What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? After the Holidays: Plum Coffee Cake! Plums have a way of making a person feel special. They’re not as plentiful as apples, but when they’re available I can’t wait to snag a few to plunk into a homemade coffee cake. The sweet flavor reminds me of stepping into a pastry shop where fruit-filled delicacies are placed front and center in the glass-domed showcase. From mini fruit tarts overflowing with ripe, juicy berries to cheesecakes smothered in exotic options. Turnovers become too tempting when a smidgen of filling seeps out. And just look at the succulent strudels and rustic galettes. But I digress. Today’s feature is all about the mouthwatering palatable pleasure of the plum.
PLUM COFFEE CAKE
1 1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cardamom
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg, room temperature
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 pound plums, pitted and sliced
Powdered sugar, for dusting
Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 9” cake pan with nonstick oil. Set aside. In a bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, baking powder, and sea salt. Set aside. In another bowl cream together butter and sugar, using an electric mixer, for 3 minutes. Add vanilla extract and egg. Beat on Low speed until well mixed. Gradually add the flour mixture, alternating with buttermilk. Beat on Low speed until smooth. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan. Arrange sliced plums on top in a circular pattern. Bake for one hour until golden brown. Center is set when a cake tester comes out clean. Cool cake on a wire rack. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Splurge-Worthy Goodness: Java White Chocolate Mocha Cookies! Get ready for a cookie that combines three incredible cravings: chocolate, coffee, and cream. It’s the perfect mid-morning break, lunchtime nibble, mealtime morsel, or late night snack. There’s something about the slightly bitter taste of coffee that complements the sugary sweetness of chocolate. The creaminess of white chocolate is similar to adding a splash of milk to your morning cuppa joe. Unlock all the flavors in a single bite. Take things slow; pamper yourself. Savor the sweetness and focus on the texture. Isn’t it time to spotlight the things that make you happy?
JAVA WHITE CHOCOLATE MOCHA COOKIES
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
18-ounce box chocolate cake mix
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1/3 cup sugar, for rolling
1/4 teaspoon instant espresso powder
Preheat oven to 350°. In a small bowl, stir together espresso powder and vanilla extract until dissolved. In a large bowl, combine chocolate cake mix, espresso mixture, vegetable oil, and eggs until a soft dough forms. Fold in white chocolate chips and mini chocolate chips. On ungreased baking sheets, drop dough by rounded teaspoons, spacing 2 inches apart. Bake 9 minutes, or until tops appear dry. In a small bowl, whisk together sugar and espresso powder. Set aside. Remove cookies from oven; cool 1 minute. Roll cookies in espresso sugar and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Elevated Edibles: Heart-Healthy Honey Cakes! Way down south, in the Florida panhandle, grows an unusual tree that produces the “Cadillac” of all honey varieties known as raw Tupelo. The tree blossoms are short-lived and delicate, creating a nectar that is nothing short of superbly exquisite. The finespun flavor is buttery, highly distinctive, and almost magical. If you happen to put your hands on a jar of Tupelo honey, first unscrew the lid and place a couple droplets on your tongue. You owe yourself a genuine taste of the liquid amber gold before adding it to your culinary portfolio. Then, by all means, elevate everyday favorites.
HEART-HEALTHY HONEY CAKES
1 cup flour plus 2 tablespoons
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup Tupelo raw honey, reserving 1 1/2 tablespoons for drizzling over the batter
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup coffee
2 1/2 tablespoons orange juice
Preheat oven to 350°. Generously grease six mini bundt pans with nonstick oil. Set aside. In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and sea salt. Mix well. Add vegetable oil, raw honey, sugar, brown sugar, egg, vanilla extract, coffee, and orange juice. Mix thoroughly until no lumps remain. Pour batter into prepared mini bundt pans, filling each just over halfway. Do not overfill. Drizzle reserved raw honey over batter. Bake 30 minutes, or until cake tester comes out clean. Remove from oven. Cool 10 minutes, then invert pans to remove honey cakes. Cool on wire rack. Garnish with fresh lemon thyme.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Table Food: Dalgona Espresso Shots! If it’s one thing I learned during our time of self-isolation, it was how to make each day something special to look forward to. So every afternoon, in the middle of our day, I’d stop what I was doing and pad off to the kitchen for a delightful diversion. Thanks to my virtual friends, Jyothi* and Judy**, I became a connoisseur of the “Coffee Break”. Both women perfected the art of Dalgona Coffee, a form of whipped coffee that requires only a few simple ingredients: instant coffee, sugar, and milk. (Feel free to click on their links at the bottom of the page.) I became quite lazy about whipping the topping into a mountain of fluff by allowing the milk frother on my espresso machine to become the workhorse. At the press of a button, it became thick, frothy, and ready to pour. Although the aroma would waft throughout the house announcing my arrival, I’d still carry the espresso shots into my husband’s office and proclaim with a smile, “Time for coffee.”
DALGONA ESPRESSO SHOTS
4 teaspoons sugar
4 teaspoons instant Mexican espresso coffee
4 teaspoons cold water
Light cream, for serving
Dark chocolate espresso beans, crushed, for garnish
Using a milk frother, combine sugar, instant espresso coffee, and cold water. Press the setting for a cold beverage. Let the machine run through two cycles to thicken the whipped coffee. Fill two espresso shot glasses 3/4 full with light cream. Carefully spoon the whipped espresso topping over the cream. Garnish with a sprinkling of crushed chocolate-covered espresso beans. Serve immediately.
