Chocolate Espresso Tiramisu

My friend Molly and I got along superbly as roommates, perhaps in part because we both loved food and enjoyed cooking. We still do. It’s no wonder that we’d cook at least once during my visit. Molly mentioned that she had made a Chocolate Espresso Tiramisu for a friend’s birthday. I love tiramisu, but I never make it at home since Alex doesn’t like coffee, so I promptly asked if we could make one while I was there.

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Espresso granita

After a cool spring, and a relatively mild June so far, St. Louis reached the mid-90s this week, and it’s warm again this weekend. It’s definitely summer now, and this heat is exactly the kind of weather that calls for a granita.

I made Espresso Granita when I went to visit my family late last month. Alex doesn’t drink coffee, and I thought a full batch of granita would be a bit much for me to eat alone. Besides, caffeine keeps me up at night if I have any during the day. Vacation was the ideal time to make it, since I’d have help eating it, no need to go to bed early, and warm Texas weather to make the dessert refreshing. Besides, the recipe is incredibly easy.

Espresso Granita
Espresso Granita

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Espresso Biscotti

I’ve heard biscotti are a great food to give as gift. I’ve never given them myself, but I loved receiving them once. Making biscotti as a food gift was likely what I had in my mind when I bookmarked the recipe for Espresso Biscotti, but I finally just decided I wanted to make them for myself.

You should definitely use an electric mixer to make these biscotti. There’s not a lot of moisture in biscotti dough, so you’ll need to whip the butter to get all the dry ingredients to come together properly. My stand mixer worked best at getting this dough together; a hand mixer will take a while.

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Espresso-Chocolate Chip Shortbread

While Alex was out of town, I decided to finally make Espresso-Chocolate Chip Shortbread. I feel guilty whenever I make something that I know Alex won’t like, because he can’t share in my excitement and enjoyment. When he’s out of town, this guilt is alleviated since he’s out having great meals I don’t have access to.

These shortbread cookies were amazingly simple to make, and tasted great. It’s really a shame I didn’t make them sooner. This recipe starts by mixing water with instant espresso powder, which is definitely worth the investment. This was the only brand I could find at Schnucks, where it was about $5.50, and it was worth the money (particularly given how much I bake). Continue reading Espresso-Chocolate Chip Shortbread

Coffee Liqueur Cookies

I decided to treat myself by making Coffee Liqueur Cookies. Alex doesn’t like things with coffee, so I cut the recipe in half because I certainly don’t need to eat a whole batch of cookies!

Coffee Liqueur Cookies
2/3 cup + 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar (5/6 cup)
1/3 cup butter
1/6 cup cooled coffee (40ml if you have a liquid measuring cup; otherwise, a little more than 2 1/2 tablespoons) (I used leftover cinnamon coffee from the morning)
2 tablespoons Kahlua or other coffee liqueur
1 egg
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, melted (melted this with a tablespoon of butter from above)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup + 6 tablespoons AP flour (1 3/8 cup)
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/8 teaspoon salt (I would cut this way back to 1/8, or omit completely)
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

Using an electric mixer, combine all ingredients through vanilla extract; beat on medium speed for 2-3 minutes. Add dry ingredients and mix on low speed until just combined. Using a small spoon, place heaping teaspoons of batter 2 inches apart on greased cookie sheets. The cookies really spread out as they bake. Bake 8-12 minutes (I baked them 8 minutes) in a 350F oven, rotating pan halfway through baking time if your oven cooks unevenly. Cool completely before frosting.

Coffee Frosting (Ingredients listed for 1/3 batch, and I’m not convinced you need it at all)
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons Kahlua
~1 tablespoon cooled coffee

Combine butter, powdered sugar, and Kahlua (I used my hand mixer). Beat in enough coffee to make frosting spreadable.

Kahlua cookies

I frosted half of the cookies. I’m not a frosting person, so I found the frosting made the cookies a little too sweet for me. It would have been better on harder cookies. I would have preferred a glaze on these softer cookies, so I might thin out the icing with more Kahlua or coffee next time, but frosting lovers will enjoy the frosted cookies.

