#POPSICLEWEEK: BANOFFEE-COFFEE POPSICLES

 
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It’s Popsicle Week! And I’m back!

In the past two months, I/we: bought a condo, packed, moved, unpacked, went to California twice, unpacked some more, and got married. It’s been nuts (but the best kind of nuts!) I’ll do a wedding recap soon. Also - you'll have to excuse these photos. They're a little off, as I'm still getting used to how the light works in our new place.

I’m pretty excited about popsicle week. Partly because there are so many other amazing bloggers sharing their craftiest popsicle recipes, but also because popsicles are, hands down, one of my favorite food/drink-related ways to cool off during the summer.

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Banoffee-Coffee popsicles are pretty much exactly what they sound like – a banoffee pie + coffee hybrid. Coffee + bananas is a seriously legit combo, you guys. It sounds weird, but I promise it’s delicious. Next time you’re at an ice cream shop getting a milkshake, get a coffee-banana milkshake. That shit is bananas. No joke.

To see the whole Popsicle Week menu, go check out Billy’s blog, Wit & Vinegar.

 
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Banoffee-Coffee Popsicles

makes 10-12 popsicles. easily doubled.

3 ripe bananas
2-3 TB granulated sugar
2/3 cup toffee (recipe below)
1/3 cup brewed espresso or strong coffee
½ tsp vanilla extract
7oz plain Greek yogurt (I used Fage 2%)
ice

Melted bittersweet chocolate
Graham cracker or Biscoff cookie crumbs

Directions:

  1. Slice bananas into coins. Sautee in a skillet with the granulated sugar, until the bananas caramelize a bit. Add to blender.
  2. Add toffee, espresso, vanilla, and yogurt. Blend until thoroughly combined.
  3. Add 2 cups of ice, and blend again.
  4. Divide mixture among your popsicle molds, and add sticks. Freeze.
  5. Once popsicles are thoroughly frozen, remove from molds.
  6. Dip in melted chocolate, and then in the cookie crumbs. Freeze again to harden the chocolate.
  7. Eat!
  8. For storing, I wrap mine individually in plastic wrap, and then stick them all in a gallon-sized freezer bag.

*Note: you can make these without the espresso, if you really want to. They won’t be quite as amazing, though.

Toffee

(recipe from Saveur)

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
pinch of salt
½ cup dark brown sugar
1-14oz can condensed milk (I used nonfat, and it worked just fine.)

Directions:

  1. Melt butter in a small saucepan.
  2. Stir in the brown sugar and salt. Melt over low heat, stirring frequently.
  3. Add the condensed milk and bring mixture to a boil for 3-4 minutes, whisking continuously. The mixture will darken slightly.
  4. Pour into a bowl to cool slightly. Don’t leave it in the pan! It’ll burn and make cleanup absolutely miserable. :)



MALBEC CHOCOLATE CAKE

 
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Oh boy, it's been a while. As it turns out, when you have to plan a wedding in three and a half months, buy a condo, make improvements on said condo, have a few scattered trips to various places, and are super busy at work all at the same time....shit gets a little crazy.

I feel like such a grown-up right now. I OWN LAND. Okay, I really just own a piece of a building, but still. Landed gentry. We've been buying real people furniture, too. Not "sofa that came out of Brandon's parents' garage and is possibly from the 70's" furniture. Like, real expensive furniture. That matches. And isn't torn up by cats (yet). 

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AND we're getting married in 36 days. We got our marriage license today. It was literally the easiest government office visit in the history of ever. I expected DMV-style hellishness, but was pleasantly surprised. Also, I thought marriage licenses came on fancy paper with seals and all that. Ours definitely came from a black and white copier. Boring.

We decided to get our marriage license today because it has officially been one year since my mom passed away. That might seem like a weird thing to do, by my mom was never one to want people to be sad. I mean, she left explicit instructions that we were to have a celebration lunch for her instead of a funeral (complete with a specific guest list, too). Anyway, I know she would've wanted us to turn today into a better day, and this was a nice way to do it. My mom's marriages with both my dad (until he passed) and my stepdad were full of love and happiness, and the marriage license was an effort to commemorate that, in a way. And then we went out to have celebratory (and memorial) drinks and burgers...cause that's the way mom would have wanted it.

