Mint Shortbread with Coffee Glaze

Do you ever like a flavor more than an actual food? I don’t drink coffee unless it’s full of milk and flavors (looking at you vanilla latte) but I love coffee flavored sweets. Coffee ice cream? Coffee beans covered in chocolate? Coffee donuts? Yes to all of it.

I’m a big fan of shortbread made with fresh herbs but mint always seemed too sweet to me. I’ve stuck with basil and rosemary in the past, hearty herbs that added a savory twist to my otherwise sweet-heavy diet. Well, I finally took the plunge on mint and I’m so glad I did.

If you aren’t lucky enough to have a trendy coffee spot in your neighborhood serving mint coffee, you may be confused about my choice to pair coffee with my mint shortbread. It might sound strange but the combination is heavenly. I’ve been looking for an opportunity to use the espresso salt my brother gave me for Christmas so I figured topping a sweet shortbread with some delicious fancy salt was a fantastic idea.

The shortbread may be loaded with mint, but don’t expect it to taste like a mojito. Once baked, it has a deep earthy flavor, followed by a sweet mint aftertaste. The coffee glaze is with the espresso salt has a nice sweet and salty flavor that is bound to please your taste buds.

I love a good tea time snack so I’m definitely adding this to the menu. Plus with the coffee in the glaze and the espresso salt, it’s basically a double dose of caffeine - exactly what most of us need to make it through the day. Especially on Mondays.

Shortbread Ingredients

  • 2 sticks of butter
  • ½ cup (100g) brown sugar
  • ½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoon of finely chopped fresh mint
  • 1¾ cups (220g) all purpose flour

Coffee Glaze Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 tablespoon of coffee
  • 1 cup of icing sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon of espresso salt

Recipe

  • Preheat the oven to 350. Line a 9x9 glass baking dish with parchment paper overhanging the sides of the pan and spray with non-stick spray. Set aside.
  • Cream together butter and sugars for the shortbread on medium high until it becomes lighter in color. Mix in the mint. Slow the mixer down to low and mix in the flour until just combined. Press dough into prepared pan. Bake for 37 - 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  • When done, remove from oven and let cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. Using the overhanging parchment paper, pull out the shortbread and finish cooling completely on a cooling rack.
  • Prepare the glaze to top the shortbread. Combine the butter, coffee and icing sugar into a small saucepan over medium heat and stir with a wooden spoon until fully melted and combined. Drizzle onto the shortbread and sprinkle with espresso salt.

Cookies and Peanut Butter Cream Cupcakes

Cookies and cream? Love it.

Peanut butter? I’m there.

Cookies and peanut butter cream? *Takes a few minutes to think this over* Yes please!

It’s always sad to say goodbye. This past week, one of my coworkers decided to move on to another opportunity and once I got over being selfishly so sad that my desk buddy will be gone, I moved on to the fun part of saying goodbye - the goodbye party! The date was set and I volunteered to bring dessert (obviously). 

My departing coworker couldn’t give me a definite answer on what her favorite flavor was so I could bake something yummy.  When I got her to narrow the list down to two, peanut butter and Oreos, I decided to combine them as a joke. Well, the joke was on me because they were delicious together!

The peanut butter cupcake base was moist with just the right amount of crunch from the Oreo cookies and the icing? I could eat that by the spoonful. It’s probably a good thing there wasn’t any icing leftovers or else I actually might have sat down and eaten a bowl of icing for breakfast. That’s what happens when I photograph food in the early morning before I eat breakfast, I get tempted by my own product. Don’t worry Mom, I just ate one cupcake for breakfast.

If there’s a lesson to be learned from the delicious accident that was these cookies and peanut butter cream cupcakes it is this - don’t knock it ‘till you try it.

