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Coffee and Tea

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Scones with Vanilla Coffee Salt

March 30, 2017
White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Scones with Vanilla Coffee Salt Recipe | Fake Food Free

 

Just out of curiosity, what is the authentic shape of a scone? All of the scones I’ve eaten in Ireland are round. That’s probably a safe bet. But a lot I eat in the U.S. are wedges or triangles. It’s the shape I make most often, too. 

Call me crazy, but every once in a while I like to pull a wild card and make them square or rectangle. In the grand scheme of things, I realize this really doesn’t matter. A good scone is a good scone regardless of shape. This is simply a little sneak peek into the things that roll through my head when I’m in the kitchen – authentic scone shapes. 

Speaking of good scones. I have some for you today! 

We returned from Kauai this past weekend. It was our first trip to that island and our second to Hawaii. As usual, the travel gave me some inspiration for the kitchen along with a few ingredients that made their way back to California via my suitcase. 

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Ginger and Black Peppercorn Hot Tea Recipe

October 8, 2014

This hot tea combines ginger and black peppercorns for a slightly spicy drink that will warm you up. A recipe I learned from friends while living in Brazil, it is a non-alcoholic twist on the Quentão we used to drink there during the winter.  

Ginger and Black Peppercorn Hot Tea Recipe | Fake Food Free

During one of the Julys we spent in Brazil, I helped a friend host a party for her English students and she made this tea. I know what you are thinking — hot tea in July? But remember, U.S. summer = Brazil winter, and where we were in the south, it did get pretty fall-like.

It is a non-alcoholic version of the warm wine drink, Quentão, that is enjoyed during Festas Juninas celebrations. This drink, often described as a mulled wine, was made in large volumes with very, um, affordable wine and often cachaça so it’s surprising that I liked it, but the spicy flavor of the fresh ginger won me over. 

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Frozen White Russian Cocktails

September 12, 2014

Turn your White Russian cocktail into a spiked frozen treat with this recipe!

Frozen White Russian Cocktail | Fake Food Free

I like to keep my desserts and my cocktails separate. I’m rarely tempted by the spiked dessert shakes or fancy frozen drinks that show up on restaurant menus.

But that is when I’m dining out. This? This is when I’m at home. No way am I passing up a frosty combination of spirits and ice cream at home. It’s a lot more fun to be creative with frozen cocktails in your own kitchen than to pay someone else to do it for you. At least that is how I feel about it.

I love both Black and White Russians, which is no surprise considering that I am a huge coffee fan. So with some coffee ice cream in the freezer and a few warm days lingering from summer, I thought a frozen cocktail would be a welcome addition to a rather long week.

Frozen White Russian Cocktail | Fake Food Free Continue Reading…

Pink & Black Rosemary Vodka Martini with Owl’s Brew

February 28, 2014

Welcome to the first cocktail week on Fake Food Free. This week I’m recapping some of the excellent cocktail mixers I discovered at the Fancy Food Show in San Francisco in January. This is post three of three. Check out post one and two for more great drink ideas!

I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m attracted to cool packaging, especially bottles. This usually leads me to all kinds of good stuff for the kitchen – olive oils, sea salts, and this time, cocktail mixers!

I heard about Owl’s Brew before I attended the food show in January so I was on the lookout. What is different about Owl’s Brew is that it’s all about tea. There are three different blends, two made with black tea and one with English breakfast tea. The teas are brewed with whole spices, fruit peels, fruits and herbs, and slightly sweetened with agave. The idea is to use two parts of Owl’s Brew to one part of your favorite spirits and plenty of suggestions are provided on the bottle.

Cocktails using tea are something new to me and Owl’s Brew served as the perfect introduction. I’ve steered away from mixers in the past, but with less sugar and all the natural ingredients in this, I can see keeping a bottle around for good. You can also get all three flavors in a sampler pack. Gift giving for cocktail and tea lovers is totally taken care of!

