Creme Brulee

I love cooking desserts, and creme brulee has been on my list to try for a while.  It is always so satisfying to eat, that I had to know if I could make it at home.  Plus, using a torch in the kitchen just sounds like fun.  (Too bad I don’t have one and tried using a heat gun instead.)  Of course, though, I couldn’t try plain creme brulee.  I had to go big, so I went with caramel coffee!  For this you will need:

  • Eggs
  • Heavy cream
  • Coffee
  • Caramel syrup
  • Sugar
  • Torch

Check out the full recipe here, or my pin on my Just Desserts board.

Creme Brule

Review

Making creme brulee is a million times easier than I anticipated, which makes me super happy.  I can now make this fancy dessert any time I want to impress guests (or I just have a craving!).  That said, this is a “plan ahead” sort of dessert, so don’t think you’re going to be able to whip this up on a moment’s notice.

What I liked about this recipe is that the caramel and coffee flavors came through in a perfect, mild manner.  I could taste both, but neither was overwhelming, and neither overpowered the other.  This recipe is full of all those things you shouldn’t eat, so only pull this one out for special occasions.

I don’t have a kitchen torch, but I do have a heat gun that I sometimes use for crafts.  So, when it came time to crystallize the sugar on top, I pulled out the heat gun and hoped for the best.  It wasn’t ideal (and you can see how some parts burned a bit), but it ultimately got the job done-just not in the pretty fashion I would have liked.  It also took longer than a torch would have.  That’s okay, though.  Now I have an excuse to buy a torch.

Overall, I would absolutely make this recipe again.  I can’t wait to try some new variations on the flavors!

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Iced Coffee

Back when I lived in Indiana, there would be a point in the school year when I would stop making hot coffee to take to work, and would buy an iced coffee instead.  I always tried to make iced coffee, but ended up with a watery mess.  Turns out, I didn’t know the secret.  For this you will need:

  • Coffee
  • Water
  • Large Container
  • A way to filter out grounds

iced coffee

Review

Suddenly I get why I wasn’t having any success previously with my iced coffee.  It was always too watery because I wasn’t using a coffee concentrate to make it.  Making the concentrate was easy, but it does take a lot of grounds, so be prepared for that.  I ended up not using an entire pound of coffee simply because I knew I wouldn’t go through all that concentrate fast enough.  (I also knew I didn’t have a pourable container large enough to keep it in either.)  Instead, I cut the recipe down to 1/3.  If this didn’t work, I didn’t want to waste all that coffee.

Turns out I didn’t need to worry.  It turned out great!  When it came time to separate the liquid coffee gold from the grounds, I needed to be patient.  You really want to get all the coffee out that you can, so you need to be willing to work at getting all the liquid from the grounds.  I spent around 20 minutes total doing this.  I used a coffee filter in a strainer (to give it structure).  I also changed my filter 3 times to help get all the liquid out (so I wasn’t pushing through a mound of grounds).

The final product was tasty.  I made a mix of half coffee, half milk, and just a sprinkle of sugar.  Now that it’s hot, I can enjoy my coffee and the temperature.

Caramel Frappuccino

I love coffee and am a real sucker for a good flavored coffee.  It’s probably best that there’s no where to get a coffee like that in town.  I’ve done lots of experiments with my own coffee syrups, but once you make those you start to realize just how much sugar is in them.  So, I’ve started to drink my coffee black and save flavored coffee for special occasions.  However, when I came across this skinny caramel frappuccino recipe, I knew I had to try it!  You will need:

  • Coffee (cold)
  • Ice cubes
  • Milk
  • Caramel Sauce

Check out the full recipe here, or my pin on my Drinks on Me board.

caramel frappuccino

Review

When I went to make this, I noticed that I only had about a cup worth of ice instead of three.  I only own one ice cube tray, and it only makes about two cups of ice, so I was never going to have 3 cups.  “No problem,” I thought to myself, “I’ll just add more coffee so there’s more liquid.”  I don’t think this was a bad idea, but it certainly didn’t end up with the slush mixture that it should have (which I knew).

That said, I still found this to just be okay.  Even though I had less ice than the recipe called for, it still tasted a bit watery to me.  That might have been because my coffee was still luke warm when I used it and it might have somewhat melted the few ice cubes I did have.  Also, my version is no where near as skinny as hers is.  She used almond milk, but I only have soy.  Turns out there is a HUGE calorie difference between the two.  According to the source, she’s only in for 15 calories over 24 ounces.  I, on the other hand, am in for 110 over just one cup.  I guess that means I need to start looking for almond milk because dang if that isn’t huge.  Because of this, she ends up with a 50 calorie frappuccino (which, I believe, is not accurately counted because you can’t just say 15 calories is basically the same as zero because it’s not), whereas I end up with 60 calories in just milk following the same recipe.

