Spiced Rum Walnut Coffee Cake

I haven’t baked in a while and, in my slight delirium while being sick with a nasty cold, I decided that I would bake a cake!

Spiced Rum Walnut Coffee Cake

I’m not the greatest baker by any means and this has nothing to do with New Year’s Resolutions, but I can at least follow directions pretty easily, so it can come out pretty good.

I wanted to make something with the Kraken Spiced Black Rum that I have, so I went to search for a rummy coffee cake recipe!

I found this Mocha Rum Cake recipe by Epicurious, but I modified it slightly to fit the needs of my pantry. (In other words, I had less solid chocolate than I thought so I substituted some chocolate with organic spiced hot chocolate powder with some consultation by Christine.)

Spiced Rum Walnut Coffee Cake

Takes: 2 hours (Prep: 15 minutes, Bake: 1 hour 45 minutes)
Makes: 10-12 servings

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 oz. chocolate, chopped
1 cup butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup hot chocolate powder (optionally spiced)
1/3 cup spiced rum
1 1/2 cup strong coffee
1 1/2 cup white sugar
2 large eggs, beaten lightly
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup walnuts, chopped

Steps

  1. Preheat oven to 300°F.
  2. Grease a 4 1/2-inch-deep (12-cup) Kugelhupf or bundt pan and dust with flour. (This will help keep the cake from sticking to the pan.)
  3. In a bowl whisk or sift together flour, baking soda, and salt.
  4. Melt the chocolate.
    (I microwaved the chocolate for 30 seconds, then in 10 second intervals with mixing because this recipe doesn’t need to temper the chocolate. If you like, you can use the traditional way of melting the chocolate in a metal bowl over a pot of boiling water.)
  5. Remove chocolate from heat and stir in rum, coffee, and granulated sugar until well mixed and fully dissolved. (It will be really runny!)
  6. Pour chocolate mixture into a large mixing bowl bowl. With an electric mixer, beat in flour, 1/2 cup at a time, scraping down side, and beat in eggs and vanilla until batter is combined well. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  7. Bake cake in middle of oven for 1 hour 45 minutes or until the tester (toothpick or otherwise) comes out clean.
  8. Let cake cool completely in pan on a rack and turn it out onto rack. Cake may be made 3 days in advance and kept wrapped well and chilled.

The spiced component of the hot chocolate really gives it an unexpected kick! This would go deliciously with some vanilla ice cream.

If you want to try it but you don’t have spiced hot chocolate mix, I’d recommend adding in about 1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper powder and a pinch of ground cinnamon or ground clove into the hot chocolate part to spice it up.

Happy baking!

xoxo,

B.elle

Thompson Diner

It’s actually surprisingly hard to find a 24-hour diner in Toronto. Mind you, I’m not exactly on the active lookout for one, but it’s always something convenient to know in a city where anything can happen.

Fran’s is usually the first one that comes to a Torontonian’s mind when someone asks for a 24-hour diner and, if you’re following me on Instagram, you’ll know that I paid them a visit a while ago for some really delicious meatloaf!

But, I’ve noticed another 24-hour spot in downtown called the Thompson Diner, located at 550 Wellington Street West.

Thompson Diner

An Upscale Diner, as they say

I was leaving the Monsieur’s place one day after he had left for a climbing trip and figured that I’d try to get some brunch before meeting up with Chris for an afternoon run. I had to get something delicious and filling to sustain me!

Thompson Diner

I sat down around 11:30am on a Sunday, so they were luckily serving both breakfast and brunch menus.

I ordered their Breakfast Eggs Benedict with Home Fries and I was not disappointed!

Thompson Diner Eggs Benedict

 

It was a little expensive for some Eggs Benedict ($12), but they definitely serve some high-quality food here. The eggs were perfectly poached and the yolks rolled out so delicately and silky smooth. The home fries were crisp, well seasoned and extremely soft and absolutely mouth-watering.

