Category: coffee

Peanut butter affogato with dark chocolate covered espresso beans.

Peanut butter affogato- aka peanut butter ice cream drowned in coffee.

Even though it’s summer, it hasn’t been that warm, really. Not many days over 90° F, if any. Not that I’m complaining. Because it’s warm enough. And frankly, even being this cool it was too hot for ice cream, since every time I have it it starts to melt ASAP.

But it’s worth it. So I figured out the best way to have ice cream, and let it melt. As a matter of fact, it’s perfectly acceptable for it to melt: affogato.

Continue reading

Homemade Irish cream, ’cause why not?

Homemade Irish cream liqueur!

There’s been a lot of baking going on around here lately. I think I’ve put more milage on my new oven in the last 2 months than Jay’s put on his 2 year old car. So I wanted to do something easy that didn’t require doing a load in the dishwasher. And I decided to try this homemade Irish cream. Yes, Irish cream. A staple of the after-dinner drink, collaborator in the infamous “Irish car bomb” shot, and all-around delicious beverage.

Irish cream is a cream liqueur based on Irish whiskeycream, and other ingredients such as coffee, which can be served on its own or used in mixed drinks or as part of a shot or a whole shot. Irish cream is very popular in the United KingdomCanada, and the United States.

It is usually served on the rocks as a moderately strong beverage on its own, but is often mixed stronger by adding more whiskey or sometimes bourbon, which complements the Irish Whiskey used in production. Coffee liqueur such as Kahlúa and many caramel liqueurs are also used. Baileys is a common addition to White Russians, due to its creamy flavour.

Some recipes for Irish cream liqueur have been published, which use various combinations of Irish whiskey, cream, coffee (sometimes, and usually optional), sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk. Many have significantly less alcohol by volume than the commercial brands.

- Wikipedia

At first, I was skeptical. Obviously, we all know that Bailey’s Irish cream (or Carolan’s, or Molly’s, etc, etc) is made with cream & whiskey. But I couldn’t really believe it was that simple to just make it at home. If it was true, why wouldn’t people do it more often?

I think the answer lies with the people who buy instant pudding mix & gray-colored supermarket pickles.

Don’t get me wrong: there’s always a bottle or two of Irish cream in my house. I will probably always buy it. But at least now I know I can make it myself! I’ll never, ever run out. Plus it just makes a great gift!

Continue reading

I didn’t know what to call these, so how about ‘peppery orange ginger muffins’?

After a while, coming up with names for things gets old. And tiresome. And when I’m doing 600 million other things (like for example: painting 5 rooms, 1 ceiling & a hallway, refinishing hardwoods, installing new light fixtures, getting new appliances, redoing my bathroom- there’s literally NO walls just studs & insulation, and of course on top of all that figuring out what’s going on for Thanksgiving) I can’t really focus well enough to come up with a name thats either a) clever or b) makes sense.

See, there’s been a lot of work going on at the house. There are a lot of people working very hard- myself included. I need to have snacks & goodies on hand to feed the troops… or else they might revolt. And the revolt might include not finishing my house! So I try to throw together things that are unique and not just your average snack repeated over & over. Being that it’s been so chilly & windy, I thought a warm, spicy, gingery muffin would work. Then I’d post the recipe if they came out good. Which they definitely did.

Peppery orange ginger muffins. Or spiced orange ginger muffins with black pepper. Whatever they are, they're amazing!

So I just gave up.

Peppery orange ginger muffins it is!

They’re like gingerbread cake, but with orange to sweeten it up a little more. There are so many flavors going on in these, you’d think they’d be “messy” tasting, but they’re not. They’re right on target.

Side note: they came out so delicate & perfectly rounded. Not big or obnoxious or overflowing out of the pans. I don’t know why that is, but they’re good. And I guess it really doesn’t matter. So I eat two instead of one. Big deal.

Ginger muffins with orange zest, candied ginger & black pepper.

Continue reading

Spice up your life!

In just a few short days, February will have arrived. The winter is far from over, of course, but with February comes the new onslaught of holidays: Valentines Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, Passover, etc, etc, etc. Before you know it, websites & blogs will be proclaiming “SPRING!” while you look out your window & see 2 feet of snow or frost-covered cars.

Not me, however.

I am fully aware that there’s a lot of winter left to go, and that you need some warming up. As do I. So on this, my last post of January, I present you with the following: spice-infused milk.

