Tag-Archive for ◊ espresso ◊

02 Mar 2014 Black Forest Torte (Black Forest Cake)

BookThief-torte

Once a year I host a book club meeting at my house.  My night was last night.  The book was “The Book Thief” so the theme was German food.  Thanks to input from the Internet, I decided to make a “Black Forest Torte” for dessert.  I found a recipe posted on Food.com by a “real German lady”, and decided to make it, with no advance practice session (I know, living on the edge!).

The cake was a delicious show-stopper.  Just look at that picture! I haven’t made too many show-stopper cakes before so I was quite thrilled with the way this one turned out.  PHEW! And I’d like to extend a big, grateful ‘danke’ to the “real German lady” 🙂

I made a few changes to the recipe, of course:  I used pitted sour cherries from a jar, rather than fresh cherries (they’re not in season right now), and I used butter, rather than shortening, in the cake batter. I also made two 9.5 inch cake layers instead of the three 9-inch layers specified in the original recipe (I really dislike 3 layer cakes).  I modified the mixing method for the cake. I used espresso powder, rather than cold brewed espresso, in the filling and adjusted the amount of Kirsch in the filling as well. I upped the whipped cream frosting by 50%.

Now, if you make this cake, you’ll need to start three days in advance and, please, DO make this cake!

  • Day 1: Drain the cherries and soak in Kirsh.
  • Day 2: Make the chocolate layer cakes, soak the cakes in the Kirsch drained from the (now boozy) cherries.  Make the filling and assemble the layers one on top of the other.  Refrigerate overnight.
  • Day 3: Make the chocolate curls and the whipped cream frosting. An hour or two before serving, decorate the cake with the whipped cream, reserved cherries, and chocolate curls. Serve!
  • Day 4: The leftovers are yummy! I called four friends over for tea, and they all accepted, enjoyed the cake, and took slices home for their husbands!  (So far, I have cut sixteen slices from this cake, and there is one slice left in the refrigerator for my 23 year old twins to fight over.

 Black Forest Torte

Cake

  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour (8 oz)
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder (I had Hershey’s on hand, so that’s what I used)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk

Mocha Buttercream Filling

  • 1/2 cup kirsch
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  •  1 1/2 teaspoons instant  espresso powder
  • 2 jars of pitted sour cherries, drained (I got mine at Trader Joes-1 1/2 lbs each, most supermarkets have  1 lb. cans of cherries in the canned fruit section) OR 1 1/2 lbs fresh black cherries, pitted

Whipped Cream Frosting

  • 3 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2-3 tablespoons  kirsch
  • 2 tablespoons dry milk powder (optional, but helps with stability of whipped cream icing)
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar

