raisins and 3/4 cup chopped nuts (I like pecans) and give that a stir.

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Spread that into your prepared pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, until you can stick a wooden skewer in it and it comes out clean.

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Set that on a wire rack to cool.

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While that’s on the go, make yourself up some frosting.

With an electric mixer, beat up 1 cup icing sugar with 1/2 cup softened butter until it’s all fluffy and frosty.

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In a measuring cup, mix together 3 tablespoons coffee liqueur, like Kahlua, with 2 tablespoons whipping cream (or milk) and 1 tablespoon instant coffee powder.

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Pour that into the frosting mixture, alternating with a further 1 cup icing sugar, and beat until fully combined.

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Spread the frosting on your cooled squares and cut them up.  Yum!

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My Husband Has a Thing

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… for White Russians (the drink, not our pink-skinned former Soviet comrades).  Our friend Trav mixes up alcoholic beverages as a hobby, and whenever we go to his house the Pie orders the same thing — a white Russian.  I am not a huge fan of mixing alcohol and milk so I crinkle my nose at these things but he’s a huge fan, so the other night I photographed Trav mixing one up so you could sit with me and either enjoy it with the Pie vicariously or (like me) judge him on his beverage choice.

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The mix is easy, but Trav likes to be perfect so he looks it up, every time.

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Start with 2oz vodka (this one is Newfoundland vodka, made from icebergs, and I’m not even kidding).

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Pour in 1oz Kahlua.

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Add some ice.

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Give that a stir.  Trav likes his bar spoon, which also conveniently doubles as a straw so he can test the drinks before he hands them out without getting his germy face all over the glass.

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Then carefully pour 1oz cream (light or heavy, that’s your choice) over the ice.  Ideally it’s supposed to float on top, but that’s hard to do, and personally I like all the swirly whirlies in there.

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While this was going on, I managed, for the first time ever, and with only a small amount of spillage, to properly create a crown float, which is Guinness Stout floated over a cider (in this case, Foundry).  I was right pleased with myself.

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I hope you enjoy your weekend.  We may steer clear of these beverages this time around, but who knows?

Espresso Cookies

Miss Awesome and P-with-an-E served these to us with tea after one of those long Sunday lunches that you don’t think about leaving until it’s nearly dark and you have to figure out how you’re going to eat dinner.

Yes, I know, we’ve done the whole espresso deal with our espresso brownies, but who says you can’t make a cookie out of everything?  I had to modify the recipe a bit as it involved using a pre-mixed chocolate chip cookie dough as a base, but I think the result is quite good.  And I will pass on Miss Awesome’s warning: DO NOT EAT AT BEDTIME!

Preheat your oven to 375°F and cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Whisk together in a medium-sized bowl:

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3 tablespoons instant espresso powder

1 tablespoon ground coffee

What I like about mixing dark powders with light powders is that I can easily see how well I’ve mixed the coffee in, so the logic is that if the coffee is well blended then so is the stuff I can’t see, like the baking soda.  Of course, if you shoot it in macro, you can see EVERYTHING.

In a large bowl, cream together

1/2 cup butter, softened (That divot is because I stuck my finger in it to check if it was soft.  It was.)

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

Crack in and blend well

1 large egg

Stir into that

1/4 cup Kahlua

Stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture and blend well.

Add in

3/4 cup chopped pecans

1 cup chocolate chips

And because we need a chocolate chip extreme closeup:

Use a tablespoon to plop your dough onto the baking sheet.  Space them out as best you can because they will spread quite a bit.

Bake the cookies for 9-12 minutes and leave them on the pan for another five minutes before removing them to a wire rack to cool completely.Then you can eat them.  Or just look at them.  Or whatever.