Tag Archives: coffee

American Noir Cupcakes – A Tribute to Raymond Chandler’s “The Big Sleep”

THE BIG SLEEP Cupcakes - Dark chocolate, bourbon, smoky cherries and coffee. To die for.

 Agnes Lowzier: Is Harry there?
Philip Marlowe: Yeah, yeah, he’s here.
Agnes Lowzier: Put him on, will you?
Philip Marlowe: He can’t talk to you.
Agnes Lowzier: Why?
Philip Marlowe: Because he’s dead.

A few months ago two people who don’t know each other inspired me in their own ways to create this, the most dangerously delicious of cupcake recipes.

The first was a man I was dating who had a healthy obsession with American noir, both in film and novel form.  He had loaned me Raymond Chandler’s debut novel, The Big Sleep.  Our beloved protagonist, detective Philip Marlowe, drowns himself in whiskey, smokes cigarettes like a champion and downs coffee to keep it all clear.  Blood is shed and it’s Marlowe’s job to wade through the beauties of the underworld to find out where it all began.

Sounds like the makings of a very sultry dessert if you ask me…

…And a gluten-free one, of course.

The second vessel of inspiration was Kelly over at Ingested Read.  A bookworm and baker like yours truly, Kelly creates recipes inspired by whichever book she’s currently devouring.  I’d contributed Little Red Velvet Riding Hood Cupcakes, Hansel and Gretel Grown-Up Gingerbread and Curious George Banana Bread to her site(all gluten-free and delectable).

But it was time for something sexy.

So after a few months on my mind these cupcakes finally made it to the light.  Last week, in the dim glow of my steamy NYC kitchen, barefoot and a bit sticky, I hollowed out dark chocolate cupcakes, filled them with a cold cherry that had been soaking in smoky, bourbon-laced dark blueberry syrup, and topped them with coffee, whiskey and vanilla frosting and a candy cigarette.  Sweet, smoky, dark and with a tiny punch of alcohol.  Cheers to you, Raymond Chandler.

Cherry Filled and Dangerous

The result?  Cut it down the center, and between the dark chocolate layers oozes a blood red cherry.  The frosting is light and fluffy and offers a one-two punch to combat the bourbon kick of the fruit.  All the flavors meld together… let’s just say you may be inspired to go walk in the rain, or sit in a dim bar, or throw on a mink shawl and shimmy down the street in heels.

Notes: I made two chocolate cake recipes – the gluten/dairy free one you see below and a basic chocolate cake from Real Simple.  I soaked my cherries in smoky blueberry syrup from a recipe I recently made for a Burwell General Store Recipe Swap.  If you need your frosting to be dairy-free, I suggest my favorite Fluffy Vegan Frosting with the addition of the coffee in the recipe below.  These cupcakes are best fresh.

The Big Sleep Cupcakes

Ingredients: Cake

  • 2 cups gluten-free cake flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch cocoa
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 cup vegetable oil (I used safflower)
  • 3 eggs at room temperature
  • 2 tsp bourbon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cup almond milk thickened with 1 Tbsp soy sour cream or cream cheese or 1 1/2 cup whole cow’s milk
  • 1 tsp chocolate extract (optional)

Ingredients: Cherries

I used the smoky blueberry syrup I created last week.  For a quick alternative, try this:

  • 24 ripe cherries, pitted
  • 2 cups blueberry syrup or 1/2 cup blueberry jam dissolved with 1 cup cranberry juice
  • 1 tsp chipotle powder or paprika
  • 3 Tbsp bourbon or whiskey

Directions: Combine all ingredients and soak for at least 24 hours.

Ingredients: Frosting

  • 1 Tbsp instant coffee dissolved in 1 Tbsp hot water
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1lb box powdered sugar
  • 2 cups unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 3 Tbsp good whiskey or bourbon

Directions:

  • Line 24 cupcake tins and preheat oven to 350°.
  • Sift together flour, cocoa, soda, powder and salt.
  • In a standing mixer with the paddle attachment (or with a hand mixer) beat oil, sugar and maple syrup on medium/high until thoroughly combined and smooth.
  • Add eggs one at a time and beat to combine.
  • Beat in vanilla and chocolate extract.
  • Reduce speed to low and aternate the flour and almond milk, starting and ending with dry, until all are just combined.
  • Fill tins 3/4 of the way full and bake for about 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out smooth.  Cool completely.
  • When cool, use a teaspoon to hollow out a space from the top of the cake enough for one cherry.  Fill each cupcake with a cherry and drizzle with a little sauce (this should soak into the cupcake a tiny bit.