Chocolate Garnish

  • One large, 3.5-4 oz. dark chocolate bar, grated or curled

DIRECTIONS

  1.  Drain the cherries then soak them in 1/2 cup Kirsch overnight. Discard the cherry juice UNLESS you want to make a non-alcoholic cake.  If you want a non-alcoholic cake (like, if children will be eating it) use the cherry juice  from the cherries instead of the Kirsch and proceed as outlined below.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F
  3. Drain the cherries from the Kirsh.  RESERVE the liquid!  Most of the liquid will be poured over the hot cakes. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the liquid for the filling.
  4. Line the bottom of two 9 inch round cake pans with parchment. Spray the sides with “Pam for Baking”, or grease with a bit of butter or oil.
  5. Sift the dry cake ingredients together and set aside.
  6. With an electric mixer beat the shortening to soften, then add the sugar.  Beat for six minutes or until the shortening-sugar mixture is light and fluffy.
  7. Add the eggs, one at a time and mix well.  Stir in the vanilla.
  8. Add one-third of the dry ingredients to the sugar mixture and beat to combine. Add half of the buttermilk. Beat to combine. Add another one-third of the dry ingredients and beat to combine.  Add remaining buttermilk.  Beat to combine.  Finally, add the last of the dry ingredients and beat well. alternately with the buttermilk and mix well.
  9. Pour batter into the prepared cake pans.
  10. Bake in preheated 350 oven for approx. 25 minutes or until a cake springs back when touched.
  11. Remove the cakes from the oven.  Leave the cakes in the pans and immediately and slowly, pour some of the reserved Kirsch-cherry juice mixture over both cakes. Let the Kirsch soak in, then repeat until all but 2 tablespoons of the Kirsch-cherry liquid has been used. (The remaining 2 tablespoons liquid will be used in the filling)
  12. Let the cakes cool in their pans.
  13. Make the filling. With an electric mixer  beat the butter until light and creamy. Add the powdered sugar, salt, espresso powder, and 2 tablespoons Kirsch-Cherry juice and beat well for 3 or 4 minutes. If the filling is too thick add some extra Kirsch, cherry juice, or cream (add only an extra 1/2 tsp. at a time). The filling should be spreadable, but firm.
  14. Place the base layer on cake plate.  Spread filling over top, then cover with drained cherries (save some good, firm, pretty cherries to go on top of the cake as decoration). I took the time to place each cherry in concentric layers, which I think helped with the stability of the cake. Add the second cake on top of the filling and cherries on the first layer.  Push down a bit to secure a firm fit between the layers.
  15. Cover the cake  and let sit in refrigerator overnight for the flavors to meld.
  16. A few hours before serving place the whipping cream, powdered sugar, Kirsch, vanilla, and optional dry milk powder in the bowl of an electric mixer. Whip the cream until it forms stiff peaks.
  17. Spread the whipped cream frosting over all of the cake. Decorate the sides first, then the top.  If you want to be fancy, put some of the whipping cream in a Ziploc or a piping bag and pipe rosettes or swirls around top and bottom of cake.
  18. Pat the reserved cherries dry, and then place in a pretty design on top of the cake.
  19. Grate the chocolate bar or use a vegetable peeler to make chocolate curls. Gently, and decoratively  press handfuls of the grated chocolate onto the sides of the cake.
  20. Store cake in refrigerator until an hour or so before serving.  Serve and enjoy.  (You should get about 16 generous slices from this cake.)

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today, and I hope there is a Special Occasion coming up soon so you can make this cake.  It’s a keeper!

Just in case you are wondering, and in case you are reading this because you’ll also be hosting a book club meeting based upon “The Book Thief”, I also made Kipferls. Kipferls, which are significant in the book, were left by the window for people to take home (just like in the book).  I’ll posted that recipe, too, since they were soooooo good (but soooooo expensive to make, more about that later). My book club does snacks and dessert. For snacks I had a bowl of apples, German bread with cheese and liverwurst, and soft pretzels with a beer-mustard-cheese dip (no picture of the pretzels and dip) and Stollen! To drink, we had champagne, of course.  Those of you who read the book know why.

BookThief-snacks

06 Oct 2013 Espresso Rice Krispie Treats

espresso RKT bright1

As most of you know, I can’t be left in a room with a Rice Krispie Treat, or as my #1 grandson calls them, “Rice Christmas Treats”. Unfortunately, now he can’t be left alone in a room with a Rice Krispie Treat either, but it’s a problem that seems to run in the family.  His mother,  aunt and uncle can’t be left in a room with a RKT either (probably bad parenting).  We’re a Rice Krispie Treat crazed family which is odd, considering we don’t eat cereal (well, Abby eats cereal, but it’s a secret!).  I hate all boxed cereal.  Yes, I know that is a strong word, but I do.  I don’t think I have had a bowl of cereal in 40 years or more.  Yucky stuff, but stir in some processed marshmallows and a bit of butter and everything is magically transformed!

