If you take dark chocolate, coffee ice cubes and milk, throw it into a Vita-Mix and hit ‘high,’ is there any possible way that you can go wrong? If so, we don’t want to know.
Watch Brandi combine all this rightness into a delicious smoothie and then treat herself to a smoothie + Espresso Chocolate Cake Truffle breakfast.
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/4 cup powdered milk
- 1 oz Monin Dark Chocolate sauce
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon Monin Vanilla syrup
- 2 cups coffee ice cubes (we used Velton’s Twlight Blend — claro!)
- Coffee ice cubes: Brew a pot of your favorite coffee and pour into an ice cube tray, freeze until frozen solid.
- Combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend about 30 seconds, or until 4 peaks appear in the blender. Be careful not to over blend.
Last weekend, we had wonderfully unseasonable warm and sunny weather which almost made us think summer was quick upon us! And then April returned in all her damp glory. So even though the days are getting longer in the Pacific Northwest, we’re still looking for something cozy to warm us up a bit. This yummy white chocolate cocoa is just the ticket!
- 1/2 oz Monin Almond syrup
- 1/2 oz Monin Coconut syrup
- 1 oz Monin White Chocolate sauce
- 14 oz steamed milk
Combine the syrups and sauces together, mix well. Top with steamed milk and stir to incorporate.
It doesn’t take much to amuse us ’round these parts. So even though our Irish-themed offering is a couple weeks late, we had fun with it anyway!
Watch Brandi craft a delicious drink, paired with an even more delicious batch of Kaylie’s (Not Quite) Irish Blondies. Mmmmmmmmmp!
- 1 oz Monin Irish Cream syrup
- 1 oz Irish whiskey of your choice
- 16 oz brewed drip coffee (you know it’s gotta be Velton’s Twilight!)
- Whipped cream
- Combine syrup and whiskey together in a large mug.
- Add drip coffee and give it a stir to incorporate it well.
- Top with a carefully-placed dollop of freshly whipped cream.
As you walk into your local cafe and notice a 3-year-old sitting in the corner with his mother sipping on what looks like a foamy, velvety cappuccino, don’t doubt your vision: That’s exactly what it is. And because its a fad it’s gotta have a cutesy amalgam of a name, right? Yup — it’s called the Babyccino.
Beginning in Australia about a decade ago, the Babyccino craze recently headed to Great Britain and then leapt across the pond to the eastern US. According to The Brooklyn Paper, the term Babyccino is used to ‘describe a macchiato-like beverage featuring a shot of decaf espresso topped with steamed milk and froth, while others use it to describe steamed milk with foam on top and a touch of cinnamon.’
Surprisingly we haven’t seen this oh so popular trend pop up in every cafe in the west coast quite yet, but many east coast cafes have jumped on the bandwagon and put their own twist to these trendy miniature sized drinks. Running at about $2 for a cup, the price may seem a little steep until you consider the peace of mind provided to mothers everywhere, who can finally furnish their toddler with a drink just like mommy’s.
However, even though they’re cute in size and are said to be kid friendly, not everyone is a big fan of them. ‘There is no reason on earth to have these drinks and introduce caffeine to a younger population,’ said TODAY chief medical editor Dr. Nancy Snyderman.
While some may look at the health factors caffeine could cause in children, baristas themselves are affected by the new trend also. Many explain how the increase of children will affect the coffee shop community negatively. ‘Some baristas do not want to cater that much to kids,’ states a blog on roaste.com. ‘On the one hand, kids are good from some businesses, but if the noise becomes a factor, the home workers and students might take their laptops elsewhere.’
But other New York cafes, such as Sit and Wonder, cater to their Babyccino fans by outfitting their joints with changing stations in the bathroom and a backyard with toys for kids to play. Others, like the Tea Lounge, even offer stroller parking and designated areas for mothers to breastfeed their babies.
We say to each their own; who are we to say what’s right or wrong for a child we’re not rearing? And who’s to say that Babyccinos are only for kids? Bring out the inner child in you and enjoy a few sprinkles with your drink! Also, do you really want to deprive Ruby of her sprinkles on her Babyccino?!
