Nectar Cream Sodas

Nectar Cream Soda, a New Orleans tradition // Glazed & Confused

In New Orleans, we live to eat.  

That should come with no surprise; New Orleans is a cultural capital, a foodie's utopia bursting with endless cuisines, flavors, quintessential dishes, and culinary traditions and histories. From Creole to Cajun, red beans & rice to po' boys, gumbo to jambalaya, our tastebuds are spoiled. But what about dessert? Though the staples of New Orleans cuisine largely cater more towards those with a more savoury palette, the city also has a much sweeter side, equally as rich in vibrant histories and unique traditions. In the coming months, I'll be posting dozens of recipes showing off the sweeter side of New Orleans. 

Summer in New Orleans is hot, really freaking hot. Once August rolls around, the humidity becomes pretty much unbearable. Try going outside for more than ten minutes and you'll start drowning in the humidity. No, I'm not being dramatic, it's actually that bad. Luckily, we have our fair share of cold desserts to cool down with, like nectar soda. 

Nectar is a flavor pretty much exclusive to South Louisiana. Though most would figure something with the name nectar to taste like a tropical fruit, nectar syrup is a neon-pink concoction overflowing with almond and vanilla flavoring. I.L. Lyons, a local pharmacist who relocated from South Carolina to New Orleans following the Civil War, developed the flavor in the late 19th century and began selling it to local soda fountains. The syrup became an instant hit, and local K&B soda fountains made Lyon's syrup their signature flavor. As soda fountains came into decline and ICEE deemed the flavor too regionally specific to produce into frozen treats, the flavor vanished from the scene until the late 1990's when it was revived into a line of syrups and bottled sodas. Though nectar syrup and nectar soda were pulled from supermarket shelves in recent years, the flavor still lives on today, predominantly at local snoball stands.

Here are my top picks to celebrate the Nectar love in the 504: 

a Cream of Nectar snoball from Hansen's Sno-Bliz. Always with condensed milk! 

a Cream of Nectar snoball from Hansen's Sno-Bliz. Always with condensed milk! 

Nectar Cream Macarons from Sucre. Can you say amazing? 

Nectar Cream Macarons from Sucre. Can you say amazing? 

Nectar Soda Gelato from Sucre

Nectar Soda Gelato from Sucre

Alas, I know that many my readers are from outside of Louisiana, so I've developed the perfect recipe to recreate this classic New Orleans flavor at home. And it couldn't be any easier — ten minutes over a stove and bam, you've got some of the Big Easy in your kitchen. Once you have your syrup, the possibilities are endless. You can use it as:

1) a soda — just add some club soda/sparkling water

2) a cream soda — achieving this by repeating the process above, mixing in a tablespoon of condensed milk, and topping it with vanilla ice cream 

3) a flavoring in cakes, ice cream, frostings — you name it.

You can even sneak a teaspoonful when nobody's looking! I'm not one to judge. 

Nectar Cream Soda, a New Orleans tradition // Glazed & Confused

Nectar Syrup

(makes about one pint) 

  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons almond extract
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp red food coloring

Directions

Over medium heat, bring the sugar and water to boil in a saucepan. Let boil for 10 seconds. Remove from heat and let cool. Once cool, add in the extracts and food coloring. Refrigerate. 

For sodas, pour about an inch of the syrup into a glass before adding soda water.

For cream sodas, repeat the above process, add a tablespoon of condensed milk, and serve with vanilla ice cream. 

Balsamic Roasted Cherry Brownies

Balsamic Roasted Cherry Brownies // Glazed & Confused

I have a really guilty conscience.

Since high school, I've routinely found myself feeling guilty over silly things, important things, pretty much all of the things. When I was younger, I used to feel an excessive amount of guilt about anything and everything that didn't go 100% the way I would want it to. Everything was my fault. Unsurprisingly, this was also the period in my life when I personally diagnosed myself with OCD. During my sophomore year of high school, I was so wrapped up in my obsessive-complusiveness that my days were made so unnecessarily more difficult by the random routines I would force myself to complete. Every morning, after brushing my teeth, I would brush my tongue a minimum of 300 times. Whenever I would wash my hands, I would mentally sing happy birthday to whichever Facebook friends were having a birthday, in alphabetical order. Fun times! 

