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Recipes & Entertaining Ideas

Filtering by Tag: Champagne

Warm Chocolate Pots with Grand Marnier & Cherries

Marc J. Sievers

Warm Chocolate Pots with Grand Marnier & Cherries from the desserts chapter of my cookbook Table for Two: Cooking and Entertaining for You and Your +1.

When it comes to making desserts at home, I try to keep the recipe easy and elegant – and always with a twist!  My Warm Chocolate Pots with Grand Marnier & Cherries is the perfect dessert for the finale of a casual weeknight meal, yet special enough for a weekend soirée with a glass of Port or Champagne!

The twist comes from (first) a generous “splash” of Grand Marnier, which is an orange liqueur that adds a bit of warmth and depth of flavor to chocolate, and (second) the dried cherries add some sweetness and give it fabulous texture.  My Warm Chocolate Pots require zero (and I mean zero!) special kitchen equipment, and is easier than pie (I mean it!) to prepare.  The recipe uses simple ingredients from your local grocery store (in fact, you probably already have everything on hand!), and from start to finish it takes less than 20 minutes – making this the ultimate dessert to easily have at the ready when entertaining! 


Ingredients (serves 2)  

  • Semi-Sweet Chocolate – 3 ½ ounces, roughly chopped

  • Butter – 4 tablespoons, unsalted, plus more for preparing ramekins

  • Grand Marnier® – 2 tablespoons

  • Sea Salt – ¼ teaspoon

  • Powdered Sugar – ½ cup

  • Cocoa Powder – 1 tablespoon, plus more for dusting

  • Vanilla – 1 teaspoon, pure extract

  • Eggs – 1 extra-large, AND 1 extra-large egg yolk

  • Dried Cherries – ½ cup

  • Flour – 3 tablespoons

  • Candied Orange Peel – for garnish (optional)

Directions

  1. Start by pre-heating the oven to 425 degrees F.

  2. Butter the interior of two ramekins (6 to 8 ounces each) and place on a baking dish. Set aside.

  3. In a heat proof bowl, over barely simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter, stirring occasionally until just melted. Remove from heat.

  4. Next, to the chocolate, add the Grand Mariner®, salt, powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and vanilla. Whisk until blended.

  5. Slowly whisk in the eggs.

  6. Toss the cherries with the flour, then stir into the chocolate mixture.

  7. Lastly, evenly divide the batter into the prepared ramekins. Bake for exactly 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to stand for 2 minutes. Garnish with cocoa powder and candied orange peel. Serve warm.

Tip: You can actually make these ahead of time!  Bake and allow to cool completely.  Then, wrap each one tightly with foil and place in the refrigerator.  When it's time to serve, remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes prior.  Discard the foil and warm in a microwave for 45 seconds.  Dust with cocoa powder and serve immediately.

Idea: You can also swap out the Grand Mariner for Cabernet Sauvignon.  I like to add 1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon to give it a little extra zing! 

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Sparkling Raspberry Sorbet

Marc J. Sievers

It is no secret I love to entertain at home!  From menu planning, to setting the table, or spending time in my kitchen, I will find any excuse to throw a soirée!  While I certainly have a few tricks up my sleeve to ensure my guests are always having a fabulous time, my #1 tip is to never make everything yourself.  I like to choose two or three different dishes to prepare, then rely on favorite store-bought brands, bakeries, and gourmet markets to round out my menu.  It’s the simplest way to ensure that I have fun at my own parties!

They say the dessert is what people always remember from any party.  A really good dessert is always something I like to pay special attention to.  Whether I am making it myself or heading to one of my neighborhood bakeries, I make sure to always have something that will WOW! everyone – myself included!  That is exactly what my Sparking Raspberry Sorbet will do at your next party—it will bring that perfect WOW! factor.  This particular dessert relies on simple components; really good Champagne, really good store-bought Raspberry Sorbet, and the most flavorful homemade Four Berry Sauce.

Besides being a perfectly elegant dessert for any occasion, it is one of the easiest desserts to assemble.  Once you make the Four Berry Sauce (which uses frozen berries and can be stored in the refrigerator), it all comes together in just a few minutes!  I love to serve this in a small coupe, small bowl, or even in a martini glass.  Bottoms (and spoons!) up!


Four Berry Sauce

Ingredients (makes 1 ½ cups)

  • Frozen Berry Medley – 1 pound (raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, & blueberries)

  • Raspberry Preserves – 2 tablespoons

  • Raspberry Liqueur – 1 tablespoon, Chambord preferred

  • Lemon Zest – 1 teaspoon

Directions

  1. In a small saucepan set over medium heat, add the frozen berries, preserves, liqueur, and lemon zest.

  2. Cook for 10-15 minutes, until the berries have released their juices and are very tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.

