Posts Tagged 'coffee'

Vanilla Latte Cupcakes

It’s Friday! Have a cupcake.

I actually made these a few weeks ago, but I really wish I could be eating one right now. These days, I’m not drinking much coffee. Okay, kind of a lie. I’m not drinking much caffeinated coffee.

But I made an exception for the coffee in these.

I’d like to take a minute and show off my new favorite grocery store, Rainbow Grocery (and I promise this does tie in with these cupcakes…wait for it).

First of all, you can get pretty much ANYTHING in bulk. Any dried fruit you may want:

A billion kinds of legumes, including a bunch of beans I have never heard of but now am obsessed with finding recipes for so I can buy them because they’re so pretty.

More kinds of rice than I ever knew existed.

And then there’s the chocolate-covered section. It’s a dangerous place. However, the beauty of it is you can buy the exact number of chocolate-covered espresso beans you need for these cupcakes, so you won’t eat a ton of leftovers and get your baby so caffeinated she doesn’t sleep.

Another perk? They give you 5 cents off for every single container you bring! We usually get at least a dollar off every visit!

Anyway, cupcakes. I feel that there are two camps when frosting is concerned. There’s the “dainty not-too-sweet meringue buttercream” camp, and then there’s the “extra sweet is extra good” camp. I fall into the latter, so I made a basic powdered sugar and butter frosting that, yes, is very sweet (just how I like it). If you’re more of a Swiss Meringue Buttercream fan, follow Josie’s lead.

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:58]

(adapted from Cupcake Bakeshop via Pink Parsley)

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Coffee Cardamom Brownies


If you like Turkish coffee and you like brownies, you will love these. If you like brownies but you’ve never had Turkish coffee, give them a try! Cardamom and coffee both complement chocolate extremely well.

I’ve fallen completely in love with the Gourmet cookbook my sister gave me for Christmas. Now that I finally have the energy to do stuff after school besides collapsing on the couch and watching 30 Rock on hulu, I’ve been having the urge to bake. A lot. I’ve made way too many plain brownies in my life so this time I wanted to step it up a little bit. Mike suggested adding cardamom, based on this cardamom-chocolate torte I made last year.

While I was looking for the cardamom, I happened to come across a little packet of Starbucks Via that I ended up getting in a weird trade with some people at Thai brunch in Berkeley (a story for a different day). Anyway, I immediately thought of Turkish coffee, and these brownies were born. Via is much finer than other instant coffees, so if you don’t have any, I’d use about 1/2 a tablespoon of instant espresso.

In pregnancy-related news, I’ve now told all the other teachers at school and am telling my students as they ask. Obviously middle school is quite the rumor mill, and I’ve been asked numerous times already this year, but now I’ll finally be able to tell them the truth! Another teacher at school had a baby 6 weeks ago and brought him to visit yesterday. I held him for a little while and could not believe that in less than 6 months I’ll have one of my own. It definitely still doesn’t seem real!

Recipe:
(adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook)

1 stick butter, cut into tablespoons
2 1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1 tube Via or 1/2 Tbsp instant espresso

Preheat the oven to 325 F.

Grease and flour an 8″ square pan. Shake out excess flour.

Melt the butter and chocolate in a 3 qt saucepan over low. Remove from the heat, let cool slightly, then stir in the sugar, eggs, and vanilla.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, cardamom and coffee. Stir into the chocolate mixture, mixing just until all traces of flour disappear.

Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the pan on a wire rack completely before cutting into squares.

Dark chocolate mocha cupcakes with coffee buttercream

I wasn’t going to bake for a few weeks. I made those Double Ginger Cookies a few days ago, ate way too many of them, and realized it would probably be best for that marathon I’m running (in 11 days. OMG.) if I didn’t go crazy with sugar for awhile.

But today was my Sister-in-Law’s birthday AND Mike found out he got a new job (!!!) so the no-baking plans were scrapped and celebratory cupcakes were made. My sister-in-law drinks a lot of coffee, so dark chocolate mocha cupcakes with coffee buttercream seemed like a natural choice. The dark chocolate stars are just piped melted chocolate – easy but decorative and delicious.

Obviously, if you like either coffee or chocolate, these will be hard to resist. I think it’s easiest to use instant coffee for baking, so that’s what I did here, for both the cake and the frosting. If you’d rather brew some espresso, I’m sure that would work too.

