Coffee + Ice Cream = One Tasty Treat

It’s getting hotter outside and sometimes, you just don’t want to settle for a fruity Popsicle. Perhaps you’d like to combine your love of coffee with a frozen dessert. If this is the case, you may want to consider making coffee-flavored ice cream sandwiches. Below you will find a recipe for this unique ice cream treat.

Coffee Ice Cream Sandwiches

(this recipe makes 8 servings)

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces butter or margarine (room temperature)
  • 2 ounces caster sugar
  • 2 tablespoons instant coffee
  • 4 ounces flour
  • 16 ounces coffee ice cream
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • Icing Sugar

Directions

1) Lightly grease 2 to 3 baking sheets.

2) Use an electric mixer or wooden spoon to beat the butter until soft.

3) Add in the caster sugar and beat together.

4) Add in the flour and coffee – mixing by hand in order to form an evenly blended dough.

5) Wrap the dough in a plastic bag and place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

6) Lightly sprinkle your work surface with icing sugar.

7) Knead the dough on the sugared surface for a couple of minutes. The dough should slightly soften.

8) Use a rolling pin dusted with icing sugar to roll out the dough. It should have a thickness of 1/8 inch. Use a 2 ½ inch fluted pastry cutter to create 16 rounds from the dough.

9) Place the rounds on the prepared baking sheets. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

10) Preheat your oven to 300 degrees and bake the biscuits until they have turned a lovely light golden color. This should take about 30 minutes.

11) Allow the biscuits to cool and firm up before taking off of the baking sheets and placing on a wire rack to completely cool.

12) Remove the ice cream from the freezer and let soften for 10 minutes at room temperature.

13) Using a metal spatula, evenly spread the ice cream on the flat side of eight biscuits. Leave room around the edges of the biscuits. Place one of the remaining biscuits on top of the ice cream – flat-side down.

14) Arrange the ice cream sandwiches on a baking sheet, and cover. Place in the freezer for at least 1 hour or longer if you want a firmer sweet treat. Sift the cocoa powder over the tops before eating or serving.

Check out these awesome books for more ice cream recipes:






Baking Tips: Angel Food, Chiffon and Sponge Cake

When you are looking for a lighter, fluffier sweet treat to make at home, you may want to direct your attention to the beauty of angel food-, chiffon-, and sponge cake recipes. While not everyone will enjoy the lightness or texture of this dessert, there are many different ways to enhance the taste by experimenting with spices, nuts, and flavored glazes.

What’s the Difference?

Angel Food Cake – This sponge cake is described as delicate, light and airy. Since egg whites are used instead of the entire egg, the dessert is low-calorie and virtually fat-free. The typical one-ounce piece of angel food is a little over 72 calories.

Chiffon Cake – Vegetable oil, eggs, sugar, flour, baking powder, and flavorings are used to make a rather light cake. A high oil and egg content produces a very moist cake.

Sponge Cake – A combination of flour, sugar, eggs and sometimes baking powder creates a firm, yet well aerated baked good.

Baking Tips

When making a light and airy dessert, most of your success will come when beating the eggs and mixing all the ingredients in the right manner. A few baking tips when making chiffon cake, angel food cake, and sponge cake include:

  • If your cake shows poor volume, you may not have beaten the egg whites long enough. You should beat the egg whites until they stand in straight peaks. When the beaters are removed, your egg white should look moist and glossy.
  • Do not overmix your cake batter when you add the flour – make sure to gently fold in the ingredients and combine well until the batter is just smooth.
  • Heavy frosting on your angel food cake will compromise the light texture and flavor of the cake. Instead, opt for a flavored glaze, such as lemon, orange or chocolate.
  • A chiffon cake with yellow streaks means that you added the yolks directly to the dry ingredients without making a “well” in the center of the dry ingredients. Oil should be added first – followed by the egg yolks.
  • Over-beaten or under-beaten egg whites will cause a layer to form in your chiffon cake. Only beat the egg whites until they are stiff and have a moist, glossy appearance.
  • Sponge cake that forms layers means that you did not beat the egg yolks long enough – remember that you should beat the yolks until they are thick and lemon-colored.
  • Blend your ingredients only until they are mixed or you run the risk of producing a tough cake from overmixing the batter when the dry ingredients are added.
  • Cakes that shrink or fall are a sign that the egg whites were beaten too long.

