Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Mochaccino Cupcakes

In the past few years I started drinking coffee-like drinks. I say coffee-like because really, they were minty hot chocolates that had a splash of coffee. The mint, whipped cream, and general awesomeness covered up the coffee flavor. I always loved how coffee smelled, just not the taste. Anyway, the practice started when I moved out here to California and I was invited to join up with some fellow math teachers for Teacher Tuesday. Teacher Tuesday started out as a few of us meeting at Starbucks every Tuesday. It grew to quite a large group at one point and we decided that these "dates" needed to be preserved. As every teacher knows, to keep your sanity you need to get together with other teachers and "discuss" (read: bitch and moan) about the students, parents, administration, and general craziness of your day to day life. Only other teachers really understand. So, in order to preserve these precious "meetings" we came up with the name Coffee across the Curriculum, or CAC. We had added a few non-math teachers, so the "across" was legit. And it looked official on Excel calendars "CAC: 3:00-5:00", so anyone who saw the public calendars wouldn't try to schedule pesky parent meetings during our time.

So what started as a few teachers (and really, has ended up as only a few after it's peak years) is what started me on coffee. Back to that...

I eventually became aware that Peppermint Mochas have roughly 1,345 calories and 67 grams of fat. That might be a bit of an exaggeration, but not much. So I cut out the whipped cream (boo) and switched to skim milk (double boo, who actually LIKES blue milk anyway? And why is it blue??). Doing that shaved off 14 calories or so. So I decided to try REAL coffee. Hey, almost no calories, can still hang out with the cool teacher group. And I figured I'm probably have a fighting shot of liking it after all the years of mochas.

I was right! I like coffee. Real, coffee-flavored coffee. Now, don't get me wrong. A Peppermint Mocha will beat coffee any day, and I get one every few weeks and revel in it's awesomeness. But for day to day, just regular ol' joe is fine. And once a year, on my birthday, I get a full-fat, whipped cream version of my Peppermint Mocha and I smile for the rest of the day.

So, coffee-flavored cupcakes were last weeks treat! A pin off Pinterest that looked too pretty to pass up. Perfect flavor, the coffee cut the sweet of the frosting, generally yummy!
Mochaccino Cupcakes

3/4 cup butter
3 eggs
1 3/4 cups flour
1 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk (use whole)
1/2 cup STRONG coffee, cool
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla

1 cup butter, room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar
instant espresso + water

For cupcakes:
  • stir together flour, cocoa, baking soda and powder, and salt.
  • in a separate bowl combine milk and coffee
  • beat butter until fluffy, gradually add sugar. Add eggs one at a time. Add vanilla.
  • alternate flour mixture and coffee mixture, beat until just combined.
  • bake about 18 minutes at 350 degrees.
For frosting:
  • beat butter until fluffy. Add powdered sugar and coffee and beat until smooth.

  • The original recipe called for adding coffee to the frosting. I wasn't a fan of this idea. The amount of liquid it was asking for would mean a TON of powdered sugar to thicken it back up. I'm not afraid of powdered sugar but I usually put a POUND of it in my vanilla frosting and that doesn't have any liquid other than vanilla. So who knows what adding 3 Tablespoons of coffee would require. So, I made an espresso slurry of sorts. I added about a teaspoon of instant espresso to very hot water. Just enough water to dissolve the crystals. It came to about 2 teaspoons. I added that to the butter and sugar and although still a little sweet, a much better option than adding even more powdered sugar.
  • The recipe also called for chocolate chips to be added to the batter. I left those out. Chunks belong in muffins, not cupcakes. :)
  • The little cookies I have as toppers I found at Trader Joe's. Chocolate cream filled pillows and they are FABULOUS!
Slightly adapted from bhg.com.

Creamy Lemon Crumb Squares

I made these a few weeks back for some friends we had over to watch football. They were super easy to put together and very yummy. They weren't too tart, but that could be because I used Meyer lemons from my little backyard tree!

Creamy Lemon Crumb Squares

1 1/3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 stick butter, slightly soft
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup oats

1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed mil
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

For crust/crumb:
  • mix butter and brown sugar together
  • sift together flour, salt, and baking powder. Add oats.
  • press 1/2 of the mixture into the bottom of a 9x9 pan that is lined with parchment.

For filling:
  • mix together milk, juice, and zest. Spread over crust.
  • crumble the remaining crust/crumb mixture over the top. Don't press it down, just sprinkle it all over.
  • bake 20-ish minutes or until golden
  • cool for 30 minutes on the counter, then put in the refrigerator for a few hours to get completely cold.

Slightly adapted from The Pioneer Woman.

Notes: the only real change I made was to the pan size. The original recipe calls for an 8x11. I really thought there wouldn't be enough lemon filling if I had to spread it out and I think I was right. These weren't filling heavy but had the perfect amount of creamy lemon.