December 31st, 2013

To a Sweet New Year


There’s a huge pot simmering on my stovetop, (yet to be photographed!) filled with white wine, lemons, onions, celery, assorted peppercorns and bay leaf. I call it my spicy-winey lobster bath. Later this evening, my guests and I will be plunging our lobster tails into this heady bath, which will poach them into succulence.

I’ll also make drawn butter, spiked with lemon and cayenne, and place the bowls of that decadence within easy reach for dunking the rich meat. I think the term “gilding the lily” applies here. Oh, well–it is our farewell to 2013.


This is our communal lobster pot gathering, a tradition born a few years ago when we could no longer face going out New Year’s Eve, and, serendipitously, lobster tails happened to be on sale at the market.

Here’s the basic plan: Everyone brings his/her own luxuries–crustacean, and champagne, if that’s your pleasure . In the beginning of this new tradition, I would do a seated dinner. In addition to the spicy-winey bath, I’d make the accompanying courses, which I served at a leisurely pace. In more recent years, we’ve become less formal. We share the making of different dishes and set everything out buffet style. Graze as you will.


Tonight, Heather is bringing a big salad, and a plate of fruits and cheeses. Teresa is bringing some tasty hors d’oeuvres. She’s not sure what they’ll be yet, but our food styling friend always has some terrific ideas and ingredients on hand.

To insure the most good luck possible, I am making “Hoppin’ John” risotto with kale pesto.

But what I want to quickly share with you now is a dessert. I want to end this last day of 2013, which also is this humble blog’s 200th post AND 5th Year Anniversary, with something sweet. (I know! Time. Fleeting!)


It’s a flourless chocolate torte, adapted from this Cooking Light recipe, which caught my eye for its lightness. It has a lower caloric count, yet imparts a depth of rich chocolate taste–especially if you use high quality cocoa and bittersweet chocolate, like this bar from local artisan Olive and SInclair.

Of course, I can’t leave well enough alone. I am serving it with my brandied cherries and a dollop of whipped cream. So, no, it isn’t Super Light, but it is gluten-free, and a sliver of this treat is all that you need to satisfy that one lingering need for a sweet bite, after a fine meal.

Here’s my wish to you for a very happy, healthy, creative, loving, peaceful, generous, and open-hearted new year. May it be filled with many delicious things, too.


adapted from Cooking Light
1 tablespoon butter
4 large eggs, separated
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa, divided
6 tablespoons ground toasted almonds
4 tablespoons brewed coffee
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom of a 9″ springform pan with parchment. Coat the sides and bottom with butter and dust with 1 teaspoon (or so) cocoa.
In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites until firm peaks form, but not dry. Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks and sugar together until the mixture is light and lemon colored. Then, beat in the cocoa and ground almonds.
Place the coffee and chopped bittersweet chocolate into a small saucepan set on medium heat. Stir until the chocolate is just melted.
Beat this to the egg yolk-cocoa mixture.
Fold in the egg whites.
Pour the mixture into the prepared springform pan.
Bake on the middle rack for 25-30 minutes.
Remove from heat and allow to cool on a baking rack for 15 minutes.
Serve the cake slightly warm, topped with brandied cherries and whipped cream.


I originally made these for my friend Wendy, who loves the Manhattan cocktail. She’s got the bourbon, sweet vermouth, and bitters, now she’s got the luscious brandied cherry to place into the drink. I kept a container to make into other things, like the sauce for this cake.


2 pounds frozen, pitted cherries
1 cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
3 whole cloves
1 cup brandy
2 ribbons orange zest
1 cup water
¼ teaspoon salt

Fill 2 glass jars with frozen cherries, dividing them evenly.
Place sugar, cinnamon stick, brandy, orange zest, water & salt in a pan and bring to a boil for 1 minute. Let cool for 10 minutes and pour equal parts over the cherries. Let cool with the top off then cover and refrigerate.
Allow the cherries to cure for a couple of weeks–but know that they will last for several months.


1 cup brandied cherries, drained from brandy mixture
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 cup brandied cherry juice

Place drained brandied cherries into a small bowl.
In a small saucepan set over medium heat, stir the cornstarch and brandied cherry juice together until the cornstarch is dissolved. Continue to stir as the mixture comes to a simmer. It will thicken and become glazy. Remove from heat, and pour over the drained brandied cherries.