Will I make this again?  Maybe.  It didn’t wow me, but sometimes you’re desperate.  Besides, I think I owe it another chance with closer to the right amount of ice.

 

***UPDATE:  So, I wrote this post and saved it for a morning when I didn’t feel like writing.  Since then I have gone to the store to check out almond milk.  Now, I don’t have a fancy grocery store (I’ve written about how some days I can’t even buy normal items), but the lowest calorie almond milk I could find was 30 calories over 8 ounces.  Even when I looked online, I couldn’t find any almond milk (that told me the calories) that was under 30, so I don’t know where she gets her milk.  Furthermore, I’ve decided to stick with my soy for now because of all the nutrients that I get from it.  It might be more calories, but I am getting things for those calories, so I think it’s a worthwhile trade-off.***

Peppermint Coffee Syrup and Latte

Obviously I love my coffee syrup and think it’s a great way to get into the seasonal spirit.  I’ve had some successes and some failures.  You can check out those syrups here, here, and here.  Since my gingerbread syrup was gone, it was time to jump into another favorite seasonal flavor:  peppermint!  For this recipe you will need:

  • Sugar
  • Water
  • Peppermint candies

You can check out the original recipe here, or my pin on my Drinks on Me board.

Peppermint Syrup

Review

I’ve used this set of recipes before with great success, so I felt good about this one.  It seemed so simple (as the others had been).  What I got, though, was a bit of a mess.

I knew to expect the pink color from the images on the original blog, but I didn’t expect the consistency I got.  It reminded me of the pink ooze from Ghostbusters 2.  I’m pretty sure that if it had been in a bathtub instead of a saucepan, it would have tried to eat me.

“No matter,” I thought.  “Just because it’s a thicker consistency doesn’t mean it can’t be delicious!”  So, I went about making my latte to try out my latest syrup.  I must say I was actually surprised that something so thick didn’t pack more flavor.  Over the next several days, I tried again and again thinking I had maybe made my latte wrong, but every time I had the same result.

So, sadly, this was a total bust for me.  I am open to the idea that I messed something up (even though I have successfully made other syrups and the process is super straightforward), and I am open to the idea that maybe it was the quality of my candy that was a problem, but I’m probably not going to be trying this one again.  What a shame.  Peppermint is an awesome winter flavor.

If you’ve tried this and had better luck with consistency and flavor, I’d love to hear where you think I went wrong.  I really wanted this to work, and I was sad when it didn’t.

Gingerbread Syrup and Latte

After how poorly my attempts at a pumpkin spice coffee syrup went, I was a little leery of other coffee syrup recipes.  I saw this recipe for gingerbread syrup, and was a little concerned that it didn’t have molasses in it. Could it really get a gingerbread taste without that?  Answer?  Yes!  You will need:

  • Sugar
  • Water
  • Cinnamon
  • Ginger
  • Vanilla

You will also need coffee and milk to make the latte.  Check out the full recipe (plus others!) here, or my pin on my Drinks on Me board.

Gingerbread Latte

Review

Like I said in the intro, I was hesitant to make this recipe, but I really wanted a holiday flavored coffee, so I decided to try this.  Boy am I happy I did!  The flavor was amazing!  This was exactly like a Starbucks gingerbread latte!  I made my husband try it (who usually is very picky about the syrups I make), and he agreed!  This was a definite winner!

I used this syrup every day for about a week and a half, but didn’t get through it.  The main downside is that if you don’t use it, you lose it.  I was thinking about a latte close to week two, but when I pulled out the syrup, it had started to do this strange caramel kind of thing that sort of weirded me out, and I decided to pitch it. I think it would have been better if I could have used it faster.

I think a quick, inexpensive gift would be to make some of this along with another holiday syrup flavor or two, put it in a small bottle, and tie a ribbon on it.  This would be great for a coworker or a friend that loves coffee.  I’d suggest peppermint (which I’m going to try out today!) and/or vanilla maple as great compliments to the gingerbread.  As a bonus, each recipe could easily cover several (I’m thinking 5ish) people, so it would be easy for the recipients to use it up before it went bad.  (Just make sure they know to store it in the refrigerator, and that some crystallization might occur.)

Smoothies

A little over a month ago, I had finally saved up enough to purchase a Vitamix blender.  Our old blender had been a wedding gift, and it had died around the same time that my husband got his job here in Arizona, and I was stuck trying to sell our house.  Since then, I knew I wanted a new blender, but I wanted something with some power behind it that I could use every day to make smoothies.All of my research led me to my new Vitamix.

