Vanilla Coffee Syrup and Cold Brewed Coffee

Homemade Vanilla Syrup and Cold Brewed Coffee

My coffee machine is on the fritz.  Sorry, did I say on the fritz?  I meant broken.  It’s so irritating – I’ve only had the thing for 8 months!  I’ve adjusted by using my espresso machine and fixing myself lots of lattes!  …And by steeping a filter with coffee grounds in a cup of hot water like tea.

Homemade Vanilla Syrup

I made a batch of homemade vanilla coffee syrup to liven up the lattes I’ve been drinking.  It was pretty standard as far as vanilla coffee syrup goes, and it’s so much cheaper to make it yourself.  Next time I want to add honey and make honey vanilla syrup.  I think that it would be perfect with hot blackberry tea.  Naturally, I really want to whip up a batch of caramel syrup too – keep your eyes open, it’s bound to happen in the next few weeks!Homemade Vanilla Syrup

Vanilla Coffee Syrup

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  1. Heat sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved.  Reduce heat to low and let simmer for 10-15 minutes, just to thicken the syrup up a little bit.
  2. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla (you can adjust this for different levels of flavor or substitute a different flavored extract).
  3. Store in refrigerator in an airtight container.Homemade Vanilla Syrup

My husband and I are fortunate enough to not pay for heat in our apartment building and it’s usually right around 74-76 without even turning the thermostat on (almost too warm – we have crack the window overnight).  With that heat, some days I crave an iced coffee despite the icy temperature outside.  I’ve just discovered the process of cold brewing coffee this year and I am in love with!  In summer, I used to brew a pot and stick it in the fridge for a couple hours to cool –  no more of that!  You can make a whole pitcher at once with this method and it’ll last you all week!  …Or maybe only a couple days if you drink coffee the way I do.

Cold Brewed Coffee

Cold Brewed Coffee

  • 6 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups coffee grounds
  1. In a pitcher, or any container large enough that can be covered, mix water and coffee grounds.  Mix or shake to ensure that all of the grounds have been submerged.  Let it sit for 8-12 hours – overnight works perfectly.
  2. When ready, place a coffee filter into a funnel and put the funnel over the container you will be storing your cold brewed coffee in.
  3. Pour the coffee, grounds and all, into the funnel and let the filter do its job.  Add more as it empties until all of your coffee is filtered!
  4. Store in the refrigerator, the coffee will be good for up to two weeks.

Strawberry Surprise Cupcakes

Strawberry Surprise CupcakesStrawberry Surprise cupcakes.  What’s the surprise, you ask?  I baked a fresh strawberry inside!  Strawberry Surprise Cupcakes

I actually only baked half of them with a strawberry because I wasn’t sure how it would work, so the rest were just vanilla buttermilk cupcakes with strawberry buttercream.  It was a success though; the strawberry cooked to a soft, yummy surprise, and didn’t seem to affect tStrawberry Surprise Cupcakes  Strawberry Surprise Cupcakes he way the cupcake baked.  The cupcakes themselves weren’t mind-blowing; they tasted pretty standard vanilla-ish, and were light and fluffy like a box mix would be.  They were a just tad dry for my taste…See, I like my cake super moist and dense…I should have added a package of vanilla pudding to the dry ingredients – oh well!  The buttercream was amazing.  You could really taste that it was made with fresh strawberries, as opposed to using jam or jelly.Strawberry Surprise Cupcakes

Vanilla Buttermilk Cupcakes: (Adapted from

  • 2 1/2 cups  flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt or salt substitute, i used no salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • ~24 strawberries with the tops cut off
  1. Preheat oven to 350 and line your muffin pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the milk, oil and vanilla extract.
  4. In a third , larger mixing bowl,  beat the butter and sugar on medium until light and fluffy (~3 mins).
  5. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each egg.
  6. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture alternating with the milk mixture in batches, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Beat just until blended.
  7. Fill cupcake wells two-thirds full.  If you want to bake strawberries in them, fill the well about 1/3 full, place a small strawberry inside, and then continue filling them to 2/3 full.
  8.  Bake 15-20 minutes, until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove the cupcakes and cool on a wire rack.  Allow to cool completely before icing.

Notes:  Do not overfill, a couple of mine flattened out over the top because they were too full, but the rest domed very nicely!

Strawberry Buttercream

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3-5 Tbsp strawberry puree
  • 3 1/2 – 4 cups powdered sugar
  1. Beat butter until light and fluffy.
  2. Gradually add in powdered sugar.
  3. Add vanilla and 3 Tbsp strawberry puree.  Taste for flavor, and add more as necessary; I used ~4 1/2 Tbsp total.  Depending on the amount of puree you use, you may need to add powdered sugar to maintain the right consistency.
  4. Pipe or spread onto cooled cupcakes

Candied Almonds

Candied Almonds via elisebakes  I’ve mentioned that I very recently graduation college and have just begun the job hunt.  That said, money is tight this Christmas, so most of my gifts are handmade.  For my dad and grandma: candied nuts (among other homemade goodies).  I made several different types of candied nuts last year and it was actually much simpler than I had anticipated.  This recipe is really easy to follow and the final product is great!  Actually, it’s amazing – better than any of the types I made last year!  We’ve already eaten a few handfuls – might have to make another batch before Christmas!
Candied Almonds (from Candied Almonds via elisebakes

  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1 pound almonds or pecans
  • 3/4 cup of sugar
  • 1 tsp of ground cinnamon
  • 1 ½ tsp of  sea salt
  1. Preheat oven to 250 and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or foil
  2. In a large bowl, combine egg white, vanilla extract and water. Beat mixture until frothy.
  3. Stir in almonds and mix to coat.
  4. Gently combine sugar, cinnamon, and sea salt and stir into almond mixture, thoroughly coating all nuts.
  5. Evenly spread nuts onto prepared baking sheet and place into oven.
  6. Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.
  7. When cool, pack in an airtight jar. They will keep at room temperature for about 2 weeks.Candied Almonds via elisebakes

Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Caramel Buttercream

These delicious cupcakes were a hit with everyone.  The cake had a great flavor and texture and the buttercream was delicious, with just a hint of caramel.

Chocolate Cupcakes (adapted from Your Cup of Cake):

  • 1 Box Devil’s Food Cake Mix
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk (I used 3/4 tbs vinegar + milk)
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp kahlua
  • 1 cup sour cream
  1. Combine cake mix and cinnamon in a small bowl and mix with a whisk.
  2. In a larger bowl, combine buttermilk, oil, eggs, kahlua and sour cream. Do not over mix.
  3. Combine the dry and wet ingredients and stir until well mixed.
  4. Fill liners 3/4 full and bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Vanilla Caramel Buttercream:

  •  butter (1 + 1/2 stick), softened
  • 4 oz cream cheese (1/2 container), softened
  • 2 Tbs Coffeemate Vanilla Caramel Creamer
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 1/2 – 4 cups powdered sugar
  1. Cream butter and cream cheese until smooth.
  2. Gradually mix in 3 cups of powdered sugar until well combined (1/2 – 1 cup at a time).
  3. Add creamer and vanilla and mix.
  4. Add the remaining powdered sugar to reach desired consistency and taste.
  5. Pipe onto cupcakes.