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Entries in espresso (3)


Even Better Than Ultimate Brownies

Even Better Than Ultimate Brownies

Summertime means lemonade and brownies!

Are they ultimate? Better than ultimate, even? I’m not sure, but in my house, they’re definitely better than ultimate. They’re dark, rich, and fudgy--with a hint of espresso and extra mini semi-sweet chips. Actually, they’re triple chocolate brownies, with unsweetened chocolate, dark cocoa, and mini chips. They also happen to be my new favorite. I’ve made them three times already, and don’t see myself stopping anytime soon.

These are the brownies that I used in my Mocha Toffee Brownie Chunk Ice Cream from a couple weeks ago. I mentioned in the post that I’ve never made brownies like these before, as far as the preparation method. They’re still very simple, but there’s some extra time in there, for mixing--and a little waiting, too. But this is ok, because it gives you time to do other things while you’re waiting! Like dream of the brownies coming out of the oven. Or you stuffing your pie hole with them. We’ll look away, don’t worry.

Even Better Than Ultimate Brownies

So while looking for a brownie recipe to try a while ago, I looked through my bookmarks and found this one at I imagine I’ve had it bookmarked since it was posted--in 2009! The poster, Dan, got the recipe from, and he had to make some changes to suit what he had on hand. Turns out, I had to do the same thing. I didn’t have exactly the same ingredients that he had to work with, so I made up for that, and then some.

Lemonade and brownies are an old-timey summer classic!

Did you know that if you don’t have unsweetened chocolate, you can use three tablespoons of cocoa plus one tablespoon of oil? You can! Just mix them together and use the same way you’d use a melted one ounce square of unsweetened chocolate. I fall back on this trick all the time! Seems I’m always out of baking chocolate. In the case of these brownies, I had to do this because I only had a couple of squares on hand. And the cocoa, I feel, adds a deep richness to the batter, along with the espresso powder. Also, something happens when you add the mini chips to the warm batter before it sits for the twenty minutes. Some of them start to melt into the batter, which makes it even fudgier.

The second time I made them, I used regular sized chips and added them right before baking. They were still fantastic, but not as good as when I use the minis and add them while the batter is still warm. Plus! And this is a big plus--this recipe makes a 9 x 13 inch pan. Big deal? Yes! In a family of six people, an 8 inch square pan of anything doesn’t last very long. So I get double the amount for the same work. Bonus in my book!

Even Better Than Ultimate Brownies

Makes a 9"x13" pan. Yay!

I use a 10 oz bag of Ghirardelli mini chocolate chips in these. You're going to divide it--3 oz melted with the other chocolate, cocoa and butter, and the remaining chips will be stirred into the batter.

3 (1-oz) squares of unsweetened chocolate
3 tbsp cocoa (I use Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa)
3 tbsp canola oil
3 oz of mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup butter
1 tbsp espresso powder or instant coffee
5 eggs
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 tbsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
7 oz (remaining chips from the bag) mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a 9 x 13" pan with foil, and lightly grease the foil.

In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the unsweetened chocolate squares, cocoa and oil, the 3 oz of mini chips, the butter, and the espresso powder or instant coffee. Set aside.

While the chocolate things are doing their thing, get the next step going. Beat eggs, sugar and vanilla at high speed for 10 minutes. While not necessary, a stand mixer would do beautifully here--you can do other things while it mixes for you.

Add the melted chocolate mixture to the mixing bowl, along with the flour and salt. Mix until just blended, and them stir in the remaining 7 oz of chocolate chips. Let the batter sit on the counter for 20 minutes before pouring into the greased pan. YES. Twenty minutes. I don’t really know why, so don’t ask me--but trust me.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and tap the pan on your work surface a few times to release air bubbles.

Bake for 27-30 minutes, and maybe even start checking after 25. The top should be shiny and the sides should be pulling away from the sides of the pan. Let them cool, then lift them out of the pan using the edges of the foil. Cut into squares and store in an airtight container.

  • Most of the prep time in this recipe is downtime for you. The ten minute mixing and the twenty minute wait time. The rest of the recipe is ridiculously simple, so don’t be scared off.
  • These will be your ultimate summertime brownies, with their fantastic texture and classic shiny tops. Bring them to the beach, cookouts, picnics, parties--you name it. Memorial Day and Independence Day are approaching--do you always get asked to bring a dessert? Bookmark these!
  • Make them for yourself, too! And if it seems like too many, give some away. But once you taste them, you may not want to. Freeze some. You know, for those emergencies when you need something chocolaty and cold. Warm it slightly in the microwave and have it with ice cream for a special treat!

Even Better Than Ultimate Brownies


AeroPress Coffee & Espresso Maker Giveaway (US and Canada!)