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As time passed, my OCD gradually disappeared. But still, the feeling of guilt was a constant. It wasn't until last year that I made an effort to rid myself of all negative forces and energies holding me back from happiness and serenity. I know I sound like one of those crazy spiritual hippie types right now. (Maybe I am one?) I discovered chakra meditation and even though everybody makes fun of me when I tell them that I'm "breathing in green to open my heart chakra," I like it and it makes me feel better. That's all that matters, right? Since starting meditation, I've found myself much more in tune with myself, my actions, and those of the people surrounding me. And luckily, the guilt is gone. 

Balsamic Roasted Cherry Brownies // Glazed & Confused

Well, most of it. 

Sometimes, I still feel a little guilty about stupid things, like seasonal produce. I had all of these plans to go blueberry picking, fig picking, strawberry picking over the summer, but they never really materialized. So here I am, rushing to post summer fruit recipes. I'm making it my personal mission to not repeat my stupidity this fall. Instead, my blog is going to be nothing but sweet potatoes and pumpkins. (What if!)

In the meantime, these roasted cherry brownies are my last hurrah to summertime. And no lie, they're one of my favorite things I've ever baked. This brownie recipe comes from Alice Medrich and is one of the best and easiest – there's no actual chocolate, just cocoa powder. But don't worry, the chocolate flavor is still insanely rich and deep. The balsamic roasted cherries (and a dash of cherry liquor) add the most complimentary of flavors and provide extra moistness to the crumb. I'm not feeling guilty anymore. 

Balsamic Roasted Cherry Brownies // Glazed & Confused

Balsamic Roasted Cherry Brownies

  • 1 cup cherries, pitted and halved
  • 1-1/2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

Preheat oven to 450 F. On a parchment-lined baking tray, place pitted cherries and sprinkle with sugar and balsamic vinegar. Roast until the cherries start releasing their juice, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and refrigerate while making the brownie batter. 

  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar 
  • 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour 

Reduce the oven temperature to 350 F and line an 8x8 baking pan with parchment. 

Add the butter, sugar, cocoa powder, and salt to a medium sized bowl. Microwave on high power for 45 seconds. Stir. Continue with 10 second bursts until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth. Add the vanilla and eggs and stir, stir, stir. Stir until the batter becomes thick and shiny. Mix in the flour until just combined. Fold in cherries. 

Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and bake until set, about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool in pan. Dust with icing sugar before serving. 

Birthday Sundaes for a Sunday Birthday!

Salted Caramel Popcorn Crunch Sundaes // Glazed & Confused

Soooo I'm 20?

That's going to take some getting used to. But yes, today is officially the first day of my third decade on earth! Absolutely terrifying.

Salted Caramel Popcorn Crunch Sundaes // Glazed & Confused

I know it's a cliché, but age has always been one of the more unexplainable components of my life. In grade school, my August birthday meant that I was always the baby of the class. But for much of my teenage years, I always felt like I was more mature than the rest of my classmates. I know, it sounds pretentious. (Spoiler: I was.) Throughout most of high school, the majority of my friends were a year or two older than me. I was used to being that lone 15 year old at the senior party. Once they all went off to college, I was left with only a handful of friends that were actually my age.

Once I graduated from high school, that all seemed to change. After a last minute switch of colleges, I found myself back living at home. It was never my plan, but plans sometimes don't work out. The first two months of my freshman year were horrible —I was depressed, lonely, and just generally pretty damn miserable. As time progressed, I reclaimed my happiness via a new group of friends who just happened to be two years younger than me. It was strange at first, considering that the difference between juniors in high school and freshman in college is so much bigger than a mere difference of numbers, but the connection was a genuine one. 

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Despite my whole "I'm mature and over all of you people" act during high school, I really never aged properly, so to speak. Many of my “firsts” were experienced on a far more delayed schedule than others my age. The last few years of my teenage years were also notable for being the years I fell in love with One Direction and became strangely infatuated with Ross Lynch and those terrible teen magazines with thirty free posters of people that nobody over the age of 14 knows. Oh well. Today, I now realize how asinine all of that is. You know, the implied timeline for achieving certain milestones in your life. But in reality, life isn't a game and you don't have to unlock particular achievements in a timely fashion to progress. We just do.