The cookies themselves were tasty. I don’t like sweet and salty combinations, so if I make these again I will cut back on the salt (as listed above). The cookies distinctly tasted like Kahlua – as well they should, hence the name. The cookies were soft and tender, and I actually had a little trouble with them sticking to the Silpats, so I might try baking them 9 or 10 minutes next time, instead of just 8.

I liked these cookies, but it’s a bit much for me to even eat a half batch of them. If you like coffee liqueur, give these cookies a try. They’re not hard to make, and they’d be fun to share.

Coffee-Streusel Bundt Cake

I already told you about the Frozen Mochaccino and the Smoky Black Bean Soup, both of which took fair amounts of coffee as an ingredient. The one other recipe I made from this series was a Coffee-Streusel Bundt Cake. I loved the idea of a coffee-flavored coffee cake. I made this a few weeks ago, but just haven’t had a chance to write about it until now. I’ll try to recall the specifics for you.

I didn’t have espresso powder, unfortunately, but I instead substituted instant (decaf) coffee for it instead. I honestly don’t have the best quality instant coffee on hand at the moment – I picked it up to try to make a mocha hot cocoa mix, but chose decaf so I’d be able to drink it at night. I used 50% more instant coffee where espresso powder was called for. So, I used 3 tablespoons instant coffee in the streusel. I used yogurt instead of sour cream, and I did have white whole wheat flour that the recipe called for. White whole wheat flour definitely tastes different from regular all-purpose, but it’s not incredibly heavy like what you think of when you think of whole wheat bread. White whole wheat has a lighter yet healthy taste – perfect for a coffee cake you’d eat for breakfast.

The cake was easy to make. I made the streusel first and set it aside. I mixed together the dry ingredients, and combined the yogurt and vanilla in another bowl. I combined the butter, oil, and sugar with the hand mixer, then tossed in the eggs and egg white. I added the dry ingredients and yogurt in stages, alternating between each addition, starting and ending with the dry ingredients, and mixing on low only until the batter was just mixed together.

I poured half of the batter into a greased Bundt pan, then layered on the streusel, spreading it out to the edges. (I wouldn’t spread it out that far again – the streusel caramelized a little too much in contact with the pan, and smelled a little burnt as I baked the cake.) I topped the streusel with the rest of the batter, smoothing it out to the edges of the pan. I baked it at 350F for 50 minutes. I think it was done at the minimum time, but I can’t say that for sure.

I turned out the cake the next morning since it was late and I was taking it to work. I was unimpressed with the glaze, but I expected it to not turn out particularly well. The glaze was 1/2 cup powdered sugar and 1 teaspoon espresso powder mixed with 2 tablespoons water. I forget how much instant coffee I added; it may have been a half teaspoon, or it may have been a full teaspoon. Either way, I think it was too much. I’ll talk about how it tasted below. The real issue for me was that 2 tablespoons of liquid was way too much to add to 1/2 cup powdered sugar. At most, you should only use 1/2 – 1 tablespoon of liquid for that much powdered sugar. The glaze was incredibly runny, and just drizzled right off the cake. I nearly doubled the powdered sugar, and still wasn’t happy with it. I topped it with hazelnuts – very pretty.

Coffee-Streusel Bundt Cake

The cake was good. It was tender and moist from the yogurt, and the white whole wheat flour worked well in it. I’d never baked with hazelnuts before – they hazelnuts added interest to the coffee swirl through the cake, and were a pretty garnish.

The cake calls for 2 eggs and 2 egg whites, but I think that’s just to cut out whatever’s in the yolk – I think you could probably just use 3 whole eggs instead and not lose any texture. I wish I had had espresso powdered to use instead of instant coffee. The instant coffee worked okay in the streusel. Actually, I’m my own worst critic, so I take it back – I think it might have been a little bitter in the streusel, too.  Just use straight substitutions of instant coffee for instant espresso. It did make the glaze a little bitter – definitely save a little brewed coffee for the glaze, or only use a fraction of what it calls for.  Don’t take the streusel to the edges of the pan, since it scorches a little. I didn’t like the glaze for many reasons – instant coffee, the taste of powdered sugar (which always tastes off to me), and the runny consistency of it. Only use 1/4 to 1/2 of the liquid needed for the glaze if you want it to not be messy.