So how about those flavors. I mentioned there are three:
Coco-Lada – Black tea with chai spices, pineapple and coconut
Pink & Black – Black tea with strawberries, lemon peel and hibiscus
The Classic – English breakfast tea with lemon peel

I had a sample of Pink & Black to work with. I tried it with a lager at the show and it was delicious as a beer cocktail. This time around I wanted to concentrate on the strawberry flavor that comes through in the brew. I love rosemary and strawberry so a vodka martini seemed like a good idea.

And a good idea, it was. This drink is nice and simple with both the rosemary and the flavor of the Pink & Black tea mixer coming through. It’s also a beautiful deep pink color. Perfect for spring!

 

Pink & Black Rosemary Vodka Martini with Owl’s Brew

Makes: 1 drink

2.5 oz. vodka
1.5 oz. Pink & Black Owl’s Brew
2 small sprigs of fresh rosemary
Ice

Place the vodka in a cocktail shaker and add the leaves of one of the sprigs of rosemary. Mull the leaves with the vodka to extract the oils.

Pour in the Owl’s Brew. Add ice. Cover and shake until cold.

Strain the martini into a glass. Garnish with a rosemary sprig and serve.

Disclosure: This product was provided for review purposes. I was not required to post about it and received no compensation for doing so.

A Run in the Rain and Coffee in Seattle — Closing Out IFBC

September 27, 2013

I woke up last Sunday morning with a food hangover. Have you ever had one of those? It’s not quite the same as the kind caused by alcohol, but it a good indication that you had an enjoyable dinner the night before.

Sleepy and sluggish, I had yet to engage in a workout since I got to Seattle so I made myself get up and run. It was more of a run/walk as I tried to navigate where I was going, but then something awesome happened.

It began to rain.

And I began to bound. Well, I’m sure it didn’t look like bounding to the street-side spectators. Given all the food I’d consumed in the past 48 hours it was probably a heavy shuffle, but it felt like bounding in my mind and spirit. I stopped just short of running down the middle of the street waving my arms in celebration. RAIN.

If you ask me what I miss most after moving to California, the answer is rain. I don’t miss dangerous storms, but I do miss long, gloomy days filled with pouring rain. I was thankful Seattle pulled through for me.

After closing out a great conference, I still had one more food (and drink) adventure before my flight – Storyville Coffee. I’d learned by word of mouth (more like word of Facebook) that this was a new coffee shop opening in Pike Place Market. The official opening day is October 1, but throughout September anyone can visit by emailing for a reservation.

The big surprise is that it is not just a visit. It’s an incredible friendly greeting at check in followed by an invitation to order any drink and pastry you want, all on the house. I ordered a delicious cappuccino and a salted caramel roll that was outstanding.

As I sat in their ultra-cool loft-style space with a cozy fireplace burning up front and gazed out the window at Pike Place Market below, I thought, who does this?! Free coffee? (And excellent coffee, by the way.) Free food? All month before a grand opening? Available to anyone?

Well, Storyville does and it was pretty awesome. I’m so happy I had the opportunity to go during my visit to Seattle.  I can already predict that it is going to be the best place to escape from the craziness of the market. And I mean that in the best possible way, but wow, does Pike Place get crazy with tourists.

When I finally made my way through the long, slow security line at the airport, I was greeted with one of the friendliest TSA agents I’ve encountered yet. Through overhearing his conversations with others, I learned he was from California. He looked at my license, looked back up at me and said, “Did you miss the sunshine?” I said, “No, I actually really miss the rain. I loved it here.” He smiled and said, “Me too. That’s exactly why I moved up here.”

So it turns out not everyone dislikes the weather in Seattle and as you can tell the city can certainly hold its own when it comes to amazing food.

The International Food Bloggers Conference is in Seattle again, by the way. Same weekend, but with a larger group (up to 500), they are moving it to the Westin. Registration is up now for any bloggers who might be reading this.

Disclosure: I was required to write 3 posts about my experiences at IFBC in order to receive a discounted registration fee. This is email 3 of 3. The weekend involved many free products and foods from companies and restaurants that I may or may not write about. Thoughts are my own. I am not required to write about these foods or companies and will receive no compensation for doing so. 