Posted in Chocolate, Desserts, Gluten Free, Recipes

21 Responses to “To a Sweet New Year”
  1. Kath Says:

    Lovely, some of my favourite things, especially cherries and chocolate. Happy New Year, may it be a wonderful one.

  2. ernestine Says:

    Oh my,
    you make me envious
    on the first day of a New Year.
    This meal is wonderful…
    I will be alone in the woods
    with little Callie,
    with thoughts of
    and of the New Year which is beginning
    this early morning before sunrise.
    Your writing
    brings me so much pleasure.

  3. Wendy Says:

    So sorry to miss this celebration. And I had no idea how much effort went in to the brandied cherries. Thank you again .

  4. Beth Says:

    Happy anniversary! Your dessert looks wonderful.

  5. fluffy Says:

    it was great, even though i don’t like cherry

  6. Michele | Cooking At Home Says:

    What a wonderful New Year’s Eve tradition to celebrate with good friends and fabulous food. Wishing you and your family, Nancy, a great year filled with good health, love and happiness.Cheers.

  7. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Kath, I wish you and yours the same!

    Ernestine, I hope your new year will be filled with much joy.

    Wendy–we missed you, too!

    Beth—thank you. Hard to believe I’ve been posting here for 5 years!

    Michele—Cheers to you and your family. Hope all is well. Great to hear from you.

  8. Tracy Says:

    Happy new year! You have me craving brandied cherries now.

  9. heather Says:

    This cake is AMAZING! So rich and wonderful, a dessert that will wow many a dinner guest.

  10. Tammy Says:

    Three of my favorite things; flourless chocolate cake, cherries and ringing in the new year! Hope yours was grand and that 2014 is fully of grand baby!

  11. Says:

    Oh I love it! Happy New Year :)

  12. Teresa, foodonfifth Says:

    Thanks for such a lovely New year’s Evening. I always so look forward to our casual, yet elegant, always conversationally interesting evening to send out the old year and welcome the new. Other than our favorite Champagne, Lobster & your fabulous Hoppin’ John Risotto this flourless chocolate dessert was certainly one of my personal favorites. It’s rich lightness with those brandied cherries were just the great finish to a great evening with good friends. I always count myself lucky to be a part of this evening. Happy New Year my friend.

  13. Karen (Back Road Journal) Says:

    What a fun tradition and your meal had to be delicious. Wishing you all the best for the new year.

  14. Kitchen Belleicious Says:

    i dont know what appeals to me more the spicy winey lobster or the tart. WOW! Do I have to choose. Can I have both! Here is to a great new year for you my friend an I cant’t for the book and to see more of your delicious recipes

  15. Barbara Says:

    Yum, Nancy. I love your brandied cherries!
    Happy New Year to you!

  16. JP Evans Says:

    “To insure the most good luck possible, I am making “Hoppin’ John” risotto with kale pesto.” Seriously Nancy, we just can’t keep up with you, and we are retired! We are however making this cake tomorrow for Lynn’s birthday, thanks.

  17. Denise | Chez Danisse Says:

    Lobster and chocolate. Well done, Nancy. If this is how you celebrate the last day of the year, I’m sure you are enjoying this new year. Carry on.

  18. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Hi JP–I hope that you and Lynn enjoy the cake–best birthday wishes to her!

  19. Faith (An Edible Mosaic) Says:

    Your holidays traditions sound lovely…they really conjure up a feeling of home. The flourless chocolate cake is gorgeous, and I love the embellishments you topped it with – they really make it something special. And a huge congrats to you on 5 years of blogging! You’re right, time sure does fly by.

    Wishing you a wonderful New Year filled with every happiness, my friend.

  20. sonia Says:

    Hi Nancy, This is a terrific post with a wonderful start of the year sweet ! It’s wonderful to see your each and every post. Hope to see more of your creative endeavors ! Wish you and your family a very Happy and Blessed New Year!!!
    Thanks & Regards, Sonia !!!

  21. KgReciPe Says:

    Hello Nancy, I am so much hungry to see your blog. what a blog. I like your all recipes. Generally I love to eat food and your all recipes seems so much delicious so I think I need your help to prepare it. will you help me?

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