Cupcakes Ingredients

  • ¾ cups (150g) granulated sugar
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • ½ cup (140g) peanut butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 ½ (187g) cup flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup roughly crushed Oreos

Icing Ingredients

  • ½ cup of butter, softened
  • 3 cups of icing sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup crushed Oreos (You want these super crushed so I put them in food processor to get it very fine)
  • ¼ - ½ cup heavy cream
  • Optional: 6 Oreos cut in half for decoration

Recipe

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a muffin tray with cupcake liners.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together sugar and butter. Mix in the peanut butter until smooth and creamy followed by the eggs one at a time, the vanilla and the milk. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and baking powder.
  • With the mixer on low, combine the dry and wet ingredients. Once combined, mix in the crushed oreos. Scoop into the prepared muffin tray, filling the each mold ¾ of the way. Bake for 14-16 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of one of the cupcakes comes out clean.
  • When done baking, remove the cupcakes from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes in the tray. Transfer to a cooling rack until completely cool. Meanwhile, make the icing.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer (make sure to clean it while the cupcakes are in the oven), cream together the butter and the sugar. Start with the mixer on low so that the sugar doesn’t fly everywhere and slowly bring the speed up to medium-high. Mix in the vanilla extract and the oreos. The icing will be quite thick at this point. Mix in the heavy cream 1 tablespoon at a time until the desired thickness is achieved. My sweet spot was at about ¼ cup of heavy cream (or 4 tablespoons) but you may want to let your instincts guide you to your prefered icing thickness.
  • Transfer icing to an icing bag (or a ziplock with a hole cut in one of the corners) and pipe onto cupcakes!

 

Monday Musings, Part V

We don’t get a lot of snow in the D.C. area so when I travel North during the winter I completely forget to account for potential snow storms.

Rainbow cookies from one of my favorite lunch spots in DC - On Rye! 

Rainbow cookies from one of my favorite lunch spots in DC - On Rye

If you live in the Boston area you know that it got hit with a lot of snow in the last few days. I wasn’t quite ready for this, but neither was the airport, so I spent many hours at Boston Logan on Sunday afternoon praying for my flight to be un-delayed. Did you know that was a thing? I thought my brother would be able to entertain me as we both waited out our flight delays but not too long after we got settled, he noticed his flight was boarding. On time. Needless to say I was a little jealous when he received a confirmation email that his flight was no longer delayed.

Yesterday's winter wonderland in Boston

Yesterday's winter wonderland in Boston

Didn’t the weather know that I had a ton of baking projects waiting for me at home?? Between a craving for biscotti and a going away party for a coworker tomorrow evening that I promised to bake for, I have a lot to get started on.

Inspiration from my trip to Charleston last month

Inspiration from my trip to Charleston last month

I also have a lot to start eating. I returned to my chocolatier roots last week and made a whole bunch of fancy chocolate to wow my family with this weekend. Guess who forgot them on the kitchen counter? Me, it was me. Now I’ll have to just eat them all upon my return. I mean, someone’s got to step up to the plate, right?

How beautiful is our tiny foster cat? She went to her fur-ever home last night but we've loved having her these past few weeks! 

How beautiful is our tiny foster cat? She went to her fur-ever home last night but we've loved having her these past few weeks! 

Stranded alone in the airport last night, I had loads of time to catch up on all my favorite blogs. If you’re also killing time and looking for some light reading, check out what caught my eye below!  

On Sweet Sundays:

A Good Looking Concord Cake {Guest Post}

Over the holidays, I was tasked with making a “good-looking dessert” for our NYE dinner celebration. Since I’m the go-to baker in my family, I knew I had to step up my game and impress the group. Full disclosure, I am nowhere up to Charlotte’s level of expertise. Note from Charlotte: this is nonsense.

When I found this Concord Cake recipe in Food & Wine I knew I had found the perfect good-looking dessert. The meringue logs piled on top of the cake make it different from any other cake I’ve had, and the combination of mousse and meringue made for a great pairing of textures. Who doesn’t love light and fluffy layered with something crunchy? Throw chocolate in the mix, and I am sold. After reading through the recipe and noticing this was a combination of two traditionally pretty finicky desserts to make, I really hoped I was up to the challenge!

Meringue and mousse both need to be thought out prior to starting, and putting the two together definitely is no exception to this rule. Make sure to read the entire recipe before starting and you’ll do just fine. Plus, I will say the final product is definitely worth the effort (and it’s gluten-free)!

A couple notes about this recipe.

