Thursday, March 27, 2014

French Press Coffee

There are so many ways to get your coffee. You can brew it in a coffee pot, make a pour over, use a Chemex, pull an espresso, or head to your nearest coffee shop for a professionally crafted creation complete with latte art. All good options, all delicious ways to enjoy the joy that is coffee. But one of my favorite methods of preparing coffee has to be the french press: It's fast, it's easy and you end up with a dense, heavy, creamy cup bursting with flavor — every time. In our house, we call this weekend coffee.

{French Press Coffee}

What you'll need:
  • Coffee beans. Mine are dark-roasted Pink Elephant Coffee Roasters Tanzania Peaberry coffee beans I roasted myself
  • Water — I like a 1:10 coffee to water ratio for my french press. So if you have 50 grams of coffee, use 500 grams of water
  • French Press
  • Coffee Grinder
Yield: Two large mugs of amazing, full-bodied coffee

1. Bring the water to almost a boil in a tea kettle, aiming for 202 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Grind your coffee beans to a coarse, even grind.
3. Fill the french press with warm water to warm the glass. Empty. Then, add the ground coffee to the french press.
4. Pour heated water onto the coffee; allow to bloom for 30 seconds to allow the carbon dioxide to release from the coffee. It will bubble.
5.  Stir. Allow to steep for 3-4 minutes. When it has steeped, press the plunger down to separate the coffee grounds from the liquid. If it's hard to press, that means your grind is too fine; if it goes down too easily, it means your grind is too coarse. Try to find the sweet spot.
6. Serve immediately. Add cream and sugar if desired.

Here's a step-by-step:

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Cookies & Chemex

So I can't stop making these insanely huge cookies, the Ultimate Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies I shared a few weeks back. Seriously, make them. You won't be disappointed.

I added in a Chemex and some awesome Pink Elephant Coffee. Yum.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Cake. It pretty much epitomizes birthdays, right? So, naturally I had to have cake today.

Growing up when it was my time to announce which of my mom's delicious creations would be my birthday cake, it was never actually a cake. I went from requesting pumpkin pie for a solid ten years without fail, each birthday. Then, I graduated to apple dumplings, then brownies heavy on the homemade dark chocolate icing. This year, I decided, it was time to have a real cake. And being 1,735 miles (give or take) away from home with my not-so-kitchen-savvy fiancĂ©, I made it myself. Which means I can pick a cake has little in common with the average birthday cake — this one is dense, it's gooey and incredibly chocolatey. Bring on the cake!

{Flourless Chocolate Cake}
6 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1 stick unsalted butter (1/2 cup)
8 eggs, chilled
1-1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tablespoon vanilla
Powdered sugar, for dusting

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter a 9-inch nonstick springform pan and set aside.
2. Melt the chocolate and butter in a medium-sized bowl, either in the microwave or using a double boiler, and whisk together.
3. In a large bowl, beat the eggs for five minutes on medium to high speed until bubbly.
4. Add sugar, cocoa powder and vanilla to the egg mixture.
5. Add chocolate mixture and mix until well combined.
6. Pour batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the center is just set and the cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan.
7. Remove from over and allow to cool completely. Remove the sides of the pan and dust with powdered sugar.

The cake rises beautifully during baking before falling in the center to form a dense cake with a crusty, crackled top and a decadent, molten middle. Trust me. This is birthday-worthy!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Ice Cream Terrines

So what's better than ice cream? Three flavors of ice cream layered on top of each other then sliced for you on a plate.

These terrines are fun, elegant and impressive, plus they offer a little extra pizzaz to the usual ice cream sundae. I made these for a holiday dinner party a few months back and they were a hit. You can even pre-slice them in the freezer for the easiest party dessert and simply pull the plated terrines out after dinner … because who wants to be scooping ice cream when you're partying? A wine glass belongs in that hand.

{Ice Cream Terrines} 

Three flavors of ice cream. For mine, I used Salted Caramel, Browned Butter Pecan and Dark Chocolate. Here are some more  ideas.

Equipment & Assembly: Ice cream freezer, bread pans, parchment paper

1. Fit two bread pans with a layer of parchment paper each. Tape the edges of the paper to the sides of the pan to hold it in place.

2. Make the first flavor of ice cream according to recipe and freeze according to ice cream freezer instructions, then layer into the bread pans (about two inches of ice cream in each one). Cover with parchment paper to avoid freezer burn. Allow to harden in the freezer for at least four hours.

3. Repeat with second flavor of ice cream. Remove parchment paper before pouring the next flavor onto the terrine, then re-cover.

4. Repeat with third flavor of ice cream.

5. Allow to freeze for at least four more hours or overnight. When ready to slice, pull the parchment paper and terrine out of the bread pan and place on a cutting board. Slice into one-inch servings and serve on a plate. These can be slice ahead and left in the freezer, just be sure to cover each with a layer of parchment paper to ward off freezer burn.

A terrine is fun because you can customize it any way you please — make them with three flavors of ice cream or just one, roll them in chopped nuts, top them with a drizzle of chocolate sauce, etc. And, well, it's a delicious slab of ice cream. How could it not be fun!