Orange Chocolate Espresso Martini

Orange Chocolate Espresso Martini

As a coffee-lover, it’s no surprise that I also love cocktails that incorporate coffee into them. Espresso martinis, as popular as they are at the moment, have been a favorite of mine for years. This Orange Chocolate Espresso Martini is a variation on the original that is a liquid …

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Orange Chocolate Espresso Martini

As a coffee-lover, it’s no surprise that I also love cocktails that incorporate coffee into them. Espresso martinis, as popular as they are at the moment, have been a favorite of mine for years. This Orange Chocolate Espresso Martini is a variation on the original that is a liquid version of the classic flavor combination of orange and chocolate. I particularly like to serve this drink around the holidays, but it’s enjoyable all year round.

The cocktail is made with chocolate liqueur, vodka, creme de cacao, espresso and triple sec. The espresso should be cold before going into the drink, so it doesn’t melt the ice when you’re mixing. Espresso will give you the best flavor, but cold brew coffee or other very strong coffee can be used in a pinch. There is plenty of chocolate flavor from the chocolate liqueur and creme de cacao, both of which add enough sweetness that you don’t need to add additional sugar to the drink. Triple sec, an orange liqueur, adds a nice orange flavor without overpowering the other ingredients.

The orange twist at the end of the recipe may just seem like a nice visual to add to the drink, but a twist is more than that. The twist is made of a 1/2-inch by 2 inch (approximately) strip of orange zest. The twist should be squeezed in half, expressing orange oil over the top of the drink before serving, before being dropped into the drink or laid over the rim of the glass. That orange oil coats the top of the drink and really gives the cocktail a bright, fresh orange aroma. In other words, you’ll smell orange, but still taste plenty of chocolate from the cocktail.

This recipe makes one cocktail, but you can easily scale it up to serve more. Don’t put more than two drinks at a time in your cocktail shaker, as it will be too full and too difficult to shake. If you are serving a crowd, however, you can prepare the martini glasses well in advance so you’re ready to fill them up when friends and family are ready to drink!

Orange Chocolate Espresso Martini
1 3/4 oz Godiva Chocolate Liqueur
3/4 oz vodka
1/2 oz creme de cacao
1 oz espresso or strong coffee, cold
1/4 oz triple sec
Chocolate sauce, for garnish
Sugar, for garnish
Orange twist

Pour 2-3 tbsp of chocolate sauce onto a small plate, warming slightly if needed to make it a pourable consistency. Pour 2-3 tbsp of sugar onto a second small plate. Dip the rim of your martini glass into the chocolate sauce, then dip into the sugar. Set aside until ready to fill.

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and fill with ice. Shake vigorously for 10-20 seconds, until cold. Strain into prepared martini glass.

Serves 1.

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Cranberry Flourless Chocolate Cake

Cranberry Flourless Chocolate Cake
Flourless chocolate cake is a dessert that everyone should learn how to make. It’s a cake that doesn’t require very many ingredients, so you will probably always have what you need to bake one already on hand. And since it is simple, it’s not difficult to put your own twist on them. This …

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Cranberry Flourless Chocolate Cake
Flourless chocolate cake is a dessert that everyone should learn how to make. It’s a cake that doesn’t require very many ingredients, so you will probably always have what you need to bake one already on hand. And since it is simple, it’s not difficult to put your own twist on them. This Cranberry Flourless Chocolate Cake is perfect for the holidays. It adds sweet-tart cranberries to a melt-in-your-mouth flourless chocolate cake for a dessert that is downright addictive.

The cake batter for this Cranberry Flourless Chocolate Cake comes together easily, and in just a few minutes. It is made with dark chocolate, butter, sugar, eggs and cocoa powder. It has a rich, satisfying chocolate flavor because chocolate is the bulk of the cake. This also means that you’ll really be able to taste the depth of flavor from the chocolate that you use, so this is a great recipe to splurge with high quality chocolate in the the batter. The cake is also gluten free, which means that it will fit a variety of dietary needs, too.

Whole cranberries are folded in to the batter just before the cake goes into the oven. The cranberries have a bright, tart flavor that adds a wonderful contrast to all that chocolate. There are just enough cranberries that you should get one in every bite or two, giving the cake a great balance.

I really prefer using fresh cranberries in this cake over frozen ones. They have a slightly better texture because they don’t release too much extra liquid into the cake. That said, you can use frozen cranberries. If you do, mix them in quickly so they don’t thaw before the cake gets into the oven. You will also need to extend the baking time by 2-3 minutes.

The cake should be cooled completely before serving, but will keep for 2-3 days after baking when stored in an airtight container. Serve it at room temperature or slightly warmed, alongside a generous scoop of whipped cream.

Cranberry Flourless Chocolate Cake
4-oz dark chocolate, coarsely chopped (approx. 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup whole, fresh cranberries

Preheat oven to 375F. Line an 8-inch cake pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper and lightly grease.
In a small, microwave-safe bowl, melt together chocolate and butter, stirring with a fork until very smooth.
Pour warm chocolate mixture into a medium mixing bowl with sugar. Whisk to combine. Beat in eggs one at a time, waiting until each has been fully incorporated to add the next, then mix in vanilla extract. Sift cocoa powder into the bowl and whisk until well-combined. Fold in cranberries until evenly distributed.
Pour into prepared cake pan.
Bake for 25-27 minutes, until cake is set and cranberries are bubbling slightly.
Allow cake to cool completely in the pan for 5 minutes, then lift the cake out of the pan using the parchment paper or aluminum flour. Slide cake onto a serving platter using a large spatula.