  3. Place a fine mesh sieve over a glass bowl. Transfer the mixture into the sieve.

  4. Using the back of a wooden spoon press the mixture through the sieve.

  5. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled.

To Serve: Layer this luscious berry sauce in a small coupe with a single scoop of raspberry sorbet and ¼ cup of very dry, chilled Champagne.  It is a perfect dessert for a grown-up celebration, very elegant presentation, and just an all around fabulous surprise for your guests.  

Tip: If you don’t have raspberry preserves, you can substitute strawberry, blueberry, or blackberry.  The pectin in the preserves is what will thicken the berry sauce slightly.

Order a signed copy of my cookbook Entertaining with Love!

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Champagne Party - #BFF Style! for VRAI Magazine

Marc J. Sievers

Love is in the air at The Sievers!  Each year Ryan and I celebrate St. Valentine’s Day with a quiet home-cooked meal in an intimate vignette set up in our own home.  We typically watch a Disney movie (Cinderella is my all-time favorite!), enjoy a decedent dessert, and pop a bottle of really good wine.  We love being in love!  This year we are going to do something different by hosting a cocktail party to celebrating with our BFF’s.  It will be an evening filled with delicious nibbles, fabulous Champagne, and lots of laughter.  Not only will our soirée be memorable, it will be filled with completely store-bought items from my local grocery store.  This night will be about being with friends and not being in the kitchen (well, except to get more Champagne!).

A successful party is not measured by how many items you make from scratch, but rather how much laughter fills your home!  For my St. Valentine’s Day cocktail party I designed the evening around a completely over-the-top salty and sweet nibbles tray and glamorous rosé bubbles bar.  Let me walk you through the Champagne bar:


The Bubbles Bar

  1. Start by selecting your Champagne flutes. I like to use a different design for each guest to reflect their personality and to help them remember with flute is theirs. Use a tray—I chose silver—to set the flutes on. This will make even the simplest glassware feel more special, while also adding a bit of sophistication and sparkle to your bar area. A tray will also “contain” the flutes and help to visually organize your bar top and keep things from looking “strewn about all willy-nilly”—I use this professional entertaining phase all the time.

  2. Next, choose your favorite Champagne. I prefer a Brut Rosé which is flavorful, complex, and dry, making it both versatile with food and delicious by itself as an aperitif.

  3. I prefer to set out only one bottle of champagne at a time in a small ice-filled bucket. Opening a bottle of champagne has such a celebratory feel about it, so I like to do it in front of everyone. This also allows each bottle to stay as fresh as possible.

  4. Candles, candles, and more candles! I have a collection of candle holders that range in size. I love mixing them and using different heights to get a more dramatic feel.

  5. Paper cocktail napkins are the perfect way to help carry through a theme. I found the most “romantic” tray I had and used that to hold heart-themed napkins.

  6. Finally, I scatter crystals all around the flutes, Champagne chiller, and bar top. They really do add a depth of glamour, and they reflect the flames of the candles.


The Nibbles Tray

  1. Start by selecting your tray or platter. I love this silver spinning server for cocktail parties. It has many different sections which makes arranging food so simple. Guests can spin the tray for easy self-service regardless of where they are sitting on the sofa.

  2. Next, it’s time to shop! I went to my local grocery store and chose things that were different in texture, flavor, and color. For this party, I wanted to create a completely over-the-top selection of nibbles, while still trying to incorporate very recognizable St. Valentine’s Day-themed foods. I choose things that are salty, sweet, and savory. My go-to items are:

  • Gruyere

  • Freshly baked baguette

  • Strawberries

  • Chocolate Truffles

  • Salt & Pepper Potato Chips

  • Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar (for dipping)

      3.  Lastly, set out small plates and napkins.  A vase of scent-less flowers (as to not compete           with your food) finishes out the look.  Et voila—it’s party time!

Idea: If you don’t have a spinner server try using small bowls set atop a tray or just a large platter. 

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Raspberry Basil Cooler

Marc J. Sievers

The basil and raspberries at my local farmers market this morning looked too incredibly delicious to pass up!  Knowing that I had vodka, rum, Prosecco, and sparkling water at home, the idea of making a refreshing cocktail was the first to come to mind.  Typically, I only order mixed cocktails when I am out on the town—the ones I usually order are tedious with a drop of this, a splash of that, and don’t forget the twist!