Everyone liked this cake, and it was good. Your experience would be better than mine if you use instant espresso powder (or some real coffee) and adapt the glaze. Give this a try if you want to give some coffee lovers a real treat.

Smoky Black Bean Soup

Today I was tired after lunch and needed to have a Diet Dr Pepper this afternoon. This reminds me that I haven’t told you about the black bean soup that I made with coffee that helped keep me wide-eyed and alert in the afternoons.

I love coffee. I drink it every morning, and not just so that I won’t have caffeine withdrawal. I like the flavor. I don’t make a ton of coffee-themed foods, mostly because Alex doesn’t like coffee, and there’s a limit to how much coffee I could reasonable consume and be able to sleep at night.

You might imagine that I was excited and intrigued when I found the recipe for Smoky Black Bean Soup. Much like with lentil soup, I’ve never made a black bean soup I’ve really liked. I’ve had a hard time deciding what black bean soup recipes I should try, but I could definitely get behind one that took 2 cups of coffee! Aside from coffee, the soup had a great combination of onion, garlic, red bell pepper, celery, jalapeno, and cumin.

I soaked my beans overnight, rather than doing a quick soak. I didn’t have the optional ham hock but wanted the flavor, so I decided to fry some bacon to add to it. I sauteed my vegetables in the bacon grease rather than olive oil to give it a little extra flavor. I added the rest of the ingredients (although I can’t remember if I added the bacon now or later) and simmered it for about an hour and a half. I added the salt (which you don’t want to add while you cook the beans because it will toughen the skins.) I used an immersion blender to puree the soup, and actually pureed it about all the way, instead of only pureeing half of the soup like I had meant to. I didn’t have any for dinner that night, but I packaged it up for lunch the next day. I omitted the sour cream garnish but included as much cilantro as I wanted.

This was a good soup. The house smelled smoky from the simmering coffee, and I’m sure Alex is glad that he missed being here for that. The smoky aspect of the coffee contributed to the earthy background flavor of the soup. I actually didn’t care much for the cilantro on the soup. Without the sour cream, I should have come up with something else to contrast with the soup. I wish I’d had a ham hock. It would be a good vegetarian soup, but I think that it would be amazing as a ham and black bean soup.

I would like to note that 2 cups of coffee is 16 ounces, and is actually closer to 3 servings of coffee than you might realize (since “cups of coffee” are actually 6 ounces). If you’re sensitive to caffeine, you’d definitely want to use decaf in this soup. I think that the extra half cup of coffee I had in each bowl of soup I ate was enough to keep me alert and focused in the afternoon (and is coincidentally, about the amount of caffeine in a can of soda). I’m glad I thought twice about having this soup for dinner, because it would have made it difficult for me to fall asleep at night.

I liked this soup. Without the sour cream garnish, it needed a little something else. I think that next time I’d include ham, and I wouldn’t blend it all. I’d also think about garnishing it with red bell peppers or a chunky salsa. I’ll probably try this soup again sometime – but if I’m going to have it for dinner, I’ll have to make it decaf.

Frozen Mochaccino

Eating Well magazine has a coffee section this month. I like coffee, so of course I was a little excited about this. I made a Smoky Black Bean Soup which took coffee (and which I’ll post about in a little soon – but I’d like to note that I can only eat it for lunch, not dinner, because of the caffeine), and while I was brewing coffee for that on Tuesday evening, I decided to go ahead and brew some double-strength coffee to make a Frozen Mochaccino over the weekend when I could appreciate the caffeine during the day and not worry about staying up all night.

First, you brew double-strength coffee and freeze it in ice trays, at least 4 hours or overnight. [Or from Tuesday until Sunday, as I did – but I had mine covered so that the freezer wouldn’t smell like coffee. As a side note, ice cubes don’t last forever; they lose definition and stick together if they’re in contact, especially if they’re made from coffee or broth or anything that’s not just water. At least, that’s been my experience. I think the ice cubes (and anything else frozen) just leach moisture from each other; think about freezer burn, or a freezer that needs defrosting.]

