New Favorite · Nicaragua

Iced Vanilla Latte, please

Remember when we used to have a plain cup of coffee brewed in our Mr. Coffee machine or percolator?  Coffee was typically Folgers, always hot, and if it cooled, you nuked it in the microwave. God forbid, I would EVER drink iced coffee, or so I thought.

I clearly remember when my perception of coffee changed…twice.  In the 1980-1990s I traveled on business to Seattle quite frequently and small, gourmet coffee shops and trucks were everywhere.  Seattle was the hot-bed of gourmet coffee yet to hit my home in the Mile-High City.  (Thinking back…why didn’t I invest in Starbucks?)

Ordering a coffee was far beyond the typical ‘I’ll have a cup of coffee, black to go’. Now there were terms like tall, grande, venti, Americano, espresso, skinny, Macchiato, half-caf, blends, etc., etc., etc..  It was an anxious moment when I tried to figure out what to order without embarrassing myself. I can still imagine the people in line behind me rolling their eyes at this out-of-state novice.  Despite my initial fumbling, I started experimenting with difference blends, flavors, iced coffees and loved it!

My second perception occurred when I traveled to Finca Esperanza Verde, a coffee plantation in Nicaragua, in 2012.  My ‘cup of Joe’ would never be the same as documented in my 6/12/12 Fork-Lore post. My daily iced latte is simple:  One packet of Starbuck’s Via, a packet of Stevia with 1/2 cup of boiling water.  Stir.  Add cold water to the cup, stir.  Pour contents over a large glass full of ice.  Top with about 1/4 cup of Almond Milk and stir again.  Add a splash of vanilla or cinnamon to taste. My easy version of an Iced Latte!

When my daughter and fellow blogger, Megan, asked me to join her to make Iced Vanilla Latte I jumped at the chance to 1) spend time with my daughter and 2) make (and drink!) my favorite summer morning picker-upper. Our recipe follows and I’ve enjoyed our creation for the past two days. Megan’s blog, Lifeloveandgarlic, also features the Iced Vanilla Latte AND includes a Seattle’s Best give-away.  Check it out!

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EASY PEASY ICED VANILLA LATTE

2 tbsp. vanilla simple syrup (see recipe below)
1/3 cup whole milk coffee ice cubes (see directions below)
Seattle’s Best Level 4, Medium-Roast Coffee brewed (we used 3.5 scoops for a pot)

  • Fill your cup (or fancy tumbler) with coffee ice cubes.
  • Pour simple syrup and whole milk into the bottom of the cup
  • Fill the rest of the cup with your coffee of choice. Stir!
  • Voila! Enjoy a delicious, easy and perfect drink for summer mornings. *This is the simple syrup, which actually looks like coffee. The brown sugar + vanilla give it the darker hue. 

Vanilla Simple Syrup

1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup water
Pinch of cinnamon
4 tbsp. vanilla extract

  • Put both sugars, water and pinch of cinnamon in a pot over medium heat. Bring to boil.
  • Pull the pot off the stove and pour the vanilla into the syrup. Allow to cool. You’re done!
  • Note: Don’t be alarmed that your syrup is quite dark in hue (almost coffee colored). The brown sugar/vanilla have that effect – it’s perfectly normal.

Coffee Ice Cubes

  • Take your left over coffee and pour it in your ice cube tray and freeze! They’re perfect for cooling down your coffee without watering it down!

New Favorite

Cranberry Bars…perfect for your Valentine!

Starbucks Cranberry Bliss Bars are daughter Sarah’s favorite holiday treat. When she was a teenager I bought her a pan of Cranberry Bliss Bars for her November birthday and she was ‘WOW’d’. Before Christmas this year she was very depressed that Starbucks/Denver had sold out of Cranberry Bliss Bars and, being pregnant, she had cravings that we needed to fill.

 

Sarah found this recipe on Pinterest and we made them for the holidays. They were delicious and very close to what we experience at Starbuck’s.  Perhaps this will become a new Valentine’s tradition in our house and in yours.   XOXOXOXOX

CRANBERRY BARS

BLONDIE LAYER:
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) salted butter, cubed
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup dried cranberries
6 ounces white baking chocolate, coarsely chopped

FROSTING:
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
6 ounces white baking chocolate, melted
1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 13×9-inch baking dish with nonstick spray.
  • Prepare the blondie layer: In a medium bowl, melt butter for one minute in the microwave; stir in brown sugar. Scrape the butter & sugar into a large bowl and let cool to room temperature. Use an electric mixer to beat in the eggs and vanilla. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon; gradually add the dry mixture to the butter mixture. Stir in the cranberries and chopped chocolate (the batter will be thick).
  • Spread the blondie batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 18-21 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean (do not overbake). Cool completely on a wire rack.
  • Prepare the frosting: In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the cream cheese and powdered sugar until well-blended. Gradually add half of the melted white chocolate; beat until blended. Frost brownies. Sprinkle with cranberries. Drizzle with remaining melted white chocolate. Cut into bars- square or triangle-shaped. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Tips:

*If you’d like to add an orange flavor to these bars, add 1 tablespoon grated orange zest to the frosting.

Recipe from:  http://www.recipegirl.com/2011/11/14/cranberry-bliss-bars/