Single-Cup Coffee Brewers

For some people, they’d like to experience the freshest cup of coffee in the least amount of time. The drip coffee makers of yesterday are good at brewing more than one cup of Joe, but are less useful for single-cup drinkers. Today, the market is filled with plenty of options for coffee makers that make just one cup. While some are fancier than others, below are a few selections that satisfy a range of budgets.

The Keurig Brewing System

Accommodating varying coffee cup sizes (including travel mugs), a popular brand in single cup brewing is Keurig. One cup of coffee is made by inserted a pre-filled cup called a K-Cup, which provides coffee, tea, and hot chocolate. Over the years, K-Cups have expanded to include more than 200 varieties, including chai, lattes, mochas, cappuccinos, and iced tea. Prices range from the Keurig® Mini Plus Brewing System ($99.99) to the Keurig® OfficePRO® Premier Brewing System ($249.99). While you may feel limited in purchasing the flavors offered in K-Cup form, some use a specialized filter that allows them to brew their choice of ground coffee.

Tassimo Brewer

Tassimo brewers use T-Discs to deliver you a single cup of coffee of coffee, tea, cappuccino, mocha, latte, crema, espresso and hot chocolate. You can choose from two different brewers (the Braun Tassimo and the Bosch Tassimo), which range in prices from $99 to $260. An accessory to consider for the Tassimo brewer is a color kit, which adds a touch of blue, green, red or brown to the brewer.

Nespresso Espresso Machine

For that special jolt of caffeine in the morning, espresso machines provide a single cup of strongly brewed coffee. Nestle makes a visually attractive line of single cup brewers with their Nespresso Espresso machine, which uses a capsule system. Prices for the Nespresso machines are from $129 (Essenza) to $699 (Gran Maestria). For $229, choose the Pixie to enjoy one of the fastest single cup heating times at 25 seconds. Choose the Citiz with Milk ($299), which not only makes tasty espressos, but also has the capacity to produce creamy lattes. You can also go for the gusto and spring for a Nescafe Aeroccino milk frother, which costs $99.

Coffee Pod Brewers

There are an array of manufacturers that make brewers to work with coffee pods that you purchase separately for your unit. The Hamilton Beach Personal One Cup Brewer ($19.99) is a small yet effective machine that makes a quick cup of coffee. For around $129.99, the BUNN MC MyCafe Single Serve Pod Brewer uses a jet action sprayhead to achieve optimal flavor, and is compatible with hundreds of compostable coffee and tea pods. Senseo also makes attractive single-cup coffee pod brewers.

Introducing Starbucks Refreshers Beverages

Not everyone wants to fill up with the traditional cup of coffee when they wish to rejuvenate their energy levels, and the popular chain, Starbucks, is now offering three different ways to boost your ability to get-up-and-go. Harnessing the natural energy of green coffee extract, Starbucks is making a move in the energy drink market. While coffee extract is used in the making of the beverages, there is no coffee taste – so fruit lovers will certainly be pleased.

Fresh Handcrafted Drinks

A quick trip to Starbucks brings you closer to a handcrafted low-calorie beverage made with fresh ingredients, such as  fruit juice, whole blackberries (in the Very Berry Hibiscus), and real slices of lime (in the Cool Lime). With the addition of green coffee extract, the drink helps encourage a surge of natural energy.