To make the frosting: beat the butter on high until light and fluffy.  Slowly add the powdered sugar and beat until light.  Add the whiskey, vanilla and coffee and beat to incorporate.

Decorate!  Pipe or use a small icing spatula to glob as much frosting onto the cakes as possible.  Decorate with dark sanding sugar or a candy cigarette.  Enjoy with a cool glass of sweating bourbon.

Yum.

Nutty Irishman St. Pat’s Pancakes

Nutty Irishman Gluten-Free Pancakes

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: I have a pancake addiction.  And possibly an addiction to St. Patrick’s Day too.  I’ve blogged about my uncontainable love for Blueberry Lemon Pancakes and have already made allergy-friendly Soda Bread and Irish Cream Carob Cupcakes, though it’s only a few days into March.

Yesterday morning, though, I just didn’t have time to make pancakes and blog the recipe.  I had an audition and five articles to write, for Pete’s sake!  No time for delicious food and playing when there’s work to be done, right?

Yeah, you guessed it.  I went into the kitchen.  I just had to try out the first go of my new creation, Nutty Irishman St. Pat’s Pancakes.  I mean, a girl’s gotta eat breakfast, right?  And I had laundry down in the basement so my eye had to keep on a clock.  What’s an extra half hour in the kitchen when there’s creation to be had, right?

Addiction.  But I know many of you out there are addicted too.  As evident by your confessions on the last pancake addiction post.  Yes, I think this support group should happen somewhere.  In fact, I just bought AddictedToPancakes.Com.  Message me if you want to be made an author and contribute a recipe, or just divulge a food addiction.  This could be fun.

Anyhoo, in the spirit both of St. Patrick’s Day and Pancake Addiction (which would make a good band name, no?), I’ve made these.  Dessert for breakfast.  A coffee drink in a pancake.  Somehow I captured a bit of the delicious after-dinner drink, though I used no whiskey (sniff).  I ate a bunch.

Now, notes:  These are not that sweet.  I used 4 Tbsp of sucanat to make the cocoa a bit fuller, but these do not taste like a brownie, cake or even chocolate muffin.  They are definitely pancakes.  If you want a sweeter treat, throw more sugar in there.  And if you don’t mind a little alcohol in the morning, throw a shot or two in.  Or soak your hazelnuts in whiskey for a while and then leave them out to dry / toast them.  Yum.  I’m gonna try that next time.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup strong brewed coffee or espresso
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 cup milk (I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract (or hazelnut if you can find it… I couldn’t… sniff…)
  • 1/2 cup fine unsweetened cocoa (I used Ghirardelli)
  • 4Tbsp sugar (I used sucanat)
  • 2 cups gluten-free pancake mix (Bob’s Red Mill or I used equal parts tapioca, oat, white rice and sorhgum this morning)
  • 1/2 tsp xantham gum (if NOT using a premixed pancake mix)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • salt
  • 2 eggs

Directions

Now I did this in a blender, because I was anticipating making it at my boyfriend’s apartment or my dad’s house, and they both have those and not other methods of equipment.  You could also do this in a bowl on a standing mixer or with a hand mixer.  The blender method was affective and did make pouring the pancakes easier, but I did get mix all over my white kitchen cabinets.  It was funny.

  • In a saucepan combine melt butter.  Then add coffee and milk and heat on low until warmed.
  • Whisk in the cocoa until combined completely.
  • Pour in liquid measuring cup and set aside to cool.
  • In a medium bowl, sift together remaining dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, salt).
  • In a large bowl or blender, beat eggs until a tiny bit frothy.  Then slowly add the liquid ingredients (retain about 1/4 cup) and beat to combine.  Add the dry ingredients 1/2 cup at a time until incorporated.
  • If the batter is a bit too thick, add remaining wet mixture.
  • Let stand while you heat your cooking instrument (I used a griddle that covered two burners).
  • Now, these will brown more easily than other pancakes, so I recommend heating the surface well and then turning down the heat and letting it cool a tad.
  • Bake on both sides until fluffy.  This made me 14 small pancakes.