Recipe:
(adapted from Evil Shenanigans)

cupcakes
3/4 cup cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
1 egg white
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 tablespoons strong coffee (or three tablespoons warm water mixed with 1 tablespoon instant coffee)

frosting
4 tbsp butter, softened
2 tbsp warm water
1 tbsp instant coffee
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups powdered sugar

a few ounces of dark chocolate, melted

Preheat the oven to 350 F and line a 12-cupcake pan with paper liners.

Whisk together all the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar, and cocoa) in a medium bowl.

Beat the egg and egg white gently with a fork, then stir in the buttermilk, vanilla, melted butter, and coffee. Pour into the dry ingredients and mix until most of the lumps are gone. Divide evenly among the cupcake tins and bake for about 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean.

Transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting, dissolve the coffee in the warm water. Beat the butter, coffee-water, and vanilla in a stand mixer. Add the powdered sugar and beat until creamy and spreadable, adding a few drops of milk if too dry. Pipe onto the cooled cupcakes.

To make the chocolate decorations: Put the melted chocolate in a piping bag with a small round tip and pipe designs onto parchment. Transfer to the fridge for about 30 mintues to set, then place the decorations on the iced cupcakes.

Caribbean Coffee Ice Cream

This is vegan ice cream that will completely change your opinion of vegan ice cream. Or at least, it did for me.

For years I thought the “cream” part of ice cream had to be heavy whipping cream or else it just wasn’t worth eating (okay, I did go through a lowfat, low-sugar ice cream phase in college, but it was short because honestly, that stuff is crap.) The secret to this rich, creamy, indulgent yet dairy free ice cream? Coconut milk. Combine that with some strong, freshly brewed coffee and a few tablespoons of rum, and you have a pretty irresistible little dessert.

Is it really Caribbean? I don’t know, but with coconut and rum in it, that seemed like a fitting adjective, and it definitely made me wish I could take a vacation in the islands. Although it was best the day it was made –the coffee flavor kind of drowned out the rum by day 2 — it’s so good, you probably won’t have to worry about it sitting in your freezer for long!

I know there’s a lot of debate about coconut milk and whether it’s healthy because it’s loaded with saturated fat. I’m going to go ahead and play the moderation card on this one, like I do on pretty much all desserts. As long as you’re not drinking a can of full-fat coconut milk every day, I think you’ll be fine.

Arrowroot powder, I’ve read, can help keep vegan ice cream from developing large ice crystals (which are never a good thing). I found some in the bulk spice section of my local natural foods store. I’m sure it’s easy to find online as well.

Recipe:
1 14-ounce can coconut milk
1/2 cup strong, freshly brewed coffee, cooled to room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp dark rum
2 tbsp arrowroot powder
pinch salt

Shake the can of coconut milk well, then open and pour into a large bowl. Mix in the sugar, coffee, rum, arrowroot, and salt, and mix thoroughly.

Pour into an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Store in a sealed container in the freezer, with plastic wrap pressed onto the ice cream surface.

Hanoi Highlights

We’re back in Thailand after 11 days in Hanoi.  While we originally planned to travel the length of the country and into Cambodia, we cut the trip short for various reasons. Our plans have changed at least once a week for the duration of the trip (going on 3 months…) which would normally drive me crazy, but I’m learning to embrace it.

Some of my favorite things about Hanoi:

Food in Edible Wrappers:
Banh Cuon (rice flour pancakes with minced pork and mushrooms inside) and Nem Ran (Spring Rolls)
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People-watching around Hoan Kiem Lake
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Seeing unusual things transported by motorbike:

Trees…or a dozen crates of empty beer bottles

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Sidewalk restaurants:

It was a little challenging for Mike, who’s 6’2″, but we learned to embrace the tiny stools!

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Amazing Pastries:
I’m not sure why they served our profiteroles with spoons, but they were delicious!
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Ca Phe Sua Da:

I might even like this better than Thai Iced Coffee!  Incredibly strong black coffee served over ice with sweetened condensed milk.

