Another Coffee Inspired Cupcake! Peppermint Mocha Cupcakes.

Source: http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2013/11/24/peppermint-mocha-cupcakes/

This coffee inspired cupcake theme is turning out to be a bad idea... I'm not normally a sweets kind of girl, but these cupcakes look so yummy!!   This one I think is a great idea for a Christmas time dessert but I like peppermint any time of year! 

Peppermint Mocha Cupcakes

1/2 c unsalted butter
2 oz semi-sweet baking chocolate
1 T instant coffee*
1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch processed)
3/4 c  flour
1/2 t baking soda
3/4 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 c granulated sugar
1/4 c  light brown sugar
1 t vanilla extract
1/2 t peppermint extract
1/2 c buttermilk

Peppermint Vanilla Frosting

1 c unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3-4 c confectioners' sugar
1/4 c heavy cream
1 t vanilla extract
1/4 t peppermint extract
dash of salt

Cupcake Decor

4 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate, melted
crushed candy canes

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Line a 12-cup cupcake/muffin pan with cupcake liners. Set aside.

Melt the butter and chocolate together in the microwave. Microwave in 30 second increments, stirring between each time. You may also melt the butter and chocolate over low heat on the stovetop. Stir until combined, then mix in the instant coffee. Set aside to slightly cool.

In a medium bowl, toss the cocoa powder, flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together until thoroughly combined. Set aside. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar, brown sugar, vanilla extract, and peppermint extract together until smooth. Add the cooled butter/chocolate and whisk until smooth. Add half of the flour mixture, then half of the buttermilk. Repeat until everything is added. Stir until *just* combined; do not overmix. The batter will be very thick like pudding.

Divide the batter between 12 liners in your cupcake pan. Bake for 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting: beat softened butter on medium speed with an electric or stand mixer. Beat for about 3 minutes until smooth and creamy. Add powdered sugar, cream, vanilla extract, and peppermint extract with the mixer running. Increase to high speed and beat for 3 full minutes (the longer you beat, the creamier the frosting). Add more powdered sugar if frosting is too thin or more cream if frosting is too thick. Add salt if frosting is too sweet (1/4 teaspoon).

Decorate the cupcakes: Frost cooled cupcakes. There may be leftover frosting depending how much you use on each cupcake. Drizzle with melted chocolate. Top with crushed candy canes right before serving.


Coffee Soda - a Drink from the Past is New Again

As a kid, I grew up in a tiny town in the heartland of America where, believe it or not, we still had a drugstore 'downtown' on Main Street that had a soda fountain.  The owners had been there for years and by the time I was oh, maybe ten years old, they sold the old store and closed down.  But for a year or more, I was able to stop in with my friends when riding our bikes up town, and I learned about fizzy drinks like cherry phosphates.  They had a flavor called "coffee" but as a kid I had zero interest in that one!  As an adult I'm thinking "Oh I wish the drug store was still there!  I'd go back and visit and enjoy a coffee soda in my old hometown and relish the feel of the good old days.

As it so happens, everything old is new again as apparently, all different versions of this drink are making a come back.   This one is featured a few places on the internet - and I'll link to another version below it.

Don't feel like making one yourself?  You can order coffee soda online - even the old favorite from 1895 - still available from Manhattan Special - the Espresso Soda and they have a decaf and sugar free version now too.

Coffee Soda

3 c cold coffee, double strength
1 T sugar
1 c half-and-half
1 pint ice cream
3/4 c club soda, cold
whipped cream for garnish
    Combine coffee and sugar.  Blend in half-and-half.  Fill four tall glasses halfway with coffee mixture. Add scoop of ice cream to each glass. Fill to top with soda. Add dollop of whipped cream and enjoy! Garnish with sprinkles, cherries, cinnamon, chocolate shavings, etc.