Smoked Almond Matcha Tea Cookies Recipe

December 12, 2012
I love making these Smoked Almond Matcha Tea Cookies during the holidays. The almonds add a flavorful, smoky surprise that goes so well with the sweetness of the cookie, and the matcha gives them a festive green color. 
 
 
Smoked Almond Matcha Tea Cookies | Fake Food Free


If I yelled hello it would echo. Hear it? It’s a tiny echo from this deep dark hole of job transition and packing that has swallowed me up for the past few weeks. It’s an okay hole. I’ll be out of it soon. But right now it has taken me over. 

 I’ve never made a big move or transition right at Christmas time before. It’s exciting to imagine the coming New Year as a true new beginning, but I am really missing Christmas. Fortunately, we’ll spend some time with family before the official move so even if there are none at our house, I see lights, trees, snowmen and cookies in our future. 

 Ah, cookies. This year there won’t be many made by me, but before I packed the the baking sheets, I did manage to make just a few for a cookie exchange with a friend. 

 I had lots of smoked almonds left over from the Almond Goat Cheese Scoops, and even some matcha from these Matcha Tea Cookies with Gooseberry Filling, so I tried combining them for what turned out to be my new favorite cookie. They are much like a shortbread or sandie cookie, and the matcha adds a light green color making them even more festive. 

Smoked Almond Matcha Tea Cookies | Fake Food Free


 I always like to warn you when a recipe calls for refrigeration. I’m notorious for getting all excited to quickly make a cookie and realize later that I didn’t pay close enough attention to the fact that the dough needs to be refrigerated! So plan ahead with these, they will need to firm up for 3 to 4 hours in the fridge.  

Smoked Almond Matcha Tea Cookies Recipe 

Makes: About 2 dozen cookies

Ingredients

1 cup unsalted butter, softened 
⅓ cup Demerara or other raw sugar 
1 large egg 
1 tsp almond extract 
½ tsp Matcha tea powder 
¼ tsp fine ground sea salt 
2 ¼ cups unbleached all purpose flour 
½ cup smoked almonds, crushed 

Prep

 In the bowl of a mixer, beat the butter and sugar for 60 to 90 seconds. I usually add extra time when working with raw sugar to help it combine better with the butter. 

Add the egg and beat for about 30 seconds. Add the almond extract and tea powder and mix just until the powder is incorporated. 

Add the salt. Next add the flour a little at a time while mixing on low and scraping the sides of the bowl until a dough is formed. 

 Divide the nuts in half, and spread each portion out on a large piece of plastic wrap. Divide the cookie dough in half. Take one half and roll it into an even log shape. Adjust the size to how big you would like your cookies to be. Mine had about a 2 inch circumference. Roll it in the nuts to coat the outside, and then wrap it tightly with the plastic wrap. 

Repeat the process with the other half of dough. Refrigerate the dough until very firm, about 3 to 4 hours or leave it overnight. 

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Slice the cookies about ¼ to ⅓ inch thick and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 7 to 8 minutes, or just until the edges begin to brown. Allow to cool about 1 to 2 minutes on the tray and then transfer to a cooking rack. Makes about 2 dozen. 

Smoked Almond Matcha Tea Cookies | Fake Food Free


 My plan was to have all kinds of holiday posts for you this month, but unfortunately it’s just not meant to be. Now I’m at the point where all my cooking and baking gear needs to make its way to boxes, so this will be my last recipe post for 2012. 

I have lots of travel eats to share as I’ve now been out to the East Bay 3 times this year and we are preparing for our second cross-country trip. If time allows, I’ll stop back in to at least share some good food. 

I’ll see you in 2013 with all kinds of new adventures! 
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

 

 

Thanks for reading! All images and content are the property of Fake Food Free unless otherwise stated. Please do not republish full recipes and images without written permission. What is okay? Feel free to Pin images, share links to my posts or share the photo in a round up post with the title of this recipe and a link back to the post. Confused about copyright and food blogs? Here is some helpful information on Recipe Attribution. If you want to use a photo or full recipe, just ask. I’m sure we can work something out.