It’s a goddamn revelation, I tell you. It’s the easiest thing in the world, and I’m sorry I never thought of it before. It’s genius. Leave it to Martha to come up with something so stupidly simple it makes you feel positively soft in the head for not thinking of it yourself. It’s basically the same concept behind flavored coffee creamers. Duuuuh.

Last week when I went to Mystic, CT, in a little shop called the Franklin General Store I found Dave’s Coffee Syrup. It’s basically an all-natural, preservative free version of Coffee Time syrup. The ingredients are simply cold brewed coffee & cane sugar; no high-fructose corn syrup or coffee flavor. It’s typically used to make “coffee milk”; a Rhode Island tradition, but there’s a tag on the label that encourages you to get creative with it. I bought the regular coffee syrup, Jay got the Madagascar vanilla coffee syrup. I decided that I wanted to use my infused milk with my new coffee syrup… and so I did. But first I tried it with a regular coffee.


SPICE-INFUSED MILK (via Martha Stewart Living, Dec. 2012)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • Spices of your choice; i.e. star anise, cardamom pods, cinnamon sticks, freshly grated ginger, vanilla, cloves, etc (see below for recipe ideas)
  • 16-oz. jar for storage

Directions:

  1. Heat the milk in a medium saucepan with the spices you choose, stirring just once or twice. Heat JUST UNTIL STEAMING.
  2. Cover pan and let the spices steep in the milk for 1 hour.
  3. Strain and reheat if necessary, or refrigerate in a jar (up to 3 days). Reheat gently before serving.

There are tons of ideas & possibilities here, and not just for coffee! For example:

OATMEAL: Infuse 2 cups milk with 3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, 1 cinnamon stick or the pod & seeds of half a vanilla bean. Add to oatmeal.

SWEDISH COFFEE: Steep 18 lightly crushed cardamom pods in 2 cups whole milk, add to coffee. Alternately or in conjunction, you can use 1 cinnamon stick or freshly grated nutmeg.

MEXICAN HOT CHOCOLATE: For a spicy Mexican-inspired cocoa, infuse 2 cups whole milk with 1 or 2 dried chiles (smoky chipotles or anchos), 1 cinnamon stick and the pod & seeds of 1 vanilla bean. Mix with cocoa.

INDIAN: Use 10 cardamom pods, a teaspoon of fennel seeds, 1 star anise petal and 1 cinnamon stick. Use with coffee or cocoa. This is also good over muesli or with oatmeal.

GROWN UP MILK PUNCH: Mix milk with 2 tablespoons caramel, 3 teaspoons maple syrup, half a vanilla bean (scraped), 2 pinches ground cinnamon. Cook as directed, let cool. Once cooled, mix with 2 shots of brandy in a cocktail shaker with ice. Strain before serving.

I made Swedish coffee milk, but I added half of a vanilla bean & a cinnamon stick to the cardamom. So maybe that wasn’t really a Swedish coffee, but I don’t care. It was delicious. I highly recommend it. Do whatever you want! Add whatever spices you like! Chiles, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, vanilla bean, Chinese 5-spice, etc. Go nuts.

And of course, what’s a Swedish coffee without a Swedish book?

DIY at it’s best: pumpkin spice latte’s at home.

;

My mom is one of those people for whom the arrival of the Pumpkin Spice Latte means autumn has officially started. Whether it’s the Starbucks version, Dunkin Donuts version, or in K-cup form… she’s a pumpkin coffee addict. So I was pretty psyched to see this on Pinterest. I pinned it just for her to see & make, but she recruited me to make it for her. Have I mentioned I’m a great daughter? Mind you, I don’t even particularly like pumpkin spice lattes myself. Yeah, I’ll maybe have one each season… but I’m by no means obsessed. I like my coffee straight, I’m not one for flavorings.

But if you too are one of those fanatical pumpkin latte people, I present to you something that quite possibly will save you a lot of money:

;

I think this is one of those “best hidden secrets on the web.” Because as many people there are who know about it, most of the people I know didn’t. But they should. ‘Cause it’s insanely easy to make and costs practically nothing. So thank you to Farmgirl Gourmet for her genius idea to create this! I never would’ve thought to put actual pumpkin in a latte- silly me. If you factor in the cost of all of this stuff, and divide it into how many lattes it’ll make, I guarantee you you’ll see a humongous savings, especially if you buy one every day.