Although I’ve been dreading this day for what seems like forever, I think I’ve finally grown okay with bidding my teenage years adieu. Everybody I have had the conversation with is telling my that my twenties will be the best years of my life. (!!!! please be true) So let’s celebrate!

Salted Caramel Popcorn Crunch Sundaes // Glazed & Confused

 Considering that my birthday falls on a Sunday this year, I’ve decided to make it extra special. I was going to bake my own birthday cake, but then I decided that birthday sundaes would be much more appropriate. So that’s what we’re doing.

Recently, I discovered that an ice cream sundae is probably one of the greatest desserts ever. I live for the contrast between hot and cold, creamy and crunchy, salty and sweet. In fact, I’ve been on such a sundae kick that I somehow had one every single day while I was in New York last month. My favorite was a salted caramel sundae with hot fudge, whipped cream, and popcorn and peanut crunch from ABC Kitchen. I took one bite before deciding that this simple ice cream sundae was one of my favorite desserts of all time. Then I proceeded to knock my mom's water glass all over her. Classic Graham. No worries, we reconciled over our sundae. 

 Make it at home + celebrate with me! 


Popcorn and Peanut Crunch

from Bon Appetit 

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, 
  • 3 cups popped popcorn
  • 1/2 cup peanuts
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup

Combine popcorn and peanuts in a large mixing bowl.

Bring sugar, corn syrup, and 2 tablespoons water to boil in a medium saucepan, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add 6 tablespoons butter and stir until melted. Continue cooking, stirring often, until caramel is a deep amber color, 10-12 minutes.

Pour the hot caramel over popcorn and peanuts and mix to coat. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment and let cool completely. Break into pieces.

Hot Fudge Sauce 

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 ounce semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Whisk together the sugar, cocoa powder, corn syrup, and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan until smooth and combined. Over medium heat, bring to a simmer before removing from heat. Mix in butter, chocolate, vanilla, and salt until smooth. Cover to keep warm or pour into a jar and set aside. 

Salty Caramel Ice Cream

(as you can tell, I cheated and bought this at the store. I mean, it's my birthday!) 

from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

PREPARATION

Danger! This is the dry-burn technique. I don't add water to the sugar before putting it on the heat, as some chefs do. Caramelizing sugar dry means it goes faster, but you have to watch it more closely and be ready with your cream. Here is an overview of what you are going to do:

Stand over the pan of sugar with a heatproof spatula ready, but do not touch the sugar until there is a full layer of melted and browning liquid sugar on the bottom with a smaller layer of unmelted white sugar on the top. When the edges of the melted sugar begin to darken, use the spatula to bring them into the center to help melt the unmelted sugar. Continue stirring and pushing the sugar around until it is all melted and evenly amber in color — like an old penny. When little bubbles begin to explode with dark smoke, give the sugar another moment and then remove from the heat. Immediately but slowly pour about 1/4 cup of the cream and corn syrup mixture into the burning-hot sugar. Be careful! It will pop and spit! Stir until it is incorporated, then add a bit more cream and stir, then continue until it is all in.

Mix about 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry. Whisk the cream cheese and salt in a medium bowl until smooth. Mix the cream with the corn syrup in a measuring cup with a spout.

Fill a large bowl with ice and water.

Heat the sugar in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat until it is melted and golden amber in color (see note above). Remove from the heat and, stirring constantly, slowly add a bit of the cream and corn syrup mixture to the caramel: It will fizzle, pop, and spurt. Stir until well combined, then add a little more and stir. Keep adding the cream a little at a time until all of it is incorporated. Return the pan to medium-high heat and add the milk. Bring to a rolling boil and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry.

Bring back to a boil over medium-high and cook, stirring with a heatproof spatula, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat. If any caramel flecks remain, pour the mixture through a sieve. Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth. Add the vanilla and whisk. Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon Ziploc freezer bag and submerge the sealed bag in the ice bath. Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until cold, about 30 minutes.

Pour into frozen canister and spin until thick and creamy.Pack the ice cream into a storage container, press a sheet of parchment directly against the surface, and seal with an airtight lid. Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.

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