*Follow the link to Jyothi
**Follow the link to Judy
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Something to Savor: Unbelievable Bacon Jam! Your morning just got better. Everyone loves bacon, right? And coffee is often casually referred to as a “cuppa joe”. Know what you get when you mix the two together, along with a few other items from the food pantry? You guessed it: Bacon Jam that can be slathered on buttered toast or added later to a Charcuterie Board. Tested on guests at Gail’s Kitchen, this recipe is spot on. Give it a try and see for yourself. You can thank me later.
UNBELIEVABLE BACON JAM
9 slices Applewood Smoked Bacon, sliced thick
4 tablespoons bacon drippings
1 large red onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
3/4 cup brewed coffee
1/4 cup pickled jalapeños, diced
1 teaspoon smoked sea salt
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Cook the bacon until brown and slightly crispy. It should be chewy. Cut into 1/2-inch pieces. In a medium skillet over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons bacon drippings. Add diced red onion. Turn to coat. Sprinkle with garlic powder. Sauté until onions are cooked, stirring frequently. Set aside. In a medium sauce pan, combine apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, maple syrup, remaining bacon grease, brewed coffee, pickled jalapeños, smoked sea salt, Dijon mustard, and bacon pieces. Add cooked onions. Stir well. Bring the bacon jam to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer for 45 minutes until the liquid is absorbed and the jam is thick. The bacon jam should appear chunky. Refrigerate in an airtight container.
Dining Outside the Home: Little Fish Coffee in Hanapepe, Kauai! Follow your nose in historic Hanapepe to the alluring aroma of freshly brewed coffee. Be transported to your “happy place” where the smiling fish on the sign invites you to sit awhile for an energetic caffeine fix. Little Fish Coffee’s quirky decor makes for a very social environment or oasis, so to speak. Take time to check social media, nibble on a bagelwich, and people watch. The outdoor seating in the courtyard may present a sunny spot for fresh air and sunshine until that hypnotic coffee aroma lures you back inside for a refill.
Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Sweet Celebrations: Java Chip Cookies! Anyone will tell you the aroma of coffee triggers good feelings. If you don’t believe me, check out the neighborhood coffee shops and you’ll find a local place where people hang out. It’s not just the free Wi-Fi either. Coffee is one of the most popular beverages around, especially now with intense flavorings topped with a mound of whipped cream. Transform the blend of coffee and sugar into a cookie, charged with caffeine, and you’ll be as popular as the Pied Piper. People will follow you anywhere!
JAVA CHIP COOKIES
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
3 tablespoons espresso instant coffee
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup toffee bits
1/4 cup chocolate covered espresso beans, roughly chopped
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside. In a food processor beat butter, sugar, brown sugar, espresso instant coffee, and vanilla extract until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, until blended. Combine flour, baking soda, and sea salt in a separate bowl. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture until it forms a dough. Fold in toffee bits, chopped espresso beans, and mini chocolate chips. Chill dough slightly. Using a melon ball scoop, drop cookie dough onto a baking sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes. Do not burn. Remove from oven. Let cool for 2 minutes. Dredge java chip cookies in sugar, if desired, before transferring them to a wire rack. Repeat with remaining dough. Yield: 3 dozen, large cookies.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Be Our Guest: Vietnamese Iced Coffee! It isn’t often I feature a beverage, but I realized from time to time you may have the desire to try something different there as well. Years ago my friend, Yen, shared her family recipe for incredible Vietnamese iced coffee. She went one step further and supplied me with everything I would need to make it, including the single serving Vietnamese coffee filter set. The results were glorious!
VIETNAMESE ICED COFFEE
2 tablespoons dark roast ground coffee (preferably Trung Nguyen Premium Blend and Café Du Monde Coffee with Chicory*)
1 cup boiling water
2 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk
Bring the water to a boil. Remove the top screen from filter. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons Vietnamese coffee grounds plus 1/2 tablespoon coffee with chicory. Screw on top screen. Place filter over a heatproof glass measuring cup. Begin with a splash of boiling water into the filter. Coffee grounds will bloom. As the coffee begins to drip through, fill boiling water to top of filter. Place lid on filter and let coffee drip for 4 minutes. If the dripping stops, gently loosen screw to relieve pressure. Stir in sweetened condensed milk. Pour over ice and serve.
* I receive no recompense for mentioning Trung Nguyen Premium Blend and Café Du Monde Coffee with Chicory.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: No-Churn Coffee Ice Cream! Years ago my best friend was a specialty brand of Turkish coffee ice cream. I was working two jobs, averaging mostly 70-hour work weeks, seven days nonstop to support myself, and help my kids through college. I also admit I was hiding out from “Life”. Many evenings I’d come home, crash on the sofa, and open a pint of the creamiest concoction laced with butterscotch topping I’d ever tasted. It was bliss. Since then, the company stopped making it in favor of more popular flavors like banana chocolate chunk and coconut almond chip. Seriously? Oh well, that left me with no recourse but to make it myself. Between you and me…I think I knocked it out of the park!*
NO-CHURN COFFEE ICE CREAM
2 1/2 tablespoons espresso instant coffee
2 tablespoons warm water
2 cups heavy cream
14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup dark chocolate covered espresso beans, chopped
Butterscotch Ice Cream Topping
In a small bowl, dissolve instant coffee in warm water. Stir well. Set aside. Using a stand mixer, beat the heavy cream, sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla extract on High speed for 4 minutes until smooth and thick. Reduce speed to Low. Add the prepared coffee; continue until blended. Fold in chopped espresso beans. Spoon ice cream into a loaf pan. Cover tightly and freeze overnight. Scoop into bowls and sprinkle with espresso before serving. Drizzle with butterscotch topping, to taste.
*The secret to my success was chilling the utensils overnight in the freezer and making sure all the ingredients were refrigerator cold.