Kale and Hazelnut Salad with Sesame-Citrus Vinaigrette Recipe

October 28, 2012


Several months ago I was asked to contribute one of my recipes to a new cookbook. I took a look at the project and I was immediately drawn to the theme – recipes from different regions across the US. I gladly took part by sharing my Banana-Bourbon Scones with Walnuts.

After much anticipation, Country Comfort: Cooking Across America by Mary Elizabeth Roarke and Chef Nicole Roarke became available just a few weeks ago!

This is such a fun cookbook filled with recipes from chefs, bloggers and home cooks across the US, along with delicious recipes and tips from Chef Nicole. The book is split into 5 regions, and each has recipes for main courses, salads, sides and desserts.

This cookbook does not contain photos, and you know how much I love my photo-filled books. But honestly, it was easy for me to overlook. There are so many creative recipes in it that the more I read the more I have to make.

My scones can be found in the Southeast section, and my good friend Andrea’s (of Food Embrace) Summer Corn Chowder and Kale Hash can be found in the Midwest. A few others that caught my eye – Shepherd’s Pie with Herbed Mascarpone Polenta (Northeast), Carolina Sour Cream Pound Cake (Southeast), Chilled Pinot Noir and Door County Cherry Soup (Midwest) and Fingerling Potatoes in Smoked Gouda Cheese Sauce (Northwest).

I was excited to receive my copy last week. I quickly set out to make one of Chef Nicole’s recipes from the Northwest featuring the state nut of Oregon, filberts (hazelnuts). This is the perfect winter salad. The spicy flavor of the fresh ginger in the dressings will warm you right up, while the kale and broccoli feel light and healthy. In addition to this salad, I can think of so many uses for this dressing. I loved it.

A couple notes. The recipe calls for blended oil which is explained more in the cookbook. It’s basically two oils blended (such as soy and olive oils). Blended oil can be purchased or made at home. There are only a few oils I use in our kitchen (olive, virgin coconut and sesame) so I stuck with all olive oil along with the sesame the recipe calls for. And as hard as I try, I just don’t like raisins in anything other than a baked good. I substituted dried cranberries, but I’m sure the golden raisins would be delicious if you enjoy them.


Kale and Hazelnut Salad with Sesame-Citrus Vinaigrette

Copyright © 2012 Mary Elizabeth Roarke and Nicole Roarke
Reprinted with permission 

Serves 2; yields 1 cup dressing
Per her sister Liz’s request for a healthy lunch, Chef Nicole created a salad inspired by Oregon’s state nut, the hazelnut, also known as a filbert.
Dressing
¼ cup sesame oil
½ cup blended oil (see my note above)
Paste from 1 clove garlic
Zest of ½ orange
Zest of ½ lemon
¼ cup segments and juice of 1–2 oranges
½ teaspoon fresh ginger, peeled and minced
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon turmeric
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
Salad
1 head kale, washed, ribs removed and discarded, and leaves sliced into bite-sized pieces
1 cup broccoli florets
1⁄8 cup thinly sliced red onion
¼ cup hazelnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
¼ cup golden raisins
Dressing
Combine both oils in a pourable liquid measuring cup, and set aside. Combine the remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl. To emulsify the dressing, vigorously whisk the mixture while slowly pouring the oils in a constant, steady stream (see tips on emulsification with Chef Nicole Roarke on YouTube).
Salad
Toss all the salad ingredients in a large bowl. Prior to serving, add dressing to taste. 

Matcha Tea Cookies with Gooseberry Filling

July 10, 2012

These matcha tea cookies with gooseberry are filled with a tangy spread made of the fruit! The sandwich cookies combine two unexpected flavors that are delicious together!

Matcha Tea Cookies with Gooseberry Filling Recipe | Fake Food Free

The first time I had green tea in sweets was during our trip to Hong Kong a few years ago. We loved the fast-paced, cafeteria-like bakeries we found on almost every corner. During one quick stop, I picked up a green tea cake with red bean filling, and loved it.

Matcha Cake filled with Red Bean from Chinese Bakeries in Hong Kong. The inspiration for match tea cookies with gooseberry filling. | Fake Food Free

 

If you do a search for matcha green tea there is no shortage of sweets and bakery creations on food blogs. I’m actually a bit late to the party, but for good reason. I had a difficult time finding the powder around here. I tried to find it when I made the Green Tea Bubble Tea last year without success.

