Bitters Rock Candy + Champagne

I love bitters.  Bitters are a blend of alcohol, water, herbs, aromatics and spices.  They are an important component to cocktails, making soda water more delicious and a cure for hiccups or  stomach ache.  

Angostura bitters are my favorite and are used here to make rock candy which can be enjoyed alone or paired with a glass of champagne as a riff on the classic champagne cocktail.  

Use two chopsticks or bamboo skewers.

Makes 2.

Bitters Rock Candy Sticks

1 cup water

3 cups sugar

1 tablespoon angostura bitters

Prep the sticks by lightly wetting them and rolling them in sugar.  Set aside to dry. 

In a small pot, heat water and add sugar 1 cup at a time.  Let dissolve in between additions.  Let boil 6 minutes.  Stir in bitters.  Cool slightly and pour into 2 pint size glass jars or cups.  Insert 1 chopstick into each jar so the tip is 1 inch from the bottom and floating in the center of the glass away from the sides.  Secure stick with clothes pins or a piece of paper laid over the top of the jar with a hole punched in it for the stick.  Place somewhere, out of the way and leave undisturbed for about 1 to 2 days, Checking occasionally until a large amount of crystals have formed.  If you let it grow too much, it will grow onto the sides of the glass and be almost impossible to remove whole. 


Blood Orange Upside Down Cake


I love an upside down cake. The pineapple type is my mom's territory so I thought I would give this citrus version a try.  

I used only 3 blood oranges because I ate some of the ones I had.  While it looks pretty (notice the ombre?)  I  think it's better if the top is covered with blood orange slices.  Just a thought.  

If you like that dark sugary, caramelized cake top like you get on a traditional upside down cake, rub 1-2 tablespoon of butter on the bottom and sides of the baking dish and sprinkle with 1-2 tablespoon of brown sugar before arranging orange slices.  

Makes one 9.5 inch cake.   

Blood Orange Upside Down Cake

4-5 blood oranges

6 tablespoons butter, soft

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon angostura bitters

3/4 cup milk

1 teaspoon poppy seeds

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/4 cup flour

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease 9.5 inch round baking dish.  Set aside.  

Cut tops and bottoms from oranges, slice off peels and slice into medallions. Remove seeds. (Save peels for candying or future zesting needs.)  Arrange slices on bottom of baking dish.  Set aside.  

Mix butter and sugar until smooth.  Add egg, bitters, milk, poppy seeds, salt, baking powder and flour.  Mix until combined and pour over fruit lined baking dish.   Bake 40 minutes or until done.  

Let cake cool 5 minutes in pan.  Run a knife along the edges to loosen and carefully invert onto flat surface.