Sunday, December 23, 2007

Holiday Food Blogging: Toddies

Around five o'clock on Christmas afternoon, my father -- a natural introvert who hid it well -- used to survey the scene in the living room, wince at the sounds of the kids enjoying their toys and the women caroling while cleaning up the kitchen, and find a quiet corner of the house to go digest and generally recover in. He'd usually explain this absence by giving a wry grin and saying, "You know -- I've enjoyed about as much of this as I can stand."

That moment is why God created the hot toddy. There are moments in every holiday that are only endured with assistance of something warm, sweet, comforting, and guaranteed to take the ragged edge off the in-laws, the toddlers, the ruined turkey, the tuneless carolers, and every other joy the holiday brings.

When you have enjoyed as much of this next week as you can possibly stand, here are my two favorite antidotes -- both with non-alcoholic variants, so you don't even have to listen to the kids whine about why they can't have some.


This is a batter that you make up ahead of time and keep in the freezer, ready to mix when company shows up.

1 cup soft butter (we like unsalted)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup powdered or caster sugar
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
large pinch allspice
2 cups softened vanilla ice cream (we like Breyer's)

Put all the ingredients except the ice cream together in a mixer. Mix until well blended. Add ice cream, and blend throughly. Scrape this batter into a large Tupperware-type container, and stick it in the freezer. It will keep 1-2 months.

When you're ready for some hot holiday cheer, get a coffee cup and:

1. Put 2-3 heaping tablespoons (depending on size of mug) of frozen batter into the cup. (It will freeze soft, so it should be easy to spoon.)

2. Add a shot of Bacardi. The gold rum has more flavor, but white will do if it's what you've got.

3. Pour boiling water to fill the cup, and stir thoroughly to mix.

4. Top with whipped cream, nutmeg, and/or caradamom, and serve.

For a non-alcoholic version, replace the rum with 1/4 teaspoon of alcohol-free rum flavoring. (It's actually not bad if you leave the rum out entirely.)

It's also interesting -- though another drink entirely -- if you use hot coffee instead of boiling water.


Our new favorite this year, as taught to me by the bartender at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver.

In a glass coffee mug, put:

1/2 shot Grand Marnier
1/2 shot Amaretto
1 stick of cinnamon
1 thick half-slice of orange

In a small teapot, brew up some strong blueberry tea. (I'm using Stash's blueberry, which is quite nice.) Allow it to steep at least five minutes. Pour into mug to fill. Stir with cinnamon stick, and enjoy.

This one's very easy and friendly to share with folks who come over. It even works for holiday breakfast or lunch, and would be a great accompaniment to present-opening.

Make it virgin by replacing the Grand Marnier with 1/2 tablespoon orange syrup; and the Amaretto with 1/2 tablespoon almond syrup.

You can endure this. Toddies will help.