Category: coffee

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!

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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¢

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

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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!

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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

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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.

Mochaccino? Mochachino? Mochalotive? Locomotive?

A couple of years ago, I acquired a book called Cupcakes by a woman named Susanna Tee. I’ve only made one recipe from that book, and I enjoyed it, but it was more muffin-y than cupcake-y (mainly because there was no frosting involved). It’s a small book, only around 80 pages with 30 recipes, but the photographs are lovely. I sort of use it as a “coffee table book” more than anything, because it’s a clean-looking book that doesn’t look too cookbook-ish.

I was hankering for a new recipe to make, and for some reason I wanted something with coffee. So I cracked open this book for the first time in over a year, and found “Mocha cupcakes with whipped cream” which sounded divine. However, instead of whipped cream, I decided to make that perfect frosting recipe I made a few times before once again, this time in plain vanilla.  It’s easy enough to make the whipped cream topping, though if you prefer it. Just take 1 cup whipping cream, and using a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, whisk it until it thickens and holds its shape. Ta-da! Upon seeing the name of the cakes in the book, I was reminded of the color I used to darken my hair a few months back, which was “Mocalotive.” Hence my confused-sounding post title. I decided to call them ‘mochaccino’ cupcakes because it reminded me of the drink.

A caffè mocha or café mocha[note 1] is a variant of a caffè latte. Like a latte, it is typically one third espresso and two thirds steamed milk, but a portion of chocolate is added, typically in the form of sweet cocoa powder, although many varieties use chocolate syrup. Mochas can contain dark or milk chocolate.

Like cappuccino, café mochas contain the well-known milk froth on top, although they are sometimes served with whipped cream instead. They are usually topped with a dusting of either cinnamon or cocoa powder. Marshmallows may also be added on top for flavor and decoration.

A variant is white café mocha, made with white chocolate instead of milk or dark. There are also variants of the drink that mix the two syrups; this mixture is referred to by several names, including black and white mocha, tan mocha, tuxedo mocha and zebra.

Café mocha takes its name from the Red Sea coastal town of Mocha, Yemen, which as far back as the fifteenth century was a dominant exporter of coffee, especially to areas around the Arabian Peninsula. These coffees had a notable chocolaty taste, and hence the term “mocha” was extended to mean intentional addition of chocolate to coffee.

This recipe was decidedly not muffin-ish at all. Moist, smooth and delicious. And don’t get me started on the frosting… holy crap… I’m not a religious person, but this frosting could make you believe in God. I do recommend going back to this post and reading the full commentary about the frosting if you’re planning on making it. It can be tempermental. Of course, it’s not as good as say, a Swiss or Italian meringue, but it is very good and very light. It has an almost whipped-creamy quality to it. Plus it’s a great option if you run out of confectioner’s sugar and/or aren’t quite as adept with the meringues, yet you want to impress with a “cooked” frosting.

I’ve made mocha cupcakes before, but they were different. Made differently, and with a different taste. Richer. These were lighter, and the honey added a nice touch. I bet if you use Golden Blossom honey, you’ll get a lovely orange-y touch to it.

MOCHACCINO CUPCAKES

Get this here shit:

  • 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • generous 3/8 cup superfine sugar*
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • scant 1 cup water
  • scant 1 5/8 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

And do this, bitches:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° degrees F.
  2. Put the espresso powder, honey, water, butter and sugar in a pan and heat gently, stirring until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and let simmer for 5 minutes. Pour into a heatproof bowl and let cool thoroughly.
  3. When the mixture has cooled, sift in the flour and cocoa. Dissolve the baking soda in the milk and add to the coffee mixture with the egg. Beat until smooth.
  4. Spoon the batter evenly into prepared muffin tins. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until well risen and firm to the touch. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
*I used regular granulated sugar.

PERFECT CUPCAKE FROSTING (courtesy of Our Best Bites)

First, get this:

  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk (whole milk is best)
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (NOT margarine!)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

And then yer gon’ do this:

  1. Whisk together the flour and the milk. Heat in a small sauce pan on medium heat.
  2. Whisk continuously until it starts to thicken. Let it cook, while stirring, until you can start to see the bottom of the pan. It should still be liquid-ish though. It’s okay if you have lumps, because we’re gonna strain those out right now. Place the mixture in a mesh strainer and stir with a rubber spatula to push it through.
  3. You should end up with a nice, smooth mixture. It’s almost like pudding before it’s set.
  4. Put this mixture in the fridge and let it cool completely, it’s fine if it stays in there long enough to get chilly, you just don’t want it warm at all. When it is chilled, you can move on to the following step.
  5. It an electric stand mixer, beat the butter and the sugar for a minute or two until well combined and fluffy. You’ll want to use the whisk attachment on a stand mixer, not the flat paddle. Then while beating, add in the thickened milk mixture and the vanilla. Beat to combine and then scrape down the sides. Don’t be scared. It’s going to look like a goopy mess and kind of lumpy and separated.
  6. But you just wait. It’s gonna blow your mind in a few minutes. Beat on med-high for 7-8 minutes. Yes, that long. I know it seems like forever, but that’s when the magic happens!
  7. After 7-8 minutes it will have transformed from that sloppy mess into something gorgeous, fluffy, and incredibly light and silky.

I filled these muffin cups about ¾ full, and they rose really nicely. I could’ve filled them more, actually. But it’s all good in the ‘hood. They looked so pretty before they were frosted- the tops were really smooth. And after they were frosted? Even prettier!

Aren’t they gorgeous? All that fluffy, creamy white frosting piled up like that.. yum. But that wasn’t enough for me. I wanted to make them a bit prettier. So… I got out my edible pearls and some ground cinnamon. Perfect.

If you’re not a fan of frosting, this is a frosting you have to try. Seriously. It’s so deliciously light, not too sweet at all. Just perfect. I insist you try it. And if you are a fan of frosting, you of course have to try it. It’s not cloying, sickly sweet or too thick like regular confectioner’s sugar buttercream can be. Like I said, it’s almost like a whipped cream in texture and flavor. I do recommend however that you use pure vanilla extract, not imitation. I still can’t believe a frosting made with flour can be this light and delicious. And this is such a fall-and-winter-like cupcake. Perfect for this time of year. I don’t know about you, but when doing my Christmas shopping or running errands, or even just when it starts to get chilly out, I like to grab a latte or a mocha latte, so this kind of cupcake really hits the spot for fall, or winter.

If you have coffee extract, you could make this frosting with a coffee flavor. Or you could just do the whipped cream topping, and make it more like a caffe mocha. Another option for decoration is to sprinkle it with chocolate shavings, cocoa powder or chocolate ganache as well- anything that would replicate a mochaccino. They would be super adorable in those silicone tea cups too! Times like this (and when I made my tea cupcakes) I wish I had those.

And look at the cutest freakin’ potholder EVER that Yoyo sent me:

Handmade by TOPSTITCH just for me! (sorry for the shitty photo quality)

Creepy chocolate stout cupcakes with white chocolate “funny bones.”

I wanted to say before I started this… Vic Mizzy, the writer of the Addams Family theme, passed away earlier this month on October 17th at the age of 93. So R.I.P., Vic! Your music will live on forever. “So get your witches shawl on, a broomstick you can crawl on, we’re gonna make a call on, the Addams Family… *snap snap*”


This year for Halloween (a.k.a. thebestholidayevar), I decided to actually make two batches of different cupcakes for the big day, mainly because my dad’s birthday is tomorrow, the 29th, so I needed more than just Halloween cupcakes. I had this chocolate stout cake recipe for a long time (thanks to Bon Appétit), and I’d been wondering what to do with it, I mean, I knew I’d probably convert it to cupcakes but I wasn’t sure what or when I’d make it for. It seemed perfect for my dad’s birthday because it has beer in it so it’s a manly cupcake (sorta), but yet  I needed to think about my Halloween cakery plans. So I thought maybe I could incorporate the remainder of the cakes in with my Halloween treats. It was when I was trying to figure out how to make them spooky that my mother showed me a recipe she found online for “Funny Bones.” Funny bones are basically mini-marshmallows stuck on the ends of pretzel sticks, then dunked in melted white chocolate to create little bones. Genius!

(By the way, if you haven’t seen my first batch, it was these ghost cupcakes)


So I made the cupcakes, and while they were cooling I made the bones. When I was making the bones I realized if I didn’t let the white chocolate get too liquidy, I could just mold the chocolate by hand instead of coating the pretzels and marshmallows, so that’s what I did. I’m gonna give the recipe for the funny bones here but I didn’t use it for mine. So I made those, popped them in the freezer to harden, and then put the little candy bones on half the cupcakes, along with my skeleton toppers that came with the liners. This way, I can use the other half as Birthday Beer Cupcakes for my dad (I just stuck some chocolate chips on top of those). This cake is made with stout, specifically chocolate stout, but I used cream stout. I used Samuel Adams Cream Stout, which is my new favorite (yes, more so than Guinness now). According to the website:

Samuel Adams® Cream Stout is a true cream stout, balancing body and sweetness with the natural spiciness of grain and hand selected English hops. Our Brewers use generous portions of roasted chocolate and caramel malts as well as unroasted barley to impart a fullness of body, a roasty malt character and rich, creamy head. Its dark mahogany color make it almost as easy on the eyes as it is on the palate.