Now I know why.

Since my first experience with green tea baked goods was in Hong Kong, I was associating it with the wrong culture (shame on me). When Matcha Factory contacted me to offer a sample, I learned a thing or two, most importantly that matcha green tea is of Japanese origin.

I’d wanted to bake with it for a while so I gladly took them up on the offer. Matcha tea is ground, shade grown, steamed tea leaves. It’s full of antioxidants, and like most other Asian ingredients, it boasts a variety of health benefits. If that isn’t enough, it also turns everything it contacts into a beautiful shade of green. I definitely need more of this in my kitchen.

When it came to bake goods, just about every idea I had for the matcha tea had been done before, and done well. I first set out with the idea of a tea cake. I wanted to use some of this year’s gooseberries sent from my parents.

I posted about gooseberries last year. If you are unfamiliar it is a small round fruit with an internal texture of a blueberry, but a skin more like a grape. They are tart, and great for a something a little different in baked goods.

My cakes are more like a rich, sweet, chewy cookie, and I’m not complaining. The tart gooseberry filling turned out to be perfect for them. 

Matcha Tea Cookies with Gooseberry Filling Recipe on Fake Food Free

 

Cookies or cakes, I’m sold on adding matcha tea to baked goods. I loved some of the recipes I found on the company’s website such as the Matcha Butter and Matcha Salt. Next up I’m going to use it in a morning shake or maybe a latte.

Matcha Tea Cookies with Gooseberry Filling

Makes: 8 sandwich cookies

What you’ll need for the cookies:
1 1/3 cups Demerara sugar
¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg
½ teaspoon almond extract
1 1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon matcha green tea powder

How to make the cookies:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and lightly grease a 9 x 13 in baking dish.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar and melted butter, until combined. Next, whisk in the egg until incorporated and add the almond extract. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and matcha tea.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and stir until all is combined. You will end up with a thick batter, kind of like a very soft sugar cookie dough.

Matcha tea cookies

 

Press the batter/dough into the baking dish, and smooth it so that it is evenly spread to the corners.

Bake for 18 – 20 minutes, until the edges begin to brown and the center is set. Remove from the oven and cool completely. 

 

Gooseberry Filling

What you’ll need for the filling:

1 ½ cups gooseberries, defrosted if frozen
2 tablespoons Demerara sugar
¼ cup water

How to make the filling:

Combine all ingredients in a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil. Once the berries have burst and it begins to thicken, remove from the heat. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes.

Transfer to a small food processor, or you can use an immersion blender in the pan. Blend until smooth and no skins can be found.

Transfer back to the sauce pan and continue to cook over medium to medium-high heat until the filling becomes thick and spreadable. Set aside to cool completely.

Use a round cookie cutter to cut the cooled matcha tea cookies, or cut into squares. You will get about 16 (8 cookies) with a 1 ½ inch cutter. You will get more if you choose to make squares.

To assemble, spread a small amount of the filling on one cookie, and top with another just before serving.

Matcha tea cookies filled with gooseberries recipe | Fake Food Free

 

Thanks for reading! All images and content are the property of Fake Food Free and Lori Rice unless otherwise stated. Please do not republish full recipes and images without written permission. What is okay? Feel free to Pin images, share links to my posts or share the photo in a round up post with the title of this recipe and a link back to the post. Confused about copyright and food blogs? Here is some helpful information on Recipe Attribution. If you want to use a photo or full recipe, just ask. I’m sure we can work something out.

