Carbonated Coffee for Summer

Coffee Soda 6

When I saw this coffee soda on Man Made DIY a few weeks back I thought, ew, weird. But then I thought, welp, better try it. And so here we are. This is an interesting twist on iced coffee if you’re tired of the latte version.

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Man Made has a whole system for making special double-strong cold brewed coffee.

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But I wasn’t so picky, opting instead for just brewing my favourite espresso double strength and letting it cool before straining and chilling.

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The process is pretty simple: you have your chilled super-strong coffee, a large glass, some of your favourite fizzy water, an orange, and a vegetable peeler. And some ice, but that stayed in the freezer while I took this photo.

Coffee Soda 1

Fill your glass about half full with your cold coffee and plop in some ice cubes. You can sweeten the coffee if you wish (I keep a small jar of simple syrup in the fridge for this very purpose). Use the vegetable peeler to scrape up a good-sized chunk of orange peel.

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Top the glass off with soda water. Squeeze the peel over the beverage to get the orange oils in there.

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Then rub the oily peel around the edge of the glass before plopping it right into the coffee.

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And that’s it. It’s definitely different, but I think I like it. Give it a try and tell me what you think!

Coffee Soda 9

Pumpkin Spice Latte Mix

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There’s a joke going around that you can tell it’s fall on college campuses because all the undergraduate girls are dressed in yoga pants, wearing Ugg boots, and hefting pumpkin spice lattes.

Fall College Girl Uniform of Black Yoga Pants/leggings and Uggs with whatever kind of top
Photo borrowed with thanks from John Paul Sullivan

When I was in undergrad, yoga pants hadn’t yet become the lazy fashion statement they are today, Ugg was something you said when someone punched you in the stomach, and the pumpkin spice latte was just a twinkle in the eye of the corporate coffee giants.  In fact, I have only recently discovered the pumpkin spice latte.  AND IT’S AWESOME.  Still, you’d have to pay me quite a bit of money to wear yoga pants outside the house these days …

Anyway, if you think that makes me seem old, let me tell you more.  Back in the early nineties, when Starbucks was just starting to become trendy on the Canadian west coast, the latte was a new beverage to be reckoned with.  My mother and I taught ourselves how to make them, just to see if we could (you see where I get it from?).  We used one of these fantastic wee espresso pots.  Total old school.

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Now, I had not used my latte-making skills in over twenty years, until I was scrolling through my Feedly and came across Just a Smidgen’s Pumpkin Spice Latte Mix recipe.  Upon finding this I knew that I had to dust off my skills (and my coffee maker) and git ‘er done!  And if you’d like to grown-up-ify this recipe, try adding a bit of fall spirit!

The mix itself is super easy to concoct: stir together 4 tablespoons pumpkin pie purée (the plain stuff we keep on hand to feed to Gren), 3 tablespoons sugar (or the sweetener of your choice, adjusted to taste), 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (you can get My Baking Addiction’s recipe here), and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract.

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Shove that into a glass canning jar and chuck it in the fridge until you’re ready to use it.

Pumpkin Spice Latte 1

Now for the latte.  If you’ve got a fancy espresso machine with a fancy milk foamer/steamer, then by all means go ahead and use that sucker.  I don’t drink these things often enough to justify losing that much counter space to another machine, so I have my ancient espresso percolator, which is easy peasy to use.  Just fill the bottom section up with water.

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Then take the mesh cup and fill it with ground espresso.

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Then screw on the top piece.

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Plop it on the burner (if you’re using gas like me you’ll want to make the flames the same size as the bottom of the pot, else you may burn yourself horribly).

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For each latte you want to serve, plop 2/3 cup milk (your choice as to what kind) in your steamer or in a small pot.  Add in 1 heaping teaspoon of your pumpkin spice latte mix for each latte you are serving and whisk it in.

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Heat the milk until it’s steaming (don’t let it boil or you’ll get skin), whisking to keep it frothy (or use your fancy machine).

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Your espresso ready?  Good. Add a couple shots to your mug.  I’m feeling feisty so mine’s a double.

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Add in your pumpkiny milk.

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I’m not a huge fan of whipped cream on beverages, but if you want to get luxurious with this puppy you should add some to the top of this, sprinkled with a bit more pumpkin spice.  And that’s it!

**EDIT: And if you’re feeling adventurous, I’ve just discovered that it makes a great addition to your morning porridge!**

Espresso Cupcakes with Mocha Buttercream

Espresso Cupcakes

So here I was, trying to come up with a good morning cupcake for my Sweet Treats committee at work.  Everyone at the firm seems to need a bit of a caffeine kick in the morning, so I thought I would modify my espresso brownies into cupcake form.  Then I thought, what about a smooth mocha buttercream icing on top?  Yeah, that sounded good.

Espresso Cupcakes

And then, lo and behold, what did I find on the internet?  The exact recipe I wanted!  And I didn’t even have to make it up myself!  Score one for the lazy part of me and big thanks to Nam for cooking it up and writing it down.