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The Perfect Thai Iced Coffee

I pretty much stick to four main food groups here in Thailand: Iced Coffee, Fruit, Noodles, and Food On A Stick. Every day, I eat something from each group. I’ve made it my personal mission to find the best in each of these groups, and today I’m going to show you the best iced coffee in Chiang Mai. Don’t try and argue – I’ve tried DOZENS of places and this one wins, hands down. It’s also the cheapest place in the neighborhood!

I stop by this stand every day, and after about four days, the woman who works there started to recognize me. Now she starts on my coffee as she sees me approaching. Here’s how the perfect beverage is concocted:
First, she puts a spoon full of sugar and a spoon full of creamer into a small glass. 

Then, she pours Thai coffee into the glass. A lot of places make their iced coffee with regular brewed coffee, or worse, Nescafe, but this is the real stuff. It’s made from oliang powder, which is coffee mixed with a little bit of sesame and corn, poured through a muslin filter. Once the coffee is in the glass, she stirs it well to dissolve the sugar and creamer. Then she adds a generous spoonful of sweetened condensed milk and stirs. She fills a tall plastic cup with ice, and pours some evaporated milk over the top. Then, she pours the coffee mixture into the plastic cup that has the ice and evaporated milk. And there it is…the perfect Thai Iced Coffee!

Bûche de Noël

My mom always used to make Buche de Noel for Christmas, and this year she passed the torch to me.  I am glad I made a rolled cake this summer – it made this recipe a lot less intimidating.  There are quite a few components to put together, but just tackle it one step at a time, and it’s not overwhelming.  I made the syrup first, then the filling, chilled it, then baked the cake, and while it was cooling, made the buttercream.  Last, I put together the mushrooms and dusted the whole thing with cocoa powder.  Make sure you start the recipe a few hours in advance, as the components all take time, and the roll must chill for 4 hours before being frosted.

My dad just bought a Nikon D60, and he graciously let me borrow it to take pictures of this dessert.  The difference between his and my little old camera is striking!

(adapted from Jacques Torres’s A Year In Chocolate by Jacques Torres, seen on Serious Eats)

First, make the syrup:
-makes 1 1/2 cups-
Ingredients
1 1/4 cups water
2/3 cup sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons Kahlua

Procedure
1. In a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the water and sugar, place over medium-high heat, and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. When the sugar has dissolved completely, remove the pan from the heat. Transfer to a heatproof bowl and let cool completely.
2. Stir the liqueur into the cooled syrup. Use immediately, or store, tightly covered, in the refrigerator almost indefinitely.

Next, make the Chocolate Pastry Cream:
-makes about 2 cups-
Ingredients
4 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
1 cup whole milk
1/2 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
3 1/2 ounces semisweet chocolate

Procedure
1. Sift together 2 tablespoons of the sugar and the cornstarch in a bowl. Whisk in the egg yolks until well blended, thick, and smooth.
2. In a heavy-bottomed nonreactive saucepan, combine the milk with the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar. Using the edge of a small, sharp knife, scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the milk and then add the bean. Place over medium heat and bring to a boil, whisking occasionally. Remove from the heat.
3. Whisking constantly, whisk about one-third of the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture. Pour the combined mixtures into the hot milk mixture, whisk to combine, and return to medium-low heat. Cook, whisking constantly to keep the mixture from sticking and burning. Just before the mixture comes to a boil, it should thicken enough to coat the back of a spoon. As soon as the mixture boils, lower the heat slightly and continue to whisk for another 2 minutes to cook out the raw taste of the cornstarch and allow the flavors to mellow.
4. Remove from the heat and strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean bowl. Cover with plastic film, pressing it directly on the surface to keep a skin from forming, and let cool to room temperature.
5. Place the chocolate in the top half of a double boiler. Place over (not touching) gently simmering water in the bottom pan and heat, stirring occasionally, until completely melted. Using a rubber spatula, fold the hot chocolate into the cooled pastry cream. Cover with a piece of plastic film until ready to use. If not using immediately, refrigerate for up to 24 hours.