Nutty Irishman Pancake Addiction

Irish-Cream Filled Carob Cupcakes

Gluten-free Irish Cream Carob Cupcakes

Have I mentioned that I love St. Patrick’s Day?  Well, I LOVE St. Patrick’s Day! Hence the little green background that I’m sporting this month even though it really doesn’t work with the color scheme I’m playing with.  Which, if you stop on this site somewhat regularly (thank you, by the way!) you’ll notice keeps changing because I’m indecisive and not the best at settling on colors.  I painted my last bedroom four times and was still never satisfied.  Come to think of it, I change my mind all the time about online everything.  I used to edit my online dating profile every time I went on the darned thing.  Thank dog that I now have this site to obsess over instead and actually met the best man ever so I’m out of that world.  But maybe I’m getting a little too personal.  Back to St. Pat’s.

Every year I spend it feasting with friends, listening to good Irish punk music and drinking Guinness, which I rarely let myself do (I think the last one I had was during the World Cup in July).

This year I’m starting early, preparing some allergy-alternative options for the little shindig I’m hosting.  A few days ago I made Gluten-Free Irish Soda Bread, which made me do a little happy dance.  And the other night my roommate had some friends over to watch the Oscars, which was the perfect time for me to play with an allergy-friendly alternative to the Irish Car Bomb Cupcake recipe I’ve made for the past few years.  I’m still going to make it for the pals who are coming over for St. Pat’s (in case any of you are reading this, I’m not only going to stuff you with healthier options), but frankly, I want a treat I can eat!

So this recipes uses carob instead of chocolate (primarily), gluten-free flour and can be made completely dairy-free by using butter flavored Earth Balance instead of the unsalted butter I used.  I’m still playing with sugar alternatives (I’m not a fan of using agave syrup and xylitol can be a bit rough on my stomach… the experimentation for this hypoglycemic continues!) so powdered sugar made its way into the frosting and organic sucanat into the cake.  The result was a dense carobey-chocolatey cupcake with a nice bang of whiskey to it.  The buttercream frosting is just delicious and overall the amount of sweetness between cake and frosting was in perfect balance for me.

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk, soy milk or Guinness (if you’re not worried about the gluten)
  • 9 Tbsp unsalted butter or butter-flavored Earth Balance
  • 2 Tbsp instant coffee
  • 1 cup carob or cocoa powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk (another second cup from the first)
  • 2 cups gluten-free flour (I used the High Protein Blend from Rebecca Reilly)
  • 2 tsp xantham gum
  • 3 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup sucanat or brown sugar

For the filling:

  • 2/3 cup chocolate soy butter
  • 2 tsp instant coffee
  • 4 Tbsp Irish whiskey (or to taste)
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 Tbsp unsweetened milk (almond, soy, rice)

For the Frosting:

  • 14 Tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature (or butter flavored Earth Balance)
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp ground instant coffee or espresso
  • 3 Tbsp Irish whiskey

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare 20 cupcake tins with liners or use these nifty mini-pannetone liners I found at a baking supply store.  Using these will make your cupcakes a bit squat but they’re pretty when frosted and SO easy to use.  For the actual St. Pat’s party coming up, I’ll be using metallic green liners in regular tins.  Oh, what a fun world we play in!

Set a large saucepan over medium heat and add the 1 cup of milk-alternative or Guinness and butter, let butter melt and whisk together.  Whisking constantly, add coffee and whisk until dissolved.  Remove from heat and then slowly add carob or cocoa powder, and whisk together until completely incorporated.

In a medium bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, xantham gum and sugar.  In a second bowl, whip the eggs until light and foamy, and then add vanilla and 1 cup of almond milk or milk of choice.  Whip until creamy.

Slowly pour the egg/milk mixture into the chocolate mixture, whisking continually until well blended and no dark traces remain.

Fold in the flour mixture until just fully incorporated.  Fill cupcake liners equally, and bake at 350 degrees for 22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove to cooling racks and cool for about 10 minutes before filling.

To make the filling, place all ingredients in a medium bowl and beat with a hand mixer until smooth.  Taste test – if the flavor of the whiskey is too strong for you, add a bit more soybutter and almond milk.  Put mixture in a pastry bag or one-gallon plastic bag and cut a small hole in one corner.  Make a small slice in each cupcake and fill with as much chocolate-whiskey frosting as you can!

