Thanksgiving is just a few days away. In my last post I talked all about what to make for the perfect holiday feast, everything from the sides, to the entrée, and even the dessert. Though I forgot one VERY important part of any great gathering: the cocktail! But fear not, I have swooped in to save the day with another cocktail + dessert pairing using another mixer from Powell & Mahoney. With autumn slowly coming to an end I wanted to highlight the seasonality of one of its great fruits, the Bosc pear. I also wanting to snag the chance at baking with/drink some brandy (because it’s my favorite of any hard liquor. So good!). The holidays are a hectic, crazy, stressful, but ultimately fun time of year me. Plus, with final exams in the next couple of weeks, I think I'm in need of a cake and cocktail break. Who here is up for that??
This pound cake recipe was adapted from my Grandma Crawford’s Cinnamon Apple Cake recipe, which I made back in January. It was featured in the story that Local Wolves did on me for their March issue (which feels like it happened a million years ago). Even though my Grandma’s original pound cake recipe is irrefutably delicious, I knew I wanted to tweak it just a bit for this particular post. This year for me has been the year of testing and working with different types of flours and nut meals. From pistachio meal to coconut flour, I’ve been inching my way outside my comfort zone of using strictly all-purpose flour. In this cake I used buckwheat flour, which combined with the Old Ballycastle Ginger mixer, the brandy, and the tartness of the cinnamon-sugar pears helped bind and marry all of those wonderful flavors together. The cake is warm and rich with a depth of richness and sweetness. Taking my first bite, I could taste the floral, citrus notes of the brandy which paired beautifully well with the ginger mixer.
Brandy, Pear & Buckwheat Pound Cake
For the pears
6 Anjou or Bosc pears, peeled & thinly sliced
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons sugar
For the cake batter
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup buckwheat flour
1 cup oil
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons brandy
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ½ cups sugar
1/3 cup Old Ballycastle Ginger Mixer
3 teaspoons baking powder
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F
For the pears: In a large bowl, mix together the pears, cinnamon, and sugar. Set aside.
For the cake batter: Add the flours, oil, salt, brandy, vanilla, sugar, mixer, and baking powder to a large bowl and mix to combine until thick mixture forms. Transfer half of the batter into a greased and floured tube pan. Place one layer of pears over the batter, then layer with the rest of batter and then top with pears. Bake for 1 hour 50 minutes to 2 hours or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Now on to this cocktail. Long story short: It’s amazing. If you’re a fan of brandy and/or seasonal cocktails, then this drink is for you. The brandy provides a warm, sweet backbone to this cocktail. Its sweet, floral notes and taste of flowers, fresh and dried fruit, and citrus zest help bring out the ginger, elderflower, and fennel scents from the Old Ballycastle mixer. Add in the pear simple syrup, spiced with ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and you will be instantly transported to a cool autumn night, snuggled up in a warm blanket as the fireplace crackles and burns. You have the cocktail in one hand and a piece of pound cake in the other. Now that sounds like a great time to me.
Spiced Pear Brandy Sidecar
Original recipe from Liquor.com
Original recipe from Liquor.com
Yields 2 cocktails
For the cocktail
3 oz. Brandy
1.5 oz. pear simple syrup*
1 oz. lemon juice
Cinnamon sticks, garnish
*For the simple syrup
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 pear, cubed
½ tablespoon ground ginger
1 cinnamon stick
1 pinch ground nutmeg
For the simple syrup. In a 2-qt sauce pan, heat water, sugar, pear, ginger, cinnamon stick, and nutmeg over medium heat until the sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 10-15 minutes or until the syrup has thickened. Pour mixture through a fine mesh strainer, keeping the pears and discarding the cinnamon sticks, into a heat proof container and store in the refrigerator until ready to use. Yields roughly ½ a cup of syrup.
For the cocktail. To an empty shaker, add the brandy, mixer, simple syrup, and lemon juice. Add ice to the shaker and shake for roughly 5-7 seconds for the flavors to blend together. Pour mixture into prepared coupe glasses and garnish with a cinnamon stick and a cube or two of the poached pear from the syrup. Serve immediately.
Huge thanks to Powell & Mahoney for sponsoring this recipe. Be sure to share your baking creations with the hashtag #TKbakes. And as always, all opinions, ramblings, stories, and recipe/adaptations are my own.