 

 
Disclosure: A free Matcha Tea sample was sent to me by the Matcha Factory. I was not required to post about it and received no compensation for doing so. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Bloggers Get Together – 5B: Believers in Better Beer, Bites and Blogging

February 17, 2012

There are few things I find more professionally and socially rewarding than food blogging. If I ever tire of cooking, food photography, or food culture, I will still post just to afford myself the opportunity to attend blogger conferences.
I have met people from around the world that I would never have encountered otherwise. These people are creative, smart, and inspiring. We are also one positive group of folks! But what can you expect from food. Good, quality food has a way of lifting one’s spirits.
Hoperatives, a Cincinnati beer blogging group, took a chance on an opportunity to bring a few of us happy bloggers together for the 5B: Believers in Better Beer, Bites and Blogging Conference.And if there is anything happier than food bloggers, well, it’s likely beer bloggers. 
Last Saturday about 40 of us spent the day learning, engaging and sharing. Mindy, Jonathan and I each traveled up on our own schedules from the Bluegrass, and we were outsiders to this group. As a result, I learned a significant amount about the Cincinnati brewery scene, along with some tips in social media and blog design that I can apply to my own work.
I might also mention that when you are obtaining such good information, it doesn’t hurt to sit down and pop open a Schlafly beer at 10:30 am. Beer blogging conferences just might be a little better than food blogging conferences.
I’ll admit that I may have been as excited about lunch as the conference itself. Our coordinators arranged for Cafe de Wheels to park outside the convention center for us. I currently live in a food truck desert, so I couldn’t stop thinking about this all day. I even braved the cold temperatures to place and pick up my order which turned out to be one of the best burgers I have had in a long time. Food trucks have sit-down restaurant burgers beat every time. 

This conference provided plenty of perks including admission to the Cincy Winter Beerfest on Friday and Saturday with a connoisseur ticket on Saturday.  In this case connoisseur means delicious appetizers paired with craft beers.
Here are a few of my favorites. You’ll have to forgive my failure to state the direct source for some of the foods. I was banking on finding some sort of list of food vendors online and haven’t been able to do so. I took only limited notes at the event so if you were there, please feel free to fill me in!
My favorite savory food were these tasty Slow Sliders – a combination of all things local. Not only that, but you could tell how fresh the ingredients were with each bit – a really outstanding sandwich if you like bratwurst, and I do.

Next was the house-made braunschweiger (a liverwurst)  from Virgil’s Café paired with Crispin Maple flavored cider. I got the impression that few people were willing to try this. They were missing out! While I can’t eat a ton of braunschweiger, I grew up with it and thoroughly enjoy it on occasion. And that cider? The maple really cut that standard cider flavor making this one even better than others I’ve tasted. 
I promise every beer I drank was not of the fruity variety, but this Framboesa (raspberry) was one of my favorites. I like it when my fruity beers really do taste like the fruit they are named for, and this one did without a doubt.
And then came the grand finale. Actually, for me it was the appetizer because to ensure I got one, I went there first. Bacon S’mores! Homemade marshmallows studded with pieces of bacon, torched to perfection, sandwiched between two Snickerdoodles with chocolate. I decided to only eat one cookie to pace myself, but whoa – they were as amazing as they sound.

Next some of us headed down to the actual beerfest. Over 300 craft beers were available. Absolutely impressive, but I have to admit, I’m not sure how gung-ho I would be to drive up and attend the beerfest itself. I was in good company so I had a great time, but it was absolutely packed. Your ticket provided a tasting glass and 25 tasting tickets which is A LOT of beer.
The lines for the well known breweries, Rogue, Bell’s, and Blue Moon along with the well known local breweries such as Kentucky Ale, wrapped all the way around the building. It would have been at least a 30-45 minute wait for a 5-8oz beer. We started finding the smaller breweries with shorter lines to try out so we’d actually get a drink. This turned out to be a better plan for trying something new anyway. 
Let me try to prove my point regarding how packed it was. When have you ever seen a Men’s bathroom line this long?!
 
The one beer I set out to try was Kentucky Ale’s Kentucky Coffee Stout made with Alltech’s Café Citadelle from the Sustainable Haitiproject, and I succeeded. I like coffee. I like beer. It only gets better when you put them together. I especially liked how smooth this one was and the coffee flavor was strong which equals good in my book. 
It was great to see all the craft beers, but lines wear me out. As a perk for attending the conference, though, it was well worth it and a nice finish to a fun day.