Brew  up a pot of strong coffee and save 1 cup coffee for this recipe.  Do what you like with the rest (preferably drink it, or save it for iced coffee).

Preheat your oven to 350°F and line two muffin pans with cupcake cups.

In a large bowl, sift together 2 1/4 cups flour, 1 1/2 cups cocoa, 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder, and 2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda and set aside.

Espresso Cupcakes

Dissolve 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder in 1 cup coffee and set that aside.

Espresso Cupcakes

Clear the spider out of your stand mixer.  Apologize profusely to it as you send it on its merry way, but explain that despite its residency of nearly two weeks in your bowl, it does not qualify for squatters’ rights.  Then decide that, as you are doubling the recipe, the batter won’t fit in the mixer anyway, and opt for a larger bowl and a hand mixer.  Sorry, spider.

Espresso Cupcakes

In the bowl of the stand mixer, cream together 2/3 cup canola oil, 2 eggs, 1 1/4 cups buttermilk, and 1 teaspoon vanilla and beat until well combined.  Add in 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar and mix some more.

Espresso Cupcakes

Pour in the coffee and beat for another minute.

Espresso Cupcakes

Scrape down the sides of the bowl and slowly add in the dry ingredients, mixing until all the ingredients are incorporated.

Espresso Cupcakes

Using a spoon, fill the paper cups about two-thirds full.  Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the centre cupcake comes out clean.

Espresso Cupcakes

Let the cupcakes rest in the pan for about five minutes before removing them to a rack.  Remember that a super hot dropped cupcake will explode all over your floor, while a cooler cupcake will just bounce a bit.  That’s a handy fact to remember.

Espresso Cupcakes

Now for the luscious buttercream frosting.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (you know, like the one you just used), whip 10 tablespoons room temperature butter (which, by the way, is 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons butter) until it’s fluffy, light, and creamy. Add in 1/2 tablespoon cocoa powder and whip until combined.

Espresso Cupcakes

Slowly add in 3 tablespoons room temperature espresso (you can make this by following the instructions on your bottle of instant espresso powder).  As with most buttercreams, it will look a little curdled and gross at this point, but don’t you worry.

Espresso Cupcakes

A little bit at a time, add in 3-4 cups icing sugar.  You may need more or less, depending on the consistency you want, or the temperature outside, or a bunch of other variables.  Just go with what looks (and tastes) right to you.  Refrigerate the buttercream for at least ten minutes before using.

Espresso Cupcakes

Once the cupcakes have completely cooled and the frosting has chilled out a little, you can frost your cupcakes, or pipe on the frosting, if you wish.

Espresso Cupcakes

Garnish each cupcake with a dusting of cocoa powder (or some shaved chocolate) or a chocolate-covered espresso bean.

Espresso Cupcakes

Your coworkers will be appropriately wowed, especially once the caffeine kicks in.  Good morning to you, too!

Espresso Cupcakes

Chocolate Moose Cake

My siblings-in-law Rusty and Mags are arriving today for a couple of weeks.  It’s Rusty’s first time on a plane, so something tells me he’ll need some chocolate when he gets here.  And possibly booze.

I borrowed the actual cake recipe from here, but everything else I made up on my own.  Make sure you’ve got some time when you make this cake, or at least a list of other things to do.  There’s a lot of waiting around for things to cool.

First, you need a springform pan.  Mine here is 10 inches.  Anywhere around that size should be fine.  You see how it has a little lip on the bottom?

Well, flip that so the lip is facing down and lock it in place.

Now butter it like there’s no tomorrow, making sure to fill in all those wee squares, and then dust it with flour.  Knock out the excess and set that sucker aside.

Preheat your oven to 325°F.

In a large bowl, sift in and whisk together 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa, 1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda.

In a small bowl, whisk together 1 cup water and 3 large eggs.

Chop up about 8oz bittersweet or dark chocolate (or milk, if you prefer, it’s your cake — who am I to tell you what to do?).  Melt that in a double boiler with 3/4 cup butter.

Remove that from the heat and whisk in the egg mixture until it’s smooth and feels like pudding.

Then whisk all that chocolate goodness into the flour mixture and get out all the lumps.

Add in 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar and keep on whisking.  Make sure to rest your whisking hand often, as this is a very whisk-heavy recipe.  How many more times can I say “whisk”?

Pour that glop into your prepared springform pan.

Make sure to rap the pan on the counter to get out all those pesky air bubbles.

Bake for 75 to 90 minutes, until the cake is starting to pull away from the side of the pan and a wooden stick inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Cool the cake in the pan for 20 minutes, then remove the ring and let the cake cool completely, about an hour.  Once the cake is cool you can carefully remove it from the bottom of the pan.

At this point, I brushed the cake with the contents of a wee bottle (50mL) of Grand Marnier, an orange-flavoured liqueur, to keep the cake moist while it awaits the arrival of its consumers.

While your cake is cooking and cooling, you can work on your fondant covering.