I’m not too sure when’s the next time I’ll go back, but I’m looking forward to getting some of that poutine…

PS – It definitely wasn’t the smartest pre-workout breakfast…

xoxo,

B.elle

Lunch with an Oreo Donut

I never thought I could do such a good impersonation of Usagi from Sailor Moon in the morning until today. Somehow, the alarm turned off and I woke up at about 9:10am when work starts at 9:00am. FUUUUUUUUUU…

Anyway, it’s a small company and my colleague completely understood, so everything turned out okay. But, it left me with a problem: I didn’t have a lunch. What to do?

Tim Horton’s to the rescue!

Tim Horton's Lunch

I know, I know, it’s so lame compared to the fantastic sandwich from Bukamaranga I posted before! But, there’s almost nothing affordable for lunch in this area except for Tim Horton’s and Subway and I knew that the new Oreo donut had just been released.

The Oreo donut has a chocolate dough base and topped with white icing and Oreo crumbles, then further drizzled with more white icing and filled with sweetened cream.

My first impression was that it’s so super sweet because it’s sugar on sugar and then stuffed with more sugar! I’ve had some pretty awesome donuts before, but I don’t think this is it.

However, the donut was really stuffed with the creme filling and, even though it got a little mangled on the way back to the office, it was nicely presented.

The big question is: Does it taste like an Oreo in donut form?

For me? Not really. Oreos are made with cocoa, so the bitterness of the chocolate flavour should balance the sweetness of the icing sugar inside the cookie. That’s one of the reasons why Oreos taste so good! But, the donut doesn’t have a lot – if any – of the cocoa bitterness that Oreo cookies have.

As far as nutrition goes and how well it fits into an active lifestyle? It doesn’t. But, always keep in mind that you have to work with what you have sometimes! (In this case, I balanced it with an extra serving of cursing the storm.)

It’s still a neat donut to try out if you like Oreos, but keep in mind that it costs a bit extra compared to their normal selections. My meal came up to be a bit higher than usual at around $7.15, but that was fine for me today.

Eventually, I’ll get around to trying their Oreo Iced Capp. Eventually.

xoxo,

B.elle

Sleeping Habits (aka, Stress is Keeping Me Awake)

I haven’t been sleeping well lately.

I’ve got puffy bags under my eyes, I’m falling asleep at my desk and I feel like I may fall apart from all the mysterious aches I’m getting from restless sleep.

I don’t have any human kids to keep me up at night, but I do have 2 cats that are my fur-covered babies. One of them decided that he REALLY needed my affection at around 3am this morning, so that was fun. (Not really.)

But, I think the major sources of sleep deprivation are coffee and stress.

Work’s been kind of rough with the latest production batch and the new branding, and I find myself drinking 2-3 cups of coffee per day. I’m not used to that amount of stress and caffeine, so I’m going to bed anxious, tense and generally unable to calm myself down.

I’ve also recently started being intimate with the monsieur. This normally wouldn’t be a source of stress for most women, but my cycles are at least a week longer than the average and I usually can’t predict a hard date for when my period will start. So, being stressed out already, I quietly freak out in my mind at the mere possibility of being pregnant.

Usually, some sort of hard physical activity like a good parkour session does the trick to exhaust myself, but it’s not a really wise idea to be jumping on hard surfaces a few feet in the air when you’re not fully mentally aware. I like my bones and skin intact, you know?

Ugh, I’m in desperate need a vacation. Or a spa day. Either one is fine.

What do you do to really get your mind off of things?

xoxo,

B.elle

Speaking Canadian – Ordering Coffee

I was talking to a coworker who recently came from Poland about coffee. Midway through the conversation, she suddenly asked me, “How do you order coffee from Tim Horton’s with just milk?”

“Well… A small coffee with 1 milk,” I replied.

“Really? Because at Timothy’s, I ask for a regular medium coffee and they give me a medium black coffee of their normal roast. But, I guess that’s because they have that bar with the milk and sugar to make your drink yourself, right?”

I told her that, yes, most coffee places that have that milk and sugar island typically serve coffee black and let you customize it yourself. I never really realized that ordering coffee at Tim’s (or other fast-food franchises) is so different in Canada!