It really is delicious.

So this cake recipe makes way more than two dozen cupcakes. I halved it, and half the recipe made 18 (I used 2 eggs).  I’m going to give the full recipe here. It’s absolutely delicious, but I seriously recommend buying the Samuel Adams Cream Stout to use for this, or another chocolate or cream stout. Guinness would totally work, as would any stout, but the cream/chocolate sweetness of the Sam Adams really makes the cake. Having a glass of the stout while eating the cake is amazing too. It’s great how they work together. Although I do really enjoy a few other stouts me & Jay have tried, like Rogue chocolate stout & Samuel Smith Imperial Stout, I just was able to get my hands on the Sam Adams stout. Otherwise, you can also use Sierra Nevada Porter or Sam Adams Honey Porter in this, and Brooklyn Brewery‘s Black Chocolate Stout would probably also be amazing.

It’d be really cute to drizzle some red food coloring on the tops, like blood. I didn’t have any left or else I would have. I used plain old chocolate buttercream, but vanilla would work well too. Especially a vanilla bean buttercream. Or, if you really wanna go all out with the stout theme, make a chocolate stout buttercream: instead of milk, add stout.

CHOCOLATE STOUT CAKE/CUPCAKES

Ingredients:

  • 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped*
  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 14 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 ¼ cups plus 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • ¾ cup chocolate stout
  • 2/3 cup freshly brewed strong coffee

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line muffin tins with liners and set aside.
  2. Placed chopped chocolate in a medium metal or heatproof bowl. Set bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water and stir until chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove bowl from over water and set aside.
  3. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl to blend. Set aside.
  4. Using electric mixer, beat butter and 1 ¼ cups sugar until fluffy and pale yellow, about 2 minutes. Add egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each. Beat in lukewarm melted chocolate, then stout and coffee. Beat flour mixture into chocolate mixture in two additions, just until incorporated.
  5. Using clean and dry beaters and a new clean bowl, beat egg whites and 3 tablespoons sugar in another medium bowl until stiff but not dry. Fold 1/3 of egg whites into cake batter to lighten, then fold in remaining egg whites in two additions.
  6. Divide batter between prepared muffin tins, filling each up about halfway. If making a cake, fill two buttered and floured 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 ½-inch-high sides with about 3 cups each, then smooth tops.
  7. Bake cupcakes for 20-25 minutes or until cake tester inserted comes out clean and tops spring back. Bake cakes for 30 minutes or until cake tester inserted comes out clean.

FUNNY BONES

Ingredients:

  • 36 pretzel sticks
  • 1 (12-ounce) package white chocolate chips
  • 72 mini marshmallows

Directions:

  1. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment or wax paper.
  2. Place the chips in a double boiler over just simmering water and melt, stirring frequently. As soon as the chips are just melted (there may even be a few solid ones left), remove the pan from the heat and remove the top section of the double  boiler so the chocolate’s temperature doesn’t keep rising.
  3. Stick marshmallows onto both ends of the pretzels, with the marshmallow’s flat sides parallel to the pretzel.
  4. Dip each pretzel in the chocolate and lift out with a fork, letting the excess drip back into the bowl. Lay the bones on the baking sheet and refrigerate for 30 minutes to harden the chocolate. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator or at a cool room temperature.

* I’d recommend using dark chocolate. I didn’t, but sorta wish I did. They’d have been more dramatic and Halloween-y looking.

For the half I used as my dad’s birthday cupcakes, I just put some chocolate chips on top.

Happy birthday, dad :)

..

I highly recommend this recipe, it’s phenomenal. And make sure you crack open a stout to drink with them, like I said it’s awesome. The liners and skull toppers are Wilton for Target.

If you’re looking for some other Halloween cupcake or treat inspiration, check out my Halloween archives here.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Chocolate covered Easter cupcakes, with banana flavored Italian meringue.