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If you're lucky enough to have your mom around this Mother's Day (or someone who's like a mom to you), make them this cake. It's rich and delicious and moist (sorry!), and the Malbec wine adds some deep fruitiness that complements the chocolate incredibly well. The orange-cream cheese frosting gives some tanginess to cut through the richness of the chocolate, and almost lends a sangria-type vibe to the cake. You can make the cake in one bowl (super easy!), and you can substitute any red wine you like if you can't find Malbec. It only lasted three days around here, but it stands up well to the fridge, and maybe even got better overnight. I'm pretty sure it'd make great cupcakes, too!

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Malbec Chocolate Cake + Orange-Cream Cheese Frosting

Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen

for the cake:

6 TB unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk
3/4 cup Malbec wine (or, sub any red wine you prefer)
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 tsp orange extract
1 cup + 1 tablespoon  all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder (I used the Onyx cocoa powder, but dutch is fine too)
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
a pinch ground cinnamon

for the frosting:

8 oz cream cheese, softened
4 TB unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp orange extract (or orange blossom extract)
zest of 1 orange
a pinch of salt
about 2 1/2 cups of confectioners' (powdered) sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom of two 6-inch round cake pans with parchment, and spray the interior with a nonstick spray. 

  2. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. 

  3. Add the sugars and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. 

  4. Add the egg and yolk and beat well, then the red wine + vanilla and orange extracts. Don’t worry if the batter looks curdled. 

  5. Scrape down the sides/bottom of the bowl.

  6. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt together, right over your wet ingredients. 

  7. Mix until 3/4 combined, then gently stir the rest together with a rubber spatula. 

  8. Spread batter in prepared pans. 

  9. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. 

  10. Cool in pan on a rack for about 10 minutes, then flip out of pan and cool the rest of the way on a cooling rack. 

  11. Once they're completely cool, you can either even out your layers, wrap them well in plastic wrap, and freeze them until you want to use them, or even them out and frost them immediately.

  12. Make your frosting: Beat cream cheese and butter until smooth, light, and fluffy (3-4 minutes).

  13. Add in extracts, zest, and salt, and beat for another minute. 

  14. Scrape down the sides/bottom of the bowl AND the attachment (sometimes zest will get stuck to it, especially if you're using the whisk attachment.

  15. Sift in one cup of powdered sugar at a time, mixing well in between, until you have a frosting that is your desired consistency. It took about 2 1/4 cups for me, but it can vary depending on the type of cream cheese you use (light cream cheese makes a looser frosting and will need more powdered sugar to stiffen it up, just FYI).

  16. Decorate cake as desired! I frosted mine, and then covered the sides in cake crumbs from when I evened out the layers, and topped with orange slices.

 

PEANUT BUTTER (OR NUTELLA) HOT CHOCOLATE

 
 

Keeping with the whole January + hot chocolate thing, I've got the last two (for now) hot chocolate recipes for you this week. This one is super easy to throw together, and you totally don't have to have your whipped cream melt or spill hot chocolate everywhere like I did -- all you really need is some peanut butter or nutella (chocolate/hazelnut spread), milk, hot cocoa mix, and whatever garnish (whipped cream, marshmallows, sprinkles, etc.) you prefer. Boom, fancy hot chocolate.

While we're on the topic of nutella, I have to admit something...and I'm about to commit the food blogger equivalent of sacrilege, but I'm going to say it anyway because we can be real with each other, right? I don't love nutella. I mean, it's alright...I don't hate it or anything. I just can't get behind the nutella craze. It just doesn't do it for me. I can't even explain it, really. I just feel pretty "meh" about it. 

That said, I still maintain that if you are a nutella-loving individual, this idea would work just as well with nutella! Whether you choose that or peanut butter, it's pretty simple; all you've got to do is whisk a few tablespoons into the heated milk before you add the cocoa mix and you're good to go. 

 
 

Peanut Butter (or Nutella) Hot Chocolate

makes two servings

20 oz (or two mugs full) milk
6 TB hot cocoa mix
2 to 3 TB peanut butter (smooth) or nutella
your choice of "garnish" (marshmallows, whipped cream, sprinkles, etc).

Directions:

  1. Heat milk in a small saucepan over low heat, until it barely simmers.
  2. Whisk in peanut butter or nutella.
  3. Add cocoa mix, and whisk until thoroughly combined, and heat for another minute or two.
  4. Pour into mugs, garnish, and serve!