  • I decided to skip tracing circles on the parchment paper as a piping guide for the meringues rounds. Once it came time to actually pipe said rounds, and I found myself eyeballing the two circles to try to get them to be the same size, I realized this was a serious mistake. Don’t skip this step! I also ended up making 3 of these circles for my cake because I had extra.
  • The meringues sticks will expand. When the recipe calls for you to leave an inch of space between them, heed their advice. Charlotte tried to cram too many sticks on each baking sheet and found herself with a giant blob of meringue. Nothing a sharp knife couldn’t fix but to make your life easier, listen to the recipe.

Ready to impress all your friends with a really really good-looking dessert? Time to make your own Concord Cake!

Mousse Ingredients

  • 10 ounces. semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • ½ cup plus 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 large egg whites
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups heavy cream, chilled

Mousse Recipe

  • Using a double-boiler, melt the chocolate with the butter, stirring occasionally, until smooth. Remove from the heat and keep warm. Next, in a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water and boil
  • over moderately high heat, without stirring, until the sugar syrup reaches 240° on a candy thermometer, about 7 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk, beat the egg whites at medium-high speed until soft peaks form, about 3 minutes. Gradually pour the hot syrup into the egg whites in a steady stream and beat at medium-high speed until the whites are stiff and glossy, about 5 minutes. Using a large rubber spatula, fold in the melted chocolate until no streaks of white remain. Scrape the chocolate mixture into a large bowl and set aside.
  • Clean the stand mixer bowl and whisk and add in the vanilla extract and the heavy cream. Beat the cream at medium speed until stiff peaks form. Using a rubber spatula, fold the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture until no streaks remain. Cover the mousse with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours or overnight.

Meringue Ingredients

  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar, plus more for dusting
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 9 large egg whites
  • 1 ⅓ cups granulated sugar

Meringue Recipe

  • Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, sift the 2 cups of confectioners’ sugar with the cocoa powder. Line 4 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Trace an 8-inch circle on 2 of the sheets.  In the stand mixer fitted with the whisk, beat the egg whites at low speed until foamy. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until soft peaks form. Beat in the granulated sugar 3 tablespoons at a time, beating well after each addition. Once all of the sugar has been added, beat the whites until stiff and glossy, about 3 minutes longer. Transfer the meringue to a large bowl and, using a large rubber spatula, gradually fold in the cocoa powder and confectioners’ sugar until just a few streaks remain.
  • Scrape the meringue into an icing bag fitted with a 1/2-inch round tip. Pipe the meringue into the traced circles in a spiral, beginning at the center; there should be no space between the spirals. On the other 2 prepared sheets, pipe the remaining meringue in long sticks, leaving about 1 inch between them. Let the meringue rounds and sticks stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 350°. Bake the meringue rounds for about 25 minutes, until they are firm and can be lifted off the parchment with an offset spatula. Transfer to racks to cool completely. Next, bake the meringue sticks for 12 to 14 minutes, until firm enough to be lifted off the parchment. Cut them into 6-inch lengths and transfer to a rack to cool completely. Using a sharp knife, cut the sticks into 1 1/2- to 2-inch lengths. It’s okay if these look messy, that’s part of the look so don’t worry about not having ‘perfect’ sticks.

Assemble the Cake (Concord cake recipe from Food & Wine)

  • Transfer a meringue round to a cake stand or platter. Spoon half of the chilled chocolate mousse onto the meringue and spread it in an even layer with a large offset spatula. Cover with the second meringue round and spread the remaining mousse on top, mounding it slightly in the center. Cover the cake entirely with the meringue sticks. Refrigerate until the mousse is firm, at least 6 hours or overnight. Dust the cake with confectioners’ sugar just before serving.

Note from Charlotte:

A year and half after her first guest post, Stephanie is back with another amazing baked creation she discovered and shared with me. I got a text from Stephanie on January first in which she insisted I needed to stop what I was doing and make this immediately. This is not the kind of advice I take lightly. I knew I needed to be clear-headed and patient with this recipe so I waited until I had a free day to give it the attention it deserved. The cake making and assembling process took me an entire afternoon but as Stephanie mentioned above, it was sooo worth it. I quickly realized that while I had an abundance of good things to say about this cake, as did my book club when I served it up to them last month, y’all needed to hear it from Stephanie just like I did, so I set out to convince her to come back to the blogging world. The photos featured in this post are from my cake because when Stephanie made hers, it got eaten up too quickly to photograph. Don’t you hate when that happens?