Sparkling Beverages

Green coffee extract is added to a handful of flavorful sparkling beverages made with real fruit juice, B vitamins, ginseng, and antioxidants from vitamin C. You also don’t have to feel guilty about drinking a can because they are only 60 calories. Flavors to consider include Raspberry Pomegranate, Strawberry Lemonade, and Orange Melon. Cans of the sparkling beverage cost as low as around $1.20 and can be purchased outside of a Starbucks coffee shop.

Instant Beverage Packets

The VIA brand of instant beverages that Starbucks produces also offers a line of Refreshers (Very Berry Hibiscus and Cool Lime flavors) for those times you can’t step out of the office or house. The packets are made with real fruit and green coffee extract – providing hints of citrus, apple and mint. This option is perfect for people on the go. All you have to do is open a packet, add to a glass of cold water, and mix. One carton of the VIA Refreshers consists of five packets and cost about $5.95.

Healthy Green Tea and Plum Smoothie

Green tea leaves are the dried leaves of the tea plant, which contain less caffeine than black tea because they do not undergo the fermentation process. For centuries, the health benefits of green tea have been known and utilized by the Chinese and Japanese. Green tea is good for the heart, skin and boosting energy levels. From lowering cholesterol levels to cancer prevention, green tea leaves contain natural antioxidants that translate into healthier living.

Health Benefits of Green Tea

  • The advantages to drinking green tea seem endless, but a few standouts to consider include:
  • Removing aging toxins and promoting glowing skin from the liver detoxification associated with catechins found in the tea.
  • Reduction in inflammation and better control over food allergies – thanks to the plant chemical called quercetin.
  • A weight loss aid that not only assists in the burning of fat, but also helps regulate blood-sugar and insulin levels, which is also beneficial to diabetics.

Green tea is often sipped without any extras, but the flavor is also enhanced by adding lemon, sugar, and especially honey. You can also blend green tea with other ingredients to create satisfying drinks. To tap into the health benefits of green tea while enjoying a cool, refreshing fruity drink, you might want to consider the following recipe:

Green Tea and Yellow Plum Smoothie
(serves 2)

Ingredients

  • 1 green tea bag
  • 1 ¼ cups boiling water
  • 1 teaspoon high-quality honey
  • 2 ripe yellow plums (halved and pitted)

Directions

  1. Add the tea bag to a teapot (or heatproof pitcher).
  2. Pour the boiling water over the teabag.
  3. Allow the tea to steep for 7 minutes. Remove and toss out the teabag.
  4. Let the brew cool off, and then chill in the refrigerator.
  5. Pour the chilled tea into a food processor or blender.
  6. Add the honey and yellow plums.
  7. Process the ingredients until they become smooth. Serve the drink at once.

What is Shortbread?

Quite popular around Christmas time and the Scottish New Year, shortbread emerges in many different forms, including festive iced cookies and drier accompaniments to your cup of coffee. Shortbread is a rich pastry usually made with four simple ingredients: butter, eggs, sugar and flour. After baking, the biscuit becomes tender-crisp treat with a crumbly texture. To avoid browning, shortbread is baked at a low temperature. When it comes out of the oven, it is nearly white or a light golden brown color.

Basic Vanilla Shortbread

Ingredients needed to make a basic shortbread include ¾  (1 ½ cups or 3 sticks) of unsalted butter at room temperature, 1 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour, and ¼ teaspoon salt.

In the bowl of an electric mixer (that has a paddle attachment), mix together the butter and sugar until they are just combined. Add the vanilla extract. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt, and then add the ingredients to the butter/sugar mixture. Mix the dough on low speed until it starts to come together. Once mixed, dump the dough onto a surface dusted with flour. Use your hands to bring everything together. Divide the dough into four pieces. Flatten slightly. Wrap each piece in plastic and put into the refrigerator to chill.

This recipe will make about 48 small shortbreads.