You guys, I love it.

So, today, I want to share with you three of the smoothies that I have tried out.  You can find these recipes and more on the Vitamix website.

Smoothie #1:  Autumn Sweet Potato

Now, before you try to tell me how odd a sweet potato smoothie sounds, let me tell you a little story.  Back when my brother lived in San Diego, my husband and I drove cross country to take some of his things to him.  While we were there, my brother took us to a sushi place and ordered a roll that had orange and sweet potato in it.  We all agreed it sounded weird and had to try it.  And wouldn’t you know, it was the best thing we ate that day.  We talked about it for days later.  So, when I saw a sweet potato smoothie, I knew I had to try it.  You will need:

  • Red grapes
  • Cooked sweet potato
  • Cranberries
  • An orange

There are several other ingredients, so check out the full recipe here.
Sweet Potato Smoothie

Review

I really liked this recipe.  My husband wasn’t as in love with it as I was, but he didn’t dislike it either.  I left out the dates because I simply forgot to pick them up at the store.  If you decide to use fresh ginger (like I did), I would suggest going even lighter than the recipe and adding more to taste.  We both thought the ginger was a little overpowering.

Smoothie #2:  Basic Smoothie

I started out adventurous, but then decided that maybe I should scale it back and try something simple.  Nothing says simple like the name “Basic Smoothie,” so off I went to try it.  For this smoothie you will need:

  • Milk
  • Banana
  • Pineapple

That’s it!  Check out all the proportions with the full recipe here.

basic smoothie

Review

My husband was not a fan of this one, as in, I will not be making it again.  He thought it smelled and tasted like sunscreen.  I will admit that it did smell like sunscreen, but I, personally, found the flavor to be nice and tropical.  This is something I would enjoy drinking on a beach in the summer.

Smoothie #3:  Vanilla Frappe

After the lack of success with the Basic Smoothie, I decided that I should try something I was confident he would like; something made with coffee.  After taking stock of what I had on hand and comparing that to the recipes I had, I only had one choice: the vanilla frappe.  This recipe calls for:

  • Coffee (brewed double strength or espresso)
  • Milk
  • Vanilla syrup
  • Ice

Unfortunately, the recipe doesn’t appear to be online, but it’s in the cookbook that came with my blender.  You’ll want 3/4 cup coffee, 1 cup milk, 3 Tablespoons of the vanilla syrup, and 1 cup of ice.

vanilla frappe

Review

I really liked this recipe, and have even made it more than once.  It’s definitely sweet, so it’s not really a morning smoothie or a smoothie I would drink often (there’s a lot of sugar in that syrup).  It also separated into a foamy top and a milky coffee bottom.  I think, though, that might be due to using soy milk?  I’m not really sure.  In any case, all I did was give it a quick stir, if I felt like it, and all was well.  This is something I might make a big batch of when I have friends over, especially in warmer weather.

 

Since I got my Vitamx, I have been making a new smoothie every day.  I love it!  You can be sure that I will be reviewing more smoothies in the near future!

 

Pumpkin Spice

Since it is fall, everything pumpkin spice is in the air!  I was determined this year to find a recipe for pumpkin spice coffee syrup so I could have a PSL at home any time I wanted.  I found this recipe and knew I had to try it.  For the syrup you will need:

  • Brown Sugar
  • Pumpkin Puree
  • Pumpkin pie spice

And for the latte you will need:

  • Strong coffee or espresso
  • Pumpkin Spice Syrup
  • Milk

Check out the original recipe here, or my pin on my Drinks on Me board.

pumpkin spice

Review

You guys, this was a real loser.  I was super disappointed with how it turned out.  For one thing, my grocery store doesn’t carry pumpkin pie spice, so I had to make some of my own by combining cinnamon, nutmeg, and all spice.  I don’t know that it was an exact match, but I did the best I could with what was available and what I could find through a Google search.  So, perhaps my lack of appropriate seasonings affected the overall outcome, but I don’t think it did too much.  My syrup never really came together.  It separated and had to mixed every time I tried to use it.  That said, I used it three times before I decided it was a waste and threw it out.  Because the syrup wasn’t great, neither was the latte.  But that’s really all on the syrup.  The latte ratios were fine.

Needless to say, I will NOT be making this again.  Such a bummer!  I will have to continue my search for the perfect pumpkin spice syrup recipe.  I assume that by the time I find it, the world will have moved on to peppermint everything.  Oh well.