For the frosting: Place the whiskey, vanilla and instant coffee in a medium bowl and whisk to dissolve the coffee.  Add the butter and, using a hand mixer, beat until smooth.  Progressively add the powdered sugar until fluffy and light.  Ice half of the cupcakes with this white icing, then add a few drops of green food coloring and beat to incorporate. Have fun decorating!  I used edible glitters – one opaque and one light green, and some coloring gels.  A small container of the glitter lasts FOREVER and creates a shimmery touch.  Fun fun.



Sugar-Free Coffee Carob Candies

Coffee Carob Candies

For a few years at the height of my illness, I wasn’t able to eat most things that one would consider an indulgence – chocolate, sugar, alcohol.  While my stomach is stronger and I can moderate some of these things back into my diet, I have a dear friend who still is very limited in what her body can digest.

She hit a pretty big birthday recently, and when I visit her to celebrate I want to present her with something special, indulgent and… digestible.

Carob is a delightful alternative to chocolate – it contains no caffeine, as much vitamin B1 as is in strawberries, and is full of protein, fiber and trace minerals.  It’s gentle on the stomach and naturally sweet, so you don’t need to sweeten it as you do raw cocoa.

So I made a mental list of things my dearie can have and played with proportions.  The result?  A fudgey, chocolate-y treat with a huge blast of coffee and a spicy finish.  An easy, quick way to indulge in a sugar-free treat!

Ingredients:

  • I cup carob powder
  • 1/2 cup ghee
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp ground decaf coffee
  • 3/4 cup full-fat coconut milk plus more if necessary

Directions:

  • Lightly grease mini-cupcake tins or candy tins.
  • In a small pot, melt the ghee, then add coconut milk, whisking continually until warm.
  • Add coffee and cinnamon and whisk to absorb.
  • Slowly add carob, whisking continually, until all the carob powder is smooth.  It won’t have the same consistency as chocolate, being a little thicker, but should be soft and malleable.   If desired, blend with an immersion or standing blender.
  • Press into individual molds and refrigerate until hard, about 1 hour.
  • Loosen candies from pan with a thin knife.
  • Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.
  • Makes about 16 candies.

Vegan Coffee Vanilla Sauce

I’m bringing a vegan chocolate cake to a dinner party tonight,  And to go along with a cake, one needs a frosting or a sauce, right?

Last weekend I made a gluten-free chocolate/vanilla layercake with a traditional buttercream frosting for a friend’s birthday.  It was way sweet, and full of, obviously, butter.  And since the cake was vegan, logic follows that I shouldn’t just dump some animal by-product frosting on top, right?

In a pastry class I took a few years ago I learned how to make chocolate mousse out of silken tofu.  Figuring the texture was the first thing to worry about with a vegan sauce, I grabbed a container of the stuff from Whole Foods and figured I’d improv the rest.

Okay, here’s the list of what eventually made it into my new food processor.  It took a bit of trial-and-error-and-trial-more.

  • 1 package silken tofu, drained
  • 2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 vanilla bean, the insides only
  • 1 tablespoon of wild clover honey
  • 2 tablespoons of palm sugar
  • 1 rounded tablespoon instant coffee granules

A mess of ingredients, right?  I mean, palm sugar and maple syrup and honey?

Originally I had meant to make a maple vanilla sauce.  But I only had about 2 teaspoons of syrup left.  Not wanting to use the dreaded agave, I thought maybe palm sugar would suffice.  Nope.  Adding more vanilla to the original teaspoon?  Well, it was something.   Adding honey for sweetness?  A bit better.  But the darned thing still tasted like tofu!

(By the way, I totally just swore and then edited myself.  It was a frustrating scenario but even when things are dusty, one must retain her propriety, right?)

So the sauce wouldn’t be a maple vanilla sauce.  I was determined not to melt chocolate and throw it in.  Then, brilliance struck (while Sigur Ros was playing, as often happens in my kitchen, for some reason.  Icelandic magic, maybe).

Coffee brings out the richness in chocolate and the depth of vanilla.  Would it save the sauce?

It did!! I now have a mildly sweet and richly complex sauce to drizzle over the chocolate cake.  For friends who, by the way, have no food allergies or special dietary requests.  I will probably reel from the amount of sugar in what I’ll be sampling – I just hope it’s enough for their taste buds to do a happy-dance.

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