For Easter this year, I decided to make a cupcake I’ve been wanting to try for years and never did. Mainly because they seemed slightly time consuming (and I’m lazy), but also because I never have all the ingredients on hand; corn syrup, cream of tartar and 14 oz. bittersweet chocolate are rarely here all at once. Plus the 7 eggs required for these seemed a bit much. But coincedentally, recently they were all on hand, and because of Easter we had tons of eggs anyway, and I remembered this delicious recipe I found at the Barmy Baker’s website. I did something really cutesy and Easter-themed last year, and I didn’t want to do something like that again this year, but the chocolate covered meringue  on these did remind me of chocolate covered marshmallow Easter eggs and bunnies, so I thought they’d be a good choice. I don’t really do the religious thing, but I can’t resist a chocolate bunny. Or a real bunny, for that matter.

So these Hi-Hat cupcakes consist of a “frosting” made with meringue that is piped in circles. Each coil gets smaller as you go up, creating the look of a very high spiral. You can go up to 2″ high with this, if you have the patience. Then that is hardened in the fridge, and coated with a chocolate coating  that also hardens in the fridge, creating a hard “bonnet.” I made my meringue banana flavored, because I can. If you want banana extract, go get it. Banana + chocolate = yum.

My cupcake liners and toppers are by Wilton, because again… I’m lazy and making my own toppers is sometimes just too much for my lazy-ass self.

CHOCOLATE BLACKOUT CUPCAKES

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup cocoa powder (natural, not dutch-processed)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 4 ounces melted butter
  • 1 cup brewed coffee (I used instant espresso powder in one cup boiling water)
  • 3 large eggs

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Prepare 2 muffin tins by lining with 20 or 21 muffin liners.
  3. This is just like making a quick bread. Sift the dry ingredients together into a mixing bowl.
  4. Mix together the wet ingredients, Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until combined. This will be a fairly wet batter.
  5. Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin tins, filling until about a quarter of an inch from the top of the liner.
  6. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the cakes spring back when lightly pressed with a finger.
  7. Remove from oven, let cool in pan about 10 minutes and then finish cooling on a rack. Place the room temperature cupcakes in the refrigerator while you make the Italian meringue. These cupcakes (or cake if you make one from this recipe) do tend to taste better the next day after the flavors have all come together.

ITALIAN MERINGUE (adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours)

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup (4 egg’s worth) egg whites
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp corn syrup
  • ¾ tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tbsp pure vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Place the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer.
  2. Place the sugar, water and cream of tartar in a heavy bottomed saucepan with a candy thermometer placed on the side of the pan dipping into the mixture. Bring the mixture to 238F. When the sugar syrup is about 10 degrees away from 238F, begin whipping the egg whites to firm shiny peaks. If the whites get to this state before the syrup is at 235, turn your mixer to low speed and just let them keep moving.
  3. Once the syrup is at 235 and your egg whites are firm and pretty, Carefully and slowly pour the syrup into the egg whites with the mixer running on high speed. Don’t worry about any spatter on the sides of the bowl, it happens and won’t effect the final product.
  4. Add the vanilla extract and continue whipping the egg whites until they cool to room temperature (I also add about ½ tsp  salt, as I like my icing a bit salty with the sweet). Once the mixture is cool, scoop it into a pastry bag fitted with a large piping tip (or you can just use a plastic baggie with the corner cut off to pipe).
  5. Pipe coil mounds on top of the chilled cupcakes, mounding each high to form the marshmallow “hat”. Place the cupcakes in the refrigerator and make your chocolate coating.

CHOCOLATE COATING

Ingredients:

  • 14 ounces bittersweet chocolate (I used a 72%)
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil

Directions:

  1. Place chocolate and oil in the top of a double boiler (I just use a stainless steel bowl) and place over just simmering water and let sit about 5 minutes, then stir until chocolate is melted and you have a nice smooth dipping chocolate.
  2. Scrape the melted chocolate mixture into a deep container (one that is narrow and deep enough to dip the “hats” in). Dip your cupcakes in one at a time, allow excess to drip off and place the cupcakes on a rack over a sheet of parchment to catch the extra drips.

The worst part of these were letting them “set”, or harden in between steps. I’m an impatient person by nature, so that killed me. But otherwise it was much easier than I anticipated, and truly delicious. Actually… I had a problem with the meringue, but I worked it out. If this meringue doesn’t work for you, try looking around the internet, there may be a better one. Or use buttercream and tell everyone its meringue. Most people won’t know the friggin’ difference anyway.