Butterbeer Latte

I am a HUGE Harry Potter fan.  When the final two books came out, I was working at a bookstore and we did midnight release parties.  Each of them rank very high on my all-time favorite work experiences. Once, when my husband was gone for the weekend, I marathoned through all eight movies.  So, obviously, when I saw this recipe for a Butterbeer latte, I had to give it a try!  You will need:

  • Milk
  • Butter
  • Brown Sugar
  • Cinnamon

Check out the full recipe and ingredients list here, or see my pin on my Drinks On Me board.

butterbeer latte

Review

This drink is full of things that I shouldn’t be eating any more, but I simply had to try this out. The flavor is amazing!  I loved this latte.  I also like that there are variations on the recipe to add coffee as well as how to order this at Starbucks.

One of the things that I found a little difficult with this recipe is the initial sugar and butter step.  Because the amounts are so small, you really need to keep an eye on everything so it doesn’t burn.  I think an excellent solution to this would be to have a friend over and make Butterbeer lattés for two!  That will increase the butter and sugar and make it a little less likely to burn quickly.  Also, you could use a smaller saucepan, but make sure that the saucepan is still large enough to hold the milk when you add it.

I LOVED this recipe.  I think that I will try it again with my soy milk and see how it turns out.  That won’t take care of the butter in the recipe, but it’s a change toward being better for my low cholesterol diet.  If you like Harry Potter, this is a recipe you HAVE to check out.

Coffee Syrup and Bonus Latte

 

This morning I was struggling.  I didn’t sleep well, and all I wanted to do was go back to bed.  Of course, I could do that (being a housewife has its perks), but I had a lot I wanted to accomplish today, so getting up was necessary.  Then I remembered that I had pinned a recipe for coffee syrup, and thought that it was just the thing to get me going this morning.  I made the maple vanilla version of the syrup, so I needed:

  • sugar
  • water
  • maple syrup
  • vanilla

That’s it!  Can you believe how simple this is?  You can find the original recipe here, or check out my pin on my Drinks on Me board.  Also on that board, you can find the pin for the perfect latte recipe that I followed after I made the syrup.

coffe syrupReview

This coffee syrup was SO EASY to make, and it makes a lot!  I don’t have a picture of the final product because I just put it in a vacuum sealed food jar because I didn’t have a pretty bottle, but trust.  If I had to guess, I’d think there is enough syrup to last a month. (Of course, that’s very dependent on how much syrup you decide to use each time.)  The overall cook time is around 30-40 minutes depending on how long it takes for the initial gentle boil, plus you need to allow it to cool before youput it in a jar or bottle. I didn’t feel like this was too bad, though, because it’s a low maintenance recipe.  You want to let it simmer for 15-20 minutes while stirring occasionally.  I used a kitchen timer that I set for 3 minutes.  Every 3 minutes I would check it and stir.  While I waited, I checked Facebook, Twitter, my email, etc.

On her website, the recipe author says this would be a great gift, and I agree.  I can see this being an excellent housewarming gift or hostess gift with some coffee or some mugs.  It would also be a cool shower gift.  You could make several different types and use small bottles so everyone goes home with a sampler.

After I made the syrup, I decided to follow her directions for the perfect latte.  Honestly, I only used her directions for the general gist of things.  I didn’t have any espresso, I only had low-fat milk, and I don’t own a frother. But, that didn’t mean I couldn’t follow the spirit of the recipe.  I brewed some regular coffee, though not as much as I normally do.  I put a cup of milk on the stove and set the flame to medium heat and just sort of watched it.  Another thing I don’t have is a candy thermometer, so I couldn’t check to see when I hit 150 degrees.  Instead I looked for steam to roll off the top, but not yet boil.  Since I didn’t have a special frothing device, I just used the whisk attachment on my hand mixer and beat it until there was a lot of foam. I’m not sure if I should have beat it longer or shorter, or if it was the lack of fat in the milk, but the final product left me with foam that isn’t quite like the pictures.

To put it all together, I put 2 tablespoons of my coffee syrup in my mug, then added the coffee, and finally added the milk, using a butter knife to hold back the foam until the very end. The final result was delicious.

Will I make this again?  Absolutely. Without a doubt I will do this again. I will probably try the caramel syrup next (though I am probably going to work out how to make a toffee flavor because that’s my current favorite).  I won’t be making syrup for a while, though., as today’s batch will last me for a while.  I will also make the latte again, though maybe not all the time.  It makes a lot of dishes to heat the milk on the stove and whisk it.  I might reserve the lattés for Saturdays, or, at the very least, days when I just want to crawl back into bed.