Let’s break it down & see:

  1. 15 oz. can pureed pumpkin (Libby brand) – $1.79 – one can is enough for 7 1/2 batches – one batch costs roughly .25¢
  2. 1.12 oz. pumpkin pie spice (McCormick) – $5.99 – one container is enough for 13 1/2 batches – one batch costs roughly .44¢
  3. Quart of milk – $3.50 – one quart is enough for 2 batches – one batch costs $1.75
  4. 4 oz. pure vanilla extract (Rodelle) – $7.99 – one bottle is enough for 4 batches – one batch costs $1.99
  5. 4 lb. bag sugar (Domino) – $3.99 – one bag is enough for 74 batches – one batch costs .05¢

;

.25 + .44 + 1.75 + 1.99 + .05 = $4.48

;

Okay, so by that reasoning (and omitting the coffee price itself, because that’s too large of a range to even incorporate), each batch made at home (which makes anywhere from 2-4 lattes) costs $4.48. So each latte costs $2.24, or, if you’re more frugal with it and get 4 lattes out of each batch, $1.12. Now I’m bad at math, but if I did that correctly (and I hope I did, but I welcome any & all mathematical corrections) even factoring in the cost of coffee, you’re still way ahead of the game. WAY AHEAD. Even if you figure in the whipped cream you’re still good. And if you made your own pumpkin pie spice, it’d be even cheaper. Seriously! Look how much money that saves! And of course, all of that is assuming you use name brand products, and that you use each product just for the latte mix, which isn’t practical, because of course you’d be using at least the milk & sugar for other things, if not the vanilla too. Factor that in and you’re paying less because those are items you already have/use. So yup. Major savings, and major thanks to Farmgirl Gourmet for creating it …you can thank me for turning you on to it, too.

I mean… you’ll have all that pumpkin left over from the muffins, right? ‘Cause you bought those jumbo cans of it while it was on sale, right? Right. Although I’d never expect you to go shopping & not stop in to buy one at your favorite coffee shop. That’s just cruel.

PUMPKIN SPICE LATTE (directly from Farmgirl Gourmet)

Makes about 2 10-ounce lattes of pumpkin-y goodness

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 cups milk (any kind)
  • 4 tablespoons pumpkin puree (fresh or canned, doesn’t matter)
  • 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
  • 4 ounces (1/2 cup) strong black coffee, hot
  • whipped cream for topping

Directions:

  1. Put the first 5 ingredients in a medium saucepan. Over medium-high heat, bring the mixture almost to a boil, stirring almost constantly to prevent scorching also while making sure all the powdery stuff and sugar is dissolved and not stuck to the bottom.
  2. Put the hot mixture in a blender, and mix until it’s frothy, 2 minutes. Pour into a mug, about halfway (depending on the size of the mug). Gently and slowly pour the coffee in down the side of the mug so you don’t ruin the “froth.”
  3. Top with whipped cream, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, and drink!

;

I poured it into jars for storage in the fridge. How long they’ll last I don’t know, because my mother is having hers every day (and she already went through the original 2 jars and is on the second batch). She just takes out the jar, gives it a little shake, then pours out the amount she wants to use into a saucepan. Then she heats it up (very quickly!) and uses it right away. I will also say this: if you aren’t normally into these, you might want to give the homemade version a try. It’s probably a lot healthier than the fancy coffee chain ones, and you can personalize it & play around with it to suit you.

For the uber pumpkin experience, I highly recommend enjoying one of your new DIY lattes with one of these bad boys. You’re welcome.

Credit: Etsy user ExLibrisJournals

;

Grab a cold one.

A cold brewed coffee, that is.

I apologize for this not being a cupcake post, or any kind of edible post. It’s a drinkable recipe. I hope you still enjoy it!

I guarantee most of you have heard of cold brewed coffee by now. It’s the “latest trend” in coffee; a bandwagon I’ve avoided like the plague. But, like The Hunger Games, I caved in. Especially after reading about it’s ultimate deliciousness. The coffee, not The Hunger Games. Here’s a little background from our friend Wikipedia:

Cold brew or cold press refers to the process of steeping coffee grounds in room temperature water for an extended period. It is also sometimes referred to as Toddy coffee which is a trademarked cold brewing system.