That said, I wish you all a…

HAPPY

EASTER

&

HAPPY

PASSOVER!

Knitting & coffee… cupcakes.

In my ongoing quest to keep my audience entertained, I try and find interesting and unique cupcake (or cake, or dessert, really) ideas and images, aside from my own. I stumbled upon this a few months back and lost track of it, so luckily I’m good with a Google search…

Seriously? Seriously.

Knitting cupcakes! I love this: cupcakes and knitting are two of my favorite pastimes.  These delicious little cakes are topped with yarn made of … … *drumroll* …marzipan. And I said it like that because I know that you, just like I did when I first saw it, were probably trying to figure out how in the hell she did it. VeganYumYum‘s author, Lolo, gets genius credits from me for this. They’re perfectly executed and done so neatly. Lazy bakers like myself are in awe, Lolo.

As you can see from the above picture, I made some cupcakes myself tonight. As I think I’ve mentioned before, I’m lazy, so instead of making a total from scratch recipe this evening, I opted for one of my mother’s favorites: Cappuccino cupcakes. Taken from the Anne Byrn book, which is basically a book based on doctoring up cake mixes… but this time redone a little bit by me. I had the vanilla cake mix in the house, and plenty of coffee, and since the last time I made them I wasn’t quite 100% pleased with them… I figured I’d try it again.

See- last time I had some trouble with the chips sinking to the bottom. While people enjoyed that, and  most thought it was done on purpose (like a layered-cupcake kinda deal), I wasn’t too thrilled. So this time I omitted them completely.

Be gone with thee, chocolate chips! Put thyselves in a scone! Also, the batter last time was very watery. I’m thinking those two issues are related, and it was all probably because I omitted the pudding and used cake mix WITH pudding, which really isn’t the same thing. If you’re gonna make these, use the pudding or else you’ll end up with watery batter. Especially if you want to put the chips in.

I also did not make mocha buttercream frosting this time. I made chocolate buttercream frosting (recipe below), and drizzled chocolate on top. And for the ‘pièce de résistance’… coffee beans. Well, actually, espresso beans. Starbucks espresso beans. Why is that a pièce de résistance? No idea. I think I just really wanted to have an excuse to say pièce de résistance. At any rate these were different from my previous cappuccino cupcakes and very yummy. Although those were also yummy, these came out much better.

CAPPUCCINO CHIP CUPCAKES

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup water
  • 4 teaspoons instant coffee granules
  • 1 package (18.25 ounces) plain yellow cake mix
  • 1 package (3.4 ounces) vanilla instant pudding mix (* or use cake mix with pudding and eliminate this step)
  • ¾ cup whole milk
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips


Directions:

  1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 24 cupcake cups with paper liners. Set the pans aside.
  2. Place the water and instant coffee in a small glass liquid measuring cup and microwave on high power for 40 seconds. Remove and stir until the coffee is dissolved. Set it aside to cool for 5 minutes.
  3. Place the cake mix, pudding mix, milk, oil, eggs, and coffee in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low for 30 seconds. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes more, scraping down the sides again if needed. The batter should look thick and well combined. Fold in 1 cup of the chocolate chips. Spoon or scoop 1/3 cup batter into each lined cupcake cup, filling it three quarters of the way full. Place the pans in the oven.
  4. Bake the cupcakes until they spring back when lightly pressed with your finger. 18 to 20 minutes. Run a dinner knife around the edges of the cupcake liners, lift the cupcakes up from the bottom of the cups using the end of the knife, and pick them out of the cups carefully with your fingertips. Place them on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes before frosting.

CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM FROSTING

Get this stuff together:

  • 8 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 3 to 5 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

And then:

  1. Place the butter and cocoa powder in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed until the mixture is soft and well combined, 30 seconds.
  2. Stop the machine and add the confectioners’ sugar, 3 tablespoons of the milk, and the vanilla. Blend with the mixer on low speed until the sugar is incorporated, 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, 1 minute more.
  3. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons more milk if the frosting is too stiff.

Visually, I think these are up there among the most attractive cupcakes I’ve made yet.

I know there are tons of people who are all anti-cake mix, and I agree to an extent. But I can’t make the promise that I’ll never again touch a box of Duncan Hines or Betty Crocker. So I won’t. I love baking from scratch; it tastes better, and makes you feel better than if you just opened a box of dehydrated powders and mixed it with oil. However that doesn’t mean I’ll never make Frankenstein cupcakes (meaning, half-scratch, half-mix) like this again.