Eggnog Latte Cupcakes

December 8, 2011
 My favorite holiday coffee drink becomes a dessert in this recipe for eggnog latte cupcakes!
 Eggnog Latte Cupcakes | Fake Food Free 
 

What’s the first food or drink you think of when you hear the word culture?

For me, it’s coffee.

Coffee brings about memories of travel and some of my favorite places in this world. And it’s not just the coffee itself that I enjoy; it’s the culture that surrounds it. I love to smell it brewing in the morning, and sharing a cup over conversation with my husband or friends. I find it fascinating to watch it grow in the fields, and I feel fortunate to support those who grow it as they share a piece of their world with me in each cup. 

So a few weeks ago when I was asked if I would like to review a very special coffee, I was given a great opportunity to offer my support. 

Equal Exchange buys products directly from small-scale farmer cooperatives for Fair Trade prices. Then they pass these amazing things on to us in the form of chocolate, cocoa, tea and coffee. The Congo Coffee Project was created by Equal Exchange in partnership with Panzi Hospital in the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

The Congo Coffee is a blend of African coffee beans that was described to me as smooth and balanced. I have to agree. I took it to work with me this morning and enjoyed every sip. This is a coffee that is worth an online order. 

This is coming from someone who still recruits friends and colleagues to bring me coffee from Brazil, and who stocks up on 100% Blue Mountain coffee any time my feet touch ground in Jamaica.  Yes, I love quality coffee. 

And now is a great time to place that order as Equal Exchange will donate $2.00 per bag sold through their retail web store to the Panzi Foundation. The Panzi Hospital offers treatment, counseling and aftercare programs for over 2,000 survivors of sexual violence each year. 

So, go. Buy the coffee-lover in your life a bag for the holidays. 

When I agreed to review the coffee, I knew that I couldn’t show you a simple cup of coffee and be done with it. Although, a simple cup alone is worth a photo and sip. No, I needed to figure out a way to get it into some of my baking. 

My favorite holiday coffee drink turned cupcake? That will work.

 Eggnog Latte Cupcakes | Fake Food Free

 
These Eggnog Latte Cupcakes start with a rich chocolate, coffee-flavored cake that uses virgin coconut oil, mascavo (muscovado) sugar and white whole wheat flour. Feel free to substitute butter, brown sugar and your favorite flour, if you desire. 

Although, I will say that these are made only slightly sweet on purpose. The eggnog frosting on top is the real deal and full of sugar. I wanted a less sweet cake to balance out the frosting so my final produce wouldn’t make your teeth hurt. The minimally refined sugar and strong brewed coffee did the trick.

Eggnog Latte Cupcakes
Makes: 8 cupcakes
 
Ingredients
 
Cupcakes 
3 ½ tbsp virgin coconut oil, soft, at room-temp
½ cup mascavo or muscovado sugar
2 large eggs 
3 tbsp Congo Project Coffee, brewed strong and cooled 
¼ cup cocoa powder 
½ tsp baking soda 
½ cup white whole wheat flour 
1/8 tsp nutmeg 
½ cup plain Greek yogurt
Eggnog Frosting 
½ stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
2 ½ cups confectioners sugar 
7 tbsp eggnog 
1 tbsp coffee, ground extra fine
Prep
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line a muffin tin with 8 cupcake liners. 

In a bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the coconut oil and sugar. Mix for about 2 minutes, until almost smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Add the coffee. 

In a separate bowl, stir together the cocoa powder, baking soda, flour and nutmeg. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the batter. Mix just until combined. Fold in the yogurt. 

Divide the batter evenly among the 8 cups in the tin. Bake for 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool completely. 

For the frosting, combine the butter and confectioner’s sugar in a mixing bowl and mix on medium and then medium-high until well combined. Slowly add the eggnog, 1 tablespoon at a time. Frost your cupcakes once cool and sprinkle each with a dusting of finely ground coffee. 

Eggnog Latte Cupcakes | Fake Food Free 

 
Eggnog Latte Cupcakes | Fake Food Free

Disclosure:  This coffee was sent to me free of charge. I was not required to use it in some pretty rockin’ cupcakes or write about it, and I received no compensation for doing so.