So! Now, I’ve finally found a GOOD recipe for an Espresso Rice Krispie Treats! I’ve tried some others over the years, including one epic fail using butterscotch pudding, but this one is a winner.  Where did I find it?  In the October 2013 edition of Cooking Light!  Are you shocked?  Me, too! This issue has NINE recipes for Rice Krispie Treats!  I am not inclined to make any of the other recipes, one of which is…, wait for it…, drum roll…, Maple Bacon!! Really? Really!?!  A  Maple Bacon Rice Krispie Treat?  (In Cooking Light?!) Ummm, no. But, if you do make them, you have GOT to let me know how they turned out, OK?  Are they supposed to be a breakfast food?!

Here, on In the Kitchen with Polly, I have four more recipes for Rice Krispie Treats: Salted Brown Butter Rice Krispie Treats (the all time favorite, the classic recipe made even better); Coconut Rice Krispie Treats and Chocolate-Chocolate Cherry Rice Krispie treats (which are both deeeeelicious–I don’t know which one I like better!) and Milky Way Rice Krispie Treats (which have a great taste but come in 4th place because they suffer a teeny-tiny bit in texture and are a bit, and just a bit, dense/hard… Not as ooey-gooey as the other four recipes).

This recipe calls for “toffee bits” which are Heath Bar Bits. Normally, I don’t like Heath Bar Bits because they taste a bit old and stale, but in this recipe they  complement and enhance the espresso powder perfectly (truth be told, I  made these the first time because I had half a bag of Heath Bar Bits in the refrigerator and didn’t know what to do with them).  Since then though, I’ve made these Espresso Rice Krispie Treats several times, always to rave reviews, except by #1 grandson, age: not-yet-five, who doesn’t like the coffee flavor (YET).  SCORE! More for ME! But it does mean that I have to make two batches of RKTs when I make these… 🙂

Espresso Rice Krispie Treats

  • 2-3 tablespoons butter
  • 10 oz. miniature marshmallows (check your package, you might have a 16 oz package of marshmallows and in that case, make 1 ½ times this recipe, which fits nicely in a 9″ x 13″ pan)
  • 1 tablespoon espresso powder (can be found in most grocery stores now, next to the instant coffee, gourmet stores carry it too, but at double the price)
  • 1 cup toffee bits (Heath Bar bits, the ones without the chocolate)
  • 6 cups crispy rice cereal (Rice Krispies, or one of the generic brands–which I usually use because they are so much cheaper and they work out fine)
  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan or large skillet over medium high heat.
  2. Stir in the espresso power.  Stir to blend.
  3. Lower the heat. Stir in the marshmallows. Continue cooking and stirring until the marshmallows are melted and the espresso powder has been evenly dispersed. Turn off the heat.
  4. Stir in the 6 cups of Rice Krispies and the toffee bits.  This is the only (slightly) difficult and messy part of the recipe.  Keep stirring until marshmallow mixture has been evenly distributed through the cereal.
  5. Transfer the mixture to an 11″ x 7″ pan (if you don’t have one, don’t worry, use the nearest size pan you have…or use a 9″ x 13″ pan.  In the larger pan, the squares will just be a bit thinner)
  6. Press the mixture evenly into the pan, you have to press down slightly to get the right consistency in your finished Treats.  The mixture will be sticky, and a bit hot, so use the wrapper from the butter to press the mixture down, or butter your fingertips and press down, some people wet their fingertips to do this, but I am always afraid I’ll make the top layer soggy.
  7. Let Rice Krispie Treats set and cool on counter before slicing and serving. Cut into any size or shape bars that you prefer.

That’s it!  Now you have a truly grown-up flavored Rice Krispie Treat!

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today!

23 Feb 2013 Cold Brewed Iced Coffee (for the Yummiest Iced Lattes)

Iced Coffee with Whip

I like coffee.  I loooooove coffee.  Not that hot, black and bitter brewed coffee, but that expensive stuff brewed by the tablespoonful and mixed with steamed and foamed milk.  I have lived with an espresso machine since my ex-husband moved out.  It was a good switch. I am on my fourth one now (fourth espresso machine, not fourth ex-husband!).  Three had to be  retired (again, the three espresso machines not ex-husbands) and one  was fired for making terrible, horrible, no good, very bad lattes.  In addition to hot lattes, from spring through fall I really, really enjoy an Iced Latte in the afternoon, and, for Iced Lattes, with this recipe  no espresso machine is  required! Is there dancing in the aisles?