At home, I try to create cocktails that I can shake-shake-shake in under two minutes, and that are not overly sweet.  I especially like to use fresh ingredients whenever possible and not rely on flavorings or other artificial ingredients (just more I have to have on hand, taking up space in my cabinet for that once-a-year use).

My Raspberry Basil Cooler is a drink you can interchange with whatever you have in your cabinet; vodka OR rum, lime OR lemon, Prosecco OR sparkling water, which makes it a flexible and easy go-to cocktail to entertain with since your guests can swap out whatever they would like. 

This refreshing drink is also fabulous without the use of spirits for a non-alcoholic variation.  Just substitute sparkling water for the rum and Prosecco and you’ll have a delicious “mocktail”! 

It’s cocktail time!


Raspberry Basil Cooler 

Ingredients (makes 1 cocktail, expand as needed)

  • White Rum – ¼ cup

  • Lime Juice – Half of a small lime

  • Extra Fine Sugar – 1 teaspoon

  • Basil – 5 small leaves, fresh

  • Raspberries – 8 whole berries

  • Prosecco – For finishing

Directions

  1. Place the raspberries, basil, lime juice, and sugar into a sturdy glass. Use a muddler or handle of a wooden spoon to smash the ingredients until the berries are broken up.

  2. Add the rum and stir for 20 seconds.

  3. Fill your desired serving glass with ice, pour the rum mixture over the ice, and top off the glass with Prosecco.

  4. Gently stir, taste, and toast!

Note:  This is a rustic cocktail that derives its natural flavor from the muddled berries and basil.  This includes the seeds, which remain in the glass as a pulp.  This is normal, and delicious to eat!

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Cheers! St. Germain with Bubbles!

Marc J. Sievers

I recently did an interview for Blendabout.com, a social dinning website that matches people with common interests into small groups for meals at restaurants all over the country.  BlendAbout schedules group meals for approximately six people that share the same interests, allowing users to connect and mingle comfortably.  They asked me all about cocktails, a topic I do know a thing-or-two about!  I wanted to create a cocktail that was something guests would be impressed by, with a unique flavor profile, and could be made easily in large quantities.

Since I love St. Germain which is an elderflower flavored liqueur, I knew I wanted to highlight the beautiful, floral notes.  My St. Germain with Bubbles is now the most requested cocktail from clients when I am hosting their dinner parties!  Cheers!


St. Germain with Bubbles

Ingredients (serves 6)

  • St. Germain – 6 tablespoons, divided

  • Champagne – (your favorite) – 1 bottle, chilled

  • Basil – 6 leaves, small

  • Blueberries – 18, gently smashed (using the back of a spoon)

  • Lemon Juice – 6 teaspoons, divided

  • Lemon Curls – for garnish

  • Sugar – 6 cubes

Directions

  1. Start by filling 6 flutes with champagne.

  2. Next, evenly divide the St. Germain and lemon juice into each flute.

  3. Garnish with basil, blueberries and lemon curls.

  4. Right before serving, drop a sugar cube into each flute.

Tip: While the basil and blueberries do not add a lot of flavor directly to the aperitif, it’s an unexpected (but FABULOUS!) surprise at the end when you bite and get the spiciness of the basil and sweetness of the blueberry.  It almost acts as a palette cleanser and readies your taste buds for what’s next!

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A Bubbly "Kiss"

Marc J. Sievers

No matter the occasion, champagne always makes an appearance at all of my parties, no matter the time of day!  Most of the time, I prefer to not add anything to take away from the delicate taste or it's elegant color.  My Champagne Kiss combines the flavors or true champagne with chocolate and strawberries, the perfect romantic combination!

Tip: Serve this elegant take on champagne with my Chocolate Pot de Crème for a truly decedent night!


Ingredients (serves 6)

  • Champagne (your favorite) - 1 bottle

  • Dark Chocolate - 6 pieces, ½-inch

  • Strawberries - 6, ½-inch sliced

  • Cocoa Powder - ¼ cup

Directions

  1. Pour the cocoa powder onto a small plate. On another small plate pour just enough water to coat the bottom of the plate. Place the rim of a champagne flute into the water then directly into the cocoa powder to cover each rim.

  2. Do this with all the champagne flutes.

  3. Place a piece of chocolate in the bottom of each champagne flute and fill with champagne. Top with a slice of strawberry.

I hope my Champagne Kiss has you seeing hearts this Valentine's Day!  XO

Order a signed copy of my cookbook Entertaining with Love!

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