Coffee and chocolate have always gone hand in hand for me. My childhood home had a tiled floor, and since most of the year in Oregon is rather chilly and my dad's always been a bit tight with the purse strings, the temperature of our house always tended to hover around 62 degrees. I was an incredibly tiny child, not because I didn't eat (most of my childhood memories consist of times I was eating and/or being encouraged to eat by family members) but because my wee Mediterranean genes kept me short and bony. This, coupled with the fact that my weirdly large eyes occupied about 30% of my face, resulted in me looking very much like a malnourished and scraggly baby bird throughout most of my childhood. The small stature I was born into tended to exacerbate my lack of body heat, so I came up with various ways to warm myself up during those chilly fall/winter/spring days, my favorite of which involved sneaking various sweets into my parents' steaming cups of Greek coffee whenever they left them unattended.
I'd sit perched nearby, pretending to play with my polly pockets or flipping nonchalantly through my American Girl doll books (oh, Samantha!), biding my time for the moment when they'd wander off, innocuously leaving their small, wondrous mugs unsupervised. Silly, silly fools. Knowing that the opportunity I'd been anxiously awaiting had arrived, I'd immediately swoop down to the table, shoving as much of my cookie into the tiny espresso mug as possible and waiting patiently for that perfect moment when the cookie was well and soaked through with the piping hot liquid and the chocolate bits were good and melted.
I usually got the timing right, but the occasion did arise when my eccentric greed for the warm beverage overwhelmed my sense of time and the cookie broke in half in the cup, weighed down and softened by the thick liquid. In these instances, I'd either hurriedly attempt to fish it out with my hands, leaving espresso splattered all around the cup and/or my face, or shove it hastily down towards the bottom of the cup in hopes that my parents wouldn't notice it. But if you've ever seen the size of a Greek espresso cup and a Chips Ahoy cookie, you know that one of those things doesn't fit easily into the other. Looking back, I know they must have noticed my terrible attempts to cover my tracks, but I never heard anything of it. I like to think that they looked down into the mug and, upon seeing the cookie at the bottom, thought "you know what, maybe she's onto something here."
I'd been tossing around this cappucino-designed cookie idea in my head for a while, so when I was approached to be interviewed for The Limitless Generation, I decided that would be the perfect time to shine a light on these little guys. I swirled together equal parts of a vanilla and espresso whoopie pie batter on the baking sheet before popping them in the oven, and sandwiched some salted chocolate ganache (you all know my affinity for putting salt in chocolate) in between the two cookies. The result was a heavenly melange of espresso, chocolate, vanilla, and salt. It was a flavor profile that I hadn't experienced before, but readily tried again. And by that I mean I immediately ate 4 more of them. True words.
And I feel a little silly that I hadn't spoken much about my upcoming trip to Thailand on the blog before leaving, and then promptly blew up my instagram feed with photos of my trip, but yes! I went to Thailand last week. Jeremy and I went for our honeymoon and had the most incredible time; there was ziplining in the jungle, elephant rides, cooking classes, honeymooning, and loads and loads of good food. My head has been spinning with all the recipes I want to share with you guys (a traditional curry, mango coconut scones, and pomelo salad to name a few), and as soon as I edit the roughly 5 zillion photos I took there (I'm pretttty sure that Jeremy thought the camera was super-glued to my face half the time) I'm going to tell you all about it. It will probably take a few weeks, but the tasty Thai recipe onslaught will happen.
And in other news, I could not be more excited to share that I'm going to be contributing regularly to One Kings Lane as their new food columnist! I have a little Q&A up on their site now as well as a ridiculously tasty recipe for a savory-sweet roasted beet & goat cheese tart. The crust is a little on the sweet side, but the tarragon goat cheese filling is definitively salty, and the beets themselves land nicely between the two flavors. Also, if you enjoy vintage finds and gorgeous serve ware, I highly recommend checking out the rest of their site. I've purchased many food photography props from them with no regrets. Hello, awesome serving board.
So yes, you should go make some whoopie pies. Or a beet tart! Or something else delicious. I'll be happy so long as you're enjoying yourself in the kitchen, cooking and sharing something tasty. Or don't share. The choice is yours entirely. In the meantime, I'm going to bunker down on those Thailand photos and try to bring them to you asap. And of course, make and eat lots of tasty Thai food.
Cappuccino Whoopie Pies
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup (11 tablespoons) butter
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup milk, plus 1 tablespoon (divided into 1/3 and one of them has been warmed with coffee grinds)
2 tablespoons finely ground coffee
1 tablespoon dutch cocoa
1/4 teaspoon coffee extract
3 cups flour
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Salted Chocolate Ganache
24 ounces dark chocolate
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon cream
1 teaspoon fleur de sel or sea salt
Begin by preparing the ganache. Heat the dark chocolate and cream in the top of a double boiler until melted, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in the salt. Allow to cool to room temperature, when completely cooled it should be spreadable, and like peanut butter in texture.
While the ganache is cooling, you can prepare the whoopie pies. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar at medium-high speed. Add the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla extract. Add 1/4 cup of the milk and mix until the batter is smooth.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Separate the batter into two equal sized halves in two separate bowls. One batter will be the plain vanilla portion of the whoopie pie and the other batter will be the espresso portion. Add the remaining tablespoon of milk, coffee grinds, dutch cocoa, and coffee extract to one of the bowls and mix until incorporated. Add 1 and 1/2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to each bowl and mix until the flour is just incorporated.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place 1 teaspoon of the espresso batter on the sheet, and place one teaspoon of the vanilla batter on top of it. Use a toothpick to give the batter mound 2-3 good stirs to create a swirl pattern on top. Be cautious of stirring it too much, though, as this will exhaust the flour and make the texture of the cookie tighter and have less of a crumb. Repeat this process until the pan is full, leaving a 2-inch space between each cookie. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 6-8 minutes, or until the cookies have set and are springy to the touch, like little cakes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before moving them to a wire rack to cool completely.
To assemble, spread the desired amount of filling on the bottom of one cookie, then place the bottom of another cookie on top and press down gently to set it in place. Voila! You have made your very own whoopie pie. Repeat this process until you've used up all of the filling and/or cookies. Serve immediately.