The cold-press process requires grinding coffee beans at a relatively coarse setting (typically as fine as possible to still be filtered[1]) and soaking those grounds in cold water for a prolonged period of time, usually 12 hours or more. The grounds must be filtered out of the cold water after they have been steeped using a paper coffee filter, a fine metal sieve, or a French press. The result is a coffee concentrate that is often diluted with water or milk, and can be served hot, over ice, or blended with ice and other ingredients such as chocolate.

Cold brewed coffee naturally seems sweeter due to its lower acidity. Because the coffee beans in cold-press coffee never come into contact with heated water, the process of leaching flavor from the beans produces a different chemical profile than conventional brewing methods.[2]

Cold brew coffee is a type of iced coffee, but this latter term also refers to coffee that is brewed hot and then chilled.

Thanks to The Daily Beast & America’s Test Kitchen & some other websites, I learned the 411 on why I should be drinking cold brew. Less bitterness & acidity as well as reduced oil content are two of the pluses, as well as the fact that 90% of the flavor and the exact same amount of caffeine come through. That sold me. See, I love my coffee. And despite the fact that I add sugar & milk, I find a lot of it to have a gross bitterness. I’ve figured out exactly what brands I enjoy and thanks to my Keurig it’s made it way easier to avoid the highly acidic or bitter “bold” roasts. But when I brew my own ground coffee I do find that most of it is too bitter for me- like old diner coffee. Or worse yet: coffee that tastes like burned sludge. Ugh. Again, Keurig helps avoid that issue without resorting to instant coffee. But still. Another plus of a cold brew? It’s apparently way stronger than hot brewed coffee. So strong it has to be diluted. Sign me up! And get this:

[…] the flavor of cold-brewed coffee won’t change over time. Cold-brewed coffee has never been hot, so its chemistry doesn’t change as it cools. As soon as you filter out the grounds, you’ve got a stable solution. With temperature change comes change in taste, but because cold-brewed coffee eliminates most of that temperature change, flavor is locked in. In other words, your day-old cold-brew won’t taste stale like day-old coffee.

The Daily Beast

Again- sign me the hell up. Another benefit? All of that makes it the perfect type of coffee to use in baking or dessert-making. So the next time you’re making something like chocolate stout cupcakes, or bittersweet chocolate cupcakes, or mochacchino cupcakes… you’ve gotta brew up some of this to use.

After pouring the water into the grounds.

..

Cold brewed coffee takes much more time than hot, obviously. The main reason people even use hot brew is because it’s quick. That’s all. However, on the other side of the coin, cold brew takes more than 24 hours from start to finish. It’s a very easy process, but it takes quite a while to “brew.” And of course, it’s not hot. It’s room temperature, and you add ice cubes to it. So it’s more iced coffee than anything.

But I love me some ice coffee.

After waiting 10 minutes, stirring the grounds & waiting again.

And then… you wait. And while you wait, you write up the recipe. Because yes- they do sell cold brew coffee machines. But why do you have to buy one when you can use things you already own just as easily? And how much crap can we really cram in our kitchens anyway?

EASY COLD BREWED COFFEE

Ingredients:

  • 5 tablespoons ground coffee (preferably good quality & freshly ground)
  • 4 cups room temperature filtered water (I used Poland Spring because my tap water ain’t all that, even when filtered)
  • French Press, large Mason jar or other glass container
  • Coffee filters
  • Sieve

Directions:

  1. Put the grounds in a French Press. If you don’t have a French Press- get one. If you can’t run out and buy one right now, then put them in a large Mason jar or other large container (preferably glass).
  2. Pour the room temperature water over them. Wait 10 minutes. Don’t touch it for 10 minutes. Seriously.
  3. After 10 minutes, stir. I stirred somewhat vigorously, creating a mini-whirlpool. Then just walk away and leave it alone for another 10 minutes.
  4. Once the 10 minutes is up, cover it with plastic wrap (or the jar lid) and keep it at room temperature for 24 hours.
  5. Once the time is up, “press” the grounds (if using a French Press). Then place the sieve over a large glass measuring cup or glass bowl & place a coffee filter in it. Pour the coffee slowly into the filter. You might have to help push it through with a rubber spatula every now and then. If you’re not using a French Press, you’ll need to do this process two or more times. When it’s finished, dilute it with water at a 1:1 ratio (trust me on this- cold brewed coffee is STRONG). Remember when choosing your containers that you’ll end up with roughly 8 cups of coffee.
  6. Fill a glass with plenty of ice. Pour coffee in and enjoy!
Straining the coffee...