To make the Cold Brewed Iced Latte base, just get 12 oz of good quality coarse ground coffee beans, 7 cups of water, and a bowl that can be covered.  Are Toffee Nut Iced Coffee’s your little bit of heaven?  Not a problem. Vanilla Iced Coffee’s?  Easy peasy…

My friends and I are loading up my Minnie Winnie (small RV) and heading off to Palm Springs for the Camel & Ostrich Races and the Blessing of the Dates.  (Nooooo, I don’t know why we thought that would be a good idea!!! And no, I am not making this up, both are real events, held yearly, in Palm Springs and, from what I understand, in Arizona, too).  It’s become a tradition for us to load Iced Coffee Base (decaf)  into the Minnie Winnie when we head out.  Iced Lattes every afternoon while touring the US, what a nice way to live!  Don’t be jealous…raise your hand! You can come on the next trip!

Cold Brewed Iced Coffee Concentrate

  • 7 cups water (you could go gourmet and use bottled water…)
  • 12 oz. favorite rich coffee (coarse  or drip grind, decaf or regular)
  1. Pour the entire 12 oz of coffee into a bowl that can be covered (with a lid…or a plate)
  2. Pour the water over the coffee. Stir to make sure all grounds are saturated with water. Cover the bowl.
  3. Let the coffee and water sit, covered and undisturbed, for 24 hours.
  4. Now comes the messy part.  Strain the coffee.  I put a coffee filter in a mesh strainer, balance it on top of a pitcher, and pour cups of the mixture through the filter. The Iced Coffee base collects in the pitcher and  I throw the used coffee grinds away as I go.  You might need to use two coffee filters.  The decanting takes awhile, but it’s definitely worthwhile–messy but easy.
  5. Once all the coffee concentrate has been filtered, put a lid on the pitcher, and store it in the refrigerator for up to three weeks. (Handy Tip: write dates on the container with an erasable marker.  For example:  Made 2/13/13. Good until 3/6/13.  When the container is empty, wash the dates off!  I mark all my plastic containers with erasable markers now.  It’s so handy.)

Iced Latte

  • ¼ cup* of Cold Brewed Iced Coffee Concentrate (above)
  • ¾ cup of milk (If you want, you could experiment with the milk.  I use 1 or 2%, but I have heard of others using coconut milk, almond milk, chocolate milk, and of course soy milk. Some even like evaporated milk with a splash of sweetened condensed milk).
  • 4 or 5 ice cubes
  • Optional: sugar (white or raw), Splenda, Torano Syrup (Vanilla and Toffee Nut are favorites), Bailey’s Irish Creme, Kahlua, 1-3 Tablespoons chocolate syrup, Sprinkles (Trader Joe’s has a “Sugar, Chocolate, Coffee Bean Grinder” that’s fun), a chocolate covered espresso bean or mini chocolate chips…
  • whipped cream and a straw (I think these are musts, but some people are a bit more serious and go without!)
  1. Pour the concentrate into the glass.
  2. Add the milk and stir.
  3. Stir in any optional ingredients (sweetener or syrups)  Stir well.
  4. Plop  in some ice cubes. Stir again.
  5. Top with whipped cream, and sprinkles if you’d like (sprinkles, grated chocolate, a dusting of cocoa powder or cinnamon, or even a squirt of chocolate or caramel syrup), and, of course, a straw.

* ¼ cup of concentrate plus ¾ cup of milk seems to please most of my friends (A LOT!), but I do have one friend who doubles the coffee.  She has ½ cup concentrate and ¾ cup of milk. She’s German.  She likes strong coffee.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today!  You have in your hands one my favorite recipes. I hope you’ll be enjoying warm weather and iced lattes very soon!