Third, make the Cake:
Ingredients
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons whole milk
2 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/3 cup cake flour
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

Procedure
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a 15 1/2–by—10 1/2—by 1—inch baking sheet (jelly-roll or quarter sheet pan) with parchment paper and grease it.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whip, combine the whole eggs, egg yolks, 1/3 cup of the sugar, and the milk and beat on medium-high speed for about 6 minutes, or until the mixture is very light and has tripled in volume.
3. Place the egg whites in a bowl and, using a handheld mixer, whip on medium speed until foamy. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar a tablespoon at a time and continue to beat. When the sugar has been incorporated, raise the speed to medium-high and whip for about 5 minutes, or until stiff, but not dry, peaks form.
4. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold about half of the whole egg mixture into the egg whites. When almost incorporated, fold in the remaining half, taking care not do deflate the batter.
5. Place the flour in a fine-mesh sieve and, tapping on the side of the sieve, sift the flour over the meringue batter. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the flour into the batter, making sure the spatula reaches to the bottom of the bowl to ensure an even mixture.
6. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, and use an offset spatula to spread it evenly. Don’t press down too hard, or the pressure will cause the batter to deflate.
7. Place the confections’ sugar in a fine-mesh sieve and, tapping on the side of the sieve, sift the sugar evenly over the surface of the batter.
8. Bake for about 5 minutes, or until the cake just begins to brown on the edges. Remove from the oven and immediately run a paring knife around the inside edge of the pan to loosen the cake sides. Place a sheet of parchment paper over the top of the cake, and then invert a cookie sheet over the parchment. Immediately invert the cake and the cookie sheet together, then lift off the baking sheet. Peel the parchment paper off the cake. Let cool completely.

While the cake cools, make the Coffee Buttercream:
-makes about 3 cups-
Ingredients
3 large egg yolks, at room temperature
1 large whole egg, at room temperature
Scant 1 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1 tbsp instant espresso
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks), at room temperature, cubed

Procedure
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whip, combine the egg yolks and whole egg and beat on medium-high speed for about 7 minutes, or until tripled in volume and very thick, light, and airy.
2. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the sugar and water. Clip a thermometer to the side of the pan, place the pan over medium-high heat, and bring to a boil. Boil for about 12 minutes, or until the mixture registers 250 degrees F. When the sugar syrup is ready, remove it from the heat. With the mixer on low speed, carefully pour the hot syrup between the ship and the side of the bowl, taking care not to hit the whip as you pour, or the hot syrup will spatter and burn you.  Add the instant espresso. Beat on medium-high speed for about 3 minutes, or until the outside of the bowl is warm but not hot and the mixture is slightly cool.
3. Add the butter and continue to whip on medium speed for a couple of minutes, or until the butter is incorporated. Raise the speed to medium-high and beat for about 10 minutes, or until thick, smooth, and shiny, and well emulsified.  Be careful not to overbeat, or the buttercream will be grainy.
4. Use immediately, or cover tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

To make the mushrooms, you will need about 3 ounces of almond paste or marzipan, and a few teaspoons of cocoa powder.  Roll a few pieces of marzipan into a ball, then press a small indentation into one side (this will be the mushroom cap).  Roll a few other pieces into cylinders for the stems.  Press the stem into the indentation, then dust with cocoa powder.  Repeat for as many mushrooms as desired.

To put it all together:
1. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Place the cake on a clean, flat work surface with a long side facing you.
2. Drizzle the Kahlua syrup evenly over the cake, using just enough to moisten but not soak the cake.
3. Spoon the pastry cream on top of the cake and, using an offset spatula, carefully spread the cream evenly over the cake, taking care to spread it evenly up to the edges.
4. Starting at the long end farthest from you, slip your fingers between the parchment and the cake and begin rolling the cake toward you, up and over the pastry cream, until you have a firm log shape, or roulade.
5. Carefully transfer the roulade, seam side down, to the prepared cookie sheet. Cover with plastic film and refrigerate for at least 4 hours to allow the roulade to set.
6. Transfer the roulade to a serving platter. Using a serrated knife, cut a 1 1/2—inch—thick slice from one ends of the roll. This will be used to form a “gnarl” on the finished log.  If your log is too long to fit on your platter, cut a 5″ pice on a diagonal, and use it to form a branch off the longer piece.
7. Using an offset spatula, generously coat the entire log with all but about 1 cup of the buttercream, spreading from left to right in long streaks. Place the reserved slice on top of the log,  a little off center. Pull a fork or cake comb through the buttercream on the cake so that it resembles tree bark. Place in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes to allow the buttercream to set.
8. Remove the cake from the refrigerator. Dust the cake with a little cocoa powder. Arrange the mushrooms around the cake.



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