Friday, March 29, 2019

Mocha Latte Brownies with Java House Cold Brew

I was sent products free of charge by Java House in exchange for an honest review.

Well hello there, my poorly neglected blog audience! I know it's been a hot minute since I last posted here. But what with the Insatgrams and the Twitters and such, I've needed to take some time off from this poor old blog to really understand what it is I liked about food blogging in the first place. And you know what? The truth is that I really missed discovering new things that give me the culinary tingles. So let's talk about one of those things, shall we?

I've been a big cold brew fan for a while now. This is mainly due to two factors: 1) I've become an absolute coffee addict in my 30's, and 2) I have a decent amount of regular acid reflux. Cold brewed coffee is less acidic than hot brewing, and I find that the smoother flavor generally appeals to my particular palate. From big chain coffee houses to my local cafe, whenever there's cold brew on offer, I'm very likely to order it.

I've tried cold brewing at home, but I can never seem to get a strong enough flavor for my liking. Generally, I end up having to buy a really expensive super dark roast just to get any sort of enjoyment out of it, and if I should want to add a splash or milk or a little flavor, the coffee just disappears into nothingness. This is why when Java House reached out and asked if I would like to try their liquid cold brew concentrate pods, I immediately said yes.

The Java House cold brew pods come in four varieties: Sumatran (dark roast), Colombian (medium roast), Ethiopian (light roast), and Decaf (medium roast). They are sized to fit into any K-Cup coffee machine, so you can actually enjoy them hot, cold, or anywhere in between. The cups contain a perfectly portioned amount of liquid cold brew concentrate, so you just need to add water to them (or shoot them straight, if you want to. I won't judge you. Actually I will. Add some water, you heathen). You actually don't even need a K-Cup machine to enjoy them because you can literally just crack them open and pour them into a mug or over ice. Or, if you're me, you can add them to some bourbon cream liquor and start your morning off right with a Kentucky Coffee Cocktail.

I very much liked the versatility of these little suckers, and the flavor on all the roasts was top notch. Of course, my favorite was the dark roast. Because I like my coffee black as my soul. But the others were perfectly enjoyable. If you happen to be down the K-Cup isle of your local grocery store, I would highly encourage you to pick up a box of these and give them a try.

Because I can't just make a cup of coffee and be happy, I decided I wanted to try using some of the Java House cold brew in a recipe. I've heard that adding coffee to brownies brings out the chocolatiness, so I did some experimenting and OH MY GOD. Best idea EVER! A basic brownie suddenly became the fudgiest little hunk of deliciousness to ever come out of my oven. Once again, I can't leave well enough alone, so I decided to pay homage to the coffee by giving my brownies a frothy topping to mimic the foam on a latte. This turned out so incredibly well that I am halfway tempted to quit my day job and start selling these suckers on a street corner like Famous Amos did with his cookies. Seriously, if you're a choco-holic like me, you have got to try these!

Mocha Latte Brownies

3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 Java House Cold Brew Liquid Pods (any roast, but I prefer the Colombian for this)
1 cup flour

1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 packet of unflavored gelatin
2 tablespoons cold water
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 Java House Liquid Cold Brew Pod (I prefer the Ethiopian for this)

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. grease a 9x9 square baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the melted butter, sugar, and cocoa powder and mix until smooth. Add vanilla, cold brew pods, and eggs and again stir until smooth. Lastly, add in the flour and combine into a thick, smooth batter. Pour the batter into the greased baking dish and bake in the oven for about 35 minutes or until the top feels completely solid. Let cool to room temperature.

For the topping, add the heavy whipping cream to a pre-chilled bowl and whip with a stand or a hand mixer until the volume has doubled and soft peaks have begun to form. Set into the fridge to keep cold. In a small sauce pan, add the Java House cold brew pod and 2 tablespoons of cold water, then sprinkle the gelatin on the surface of the liquid and let sit for about 2-3 minutes. Heat up the liquid over medium heat. Once the gelatin is completely dissolved, add the sugar and stir until no more granules are left. Remove from heat. Bring out the chilled whipped cream and begin whipping again with a stand or a hand mixer. Slowly stream in the gelatin mixture. The cream will deflate some, but should begin to look foamy and glossy. Quickly spread the cream over the top of the brownies in an even layer, then cover the dish and set in the fridge to set up for a few hours or over night. Cut and serve.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Guest Post: March Brunch Events with Illinois Party Bus

The following is a sponsored guest post from our friends at Illinois Party Bus.

There are some great upcoming brunch events to consider checking out in Chicago! Here are four of them coming up in March. If you need a convenient way to get around town after enjoying a brunch with friends, head over to Illinois Party Bus.

March 3
435 East Illinois St
Start your day with yoga and bottomless brunch, along with complimentary mimosas for $5 at this event hosted at Pinstripes. Yoga runs from 10 to 11AM, and brunch is served until 3PM. Bring your own yoga mat and get ready to have some fun! All levels are experience are encouraged to attend.

March 3
1113 West Belmont Avenue
The brunch buffet includes a yogurt bar, crab deviled eggs, beignets, jambalaya, mimosas, shrimp and grits, as well as sweet potato has and french toast. With ticket choices that offer unlimited drinks and a DJ spinning beats, this is sure to be an awesome pop up brunch event. It's $35 for brunch, and $50 for brunch with unlimited drinks.

March 3
at Rose Room Chicago
415 West 119th St
This brunch is unique, because it's a round table discussion. There will be multiple panelists at this engaging discussion. With crafted beers and brunch at the end of the discussion, there's a lot to look forward to at this event. Tickets range from $5 to $10, so it's an affordable option as well.

March 16
at Peace of Mine Pastry and Specialty Shop
408 W 71st St
Here is an awesome option for women who are interested in wellness. This brunch and healing workshop focuses on nutritious brunch dishes, mimosas, and personal wellness. There will be a life coach giving an inspirational talk and an awesome Goddess buffet. Tickets are $50 for this event.