If there is one thing I have learned over the last few weeks, it is that coffee and chocolate were meant for each other. I should have known. After all, who doesn’t love a good mocha? And chocolate covered coffee beans? Delicious!
So, when Brandi came to me with a recipe idea that would add a twist to this classic combo, I couldn’t resist!
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 3 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
- 2 shots of espresso vodka
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese, softened
- 3 eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
- 6 tablespoons whipping cream
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 shot of espresso vodka
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees
- Place the 3 ounces of chocolate in a large mixing bowl
- In a smaller mixing bowl, melt butter in the microwave
- Pour butter over chocolate and let sit 30 seconds before stirring until all chocolate is melted
- Sift in sugar and cocoa, mixing until incorporated
- Using a wooden spoon, mix in mascarpone, eggs, vanilla and espresso vodka until smooth
- Mix in flour and salt
- Pour batter into a greased pan (use an 8×8 pan for thicker brownies or an 11×7 pan for thinner brownies)
- Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean (*Note: If you use a larger pan for thinner brownies, it may only take around 30 minutes for them to finish baking, so keep a close eye on them!)
- Place pan on wire cooling rack
While the brownies are cooling, we’ll make our ganache!
- Place chocolate in a mixing bowl
- In a small saucepan, bring cream and butter to just below boiling over medium heat
- Pour over the chocolate and add the espresso vodka
- Let sit 30 seconds, then stir until smooth
- Pour the ganache over brownies, using a spatula to evenly distribute
- Let sit, uncovered, until completely cooled or place in refrigerator to speed up the process
- Once ganache is firm, cut brownies and store as you normally would
1. Mascarpone can be hard to find and kind of expensive. You can always use this mascarpone substitute recipe, which is what I did. Halve the recipe and you’ll get just enough for the 1/2 cup!
2. You can buy espresso vodka, but who would want to do that when you can make it? If you can hold out a couple of days, check in on Thursday to get Brandi’s espresso vodka recipe. Trust me, it’s totally worth it!
With all of that out of the way, I can finally tell you that these are very good. A little dense, definitely rich and well worth the extra effort this recipe requires!
Ever since we paired Kaylie’s love for baking with Brandi’s love for brewin’, we’ve had no shortage of sweet and lovely treats around this joint. This week, Kaylie took on cupcakes! You can check out her play-by-play, then watch Brandi whip up a batch of the super-delish Hazelnut Cream Cheese Frosting that we topped them with. It took every ounce of restraint we had not to rub it all over our body! We’re sure you can empathize.
- 4 oz cream cheese
- 4 oz butter
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 3 oz Monin Hazelnut syrup
- Allow butter & cream cheese to soften to room temperature.
- In a blender, combine butter and cream cheese and blend well.
- Add the powdered sugar while blender is still running.
- Slowly drizzle in the 3 oz of syrup and blend until smooth and creamy.
After last week’s recipe, where I semi-deliberately didn’t follow instructions and ended up with slightly less than perfect Espresso Meringues, I decided that I needed to take a step back and make something super easy.
The result? Chocolate Espresso Cupcakes, courtesy of a boxed cake mix. Like I said, super easy!
- Chocolate cake mix
- 3/4 cup brewed espresso (I used Caffe Umbria’s Terra Sana Blend)
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 3 eggs
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F
- Beat cake mix, espresso, water, oil and eggs on low speed with mixer for 30 seconds
- Kick the mixer up to medium for about 2 minutes, scraping sides of bowl occasionally
- Spoon mix into cupcake wrappers, filling about 2/3 full
- Bake in oven 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean
- Let cool on a wire rack before frosting
This time, I used 60% espresso and, while it was definitely noticeable in the batter, it seemed to lose a lot of its taste after baking. Next time I make it, I’ll use only espresso (‘Look ma, no water!’) and see what happens. I’m thinking deliciousness!
The cupcakes turned out yummy and, if I do say so myself, quite pretty! To top it off, they were frosted with Hazelnut Cream Cheese Frosting. I know you want the recipe, so check in on Thursday to see Brandi whip some up!