    Another version recipe available here from Good Housekeeping

    Prefer to purchase rather than make it homemade?  Related products available through Amazon;

    Bacon Soda and Coffee Soda Bundle
    Manhattan Special ESPRESSO SODA FROM BROOKLYN "Passaro's Famous, (Pack of 12)
    LESTERS Coffee Soda 12 OZ
    Manhattan Special DECAF SUGARFREE ESPRESSO SODA "Taste w/out sugar or caffeine", 10-Ounce Glass Bottles (Pack of 12)


      Idea: Coffee Themed Halloween Costumes!

      As the calendar turned over to October this week, I started to think about Halloween and what my youngest daughter might be this year.  She isn't a 'little' anymore and is off at school, but she has a great creative mind and I love to see what she comes up with.  That got me thinking about costumes in general and I suddenly thought;  "What about a COFFEE costume!?"   And sure enough, there are hundreds out there on the net to search, get ideas from and brainstorm over. 

      I chose 3 at random above from pinterest searches (the photos should link you there).  Most people make their costumes from scratch using all sorts of different items depending on their creativity, their budgets and what exact coffee-themed item they were dressing as (or dressing their kids as, which seemed to be the case most of the time).

      A very popular idea is a "Starbucks" themed drink of some sort - which of course you have to make yourself as it's a copyrighted brand.    But I decided to look on Amazon for ready-made costumes - they do sell Starbucks logos to sew on your own fabric, dresses or aprons and they even have costumes for dogs.  If you want to be a coffee bean or a non-brand name coffee there were a couple options - just no branded logos.

      Related products available from Amazon;

      Adult Waving Coffee Cup Mascot Costume
      Iced Coffee Pet Costume, Medium
      Brown Big Coffee Cup Costume With A Logo And No Face
      Coffee Bean Mascot Costume
      Apron Bib Spun Poly Cotton Kitchen Aprons (2 Pockets) in Dark Green




      Part Two of the Nespresso Pixie Post (RECYCLING THOSE COFFEE PODS)

      When I was doing some quick research on espresso makers, I found out a very interesting thing (to me) about the Nespresso Pixie - they offer collecting and recycling of the used capsules in their brewing.  I gathered this information from the Nespresso website online and was up to date as of this posting.

      "The pods are easy to use and can be recycled."

      Collecting and recycling used capsules in the USA

      The Nespresso capsule recycling program has been designed to provide convenience for our Club Members while ensuring that capsules are properly recycled at their end of life.  Due to the complexities of the recycling process and inconsistent recycling infrastructure across the United States, we believe a dedicated recycling program separate from local curbside collection is currently the best way to ensure that capsules returned by our Club Members can be traced throughout the recovery process.

      Capsule Recovery Process

      Recycling used capsules is an important element of Nespresso’s commitment to sustainability. This is why we encourage Club Members to collect their used capsules in a dedicated container or Nespresso recycling bag and return them for recycling. Nespresso has set up three convenient return options to make it easy for Club Members to recycle. To divert capsules from landfill and give them a second life, capsules can be returned to:

      1.     Collection points in all Nespresso Boutiques

      2.     TerraCycle® collection points in retail partner locations across the country

      3.     UPS through Nespresso’s mail-back program in select states*

      Both the OriginalLine and the VertuoLine capsules are accepted for recycling.

      As we continue to grow in the US market, we will continue to work to expand our capacity to recycle, to explore innovative programs that increase awareness and convenience, and to continually increase the number of capsules recycled. Recycling is one of the areas that Nespresso is committed to as part of its overall sustainability commitments.

      Used capsule storage at home

      Custom-designed plastic recycling bags are provided to Club Members free-of-charge for storing used capsules at home.  Recycling bags can be ordered through the Nespresso Customer Relationship Center, online or picked up at a Nespresso Boutique.

      o   Customer Relationship Center: Inform your Coffee Specialist that you wish to receive a recycling bag             with your order.

      o   Online:  You will be prompted to add a recycling bag to your order.

      o   Boutique:  Club Members are encouraged to take recycling bags home with their purchase and will be          provided recycling bags at no charge by staff when requested.

      Collection points in all Nespresso Boutiques

      We encourage our Club Members to collect their used capsules at home in a dedicated container or Nespresso recycling bag and return them to their nearest Nespresso Boutique. Many of our Club Members find it convenient to drop off their used capsules when they come to the Boutique for their next purchase. The Boutique team will consolidate capsules returned from Club Members and send them to our partners for separation and recycling.

