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.
I struggle with feelings of guilt over ‘selling out’ but the bottom line for me is that blogging takes a lot of time! We’re creating content for people to consume on the internet..for free! I’m perfectly happy coming across a sponsored post or an ad once in a while on a site I know and love. I think ‘selling out’ is antiquated and stands in the way of great people continuing to be creative! Anyways, there’s my little rant 🙂 I love the look and sound of these cupcakes! Extra coffee is totally ok with me 🙂
I got sidetracked by your Montreal flickr…Congratulations on your Gourmet Live mention. The dusting of confectioners sugar really make these darling looking.
Oooo…I’m intrigued by these gorgeous little cakes. I’m not a coffee drinker, but I think I’d love the flavor of these. they are so pretty! Love your little coffee bean decoration 🙂
Love there dusted sugar covered tops, so cute! And I totally get the whole hermit thing when you work from home!
I think there is value in the content produced for passion’s sake. Some of the best recipes I’ve tried have come from folks who haven’t been tempted to the dark side of mass production and/or short stints on a cooking channel. To thine own self — and those beautiful spice treats — be true,.
These look lovely and delicious – but at what temperature do I set the oven? Maybe I missed that. Thanks!
Is this in a 350 degree oven? I may have missed that somewhere but baking always seems to happen at 325 or 350 so that is my guess. I plan to make these tonight if I can squeeze it in. Thanks!
Kasey, thanks for sharing! I am probably older than you and definitely old-fashioned so I do have that sell-out guilt and I thought that NYT article was perfectly timed for all that was swirling around in my head. Yes, it does seem to be the way things are going and I’m trying it on for size!
Thanks Tracy! I think the sugar dusting is lovely too.
NicoleD, I think these would work well with some really really strong Earl Grey tea instead! Maybe I’ll have to try that out soon.
Aw thanks Jacqui, I’m glad I’m not alone when it comes to feeling like a misfit!
LzAndrsn, thank you. I do agree with you wholeheartedly. This is my passion right now and has been since 2005 and I’m curious how things would change if I did set up this space for a bit of profit-taking. Thank you for your comment!
Laila & Melinda, thank you! I fixed the recipe with the oven temperature. 350F it is! Let me know how it goes!
I was so jealous when Kevin wrote that he got to meet and hang out with you! Sounds like an awesome trip!
I love what you did with these muffins…the coffee spice combo is one that I would never have thought of on my own!
Sounds like such a good trip! I used to love the smell of coffee but not so much the taste, but now I love everything.
Thanks Joanne! It works surprisingly well. I do use coffee in gingerbread but I can never taste the coffee because of the overwhelmingly strong spice flavours. But this is perfectly light!
Thanks Brilynn – yay to a coffee conversion!
I think you are selling out. But don’t worry, you are not alone. Lots of bloggers are asked to review companys’ products and their opinion. They always say they like it, and then they have a contest to give away one or two of these products to their readers. This is of course exactly what these companies want. Even if you genuinely like the product, how is this not selling out? And how can us readers know for sure if you really did like a product?
Isn’t there something just utterly enchanting about the smell of roasting coffee? As a coffee professional, I’m surrounded by the fresh stuff all the time, but let me tell you that I will never, ever tire of the smell of fresh-roasted or fresh-ground coffee. What fun to get to experience it in Montreal!
These look so great; I might have to make them for my colleagues for our holiday party!
Great recipe ! I made it! It`s delicious!!! And it looks great , too!
I’ve been looking for a coffee cake that tastes strongly of coffee so I will have to try this! 🙂 Sounds like an amazing trip.
Susan, I know I’m not alone here, but one reason why I accepted this trip was because it was a coffee company and I like coffee. I didn’t know much about their coffee because it’s a brand that I don’t buy, but it wasn’t a processed food company or something I couldn’t get behind. And I’m not doing a giveaway, just making a couple coffee recipes (their only requirement be that I link to their site in a couple posts which seems ok by me) which is something I would do normally. I feel I’m transparent and honest about my experiences, but thank you so much for your comments!
Meister, I’m jealous of your work! I love love love the smell of fresh coffee too. These are good and I’m sure your co-workers would love them!
I think this would be it, Ashley, it’s delicious and perfect for the season too 🙂
Er, you’re hardly selling out. One trip to Montreal hardly makes a dent in all the time, cost of ingredients and content you have been giving away all this time. I don’t understand why some people seem to think getting bits and pieces from companies will suddenly turn a blogger into an advertorial machine.
