Grasshopper Panna Cotta (Chocolate & Branca Menta)

grashopperpannacotta
One of my favorite desserts to make is panna cotta, because you can use the basic recipe as a springboard for a wide variety of flavor combinations. The “plain” version (which doesn’t taste plain!) includes just cream, milk, sugar, vanilla and gelatin. When I was given a bottle of Branca Menta, I had the idea to use it to make a chocolate and mint panna cotta that was a play on the classic Grasshopper cocktail.

Branca Menta is the minty version of Fernet Branca, an amaro (bitter liqueur) made with herbs, roots and spices. If you’ve tried Fernet before, Branca Menta is sweeter and more approachable but with the same flavor profile in the background. The bitterness in the liqueur gave a nice complexity to the dessert, make it taste more like a cocktail.

I topped it with dark chocolate shavings and chocolate mint, but you could top with whipped cream or chocolate sauce (or nothing at all).

Grasshopper Panna Cotta

One packet of gelatin
1/2 cup whole milk
1 3/4 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder (the unsweetened kind for baking)
1/4 cup Branca Menta Continue reading

Meyer Lemon Margarita

meyerlemonmargaritaHappy National Margarita Day! I’m not sure who started this holiday, but I’m positive I like the way it’s celebrated. This cocktail uses fresh Meyer lemons, mint and honey to bring a new twist to a beloved classic. This combo gives it a fresh taste that will certainly lift your spirits.

Meyer Lemon Margarita

1 1/2 ounces honey
3-4 generous sprigs of fresh mint
1 ounce fresh Meyer lemon juice
2 ounces tequila

Muddle the mint and honey at the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Add lemon and tequila, then shake with ice. Strain into cocktail glass (serve over ice if desired).

I used Casa Noble Crystal tequila.  This tequila had a nice smooth quality that worked well with the lemon and honey, as a more peppery tequila would have distracted from the flavor combinations. You can use your favorite brand, but be sure it’s 100% agave tequila.

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Thin Mint Cocktail

thin-mint-cocktailDoes eating a Girl Scout cookie make you think, “I wish this were available as a cocktail?” No matter the answer, I promise you will be delighted with the Thin Mint Cocktail that I made with Savvy Housekeeping. It has all the satisfying chocolate and minty goodness of Thin Mints with the delightful addition of booze.

This cocktail hits the sweet spot, so to speak. It’s creamy without being too heavy. Fresh mint adds a pop to the chocolate that makes the drink perky and fun.

Though no cookies were harmed in the making of this cocktail, we were happy to buy some Thin Mints from a local Girl Scout for inspiration. Very important business-related snack purchase!

Thin Mint Cocktail

1 ounce vodka
1 1/2 ounce Baileys Irish Cream
2 sprigs fresh mint
1 tablespoon chocolate syrup (plus some for garnish)

Muddle the mint and vodka in a cocktail shaker, then add Baileys and a tablespoon chocolate syrup. Shake with ice and taste. Add more chocolate, if desired! Shake and strain into chilled cocktail glass (with optional chocolate syrup garnish).

Photo by Savvy Housekeeping