Here’s a handy guide to ordering a cuppa joe in one of Canada’s most popular coffee chain:

Extra Small – 8oz (some places might not stock this size)
Small – 10oz
Medium – 14oz
Large – 20oz
Extra Large – 24oz

Black – Simply coffee
Regular – 1 cream, 1 sugar
Double-Double – 2 creams, 2 sugars
Triple-Triple – 3 creams, 3 sugars

Only sugar – 1/2/3 sugars
Only cream/milk – 1/2/3 cream/milk

So, an order would typically sound something like: “Hi, I’d like a medium double-double, a small regular and a large with 2 milks, please.”

The person would get:

  1. 14oz coffee with 2 creams, 2 sugars
  2. 10oz coffee with 1 cream, 1 sugar
  3. 20oz coffee with 2 milks, no sugar

They use automatic dispensing machines for their sugar and cream, so a small triple-triple would be mostly cream, sugar and a liiiiiiiiittle bit of coffee and a lot of diabetes in a cup.

I’ve also learned that if you want MILK instead of cream, you have to specifically ask for it because their machines only contain cream as a norm. For all you health-conscious people out there, be careful when you’re ordering from Tim’s!

The phrase “double-double” has been so ingrained in Canadian culture that it’s almost universally understood throughout the country at any coffee store. Even if you order a coffee at McDonald’s or a small cafe, the cashier or barista will instantly understand what a “double-double” order means and make you a rich, sugary coffee.

I usually just get a small regular, though. How about you?

xoxo,

B.elle

Mistobox – February 2014

I haven’t even finished my last box and I got my new batch of coffee!

BEHOLD – THE AWESOME MISTOBOX OF FEBRUARY 2014!

MistoBox February 2014

In all seriousness, they’ve renamed the smaller-sized subscription that contains four 1.7oz bags of coffee the “Awesome Subscription” and the bigger-sized sub of four 3.4oz bags of coffee as the “More Awesome Subscription.” They’ve even added an option to get it bi-weekly instead of monthly!

MistoBox February 2014

 

Barefoot Coffee Roasters’s Guatemala Amarillo – USD$19.00 for 12oz

“Tropical fruit acidity, syrupy brown sugar sweetness, and a delicate, yet balanced mouthfeel”

This sounds like a great cup of coffee to enjoy on its own, but I won’t know until I try it out for myself! Like they recommend, I don’t open the packages until I’m ready to grind them up and brew. But, the natural sweetness sounds like it will balance out the tropical fruit flavours quite nicely.

Also, congratulations for this bean for winning 3rd place in the Guatemala Cup of Excellence program!

HalfWit Coffee Roasters’ Peru Tupac Amaru – USD$17.00 for oz

“Heavy fig notes, a creamy cashew butter sweetness, and a round, syrupy body that is reminiscent of molasses”

Wow, this is gonna be a treat to have! It sounds like such a decadent treat that I’ll have to try it when the weather’s a bit worse (which is like this entire season).

It’s also great to see that this exclusive, small lot is made by 24 producers of the Tupac Amaru Cooperative in Puno, Peru. I love coffee from smaller producers! You can almost taste the love they put into their crops.

MistoBox February 2014

 

Onyx Coffee Lab’s Ethiopia Misty Valley – USD$18.00 for 12oz

“Coffee blossoms, jasmine, black cherry and a luscious, creamy body”

One of my favourite country of origins for coffee is most definitely Ethiopia! I haven’t really noticed if there’s a particular region I prefer, but anytime Ethiopia comes up when coffee is mentioned, I’m there. This is going to be no different with such a unique blend of flavours! Even though I tend to prefer simpler flavours in coffee and wine, I’m looking forward to this one!

Bowtruss Coffee Roasters’ Costa Rica La Cuesta – USD$17.00 for 12oz

“Light, clean, balanced, concord grapes, spiced pecans”

It looks like this particular blend is a micro-lot from Costa Rica! If you like South American coffee, this one would be the one to buy since it’s such a classic combination of flavours with just a hint of sweet grapes and spiced pecans, which sounds like it’ll raise the cup to a new level.

The printing actually cut off a bit on the right side, so I’m actually guessing what it says.  But, I can tell that it comes from a region that produces some of the best coffee in the world!

Verdict: I never have a problem with MistoBox! They always deliver me delicious, single-source coffee right to my doorstep from the US and they’re even faster than ever now!