So, the first recipe I wanted to tackle was Espresso Infused Meringue Cookies from the Happy Good Times Blog. I think now would be the appropriate time to point out that these meringues didn’t turn out how I think they were supposed to. They were still good (seriously!), but I think I lack the necessary skills to create this lovechild of baked goods and candy. Also, I may or may not follow directions well…
- 3 large egg whites at room temperature
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- Pinch of salt
- 3/4 cup white granulated sugar
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoon finely ground espresso or coffee beans (we used Velton’s Twilight Blend)
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla (I used powdered, but I don’t think that’s necessary)
- Allow whites to come to room temperature (about 20 minutes)
- Clean and dry your mixing bowl
- Line baking sheet with parchment paper
- Pre-heat oven to 275 degrees F
- Stir together sugar, espresso grounds and vanilla – set aside
- Using a mixer, beat whites on low speed until foamy
- Sprinkle cream of tartar and salt over foamy whites
- Increase mixer speed to medium, and beat until medium peaks form
- Increase mixer speed to high, and add sugar mixture one tablespoon at a time
- When stiff, glossy peak form, spoon meringue onto your prepared baking sheet
- Bake for 60-70 minutes in the top third of your oven
- Allow to cool completely on the baking sheet
- Store in an air-tight container for about 3 days.
After reading through that, and seeing my pictures, you may have a couple of questions. Questions like: ‘Kaylie, did you use bottled egg whites instead of fresh ones?’ or ‘That sounds like a lot of meringue mixture; did you double the recipe?’ The answer to both of those questions is yes, that is exactly what I did! Remember what I said about not following directions? Well, it’s not that I don’t follow them so much as I try to take shortcuts. Shortcuts which may or may not ruin the finished product.
How so? Well, the meringues were very delicate on the outside and soft on the inside. Not fluffy soft, more like ‘too heavy to rise so it sunk to the bottom’ soft. The result? Something like hollow egg shells that were nearly impossible to keep intact while removing them from the baking sheet.
The crew here at Seattle Coffee Gear still ate them, cutting the sweetness with an iced latte (courtesy of Brandi). I just wish they had turned out pretty and delicious. If there are any readers with mad meringue-making skills, please let me know what I did wrong! I’d love to try these again and have them turn out. In the meantime, I will just need to redeem myself with next week’s recipe … Wish me luck.
Who would’ve thought that the fountain of youth could be found right in your very own kitchen — and right under your nose? Your morning cup of coffee provides more than just a kick in the pants to get going in the morning, it also has positive affects on your noodle!
Studies have shown that drinking at least three to five cups of coffee a day in midlife can cut Alzheimer’s risk 65 percent in late life.
A July 2011 study by researchers at the University of Florida found that ‘coffee seems to have an unidentified ingredient that combines with caffeine to reduce brain levels of beta-amyloid — the abnormal protein that is thought to cause the disease,’ published the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.
In early studies, USF researchers believed that caffeine was probably the ingredient that provides protection because it decreases brain production of beta-amyloid. However, the same study also claims that it may not be the caffeine itself but a combination of the caffeine and coffee’s compounds that, when combined, increases blood levels of a growth factor called GCSF (granulocyte colony stimulating factor). Alzheimer patients are known to have low levels of GCSF.
In their studies, long term treatment with coffee enhanced levels of GCSF and memory in mice with Alzheimer’s. Three key benefits researchers found were:
- GCSF recruits stem cells from bone marrow to enter the brain and remove the harmful beta-amyloid protein that initiates the disease
- GSCF creates new connections between brain cells
- GCSF increases the birth of new neurons in the brain
While this has only been tested and verified on mice, it does demonstrate that coffee can have a strong impact on the progression of Alzheimer’s, to the extent that it’s worth more study. Dr. Chuanhai Cao, one of the study’s lead authors, said, ‘Together these actions appear to give coffee an amazing potential to protect against Alzheimer’s — but only if you drink moderate amounts of caffeinated coffee.’
But who’s to say adding those extra cups of coffee won’t give you a memory like an elephant when you’re in your 90s? Better safe than sorry.