It’s a Date

Make time for your sweetie
chocolate_popcorn

Photos by Jeff Hobson

Sometimes it can be a challenge to find time to have a proper date night; maybe it’s because it’s hard to find a good babysitter. Cost is a factor. Maybe you just work a lot. Whatever the case, it’s time to reserve a date night with your sweetheart. Connecting with the person you love is an important part of keeping a relationship healthy. You don’t even have to leave the house. When the kids go to bed simply pour a cocktail, make ice cream sundaes and turn off the TV. A simple card game and treats can be fun way to reconnect. So make a date!

Champagne Candies

These candies don’t actually contain champagne; they get their name because they are the perfect complement to a glass of bubbly. As the candy sits in the glass it melts ever so slightly, imparting a bit of flavor while not overwhelming the drink. A batch of these with a bottle of champagne makes a wonderful hostess gift, too.

  • ¼ cup Chambord
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ½ cup corn syrup
  • ½ cup water
  • Lemon essential oil
  • Baker’s sugar
  • Food coloring (optional)
  • Lemon essential oil Baker’s sugar Food coloring (optional)

Wipe out candy molds with a dry cloth. Dust generously with baker’s sugar (extra fine granulated sugar) and gently tap out excess. In a small saucepan reduce Chambord over very low heat until half the liquid remains, creating thick syrup. Set aside. In a 3-quart saucepan, bring sugar, corn syrup and water to a boil and continue to cook until a candy thermometer reaches 300 degrees (hard crack stage). Remove from heat and quickly whisk in 1 or 2 drops of lemon essential oil, one tablespoon Chambord reduction and food coloring (if using). Pour hot mixture into prepared candy molds and let set until firm (about one hour). Wrap in cellophane or store in an airtight container up to one month.

Strawberry Banana Ice Creambanana_split

  • 1½ cups whole milk
  • 2 cups cream
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • ½ cup mashed strawberries
  • ½ cup mashed banana (about one banana)
  • Dash of salt

In a large bowl, whisk together egg yolks and salt. Set aside.

In a large saucepan, bring milk, cream and sugar to a rolling boil, whisking constantly. Remove from heat. Carefully ladle one ounce of hot mixture to egg yolk mixture whisking constantly to avoid creating scrambled eggs. Continue adding hot mixture one ladle at a time until all of the hot mixture is added. Add fruit and combine well. Pour into a Ziploc bag and refrigerate at least four hours or overnight.

Pour chilled mixture into ice cream maker and process according to the manufacturer’s instructions, about 25 minutes, or until thick and creamy. Scoop into an airtight container and freeze at least four hours before serving.

Chocolate Malted Ice Cream

  • 1½ cups whole milk
  • 2 cups cream
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup chocolate malt powder
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 4 ounces chopped chocolate
  • dash of salt

In a large bowl, whisk together egg yolks and salt. Set aside.

In a large saucepan, bring milk, cream, sugar and malt powder to a rolling boil, whisking constantly. Remove from heat. Carefully ladle one ounce of hot mixture to egg yolk mixture whisking constantly. Add chopped chocolate and whisk until melted completely. Continue adding hot mixture one ladle at a time until all of the hot mixture is added. Pour into a Ziploc bag and refrigerate at least four hours or overnight.

Pour chilled mixture into ice cream maker and process according to the manufacturer’s instructions, about 25 minutes or until thick and creamy. Scoop into an airtight container and freeze at least four hours before serving.

Chocolate Caramel Corn

  • 12 cups air popped popcorn
  • (½ cup kernels)
  • 1½ cups tightly packed brown sugar
  • ¾ cup light corn syrup
  • ¾ cup butter
  • ½ teaspoon table salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 8 ounces melted chocolate
  • ¼ cup confetti sprinkles

Spread popcorn on a baking sheet lined with either Silpat or buttered parchment paper. Place sugar, corn syrup, butter, table salt, vanilla and baking soda in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly until sugar dissolves. Once sugar has completely dissolved, boil for 4 minutes without stirring. Remove from heat and pour over popcorn. Stir quickly to caramelize every kernel. Place on counter at room temperature for 3 hours until dry.

Pour melted chocolate over caramel corn and evenly sprinkle confetti over top. Let chocolate set, then break into pieces and store in an airtight container for up to one week. If you’re in a hurry to set the chocolate, place in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.

chocolate_minserMister Chocolate

  • 2 ounces whiskey
  • 1 ounce chocolate liqueur
  • 2 ounces soda water
  • Dash of Theo Chocolate Bitters Melted chocolate

Dip the rim of a highball glass in melted chocolate. Fill glass with ice and pour whiskey, chocolate liqueur and soda over ice. Stir gently. Top with a few dashes of bitters.

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