Want to make your mornings more exciting with MistoBox? Subscribe here! For Canadians, it starts at $25/mo for a monthly Awesome box and goes up to $70/mo for bi-weekly More Awesome box with enough coffee to fuel a full office!

Do you like coffee? What’s your favourite?

xoxo,

B.elle

Note: I am not paid by MistoBox or any of the companies mentioned in this post for this review. All opinions and views are mine. I am not responsible for discontinued products since those listed in this post are limited commodities.

The WestBean Coffee Roasters – El Salvador La Granadilla

I really have to get through these coffee samples. It’s been about a month since they were roasted and I can actually tell the difference in flavour at this point!

Today, I sampled The WestBean Coffee Roasters’ La Granadilla from El Salvador.

WestBean Coffee Roasters La Granadilla

The little blurb in my MistoBox card says that there’s “subtle hints of apricot and lemon zest with a delightful acidity on the palate, transitioning to a mildly spiced, dark chocolate full body finish.” When I first took a sip without any sugar or milk, I could only taste the deep, dark chocolate and cocoa flavours and a TINY hint of the apricot.

After I added in a bit of sugar and milk (I can’t drink black coffee or else I gag horribly!), the acidity notes came out a bit better in contrast to my milk but I still couldn’t taste any of the lemon zest that was mentioned in the blurb. Of course, lemon zest and its flavours are extremely easy to lose to staleness in all forms, so I’m not too surprised.

When the coffee’s hot, it has a certain energy and depth to its flavour profile that is really enjoyable on its own without anything paired to it. For the lack of a better phrase, it’s what Starbucks coffee should taste like instead of what it is right now. But, once the cup cools, it loses a LOT of its strength and it turns into a pretty average cup of coffee.

That being said, the combination of dark chocolate and its dynamic strength is very, VERY delicious.

Verdict: Although I do really enjoy the cocoa notes in WestBean’s La Granadilla, I don’t think I’d buy it. It could very well be because it’s gone stale, but it’s not as flavourful as other coffee beans that I’ve tried from the box!

The WestBean Coffee Roasters don’t seem to carry La Granadilla anymore, but if you’re interested in getting a bag, grab one here at MistoBox.com!

xoxo,

B.elle

Anodyne Coffee Roasting Co. – Honduras Jose Salomon Benitez

My June box came on June 14th and I’ve somehow managed to resist the temptation of beautiful coffee for a FULL WEEK! I don’t know how I did that, but I’ve instantly regretted it.

MistoBox June Anodyne

The first one I pulled out for this month is Anodyne Coffee Roasting Co.’s Jose Salomon Benitez. The card states that it’s a microlot of Finca El Bourboyon with the Catuai variety. Not too sure exactly what these details mean, but the beans look a lot smaller and rounder than the typical Colombian variety.

It also tastes a lot smoother and creamier with just a touch of milk! The mouthfeel of this particular blend is somehow a tad thicker and more pleasant than others, but without the use of a high fat creamer. (I use 2%, not coffee cream or table cream at home.)

The flavour itself does have hints of blackcurrants and honey, but it’s not as pronounced as the finishing tones nougat and almonds. These subtle flavours come out the best after adding a little sugar and milk for me, so it’s probably not too suited for black coffee drinkers who want the full experience.

Verdict:  The coffee as a whole actually reminds me of a really good nougat bar that you’d get in a cafe. I would actually drink this AS my dessert instead of WITH my dessert! It is such a great treat! That being said, I’d probably just buy a half bag since it would probably go stale before I get a chance to finish it all. 😦

Wanna try it out and share it with some friends? Pick up a whole pound here at Mistobox.com or here at Anodyne Coffee Roasting Co.‘s own website, which only ships within the US.

xoxo,

B.elle

MistoBox – June 2013

May was a huge month for MistoBox with their appearance on Shark Tank on ABC (it’s like Dragon’s Den on CBC for all you fellow Canadians out there) and they’ve made a huge overhaul on their subscription service.

At $23USD per month for their Awesome Subscription, you can get a box of four 1.7oz bags of whole bean gourmet coffee shipped to your door once a month. But, they’ve added the option to get a second, different box shipped for $46USD per month! Two whole boxes of delicious coffee a month!