Serves 8-10

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Bourbon Spice Cupcakes with Cranberries

Bourbon Spice Cupcakes with Cranberries

I don’t skimp on spice during the spring and summer, but I definitely incorporate a lot more spice into my fall and winter baked goods. There is something about a really flavorful spice cake that just feels especially warm and satisfying when there is a chill in the air. These Bourbon Spice …

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Bourbon Spice Cupcakes with Cranberries

I don’t skimp on spice during the spring and summer, but I definitely incorporate a lot more spice into my fall and winter baked goods. There is something about a really flavorful spice cake that just feels especially warm and satisfying when there is a chill in the air. These Bourbon Spice Cupcakes with Cranberries are a great way to welcome in a change in the season, with a wonderful blend of flavors that is perfect for holidays from Thanksgiving through New Year’s.

The cupcakes are moist with a dense, tight crumb. You can really taste all the warm spices and the bourbon in the cake, but the cranberries are what take these from good to great. They add a sweet-tart pop of flavor that contrasts well with the spices, brightening up the cupcakes and making them downright addictive! Plus, they bring in a beautiful holiday pop of color!

Bourbon itself is slightly sweet and has distinct notes of oak, which tends to be a bit spicy itself. There are many recipes that include spirits where they don’t make much of an impact on the flavor of the recipe and that is simply not the case with these cupcakes. Here, the bourbon makes a difference and makes the overall flavor of the cupcakes richer and more complex. I also added a small splash of bourbon to the frosting to emphasize it a bit more.

You can use any kind of bourbon in these cupcakes. I happened to use Maker’s Mark in this batch. The alcohol from the bourbon is going to bake out as the cupcakes are in the oven, so you don’t need to worry about anyone getting a buzz off one one of these cupcakes. With 18 cupcakes in a batch, there is less than a teaspoon in each cupcake anyway. That said, if you really want to leave out the bourbon, there is no good nonalcoholic substitute for it flavor-wise. You’ll can replace it with milk, double the vanilla extra and enjoy a (still delicious!) simple spiced cranberry cupcake instead.

Bourbon Spice Cupcakes with Cranberries

Bourbon Spice Cupcakes with Cranberries
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup bourbon
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, coarsely chopped.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line 18 muffin cups with paper liners.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and spices.
In a large bowl, whisk together butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla extract until well combined.
In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine milk and bourbon.
Blend one third of the flour mixture into the butter mixture, followed by half of the milk mixture. Stir in another third of the flour mixture, followed by the remaining milk. Stir in all of the remaining flour and mix just until all ingredients are combined and no streaks of flour remain. Fold in cranberries
Bake for 16-18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Turn cupcakes out onto a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

Makes 18 cupcakes

Bourbon Cream Cheese Frosting
4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup (4 oz) butter, room temperature
1 tbsp bourbon
1 tbsp milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2-3 cups confectioners’ sugar

In a large bowl, cream together bream cheese and butter until well-combined. Beat in bourbon, milk and vanilla extract, then gradually blend in the confectioners’ sugar until the frosting comes together to a thick, spreadable consistency. If you want to pipe your frosting out, you may need additional confectioners’ sugar to make it stiffer.

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Eggnog Pancakes

Eggnog Pancakes

If you haven’t stocked up on eggnog this holiday season, you might want to run to the store and pick up a container of your favorite brand so that you can whip up a batch of these fluffy Eggnog Pancakes for breakfast. They’re easy to make and a wonderful way to infuse …

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Eggnog Pancakes

If you haven’t stocked up on eggnog this holiday season, you might want to run to the store and pick up a container of your favorite brand so that you can whip up a batch of these fluffy Eggnog Pancakes for breakfast. They’re easy to make and a wonderful way to infuse a little holiday flavor into your mornings. I enjoy them throughout the holiday season – starting after Thanksgiving and going all the way through New Year’s Day.

The pancakes are light, fluffy and have a delicious eggnog flavor in every bite. This flavor comes from the eggnog in the batter, of course, but it is amplified by the addition of vanilla extract and freshly ground nutmeg. That combination of vanilla and nutmeg is always a component of eggnog, so including both of those ingredients makes these pancakes work beautifully.

The pancakes are not overly sweet on their own, but since eggnog is sweetened and contains a bit more sugar than the milk or buttermilk that you might typically put into your pancakes, the eggnog ‘cakes will brown a bit more easily than their plainer counterparts. This means that you might need to turn down the temperature on your cooktop between batches to prevent your pancakes from over-browning.

This recipe makes a batch that should serve 6-8 people, especially if you are serving up your pancakes with a side of eggs, bacon or sausage. If you’re serving a smaller crowd, feel free to halve the recipe. I drizzled mine with maple syrup, but if you don’t have quite as much of a sweet tooth, you could top them with a dollop of whipped cream and an extra sprinkling of freshly grated nutmeg.

Eggnog Pancakes

Eggnog Pancakes
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
2 tbsp sugar
1 3/4 cups prepared eggnog
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and sugar.
In a small bowl or a large measuring cup, whisk together eggnog, eggs and vanilla until well-combined. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the eggnog mixture and whisk until batter is smooth.
Preheat a nonstick griddle or a large nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. When a drop of water skips around on the surface of the pan, the pan is ready for you to dollop 1/4-cups of batter onto it (if the water evaporates, the pan is too hot). Reduce heat slightly and cook pancakes, turning once, until pancakes are golden on both sides.
Repeat with remaining batter.
Serve immediately.

Serves 4-6

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