And the trophy goes to...

As many of y'all know, the KooperBowl is one of the highlights of our year. We watch the Sportsball Event at the home of our dear friends the Koppenhofers, and each year there is an Iron Chef-style competition for the best yummies.

The Koops pick an ingredient, and we all bring something including it. Then we compete for bragging rights and nifty trophies. I've placed in the past - as high as second place, I think. This year, my two offerings tied for first place. I am queen.

Of course, the ingredient this year was alcohol, and I AM a writer, after all. Obviously I was just in my element.

By popular request, here are the two recipes that helped me bring home the cup this year. And they weren't even hard.

Rum Cream Croissants
This is an adjustment to my mom's recipe for Bailey's cream cheese croissants, which is awesome. But I happened to have a supply of Sangster's Jamaican Rum Cream on hand, and I wanted to see how it worked with this recipe.

6 tubes crescent rolls, regular size - not generic
8 oz. cream cheese
4 tbsp. rum cream or Bailey's
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar

Allow cream cheese to soften as much as possible. Add 4 tbsp. rum cream and blend with a hand mixer until well-blended. Mix in 1/2 c. powdered sugar.

Unroll and separate croissants as you preheat the oven to 350 degrees. For best results, cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Use a frosting spatula to spread the cream cheese mixture onto each triangle in a thin layer, then roll the crescent as you would normally.

Keep at least an inch or two between the croissants. Bake until golden brown - 12-15 mins. depending on your oven. Allow to cool a few minutes.

While baking, mix 1 c. powdered sugar with a little bit of milk to taste and a light drizzle of the rum cream. When the croissants are slightly cooled but still warm, drizzle the icing onto each pastry. Allow to cool somewhat before serving; can be served warmed or cool. Store in an airtight container for best results.

Note: Six tubes is 48 croissants. That's an awful lot if you're not throwing a party, but that's how many croissants one batch of filling makes. If you're like a smaller batch, cut the ingredients in half for three tubes. You could also make Grands-size crescents for bigger appetites.

This is a tried-and-true recipe with Bailey's, and the alcohol cooks out completely, leaving only the flavor. I'm happy to report the Sangster's rum cream works exactly the same, and I like the flavor even better. It's not the easiest to find outside Jamaica, so feel free to try either.

Kahlua Pecan Brie
This was an experiment, and while it did win, I think it was only partially successful. Details below.

1 wheel of brie cheese, at least 6 inches
1/2 c. Kahlua
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. pecans (chopped or whole)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Carefully slice off the top rind of the brie, but do not remove completely. Be sure to leave the sides and bottom rind intact, as it will hold the brie together during and after baking.

Bake for 15 minutes - preferably on a ceramic baker or similar. When finished, the top rind will be easily removed. Feel free to bake it longer if necessary to soften the cheese completely.

While the brie is in the oven, whisk together Kahlua and brown sugar in a small saucepan while bringing it to a boil. Simmer 10-15 mins. until a syrupy consistency occurs. Throw the pecans in for 2 minutes at the end to warm them.

Remove brie from oven and pour sauce and pecans over the brie. Serve with crackers while still warm.

Notes: The original recipe called for a full cup of Kahlua, brown sugar and pecans. This made much more glaze than my little 6-inch wheel needed, and when transporting it, the glaze slid partially off the brie and pooled around my cake carrier. This tells me that there was too much glaze, and that transporting it is a bad idea. So I've cut the recipe in half, as you see, and will try it again. If you have a giant 1-foot wheel of brie, you might keep the glaze ingredients at the original proportions.

Also: Sometimes the glaze does not thicken while cooking, usually because the heat is too high. If you've cooked it well past 15 mins. and it's still watery, try removing it from the heat entirely and allow it to partially cool. It should be pourable but thick.

Boy is modeling my award, though his role was solely taste-tester.