I’d recommend using a French Press for this. Not only does it make the filtering process easier, it’s just handy to have around. I love my French Press, and I don’t use it much anymore since getting my Keurig last year, only when I run out of K-cups, so I was excited to break it out again. Now it has a new job: making cold brew coffee!

Okay so for all you coffee drinkers that, like me, hate the acidic or bitter taste of most coffee… you’ll adore this method. You barely need sugar, seriously. I added it anyway because I like a little coffee with my sugar. But you really don’t need it. Especially if the only reason you take it isn’t so much for the taste/sweet tooth but just to cover the strength of the coffee. If you like the bitterness, you may not like this at all. Mainly because it really is much milder, tastier and sweeter. You really get a true coffee taste without any extra stuff or without an aftertaste. I kind of feel like this is the way coffee is supposed to be.

Just remember to store your cold brew in the fridge. And if you’re worried about diluting your brew with the melted water from ice cubes, pour some coffee in an ice cube tray and freeze it, then use those. And yeah, I drank mine in a jar. How else?

Bittersweet.

Well it feels really good to be back posting at Cooking the Books! It’s been FOREVER (or so it seems) but we’re back in the game. And with a great book! As I mentioned, A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg is our current pick, chosen by Jeanine. I got the book in mid-January and finished it by the beginning of February. It was very good, but bittersweet, so I thought it appropriate I start things off with a bittersweet chocolate cupcake recipe. What else would I make!?

Molly is a great writer because she writes in such a way that through her descriptions you really feel as though you’re there with her, eating cheese & drinking wine in Paris during happy days, or eating “Italian grotto eggs” with her and her ailing father in sadder days, which also were his last. But yet she did it without overly flowery language, it was all very accessible, which was what I liked about our past three books. I hate overly wordy foodies. Describing something is one thing, making it sound as good as it tastes is one thing. But really… when you use language people can’t relate to or talk about things people can’t relate to, it doesn’t make for a good read. Molly also has a blog, Orangette, which is an excellent read.

At any rate, I think everyone can relate to Molly’s book, whether you’ve lost someone close to you or not; and especially the highlighted parallels of food and love. So, without further ado… chocolate cupcakes with bittersweet glaze! I cross-posted this with Cooking the Books, because I had to. How the hell could I not post a cupcake recipe here…?

As you can see, I made some of mine look like Hostess cupcakes, just because that’s what they reminded me of. They aren’t filled with anything, though. I just thought it was a cute way of topping them off, since I had a tube of this laying around.

CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES WITH BITTERSWEET GLAZE

Ingredients:

  • 1 ounce semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • ½ cup hot brewed coffee
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¾ plus 1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • ½ cup well stirred WHOLE MILK yogurt (not non-fat or low-fat)
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 300° F. Line the wells of a standard-size muffin tin with paper liners.
  2. Put one ounce of the semisweet chocolate in a medium bowl with the hot coffee. Let stand, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is opaque and smooth.
  3. Meanwhile in another medium bowl, mix together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg until pale yellow, about 1 minute. Add the oil, yogurt, and vanilla, beating well. Gradually pour in the melted chocolate/coffee mixture, and beat thoroughly to combine. Add the dry ingredients all at once, and beat on low speed until the batter is just combined. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl and briefly stir to make sure all the dry ingredients are absorbed.
  5. Spoon the batter into the wells of the muffin tin, making sure that it is evenly distributed. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a cake tester/toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center of a cupcake. Transfer to a wire rack, and cool for 20 minutes, then -carefully: they’re tender! – removing the cupcakes. Allow them to cool completely before glazing.
  6. To make the glaze, melt the bittersweet chocolate in a metal or glass bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water. Stir frequently to prevent scorching. When the chocolate is completely smooth, it’s ready. Working with one cupcake at a time, spoon a teaspoonful of melted chocolate on top. Tilt and rotate the cupcake to coax the chocolate out to the edge. Alternatively, use a knife or icing spatula to spread the chocolate. The top of the cupcake should be covered.
  7. Set the cupcakes aside at room temperature until ready to serve. The chocolate glaze will firm up a bit and become matte.

Molly says she likes to eat them when cooled (and I do too), but you can totally eat them as soon as you glaze them. Although be warned- they’ll be messy!

I used Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder in the cupcakes, which makes them really dark, almost black. I should’ve bought a dark chocolate for the topping too, but I always underestimate the darkness of it and assume they’ll match. They never do.