What to Do with Shortbread Dough…

Some people will roll the shortbread dough and cut out shapes to bake as cookies. Others use the dough to make a range of sweet creations. There are plenty of variations you may consider when making a simple shortbread recipe. You can:

•    Cut into the shape of diamonds and dip an end in chocolate
•    Make thumbprint cookies topped with fruit preserves
•    Tea cookies dusted with confectioners (or powdered) sugar
•    Brushed with a lemon glaze and decorated with sprinkles

Baking Essentials: Vanilla

With a distinct aroma that sweetly fills the air, vanilla is one of the most used flavorings found in pastries, cakes, cookies, candy, and other desserts. At one point in time, vanilla was so rare and priceless that only royalty had access to the flavoring. Today, nearly almost every kitchen uses the flavor in some form. While there are plenty of imitations on the market, the cheaper man-made vanilla extract cannot compare to pure vanilla. If you are interested in baking a masterpiece or creating something sweet in the kitchen, vanilla is certainly a baking essential.

Vanilla extract comes from vanilla pods (or beans). There are three common types that you may encounter: Madagascar or Bourbon- Madagascar, Mexican, and Tahitian. Vanilla is the fruit of a thick green orchid vine that comes from regions, such as the islands of Madagascar and regions in the Indian Ocean. The vine also grows wildly in Mexico – producing a thicker, darker bean with a strong flavor. Tahitian vanilla beans are the thickest and are nearly black in color.

The green pods of the vine are picked by hand in an unripened state and undergo a fermentation process that can take between two to six months. The beans turn into a dark brown color as they age. The vanilla pods are then dried and cured to enhance their flavor.

Vanilla is sold in many different forms, including the very popular extract, pods (beans), powdered, essence and vanilla sugar. The vanilla extract often used in the kitchen is made by steeping the vanilla beans in an alcohol and water solution for several months. Some manufacturers will add sugar to produce a clear dark liquid with a rich flavor.

Make Your Own Vanilla Extract

To experience the flavor of fresh vanilla extract, you can make your own by cutting one whole vanilla bean in half – lengthwise. Place the vanilla bean in ¾ cup of vodka, which equals out to 180 milliliters. Cover the contents tightly and let steep for six months before using.

When cooking, keep in mind that one whole vanilla bean equals two to three teaspoons of vanilla extract.

Baking with a Springform Pan

When you’re looking for the perfect pan to bake a delicious cheesecake – choose a springform. This type of pan comes in two pieces with a removable base and bottom, and a buckle-joined vertical surface (or rim). With the flick of a latch, the sides can open and close for easy removal of your sweet creations after they have completely cooked and cooled. The pan truly comes in handy when baking delicate sweet treats, flourless chocolate cakes, and creamy cheesecake desserts.

The traditional material used to make springform pans is tinned steel. The waffle-shaped bottom of the pan gives it strength to handle the relatively heavy weight of cheesecake and torts. The tin coating covers the steel of the pan and helps prevent rust from developing. It is important to thoroughly dry the pan after washing and place in the oven to remove all traces of moisture.

Choosing aluminum springform pans is an advantage in the kitchen because they don’t rust and can be cleaned in the dishwasher. The base is kept in place because the rim is curved inward at the bottom. They don’t have a lip that is locked so they are less likely to suffer damage over time. However, stainless steel springform pans are still popular and non-stick versions make it easier to remove cakes.

Springform pans can be used to make:

  • Traditional layered cakes with a moist texture, such as carrot cake
  • Cheesecakes with crumbly crusts
  • Graham cracker crust before filling
  • Flourless cakes
  • Quiches with their custard-like fillings

Minimize Springform Pan Leakage

To ensure proper use and care of a springform pan, you should know that all springform pans have the potential to leak, especially when baking a very light batter. Pans with a more intricate design are more likely to leak. To minimize leakage, you can place the pan in a water bath when in the oven or line the outside of the pan with aluminum foil. When storing your springform pan, put in a place where no one can reach to avoid any bending, which can lead to leakage.