If you find that you’re going through your coffee too fast, you can upgrade to the More Awesome Subscription to get four 3.4oz bags of whole bean gourmet coffee at $35USD once per month OR $70USD for two boxes per month!

As always, the first boxes are at a discounted price ($5USD for Awesome, $10USD for More Awesome), so it’s a pretty neat deal if you wanna try it out!

Since I signed up just before the price hike, I get mine at $20USD per box and I don’t plan on letting it go anytime soon.

June MistoBox

June’s MistoBox contains:

Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Kochere – Victrola Coffee Roasters // Seattle, Washington

Considered one of the most prized coffee regions of the world, Yirgacheffe produces some of the most distinctive coffees year after year. The coffees of the region are diverse while maintaining a flavor profile that is unmistakable: light, delicate, floral, sweet, and citrusy. This year’s crop from Kochere is aromatically intense with jasmine, rose, orange and sweet marzipan.

Honduras Jose Salomon Benitez – Anodyne Coffee Roasting Co. // Milwaukee, Wisconsin

This microlot of Finca El Bourboyon from Producer Jose Salomon Benitez is but one example of the unique profiles and quality potential found in Honduras coffees. The coffee benefits from a microclimate influenced by numerous rivers, shade trees, and mountains that encompass the Opoloca coffee growing region. This coffee is sweet like honey and nougat, with fruited notes of currants and a creamy, silky body.

Rwanda Mwasa – Ladro Coffee Roasting // Seattle, Washington

Mwasa washing station is privately owned by Alphonse Kayijuka, a farmer and business man born and raised near the current site of the station, with ten other farmers from the Nyamasheke area who all have shares in the business. This particular coffee has layers of flavor, unfolding first with blood orange acidity, opening up to dark fruit sweetness and finishing with a dark chocolate astringency.

El Salvador La Granadilla – The WestBean Coffee Roasters // San Diego, California

While Natural processing is popular in other parts of the coffee-producing world, it is a relatively new practice in El Salvador. This processing method enhances the fruit qualities in the coffee. On the front end of the cup, enjoy subtle hints of apricot and lemon zest with a delightful acidity on the palate, transitioning to a mildly spiced, dark chocolate full body finish.

I’m looking forward to trying out all the different coffees, but I have to say that the shipping time for my box was about 9-10 business days from the US. I wonder if that affects the coffee taste…

Want to try out a MistoBox? Check it out here at MistoBox.com and make sure to say that Betty Lau referred you! 🙂

Happy drinking!

xoxo,

B.elle

Elemental Coffee – Colombia San Agustin

Here’s the final sample of coffee from Early May’s MistoBox!

Elemental Coffee - Columbia San Agustin

Just like OQ Coffee’s sample bag, I opened the bag and I could immediately smell the coffee beans inside. This time, it was a much more familiar scent since the beans originate from Colombia and most Canadians are more familiar with Colombian coffee.

Before I tried anything, I read the card that MistoBox sent in the box and it says that the “… farms are planted with caturra, typica, bourbon and castillo varieties to make this lot. The cup opens up to a nice citrus acidity with orange and papaya fruited notes, paired with molasses heavy sweetness and a round body.”

I took a sip without adding sugar or milk and I instantly thought, “complex, rounded, bold and STRONG!” This coffee will definitely appeal to the more hardcore coffee drinkers who want something to wake themselves up with at 6am in the morning to rush out the door!

After adding some sugar and milk, I started to pick up the fruitier flavours and found that it has more of a papaya taste than orange and citrus, though there’s definitely a mild acidity to the blend. The deep molasses flavour comes out most prominently at the end of the cup.

Verdict: Although I feel most comfortable with this type from my MistoBox, it’s not my favourite. It’s got too many flavours mingling with each other, which contributed to its complexity but at the same time almost made it TOO complex. It’s a personal preference, but I like cleaner flavour profiles.

Curious about this coffee? Pick up a bag from MistoBox through here or check it out from Elemental Coffee Roasters here. From what I can tell, their Saucha bag will change every now and then according to season!

However, their checkout page seems to be a little broken right now and it keeps telling me that my postal code is wrong and that I need to choose a shipping method that doesn’t exist. I’ll update at a later date to see what’s going on!

xoxo,

B.elle