Who loves coffee? Raise your hands…


Now, who loves coffee, but has to settle for burned, over roasted, weak, or just all around bad coffee? A show of hands, please…

Wow. That’s a lot of hands! I know, I used to belong to the “has to settle for” group. I know the frustration. And be honest. When is the last time you took that first sip from a mug of coffee, and just felt your knees go weak because it tasted so damn good? It had been a long time for me.


GIVEAWAY CLOSED. Winners are Lisa in the US and Sam in Canada. Congrats winners! Thank you to all that entered and stay tuned for more fun giveaways just around the corner. 

That was until I received an Aerobie AeroPress Coffee & Espresso Maker to try. It’s changed the way I look at coffee. It’s changed the way I brew coffee, to be exact. And I don’t think I can ever go back to any other method! It’s so simple (and fast!), and yet--the espresso/coffee that it brews…you’ll taste it and wonder where it’s been all your life! And incidentally, Aerobie is also responsible for bringing some very cool toys to the market, as well. Check the site for details!



Read through for your chance to win your own AeroPress Coffee & Espresso maker! I’ve got one for a US reader and one for a reader in Canada!

Here’s why it works so well (from :

  • Total immersion of the grounds in the water results in rapid yet robust extraction of flavor.
  • Total immersion permits extraction at a moderate temperature, resulting in a smoother brew.
  • Air pressure shortens filtering time to 20 seconds. This avoids the bitterness of long processes such as drip brewing.
  • The air pressure also gently squeezes the last goodness from the grounds, further enriching the flavor.
  • Because of the lower temperature and short brew time, the acid level of the brew is much lower than conventional brewers. Laboratory pH testing measured AEROPRESS brew's acid as less than one fifth that of regular drip brew. The low acid is confirmed by coffee lovers who report that AEROPRESS brew is friendlier to their stomachs.
  • The AeroPress is made of totally BPA free plastic.

Until I was contacted by Constance, representing AeroPress, I’d never heard of it. Now, I’m shouting about it from the rooftops. Don’t believe me? Check out the 737 5-star reviews on Amazon! I’m not putting up with bad coffee any longer. The real test for me? I tried some black fresh brewed coffee from it the other day. I’ve never been able to handle black coffee, but brewed with the AeroPress--it’s smooth and rich with flavor. It was a pleasure to drink it that way!

Basically, you’re brewing a double shot of espresso. When you’re finished brewing, enjoy your shot as is, or top off with hot milk for a latte, add steamed milk for a cappuccino, or top it off with hot water for an Americano. The Aeropress will brew one to four espressos at a time. You can also make a full carafe of coffee using the AeroPress in less time than it takes to brew a pot of drip coffee. Two 3-scoop or 4-scoop pressings, topped off with hot water, will fill most vacuum carafes.

My method is simple:

My favorite coffee mug holds 24 ounces. (I like to heat up my mug by letting it sit for a couple of minutes with hot tap water in it while I heat the water for brewing. I pour out the water when I’m ready to brew.) I heat up 2 1/2 cups of water, then make two double shots. This means 2 scoops of coffee grounds, and then I pour hot water into the chamber up to the #2 mark. I then stir the water and grounds for about 10 seconds, and then push the plunger down through the chamber. I discard the grounds and rinse/reuse the filter, and repeat the steps to make another shot of espresso. The remaining hot water tops off the 2 shots, and I add half and half to complete my coffee Americano.

I could just pour all 4 scoops into the chamber, and add the water to the #4 mark, but it’s just as easy for me to do it the other way. And it’s still quick to do it twice, anyway. It’s also a cinch to clean! Just give it a quick rinse and air dry. It’s dishwasher safe, too.

A few things I’ve learned:

  1. Your water should ideally be around 175 degrees. Too hot and it’ll extract all the bitterness from the grounds.
  2. Slightly moisten the filter once you place it in the filter cap.
  3. Grind your beans somewhere between Fine and Espresso on the dial. I set the dial smack in the middle of these two settings, and it’s just right.

There's also something called the Inverted Method that a lot of AeroPress fans swear by. It gives you a slightly longer brew time--about a minute, before you flip it back over and press to brew. You can see a video on my friend Josh's site, The Quest For Zest. I haven't tired this method yet, but I will be very soon--I'm intrigued! 

Here’s a great, basic video on how to use the AeroPress. If you look on You Tube, there are a whole lot of people dedicated to theirs.

See? So simple!


The AeroPress is totally portable, too! So if you like, take your AeroPress to the office. Then you can drink fresh coffee all day! Or before you leave in the morning, just brew it right into your travel mug and take it to go.

Take it camping, or stock one in your RV.

It takes up barely any counter space. In fact, it’s so compact, you can store it away and use zero counter space!

It’s great for baking, when you need some brewed espresso or coffee.

It’s very affordable at just $25 and makes great gifts for the coffee lovers in your life!

Coffee lovers are so dedicated to the AeroPress, that they hold World AeroPress Championships! Last month, this year’s was held in Milan, Italy. Now that’s some serious dedication!