Once your coffee is frozen and you’re ready to make your drink, you blend the coffee ice cubes with milk, cocoa powder, honey (or maple syrup, as they call for), and a tiny bit of vanilla. I tried to do this in the Magic Bullet, but honestly, the largest cup they had was just a tiny bit too small. Milk froths up when blended. So I made a bit of a mess.

While I’m talking about things you should and shouldn’t do, I’d also like to note that freezing coffee as ice cubes is definitely what you should do. Freezing coffee in a container and then trying to hack it apart so it will fit in your blender is a little messy, and time-consuming. So don’t make that mistake.

Frozen Mochaccino

This was pretty tasty. I make iced coffees with leftover coffee sometimes during the summer, but double-strength coffee is definitely tastes better. It also compliments the chocolate flavor. I used 2 tablespoons of honey in this, and it was just sweet enough. I thought it was coffee-y, chocolatey, and rich, but if you like things on the sweet side, you might want a little more sweetener in this. This was simple to make, and although it takes a little forethought since you make the coffee ice cubes in advance, it doesn’t take long to prepare. I’m sure I’ll make it again, probably for a warm, summer weekend afternoon.

330: Mocha Hot Cocoa (BHG)

I decided to make the Mocha Hot Cocoa recipe from Better Homes and Gardens, but I originally left the coffee out of it so that Alex could enjoy it. I also planned on sending individual packets of homemade cocoa mix to my family for Christmas, and I decided it would be nicer for them to get mocha cocoa than plain old hot cocoa mix.

For the first batch I made a third of the recipe but left out the instant coffee. The second time I made it, I made the full recipe, including instant coffee. Both times I blended the ingredients (except chocolate chips) together in a blender, rather than mix them together by hand, because I feel like the mix dissolves better that way.

This was pretty decent, both with and without coffee. I forgot to add the chocolate chips to a cup I made of the regular cocoa batch, and it didn’t have the same satisfying mouthfeel without them. The cocoa is very drinkable and not too sweet, although the sweetness and richness of it could vary if you used richer or sweeter chocolate chips (I used generic ones). I’d make this cocoa again, as long as I remember to put chocolate chips in it.

103: Espresso Brownies

I find it very fitting that my Espresso Brownies are the final recipe that I made in April – another milestone recipe! My husband doesn’t like coffee, so I knew that I would need company to help me eat these. We had a friend come to stay with us last weekend and a crowd at a barbecue to feed, so I finally had my chance to make them!

The recipe for Jamaican Coffee Brownies said I could use espresso instead of the special coffee, so that’s exactly what I did. Very finely ground espresso goes in the rich brownie batter, and brewed espresso goes in the ganache on top. I normally don’t make frosting or ganache for brownies – I believe that a good brownie doesn’t need adornment – but I did for this recipe, since the ganache would add flavor (from the brew), rather than just add sweetness and moisture as frosting generally does. As I made these, I could tell that the brownie batter would be rich and delicious on its own because of its high cocoa content. I did add the pecans because I thought that such a rich brownie might need the contrast, but I made the mistake of grinding them in my magic bullet instead of chopping them by hand, so most of the pecans disappeared into the batter.

While the brownies baked, I made the ganache. I didn’t understand why I would need to simmer the espresso, so I didn’t bother with it. I’ll tell you why it should be simmered – the hot espresso on its own is not hot enough to melt all of the chocolate chips. My bowl wasn’t microwave-safe, so I had a few partially-melted chocolate chips that ended up on the brownies. I don’t think that it hurt it any. I didn’t bother with any crystallized ginger – coffee and chocolate was enough for me.

Espresso Brownies

These were really good. They definitely have a strong coffee flavor, so you have to love both coffee and dark chocolate to like these. These were very easy to make, if you have a coffee grinder and can make espresso/really strong coffee. The flavor is intense, so they’re not a brownie for the faint of heart! They were very moist and very rich. Our crew at the barbecue devoured them – they were much more popular than I had anticipated. I would definitely make these again if the right occasion arose.