      Collection points at retail partner locations across the country

      In collaboration with our retail partners, such as Sur La Table, Williams-Sonoma and many others, Nespresso collects used capsules in nearly all 50 states. 

      You can find out more about this program or any updates to locations and collections on the Nespresso website here.

      Rambling over Coffee: The Nespresso Pixie Espresso Maker

      This is a post I've had in my files waiting for me to finish writing it... which I'm buckling down to do today!  You would think with all the coffee brewers and makers I own, I might have something like this but nope.  I do not own a Nespresso Pixie Espresso Maker.

      But my espresso maker is no longer made (see below in the list of products) so when mine gives up the ghost or I am in the market for a new one, this one is looking pretty good to me so I've decided to feature it on Coffee Talking.

      When I started to research the Nespresso Pixie Espresso Maker, I was seeing some mixed reviews.  Most people really seemed to love it and were steadfast fans of this brand and style. Many of the people who purchased this item did so after having it at a friend or relatives' home.  That is pretty impressive because when you like something enough to purchase it yourself, that's the best kind of recommendation you get.

      Here's the stats I found online at Amazon:

      • Programmable buttons for espresso and lungo, folding drip tray for larger cups and recipes, brew ready in 25-30 second
      • Backlight indicators, water level detection, auto power-off, used capsule container, convenient power cord storage
      • 12.83-inch length by 4.33-inch width by 9-1/4-inch height
      • 24-Ounce water tank
      • Aeroccino plus. hot and cold milk froth for cappuccinos,hot milk for lattes. hot milk froth in 70 seconds. cold milk froth in 60 seconds.

      Product Dimensions: 20.8 x 8.2 x 12.6 inches ; 9 pounds
      Shipping Weight: 13.8 pounds
      Domestic Shipping: Item can be shipped within U.S. and various countries outside the U.S.

      Looking at a few places online you can purchse the Nespresso Pixie, I found the going price seemed to be the retail price; $279.  This was also true on the Nespresso website.  However, as of this posting the price on Amazon was only $251.68 and they offer free shipping.

      Now let's talk about the random reviews I found about things people didn't like about this product.

      Here was an interesting one:

      "The coffee was not hot enough, the milk didn't foam well"

      Why is this interesting to me?  Because none of the other reviewers mentioned this.  At the time of researching this product there were almost 230 reviews and although I obviously didn't read them all, the 30 or so I looked through didn't mention this.  I suspect perhaps it's the type of milk used.  A whole milk is going to froth so much better than a fat free or 1%.  I have no idea what kind of milk they were using (they never said). 

      This little feature ended up not being a problem at all!

      "Recently the amount it brewed per serving became too short only brewing half what it did before. On the web site Nespresso has a video on how to correct that. Basically you just hold the coffee section button down one time to adjust the normal coffee (Lungo) button, to brew as much coffee as you like per lungo pod. What I thought was a problem is actually a nice feature as you can brew coffee to your taste (not some preset.)"

      If you are wondering what coffee pods taste pretty darn good, this coffee fan posted a bit of helpful advice:

      "I find that the Ristretto (black capsules) work best for lattes and cappuccinos. It is a dark and rich coffee that can handle the dilution with milk. My favorite straight espresso is the Volluto (gold capsules). It is creamy, strikes the right balance between bold and mild and is a crowd pleaser."


      I want to get to a really important feature of this product but this post is going to be a NOVEL in length if I do so I'm going to break this product review into 2 sections.  Here I will the first, simply for length's sake.  The next installment is going to be a HOT topic - THE PODS!    A major source of contention with these single brewers is the trashy piles of k-cups we as a general population are leaving behind as the Keurig brewers have invaded our lives.  HUGE HOT ISSUE.  So why bring this up when discussing the Nespresso?  Because I found out Nespresso actually recycles their pods - and wants to help you do so too.  Kudos to them!  So that will be installment number two.  Coming soon!