I recently had to explain to a friend the crazy world of blogging. I’d gone over to her shop to shoot (and “use her” to help me eat) a sweet potato creme brûlée recipe, which I’d prepared for a blog post. More specifically, it was for a virtual baby shower for a fellow blogger. When I told her what this whole thing was for, she gave me a funny look. A virtual baby shower? For a blogger… a blogger you’ve never met? Yup. That’s right. We’re crazy. And awesome.
Most of us started blogs not just because we love food, but because we wanted to share our life experiences, both good and bad, with others. I don’t think any of us expected that complete strangers would read our posts. It was all about keeping our friends and family updated on what’s going on in our lives. But then others found our sites and commented on posts… and a community was formed.
I really have no idea how I first started chatting with Bev (the creator of the site BevCooks). It was through our blogs though that we connected; leaving comments, often humorous, on each other’s posts. I adore Bev’s sense of humor… often laced with sexual undertones. Our banter is pretty fantastic. These brief conversations soon turned into the occasional e-mail to check in to see how the other person was doing. And, earlier this year, I thought I’d reach out to her to see if she’d be up for doing a guest post for the cocktail blog, The Boys Club. She responded immediately, explaining that she wouldn’t be able to do a post at the time… not because she didn’t want to, but because she had been trying to get pregnant. So, no booze for her.
That was in the spring and, not long after, I got word that she was preggers. With twins. A boy and a girl. Yay for happy endings!
So, here we are! A group of us bloggers got together to throw this crazy woman a little online baby shower. Now, if you could keep this a secret, that’d be great… but I spiked these bad boys with bourbon. Sure, you could leave it out if you wanted… but everything’s better with a splash of bourbon in it. At least that’s what I think.
Bev’s Baby Shower Menu
Bacon Cotija Guacamole from Gaby Dalkin
Gruyère Gougères from Shaina Olmanson
Lemon Risotto Tarts from Kelly Salemi
Goat Cheese Crostini with Pesto and Roasted Red Peppers from Liz Della Croce
Spinach and Feta Quinoa Bites from Aggie Goodman
Roasted Red Grape, Brie and Rosemary Flatbread from Laurie McNamara
The Fastest Appetizer Ever from Brooke McLay
Apple Pear Tart – Two Ways from Sarah Glyer
Chocolate Chai Frappe from Brandy O’Neill
Cherry Chocolate Kiss Smoothie from Amy Flanigan
Cranberry Sorbet Bellini – Non-Alcoholic and Alcoholic from Megan Keno
Peppermint Mocha Affogato from Christina Lane
toasted marshmallow cream hot chocolate from Jessica Merchant
Pomegranate Lemonade Punch from Heather Christo
Kale Salad with Pomegranate, Orange and Pine Nuts from Rachel Gurk
Pear Cranberry Arugula Salad from Tracy Benjamin
Brussels Sprout Salad + maple roasted cranberry dressing from Katie Unger
Gluten-Free Pasta Salad from Lisa Thiele
Hearty Roasted Winter Vegetable Salad with Honey Ginger Dressing from Heather Disarro
Winter Citrus Salad from Catherine McCord
Creamy Roasted Red Pepper and Chicken Sausage Pasta from Heidi Larsen
Eggplant Parmesan Lasagna from Joanne Ozug
Cheesy Chicken Enchilada ‘Double’ Stacks from Lauren Grier
Jalapeno Popper Chicken Soup from Kevin Lynch
Thai Spiced Chicken with Coconut Cream Swiss Chard from Brandi Evans
Sausage and Red Pepper Quiche from Tasty Kitchen
Roasted Red Pepper Pasta with Goat Cheese from Julie Deily
Soft and Chewy Oatmeal Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies from Averie Sunshine
Glazed Dulce de Leche Pound Cake from Meagan Micozzi
Mississippi Mud Pie Brownie Ice Cream from Megan DeKok
Buttermint Frosted Sugar Cookie Cups from Shelly Jaronsky
4-Ingredient Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookies from Ali Ebright
Sweet Potato Creme Brûlée from Brian Samuels
Whole Wheat Double Chocolate Mint Cookies from Aimée Wimbush-Bourque
Mini Chocolate Stout Cheesecake with Salted Beer Caramel Sauce from Jackie Dodd
Red Velvet Hi Hat Cookies from Kristan Roland
Double Chocolate Panini from Kathy Strahs
Sweet Potato Creme Brûlée
Slightly adapted from Emeril Lagasse’s recipe, via FoodNetwork.com
The goal is to end up with at least 1 cup of sweet potato puree. One large potato should be sufficient, but it might be better to make extra just in case.
1 large (or two smaller) sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
8 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons bourbon
1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking pan with aluminum foil. Using a fork, poke holes into the sweet potatoes. Place pan in the oven and cook for 50-60 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Remove from oven and let cool. Once it is cool enough to handle, use your hands to remove the skin.
2. Place peeled sweet potatoes in a food processor and puree with 2 tablespoons whole milk (alternatively, place in a bowl and use an emersion blender to puree.)
3. Lower the temperature of the oven to 325 degrees. Arrange 8 (1/2-cup) ramekins or custard cups in a large metal baking pan.
4. In a medium saucepan, heat the heavy cream. Add the brown sugar, and 1/4 cup of the granulated sugar. Bring to a bare simmer over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat.
5. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs until frothy and lemon-colored. Slowly add 3/4 cup of the hot cream, whisking constantly. Add the egg mixture to the remaining hot cream, and whisk. Add the vanilla, bourbon, cinnamon, nutmeg, cayenne, and 1 cup of pureed potato, and whisk until smooth. Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a large bowl. Divide among the prepared custard cups.
6. Add enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the cups. Bake until the custards are just set in the center but not stiff, 45 minutes to 55 minutes. Remove from the oven and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 3 hours or overnight.
7. Sprinkle each custard with 1 1/2 teaspoons of the sugar (or more if you prefer). Using a blow torch, caramelize the sugar. (Alternately, preheat the broiler, and broil until the sugar melts and caramelizes, watching closely to avoid burning and rotating the cups, 1 to 2 minutes.) Place on small dessert plates and serve.