i have one brother. last friday was his birthday and he turned twenty-five.
alex is younger by exactly three years and three weeks - and one of the best humans on the planet.
we have always been close. somehow, we grew more supportive of each other than competitive. we share similar traits, easy to laugh and quick to anger. intense streaks of pride. we're both short, built like my mother's father. while i represent the scandinavian, with my blond hair and pale eyes, alex's copper-red hair and green eyed stare serve to show off my father's irish-scottish side.
we don't talk everyday, but it's often. the internet cuts the distance between new york and evansville. we each try to outdo one another in ridiculousness, flamboyance. we are impulsive and never read directions. we are creatures of habit. night owls. and i miss him terribly.
'did you borrow my car this weekend?' i asked.
alex looks at me, 'yeah, why?'
'because there's a random bottle of redbreast in my trunk.'
he grins. widely. 'oh yeah! i forgot about that.'
my brother loves whiskey, as i do. he's more of a scotch-drinker and i favor bourbons. yet we always seem to come to the middle and agree on the perfect balance of irish whiskey.
in some ways this is for him, because something a little over the top and whiskey-flavored is exactly what my brother loves. in some ways, this is for me - to hold me over until i can see him again and make his actual favorite dessert, a traditional deep pumpkin pie.
1 1/2 cups whole milk
3 tsp. unflavored gelatin
1/3 c. sugar
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/3 cup whiskey (I used Jameson, but any Irish whiskey or Kentucky bourbon would work well)
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
4 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups water
1/2 cup corn syrup
1 tsp white vinegar
1/2 cup whiskey
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp vanilla
1 tbsp corn syrup
1 tsp salt
in a medium saucepan, sprinkle the gelatin over the milk and allow to set for about five minutes to allow the gelatin to bloom. the mixture will take on a wrinkled appearance. set saucepan over low heat and dissolve the gelatin into the milk, approximately 2 minutes, while stirring frequently. take care to allow the mixture to not boil, as this will lessen the capacity of the gelatin to set up. add the sugar and whiskey and continue to stir for another five minutes, until sugar is completely dissolved and mixture runs clear and free of any granules from the back of a spoon. remove from heat and add cream and vanilla, stirring to combine. divide mixture into well-greased bowls and place in refrigerator. allow to set for 6-8 hours or overnight. when ready to serve, use a silicone spatula to release the pannacotta from the bowl and invert onto a plate.
to make the fairy floss, combine all ingredients save cornstarch in a medium saucepan over high heat. use a candy thermometer to measure the temperature of the mixture and heat to 268 degrees. remove from heat and allow mixture to cool to 212 degrees. pour mixture into four well-greased containers and allow to cool completely.
once candy is cooled, use a silicone spatula to release the candy from the container. prep a surface with cornstarch for dusting (i used a pizza pan). dip the candy wheel in the cornstarch and begin working into a circle, creating a hole in the center with the pressure from your fingers. once circle is the size of a plate, twist into a figure-8 - you should now have a double-stranded circle. continue to work and pull the candy 14-16 times, always taking care to pass through the cornstarch so the strands do not stick together. top the inverted pannacotta with the fairy floss.
to make the finishing whiskey sauce, bring a small saucepan to boil with whiskey, vanilla, salt, and corn syrup. stir over high heat until mixture is reduced and covers the back of a spoon. drizzle sauce over top of pannacotta & floss.
serve. (makes four)
happy birthday, bro.