We’re going to do a cocoa-mocha fondant today.  So, in the bowl of your mixer, plop in 3/4 cup butter, softened, 3/4 cup corn syrup, and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract.  Mix that until creamy, then add in 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa, 3 tablespoons instant espresso powder, and, slowly, so you don’t start an icing sugar mushroom cloud, about 5 cups icing sugar.

You may need to adjust the level of icing sugar until you get the appropriate doughy texture.  You can always knead in more icing sugar with your hands.  Set that aside.  Possibly in the fridge to firm up a little.

Now we’re going to make the decorating fondant.  In a clean bowl, mix together 1/4 cup softened butter, 1/4 cup lily white corn syrup (because otherwise it won’t turn out as light as you want it to), and 1 teaspoon almond extract.

Mix that until it’s creamy, then add in about 2 cups icing sugar and mix until doughy.  Set that aside.  Again, you can put it in the fridge.  Or next to an open window to catch the cold Newfoundland breeze.  Of course if you live anywhere else at this time of year you probably have your air conditioning on so you could always use that.

Normally, you would create a buttercream icing to go under your fondant, a nice solid glue to hold everything together.  But since when do I obey the rules?  We’re going to go with a ganâche, and that’s all there is to it.

Chop up another 8oz chocolate (your choice, of course), and melt that in a double boiler.

When it’s completely melted, whisk in 2 cups whipping cream until smooth.  Chuck that in the fridge to let it cool completely and thicken.  Stir it around every once in a while.

As this cake is a welcome-to-Newfoundland dessert for my siblings-in-law, I thought I would put a moose on the cake.  The moose, in case you didn’t know, was introduced as a hunting species to Newfoundland at the end of the 19th century and, having no natural predators other than man (because introducing species to island ecosystems is a bad idea), has proliferated and is now one of the province’s biggest pests, wreaking havoc on people’s gardens within the city and accounting for high numbers of traffic fatalities for those unfortunate (or stupid) enough to drive across the island at night.  The moose is an extremely dangerous animal, for all its vegetarian-ness, but Newfoundlanders have adopted the moose as a cute symbol of what makes Newfoundlanders a bit different than everyone else.

What I’m saying is that it’s entirely appropriate to put a moose on your cake when you live in Newfoundland.

I printed out a stencil of a moose from the internet and cut it out.  I rolled out the white fondant onto a piece of waxed paper and laid my stencil on top.

I traced the outline of the stencil with a thin, sharp knife.

Then I peeled away the excess fondant.

And thar be me moose.  I set that aside to dry a little.

When your ganâche is cooled and thickened, you can slather it on your cake.

Like that.  Holy crap does that ever look good.  Chill that in the fridge to let the ganâche set a bit more while you roll out your coffee fondant.

The Pie and I used a rolling pin to ease the fondant onto the cake.  Because the ganâche is soft and squidgy it didn’t provide a very good base for the fondant and so you can see we have some cracks.  But we’re okay with that.  Plus the moose will cover up the worst of it.  For more information on dealing with fondant, check out my Raspberry Trifle Cake experiment.

Trim the excess fondant from the bottom and smooth the sides.

Lay that moose on down on top of the cake and smooth it down as well.

We used Cadbury’s chocolate covered raisins (like Glossette’s) as “moose poop” around the edges of the cake at the bottom.  And of course one big one, just behind the moose in question.

Keep this cake in the fridge to firm up the fondant and to keep the ganâche from spoiling.  Once you have cut into it make sure to keep it covered with plastic wrap, and eat it within a few days.

Espresso Cookies

Miss Awesome and P-with-an-E served these to us with tea after one of those long Sunday lunches that you don’t think about leaving until it’s nearly dark and you have to figure out how you’re going to eat dinner.

Yes, I know, we’ve done the whole espresso deal with our espresso brownies, but who says you can’t make a cookie out of everything?  I had to modify the recipe a bit as it involved using a pre-mixed chocolate chip cookie dough as a base, but I think the result is quite good.  And I will pass on Miss Awesome’s warning: DO NOT EAT AT BEDTIME!

Preheat your oven to 375°F and cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Whisk together in a medium-sized bowl:

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3 tablespoons instant espresso powder

1 tablespoon ground coffee

What I like about mixing dark powders with light powders is that I can easily see how well I’ve mixed the coffee in, so the logic is that if the coffee is well blended then so is the stuff I can’t see, like the baking soda.  Of course, if you shoot it in macro, you can see EVERYTHING.

In a large bowl, cream together

1/2 cup butter, softened (That divot is because I stuck my finger in it to check if it was soft.  It was.)

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

Crack in and blend well

1 large egg

Stir into that

1/4 cup Kahlua

Stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture and blend well.

Add in

3/4 cup chopped pecans

1 cup chocolate chips

And because we need a chocolate chip extreme closeup:

Use a tablespoon to plop your dough onto the baking sheet.  Space them out as best you can because they will spread quite a bit.

Bake the cookies for 9-12 minutes and leave them on the pan for another five minutes before removing them to a wire rack to cool completely.Then you can eat them.  Or just look at them.  Or whatever.