Every magazine and newspaper gets sent piles of products to review for free, literally piles, so if we applied the logic of free products=biased reviews, you wouldn’t be able to trust any of them, ever. I trust your ability to imagine whether you would actually buy the thing in question.
And finally, good quality writing is something I am willing to pay for, as I want the people who do it to be able to keep doing it. I don’t ask people to design a business card for free, and consider them asking for money for it as selling out. So if having a sponsored post once in awhile is how the writing is paid for, fine by me, as long as everything is labelled appropriately.
Those cupcakes look so pretty! I know someone in my household who would just love these cupcakes and it’s not me LOL! Mind you, I do have a huge sweet tooth but I’m not a coffee drinker so if these REALLY taste like coffee, I may have to give them away.
As for “being a sell out” I don’t think you are (one trip to Montreal and a coffee review does not qualify for selling out) but then again, I really don’t understand what all the “sell-out” hoopla is about. You love coffee and we love you so keep doing what you do best – writing about food. Your devoted followers will not judge.
I was already super excited for the upcoming PechaKucha, and then even more so when they announced that you would be speaking! Best of luck with the prep….
Lovely cupcakes! What fun to be wined and dined (or would that be coffeed and dined?)!
One of the things I love about your blog is that you write about what you are passionate about, not what a company tells you to get excited about. I try not to judge people who choose to put advertising on their blogs (some people really need that money), but I find myself going to visit less and less the blogs that feature recipes using name brand boxed products.
Stay fresh, healthy, and independent!
I have a measuring cup of strong coffee in my kitchen right now just waiting for this recipe. They look absolutely fantastic. I found your site through Pinterest and am now following along with you. Thank you for sharing your recipes!
yum!! Kick Pleat ; ). These sound delish. AHhh the city I love, I got to have a short stint there living. Such a delightful place. I am glad you got a chance to discover. FUN!
I’m in the “you’re not selling out” camp! We put so much into what we do, and even if it’s just a hobby, or a labor of love, it still requires time and dedication. And occasional trips to awesome coffee growers are a perk, a deserved one. I disagree with Susan’s sentiment: this isn’t about a giveaway, is it? You’ve been forthcoming about it. Somewhere in the young history of the internet it was established that we couldn’t hope for momeny for what we do, and that if we did, we were selling out. It’s so much like the 90s music/indie cred ethos. And that was so long ago 🙂
I didn’t even say anything about these cupcakes! Well, I want to make a shortbread version of the above. Love them.
Erm, quickbread. Get me to bed already. 🙂
those muffins really do look like the mountains. they also look extremely tasty. i think you are transparent and honest in your writing, and appreciate it!
and i’m so looking forward to pecha kucha night. i would be nervous too! so remember that everyone else is a nervous human too and don’t worry about what anyone thinks. just be your honest & passionate self.
I always enjoy visiting my relatives in Montreal. They really have some of the best restaurants i’ve ever been too and it’s a city full of foodies and a very european lifestyle. This recipe sounds marvelous!
These were amaazzzing cupcakes! I am usually not a cupcake fan (find them sickly sweet), but these had a great complement of flavours..yum. Has been added to my recipe favourites – thanks for sharing!
Aw sheesh, Erin, you are making me blush. Thank you!!!!
Joanne, thank you for saying so. And I think you’d love the cupcakes too.
Frewmanchu, glad it’s over and so glad it went well. I hope you enjoyed it!
Yay, thanks Lynn for your sweet comments. I will stay true, always 🙂
Thanks Candace, these are so delicious and I’m sure you’ll love them!
Thank you, Caitlyn, I LOVE Montreal – it’s my 2nd most favorite Canadian city after Vancouver 🙂
Haha, I love your enthusiasm, Kimberley! Thank you for commenting and keep it comin’ 😉
Joey, thanks so much! I hope you loved PK! I had a great time and was nervous but I’m glad it’s over with. Thank you!!
Amy, thanks. I love Montreal!
Irene, so glad you gave these a try. They are perfect and yes, not too sweet, which is always a fear when making cupcakes.
looks sooo cute!
Aw thank you, betty! Cute and tasty 🙂
Looks quick and easy to make- Looks like a nice treat- Thank you 🙂
WOW THOSE LOOK SOOOO GOOD!
These cupcakes look like something my husband would really love. Thanks for sharing!