As I mentioned in my last post, I was flown out to Montreal, put up in an awesome hotel and got seriously caffeinated by the lovely coffee folks over at VanHoutte. Along with 5 other bloggers, we got to experience their “master roaster” heritage and check out all their roasting factory (where I got to see a robot packaging boxes which was like taking a jet pack into the future). It was a cool experience and it also was the first time I was seriously schmoozed over. I loved eating out at fancy restaurants (if you’re in Montreal or plan to visit, make sure a visit to Le St. Urbain is on your list) that I’d never have the opportunity to eat in on my own and I loved doing the wine tastings and coffee cuppings a whole lot. It was an experience to push myself out of my comfort zone (working for yourself turns you into a social misfit) and meet up and spend a weekend with a group of other bloggers from across Canada. And what do you know, it turned out to be fun! You can check out the good times over on my flicker set. But this also wasn’t a holiday – it was work and since I run this blog as a my hobby (ie. I make no money from this blog) it did make me question if I was “selling out” (I’m so old-fashioned according to this article in the NYT). I think I came out of the experience unscathed with my ethics shaken but intact.
I came back from Montreal with a backpack full of coffee and I wanted to do something special with it instead of just gulping it back in the morning like the lifeline it is for me. Luckily, I spied a lovely little recipe over at DesignSponge and my coffee and baking needs were instantly met. The recipe was a simple, no-fuss affair.
The resulting cake does taste like coffee which was a bit unexpected. Traditional coffee cakes like this one or this one or this one are meant for drinking with coffee. But these pretty little cakes call for a half cup of strong brewed coffee in the batter – and you can definitely tell. Plus, there’s molasses, cinnamon and nutmeg that tugs you towards a gingerbread-y flavour. And while these cakes taste dark and spicy, their texture is light and airy. These cupcakes aren’t super sweet so you could easily add a mocha or cinnamon scented glaze without fear of aching teeth, however, I preferred them with a light dusting of confectioners sugar. Their soft white tops looks like the light coating of snow on the mountains off in the distance, so it’s a tentative step into a tasty winter wonderland.
I should also mention a few exciting things. I will be speaking at PechaKucha Vancouver on November 24th at the Vogue Theater. The theme this month is food and I’m going to be super nervous (I don’t have my speech completed yet nor have I even started thinking about my slide presentation – but that’s because I’m a huge procrastinator), but hopefully I’ll get my stuff together in time for the big event. I also want to say thanks to Gourmet Live (that’s the online keeper of the *sniff* no-longer-published magazine, Gourmet) for featuring this blog as their Food Blog of the Week (uh, last week).
elsewhere: Over at Poppytalk I’ve got 2 posts up today! Stop by and check out my recipe for Garlic & Seedy Whole Wheat Pretzel Bites and get into the holiday spirit with my kitchen-themed Contributor’s Holiday Gift Guide which was so much fun to put together!
coffee & spice cupcakes
(recipe adapted from Kristina Gill & the South Australian Country Women’s Assoc.)
1/2 c butter, room temperature
3/4 c white sugar
1 t vanilla extract
2 T molasses
2 c self-rising flour (or make your own with 1.5 teaspoons baking powder + 1/2 teaspoon salt per cup of all-purpose flour)
pinch of salt
2 t cinnamon
1/4 t ground nutmeg
1/2 c strong coffee (should be room temperature)
Preheat oven to 350F.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add in the vanilla, eggs and molasses and combine well. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add half the flour mixture into the butter mixture and lightly stir. Add half the coffee and lightly stir. Repeat with the remaining flour and coffee.
Line a muffin tin or two with 14 liners and drop batter into each liner, 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 14-18 minutes or until a skewer poked into a cupcake comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack. Dust with confectioners sugar. Makes 14 cupcakes.