I’d like to leave you with a couple of the reviews I came across for the Aerobie AeroPress:

“You must try it to understand why this device is the only coffee maker I will ever own again. Making an AeroPress coffee takes only 30 seconds (start to finish) and best of all, only takes a few seconds to clean! The only negative aspect about the AeroPress is that I cannot drink the burnt espresso anymore at our favorite bakery.”

“A couple of years ago I bought a $1500 espresso machine. It works well – but it doesn’t turn out the consistent quality of the AeroPress. Now I use the AeroPress for ALL brewing and only use my expensive Italian machine for heating the AeroPress water and for foaming milk for my cappuccino.”



The folks at Aerobie have agreed to give two AeroPresses away to my readers. I’m choosing one US winner and one Canadian winner. That’s right! Pay attention, all of you in Canada--I’ve got one for you, as well!

  1. Please leave a comment here (with a valid email address!) telling me what kind of coffee maker you’re currently using. You must specify if you’re in the US or Canada so I can choose one winner from each.

Bonus Entries:

1. Let me know which you’ll try first: espresso, latte, or cappuccino.

2. Tweet about the giveaway if you like. You can copy this text:

    AeroPress Coffee & Espresso Maker #Giveaway @elleskitchen (US and Canada!) Your days of bad coffee are over!   

    Be sure to leave a comment on this post letting me know.

3. You can share this on Facebook if you’d like to. Again, leave a comment on this post to let me know that you did.

I’ll choose two winners on Friday, November 11th. Good luck!


Disclaimer: I was given an Aerobie AeroPress to review and experiment with at no charge. My opinions are my own and I was not endorsed for them.


Espresso Pumpkin Spiced Walnuts and a Prize Package

Espresso Pumpkin Spiced Walnuts

Espresso, pumpkin pie spice, a touch of cayenne, a bit of sugar and a few other ingredients, and you can have these spiced walnuts ready to go, too.

Hmm? Why yes, I did say espresso and pumpkin pie spice.

Elle, you’re obsessed.

What? Who said that? Shut up. So what? They go so well together! And in so many things! Like lattes! And milkshakes! Ok, maybe I am slightly obsessed. A little.

By the way, easy holiday gift alert here! If you’re the type of person that likes to give homemade gifts, these are an addictive option. Need some nibblers to put out around the house during the holidays? Consider these--but make a lot, they’re going to go quickly! Nice hostess gift, too.

It just so happens that the other day on Twitter, I saw a conversation between my friend Barb, of Creative Culinary, and Jennifer, who represents California Walnuts. (You can follow Jennifer at @CAWalnuts and Barb at @CreativCulinary.) They were talking about toasting walnuts, and as it happened, I was heading into the kitchen to do that exact thing. A delicious coincidence, for sure! We quickly decided to each do our recipes, and then link up to them today. Jennifer and California Walnuts have been very gracious and offered a fantastic prize package to our readers! What will two lucky readers (one on my blog and one on Barb’s) receive?

Giveaway Closed, but the walnuts are still fantastic, so check out the recipe! The lucky random winner was April. Thanks, everyone!


  • Walnuts Apron
  • Spatula
  • Cutting Board
  • 4 lb. bag of California Walnuts

You’ll get a great head start on holiday baking with this package! That’s a lot of nuts, too, so if you’ve got a hot kitchen, store extra in the freezer to keep them nice and fresh.

Espresso Pumpkin Spiced Walnuts

Espresso Pumpkin Spiced Walnuts

adapted from

I used chopped walnuts here, because most of the spiced nuts were actually used in another recipe that I’ll be posting soon. If you’re making these for a gift or for a nibbly snack, go ahead and use whole walnuts or walnut halves.

1 TB espresso powder
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
pinch of cayenne powder
pinch of salt
1/4 cup water
2 1/2 cups California walnuts, toasted in the oven for about 15 minutes at 300 degrees

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine the espresso powder, sugar, pumpkin pie spice, cayenne, salt and water in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Stir occasionally until the sugar is dissolved.

Stir in the walnuts and crank up the heat to medium high. When the liquid (and there won't be much, so don't think you've made a mistake) starts to bubble and boil, stir constantly for three minutes, coating all of the nuts.

After the three minutes, turn the nuts on to the lined baking sheet and separate them with a fork. Allow to cool completely, and store in an airtight container.

Espresso Pumpkin Spiced Walnuts


Barb has a new series on her blog, called Happy Hour Friday. It’s all about drinks and appetizers, so go on over and check it out! Her walnut post today is for Cocoa, Cayenne and Espresso Roasted Walnuts

It’s easy to enter; just link up your favorite drink or appetizer recipe using our link tool and you’ll be entered. Happy Hour Friday entries are open until Sunday at midnight and Barb and I will EACH pick a winner from the entries on our respective sites. Only one entry please and we look forward to seeing your contributions. (US shipping only.)