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A dose of caffeine sent my heart into a five-hour roller coaster ride that ultimately landed me in an urgent care center. While being examined, I described the rhythms of my heart to the emergency room doctor as “CLUNK-clunk” and Beedeebeedeebeedeebeedeebeedeebee . . . .”  He explained that one of the “wires” in my heart is “frayed” and he ordered an EKG. While waiting with me to have the EKG, my husband flipped through the pages of a magazine. “You should make these,” he said. “Make what?” I replied distractedly. “These bars,” he said showing me a photograph in a magazine. “They look so good! Go ask the receptionist if she can make a photocopy of it for us,” I urged. A few minutes later he returned, sat down and said, “She said we could take the whole magazine. And, on second thought,” he continued, “maybe you shouldn’t make these.” “Why not?” I asked. Sheepishly he replied, “I read over the recipe and . . . it has caffeine in it.”  Caffeine or not, I still made these buttery, coffee-flavored bars that are topped off with the perfect complement – a whiskey-flavored glaze. Maybe these blondies will make your heart race, too!

Chewy Irish Coffee Blondies
Recipe from Martha Stewart

Ingredients for the Blondies:
2 sticks unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups packed light-brown sugar
3 tablespoons freshly ground coffee
Salt
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup sliced almonds, skin on

Ingredients for the Glaze:
1 tablespoon melted butter, warm
2 tablespoons Irish whiskey
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Directions:
1. Make the blondies: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan, and line with parchment so that it overhangs on all sides. Butter parchment. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and baking soda.

2. Melt butter, and pour into a mixing bowl with brown sugar, ground coffee, and 1 teaspoon salt. Stir to combine. Stir in eggs and vanilla extract. Stir in flour mixture until just combined. Pour batter into pan, and sprinkle with almonds. Bake 27-30 minutes, depending on how chewy you like your blondies (a shorter baking time results in a chewier blondie). Let cool completely.

3. Make the glaze: Whisk together butter and whiskey. Gradually whisk in confectioners’ sugar until glaze is thick but pourable (you may not need all the sugar). Using a spoon or a pastry bag fitted with a plain round tip, drizzle glaze over blondies in a rough crosshatch pattern. Let glaze dry 1 hour. Cut blondie into 2-inch squares. (Blondies can be stored at room temperature up to 2 days.)

Makes 24.

Linnell’s Notes:
1. The batter is very thick. Spread it out in the pan with the back of a spoon or a spatula before baking.
2. I like my blondies chewy, so I baked them for only 27 minutes.
3. I cut about a half-inch off the corner of a disposable, plastic, sandwich bag and inserted a round pastry tip. Next, I put the glaze in the bag and squeezed the glaze over the uncut blondie.

Enjoy!

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Do you ever go into a coffee shop and take a slow deep breath to savor the aroma? I do. I love the smell of coffee, but oddly, I don’t drink it. Besides being a green tea type of person, the caffeine in coffee sends my heart into racing mode. Yes, I know green tea also contains caffeine, but for some reason it doesn’t seem to affect my body the same way.

Some of my favorite food memories are coffee-based. My Auntie Priscilla used to make a satiny, chewy coffee candy as part of her Christmas gift to my family. These little bites of coffee were each rolled in wax paper and then finished off with a twist at each end. It’s a prized family recipe now and it always reminds me of her.

Another wonderful coffee-based memory is the Coffee Crunch Cake once served at the now defunct Blum’s Bakery in San Francisco. It was a confection that consisted of layers of light sponge cake and fresh whipped cream, all covered with chunky bits of light-as-air coffee crunch topping. I can almost taste it now!

So after going out for coffee this afternoon with some friends, or in my case, a chai latte, I was in the mood for some coffee and baking. I’d had a recipe on my desk for a while and decided to try it. Chocolate Cupcakes with Coffee Cream Filling is a Paula Deen recipe, so it’s a given that it’s decadent and probably not low in calories! The cupcakes are made with a batter that contains fresh brewed coffee, injected with coffee cream, and topped off with coffee butter.

Overall the cupcakes were delicious. The cake part was moist and the cream filling was light, but flavorful. The butter cream was a little too sweet for me, but really how bad can a mixture of cream cheese, butter, sugar, and coffee be? I did not use the chocolate covered coffee beans for garnish because I didn’t have any, but I did sprinkle some organic raw cacao nibs on top. They’re not sweet and have a nice chocolate crunch. You can find these at Whole Foods.

One thing I would do differently the next time I make these is to use a pastry bag and pastry tip to squeeze the filling into the cupcakes. The screw lid of my Wilton squeeze bottle kept coming off and there is more wastage of cream since some of it inevitably gets stuck in the bottle. If you’d like to try the recipe just click on this link.

Again, what could be better than chocolate and coffee? Enjoy!!

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