It was just a game really. Or at least, that’s how it started. Actually, it started because he was bored.
After all, how many times could he write names on cups, name after name after name, cup after cup after cup, without going just the tiniest bit stir-crazy? One day, he just did it. Under Sally’s name, he scribbled, “Has a pretty smile.” He slipped the cup down the line and the others picked it up, filled it, cleaned up the sides, slapped on a lid, slid it down the counter and Jas called out, “Sally!” and when Sally walked up for her coffee and took it, Sammy was paying attention.
He watched her take the cup and glance down at the side, to make sure it was really hers, and when she spotted her name and the handwritten scrawl underneath, Sammy watched her pause in mid-step. He was supposed to be writing on cups, keep writing on the cups, but instead he stopped too. He watched as her face changed. Gone was the empty scowl of her rushed morning, if just for a moment. It slipped off her face like a mask.
Carol Ann… has nice eyes.
Kelly… seems sweet to me.
Patsie… looks like she’s a good friend.
Lindzey… has a great laugh.
Florence… sounds like spring
Maddie… this is a hug.
Liz… this is a smile.
Stella Marie… thanks for all you do.
Pamela… please have a good day. For me.
Here’s how this all went down:
– Spent way too much time on Fatties Delight (as usual)
– Locked eyes with I Am Baker’s snaps of the Coffee Cream Cake from The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food From My Frontier. Cake and I started dancing edgily towards one another, Liz Lemon-style. That coffee-flavored icing did a shimmy, tried to cut in, we sent it to the bar to get us drinks.
– Sent it to my cupcake-crazy friend Katie who had, oh, such an unusual suggestion (“Let’s turn them into cupcakes!”) So unlike her.
– (Me: And we’ll fill them!)
– (Her: With whipped cream! They’ll be like little Americano cupcakes!)
– (Me: And chocolate! And ganache! And coffee! Ina! Ganache! AND AND-)
– (Her: Calm down.)
– (Me: NO, YOU CALM DOWN.)
– (Her: Maybe more caffeine is a bad idea.)
These cupcakes are… not a bad idea. They are a good idea.
The batter is thin which might frighten you at first, but they gave the tops such a wonderful, caramel-like crackle. Good crisp, tender crumb.
And lest you hear “coffee cake” and think cinnamon-streusel breakfast food, this is closer to coffee-flavored ice cream. As in, let’s try to make this cake taste like my coffee, instead of merely resting it beside my coffee.
All such good ideas.
1 Cup of butter
2 TBsps of instant coffee
1 Cup of boiling water
2 Cups of all-purpose flour
2 Cups of sugar
1/4 Teaspoon of salt
1/2 Cup of buttermilk
2 Teaspoons of baking soda
1 TBsp of vanilla
1 Cup of whipping cream
1 Teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
1 TBsp of powdered sugar
1/2 Cup of whipping cream
8 Ounces of good semisweet chocolate chips
2 Teaspoons of instant coffee granules
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Melt the butter in a saucepan on the stove. Once the butter is melted, add in the instant coffee. Pour in boiling water and remove from heat. Whisk until fully combined and then set aside.
3. In a large bowl, add flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda. Pour butter mixture over dry mixture and whisk together. Do not overmix.
4. In separate bowl (or a measuring cup), mix buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla. Pour over batter and whisk until fully combined.
5. Line cupcake pans with paper liners.
6. Pour batter into cups about 3/4 the way up and cook for 13-16 minutes or until an inserted toothpick is removed clean.
7. Let the cupcakes cool to room temperature.
8. Make the whipped cream by combining whipping cream, vanilla and powdered sugar in mixer and whip until almost stiff.
9. Using a sharp knife, cut into the top of the cupcake (you should pull out a cone-shaped piece of cake).
10. Insert a dollop of freshly whipped cream.
11. Slice bottom part of cone-cupcake piece so that just a cute top remains. Pop back on top of cupcake.
12. Make the ganache by setting a heat-proof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Add cream, chocolate and instant coffee. Stir until smooth and warm.
13. Spoon some ganache on top of each cupcake and serve to standing ovation.