P.S  If you’d like to get an email notifying you of the next recipe I post, please enter your email address in the box to the left. Don’t worry!  I won’t abuse your email address (I don’t know how to, for starters…) or use it for anything other than an occasional, short email notification of a new posted recipe.

15 Oct 2011 Pumpkin Spice Coffee

It took two years, but FINALLY, I have a Pumpkin Spice Coffee recipe that is delicious and…, wait for it…, better (yes, BETTER!) than Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte!  I don’t make this assertion casually.  I had taste tests.  With friends.  Eleven taste testers.  This Pumpkin  Spice Coffee won over Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte.  The coffee was made with an easy, homemade Pumpkin Spice Syrup. I found the recipe at Budding Baketress (after been tipped off by Foodgawker)!  Thank you, thank you! I made no ingredient changes, I just refined the method.

Now about the taste tests.  We tested a Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte, a Latte with Torani Pumpkin Spice syrup, a Latte with this Pumpkin Spice syrup, and coffee with this Pumpkin Spice syrup.  The hands down winner? The COFFEE with this homemade syrup!  The COFFEE!  The Torani syrup Pumpkin Spice Latte was set aside immediately.  Yuck. There is something in that syrup that was just NOT good.  I poured the bottle down the drain.  I wasn’t go to try it in anything else, and I wasn’t going to pass it on to anyone.  I was hoping we would find something close to the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte (because I love, love– correction–loved, Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte, but after the taste test…the Starbucks version was set aside, TOO!  BTW, have you ever looked at the Starbuck’s Pumpkin Spice Latte?  Taken the top off,  eaten the whipped cream and looked? There is some nasty orange slime floating on top of the latte which is not at all appetizing….but even if there were no slime, homemade Pumpkin Spice syrup would win anyway.  YES, it’s true, bye-bye Starbucks!

Next in our taste testing,  we tried this homemade syrup in a latte, and then in coffee.  The coffee won!  We liked the stronger coffee flavor to compliment the complex pumpkiny-spicy deliciousness.  What a HUGE surprise!

Here is the recipe for the Pumpkin Spice Syrup, and the recipe for a batch of Pumpkin Spice Coffee which can be made to serve at parties, meetings or family get-togethers this fall,.  Of course, the syrup can also be used on a one cup of coffee at a time basis.  I have included directions for all three below.

Pumpkin Spice Syrup for Coffee

  • 1/3 cup pumpkin puree (fresh or canned)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  1. In a small saucepan, combine pumpkin puree with vanilla and spices.  Stir well to combine.  Add in water, stir well.
  2. Bring pumpkin mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer, stirring occasionally until it becomes syrup-y and begins to coat the spoon (about 10-15 minutes).
  3. Remove from heat. Cool. Then refrigerate until needed.

To make a batch of Pumpkin Spice Coffee

  • 1 cups of syrup
  • 2 cups of milk
  • 4 cups of very strong, hot, coffee
  • whipped cream, optional
  • sprinkles or ground nutmeg, optional
  1. While the coffee is brewing, heat milk with syrup.
  2. Blend with an immersion blender (or in a blender, or with a whisk).  Can be made ahead and refrigerated until ready to use.  Re-heat and re-blend then continue as directed below.
  3. Stir hot coffee into milk-pumpkin syrup mixture.  (I usually blend a bit more at this point, but it’s probably not necessary).
  4. Pour into cups.  Top with whipped cream, and maybe some sprinkles or ground nutmeg, if desired.  MMMMMMm (You can set a small pitcher of extra syrup out in case some people like a stronger/sweeter Pumpkin Spice Coffee).
  5. Makes approx. 6 servings.

To make one cup of Pumpkin Spice Coffee

This is up to you! Start with a cup of strong, hot coffee.  Stir in 1-2 T. pumpkin syrup, to taste.  Add hot milk, or 1/2 and 1/2 or whipping cream…what appeals to you?  Stir well.  If desired, top with some whipped cream and some ground nutmeg or sprinkles. Remaining Pumpkin Spice Syrup can be stored in the refrigerator.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today, and not by Starbucks!  You’ll find it cheaper to make your Pumpkin Spiced Coffees at home. And you might be surprised by how much better they taste, too! I was, and I am a loyal,  long time Starbucks aficionado.

