Recipe and photos contributed to Hispanic Kitchen by Veronica Shine
Noche Vieja (New Year’s Eve) begins with quality time spent with family at home and a large meal. Traditionally, a major seafood feast starts off the festivities. No meal would be complete without being topped off with desserts and an endless flow of Spanish champagne, called cava.
Once the meal is completed, the family takes off to follow a New Year’s ritual of eating grapes to mark the New Year at the stroke of 12. As per the ritual, one needs to eat 12 grapes in 12 seconds. The 12 grapes signify the months of the year. Millions of residents and visitors take part in this New Year celebration in Spain.
The parties, drinking of local alcoholic drinks like cava and grape wines, and dancing the night away follows after eating of the grapes. Thousands of people come out in the streets and indulge in dancing and merriment. Some areas have them dressed up in vivid color costumes and partake in group folklore dances. Of course, no festival would be complete in Spain without a grand firework display.
The celebration doesn’t end there either. The restaurants and night clubs remain flooded with people until dawn. This is followed by having thick hot chocolate and churros to watch the sun rise on the first day of the year.
Some of the sweets served with the New Year’s Eve meal are alcohol based. Two popular desserts are Trufas de brandy (Brandy Truffles) and Melocotones de Cava (Peaches in Champagne/Cava). Add a bit of Spain to your New Year’s celebration this season with these recipes serving 4.
Trufas de Brandy (Brandy Truffles)
• 1/2 lb. good quality cooking chocolate
• 1/4 cup butter
• 1/3 cup fresh cream
• 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
• 3 tbsp brandy
• 1/4 cup cocoa powder
1. Break the chocolate up into small pieces and place in a double boiler or a heat proof glass bowl over simmering water.
2. Do not stir the chocolate as it melts, and make sure the bowl isn’t touching the water.
3. Remove from the heat after the chocolate has completely melted.
4. Spoon in the butter and the cream and mix together well.
5. Add the brandy and sugar and continue mixing until all the ingredients form a thick smooth mixture (add more sugar if you can’t get the right consistency).
6. Place the mixture in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
7. Form small balls with the mixture.
8. Lightly dust with the cocoa powder and place on a plate to serve.
Melocotones de Cava (Peaches in Champagne/Cava)
• 4 peaches (you can also use good quality tinned peaches)
• 1/2 bottle of medium-dry champagne or cava
• 3 cloves
• 4 tsp brown sugar
• Sticks of cinnamon for flavor (1 to 2)
• Whipped cream (fresh or can)
1. If using fresh peaches place in a bowl of boiled water for a few minutes in order to remove their skin (if using canned peaches skip this step).
2. Add the peaches, cinnamon stick, cloves, sugar and the cava in microwavable bowl.
3. Place bowl in the microwave, set at maximum heat for 10 minutes.
4. Stop the microwave cycle halfway through and stir the mixture gently before returning to the microwave.
5. Remove the cinnamon sticks and cloves.
6. Set aside to cool then place the bowl in the fridge.
7. Serve cold in dessert bowls topped with whipped cream.