I was recently asked to be one of the judges for Cupcake Project and Scoopalicious‘s 2011 Ice Cream Cupcake Contest. As a judge, I had to pick my three favorites out of a field of 60 entries and it was a tough job! I definitely wanted to choose more than just a handful, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to spotlight the two coffee-infused entries to the contest here. They were only slightly edged out of the top three (based on my very scientific judging process), but that doesn’t mean that they look any less delicious. The one pictured about is a Cappuccino Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Cupcake from Elizabeth of A Girl In Her Kitchen. It has a chocolate cupcake with cappuccino Chocolate Chip ice cream and is topped with Whipped Cream and a chocolate covered coffee bean. Another caffeinated entry came in the form of some Chocolate Cherry Mocha Delight Cupcakes by Alana (no blog given). These chocolate cherry cupcakes were like mini ice cream sundaes, topped with coffee ice cream and chocolate syrup. The final coffee-infused cupcakes were the Sunken, Crackle–Top Mocha Cupcakes with Toasted Pistachio Gelato and Burnt Caramel Drizzle by Leah of Wine Imbiber. These decadent cupcakes have a generous dose of Kahlua in them and that little bit of coffee flavor makes the cake base even richer.
Check out my other top picks and you’ll probably get some inspiration for coffee-spiced cupcakes of your own (I know I did!).
I usually prefer coffee that is prepared fresh than a drink that comes out of a can, but with that said, I will also admit that I have had some pretty delicious prepared coffee drinks (mostly in other countries) and so I am always happy to try a new drink if I spot one in the grocery store. I like Seattle’s Best cold-brewed iced coffee in their stores, so I didn’t have to think twice before picking up a can of Seattle’s Best Coffee Iced Vanilla Latte.
This coffee drink is basically made with just coffee, milk, sugar and vanilla flavorings – no thickeners or anything to try and give it an unusually “creamy” consistency. In short, there is nothing weird in the can to screw up the drink and the result is a fresh-tasting, perfectly sweetened coffee drink with a good vanilla flavor and a great milk-to-coffee ratio. I didn’t honestly expect to like it as much as I did when I opened the can, but once I had finished, I definitely put it on my shopping list for the future. I still have my vanilla syrup in the fridge when I want to make my own, but as a quick and refreshing coffee drink (that is cheaper than a coffee shop), I’ll take one of these any time.
I should note that Seattle’s Best also makes a mocha version of this drink, as well as a plain version that is sweetened, but not flavored. I preferred the vanilla to the mocha, although the mocha was also quite good, and I’m still keeping an eye out for the Iced Latte flavor to give that one a try.
On a hot day, you can expect to walk into a Starbucks and see a line of thirsty visitors waiting to order their favorite Frappuccino. From now through May 16th, you can expect to see a line of Frappuccino fans regardless of what the weather is like outside because Starbucks is hosting a Happy Hour from 3-5pm on those dates, where all Frappuccinos are half price. This is a pretty amazing deal if you like the blended drinks – especially if you happen to live somewhere that it is feeling like summertime already.
The happy hour special is good on all Frappuccinos, not just the new summer drinks, but if you’re up for giving one of them a try, I’ll recommend the Coconut Mocha!
When passover comes around, there is a different kosher standard for those who observe the holiday to follow and the Chicago Rabbinical Council recently issued a statement warning that consumers should be careful about what they order to drink at their local Starbucks. This seems like it wouldn’t be that difficult to do, but you might be surprised at how many people don’t really know what is used to make their coffee drinks, whether it is syrups, flavored powders, creamers or even milk. It is worth being extra vigilant if you are being strict about something like the Passover guidelines, or have a strict diet to follow in the first place.
The Rabbinical Council offers these guidelines to consumers, and while they seem particularly concerned with Starbucks, these guidelines might even be more helpful at other coffee shops that aren’t as standardized as Starbucks stores:
- Espresso: Ask that it be prepared in a disposable cup rather than a reusable shot glass.
- Flavored syrups: Check specific flavor for kosher certification (many are).
- Frappuccino: Not recommended.
- Hot chocolate: Not recommended.
- Iced coffee: Not recommended.
- Iced latte: Request preparation in a disposable cup.
- Iced tea: Not recommended.
- Latte/cappuccino: Not recommended.
- Lemonade: Not recommended.
- Cold milk: Recommended.
- Steamed milk: Not recommended
- Smoothie: Not recommended
- Soy milk: Recommended
- Hot tea: Check specific flavor for kosher certification.