10 Oct 2011 Mocha Cheesecake Brownies

I am not a big fan of the food section of my local paper.  In fact, I am not a  fan at all.  I read it every Wednesday just to see which recipe will cause me to roll my eyes the most.  Sometimes I even post LOL comments on my Facebook page.  It’s THAT bad.  Occasionally, there are recipes that don’t cause me to roll my eyes. They cause me to fall asleep. LOL. Just kidding! NOT!  Sometimes there are recipes I think aren’t too bad, but rarely am I inspired to try one.  Then, last Wednesday there was a recipe that hit me over the head and hollered, “Try me, try me”.  The recipe was  “Mocha Cream Cheese Brownies”, and I did roll my eyes before I tried it.   Not because the recipe was bad, it was really very good (as  you have probably guessed based on the picture above).  I rolled my eyes because  the  name of  the brownie was wrong.  I’ve had cream cheese brownies, bars, breads, muffins.  The cream cheese is mixed with a bit of sugar and perhaps an egg, then layered in with the batter. When baked, you get a nice layer of cream cheese. This is  NOT a cream cheese brownie.  It’s a cheesecake brownie.  There’s a world of difference.  A world of yummy difference.

I baked the brownies, as directed, in a 9×9 pan.  I won’t do that again.  The brownies were too tall. They were so tall they were hard to get into my mouth!  And, I had to bake the brownies 15 minutes more than the recipe suggested to get the cheesecake layer to set.  Now I think they the size if the baking pan was wrong in the recipe (or maybe I just know better!). Next time I will bake these Mocha CheeseCAKE Brownies  in a 9×13 pan and then the suggested baking time will probably be spot on.

About one third of my pan of brownies is in the freezer right now.  I think they will freeze very well.  Brownies freeze well.  Cheesecake freezes well.  Why not Cheesecake Brownies?  If they don’t freeze well, I will update this post…but I am pretty sure that won’t be necessary.

This recipe was published in the San Jose Mercury News on Wednesday, October 5 as “Mocha-Cream Cheese Brownies” and attributed to Emly Luchetti, “The Fearless Baker”.

Mocha Cheesecake Brownies

Brownie Layer

  • 9 oz. dark chocolate (58-62% cacao)
  • 10 tablespoons butter, cubed
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • large pinch Kosher salt

Cheesecake Layer

  • 16 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons instant coffee granules or instant espresso powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease a pan, your choice, a 9 inch square pan (as the original recipe originally specified), or as I suggest, a 9×13 oblong pan.
  3. Place the chopped chocolate and the cubed butter into a microwaveable bowl.  Melt the chocolate and the butter in the microwave.  (I did this on 50% power for three minutes, stirring after every minute.)  Let the chocolate cool to room temperature.  (You can get the rest of the ingredients for the brownie layer ready to go and also make the cheesecake layer while waiting for the chocolate mixture to cool) (Skip step #4  and come back to it when the chocolate has cooled.)
  4. Whisk 1 cup sugar and 3 eggs together until smooth.  Stir in the melted and cooled chocolate. Add in the flour and the salt and mix until well blended.
  5. Mix the cream cheese and 1/2 cup sugar together until smooth. Blend in the two eggs, and then the instant coffee and the vanilla.
  6. Pour the brownie batter into the bottom of the prepared pan.  Spread the cheesecake layer on top of the brownie layer. Swirl the cheesecake layer and the brownie layer together (use a spoon or a knife–don’t over swirl)
  7. Bake in 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (I had to bake mine–in a 9×9 pan for an additional 15 minutes)
  8. Cool to room temperature.  Cut into bars. Serve.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today.  Have fun with these brownies.  They are deeelicious!