Cold Brew with Vanilla Almond Milk Creamer

  This post is sponsored through a partnership with    The J.M. Smucker Company © 2017. DD IP Holder LLC  . A ll thoughts and opinions are my own.

This post is sponsored through a partnership with The J.M. Smucker Company © 2017. DD IP Holder LLC. All thoughts and opinions are my own.


With warmer days approaching (and the end of the school year), my mind drifts towards the slower days of summer.  I've stuffed the sweaters into the back of the closet, bringing the t-shirts front and center.

A defining line between the cold and warm months, however, is my switch from hot coffee to cold brew. 

As a teacher, I drink my fair share of coffee. My favorite moments to enjoy a cup is relaxing after a long day at work, with my feet up on the couch, or on a slow-moving weekend morning.

Lately, I've been drinking Dunkin' Donuts Cold Brew. It's easy to prepare and has a smooth finish, with no acidity or bitter taste.

On Sunday nights, I prep the cold brew by placing two coffee pouches into a two-quart pitcher with four cups of water and leave it to steep in the refrigerator overnight. The next morning, I remove the pouches, add a few cups of water to dilute it to my taste, and it is ready to enjoy. Best of all, the pitcher lasts the rest of the week so the work is complete in two simple steps.

One of my favorite cold brew tricks is to freeze some of the cold brew into ice cubes after it has finished brewing. Then, when it's time to enjoy the coffee, I add a few cold brew cubes. The drink stays cold longer, and the coffee cubes prevent the drink from becoming watered down as the ice melts. 


I prefer my cold brew with creamer to add a hint of flavor and sweetness. After finding disappointment with dairy-free brands, I set out to create my own. As I often do for a dairy-free alternative, I reached for the can of full-fat coconut milk. While homemade coconut milk creamer works well in hot beverages, the fat separates to the top when it hits a cold beverage, rendering it undrinkable.

Almonds, however, do the job and do it well.

This homemade almond milk creamer holds together well in a cold drink and lends itself to customization. To give the creamer its creaminess, I follow a similar approach as I do with my recipe for homemade almond milk. The difference is that I add less water when blending so the almond milk is concentrated. 


With pure vanilla extract for flavor and maple syrup to sweeten to taste, this homemade almond milk creamer is complete. I adore this creamer because it mimics the coffee house experience with simple, wholesome ingredients.

The coffee creamer may appear to separate if it is left to rest, but a quick swirl of the glass will bring it back to a uniform appearance. Use as much or as little as you like in your next glass of cold brew.


This cold brew with homemade vanilla almond milk creamer works as a great afternoon pick-me-up. Brewed with Dunkin' Donuts Cold Brew Coffee Packs, the coffee has a smooth, rich finish. I prefer to enjoy it with homemade creamer flavored with vanilla and sweetened with maple syrup, but you can customize the drink to your taste. Enjoy!

One Year Ago: Strawberry Scones
Two Years Ago: Chocolate Hazelnut Rolls
Three Years Ago: Blueberry Oat Bars (GF)  & Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies (GF)
Four Years Ago: Chocolate Blackberry Cupcakes
Five Years Ago:  Sunflower Seed Bread, Blackberry Fool, Lime Curd Tart, & Honey Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Six Years Ago: Tiramisu Cake, Peanut Butter Cornmeal Cookies, Honey Wheat Cake, & Chocolate Almond Ice Cream
Seven Years Ago:  Chocolate-Filled Buns, Malted Chocolate Chip Cookies, & Parmesan Poppy Seed Crackers

Cold Brew with Vanilla Almond Milk Creamer

Yields 6 servings

1 pouch Dunkin’ Donuts Cold Brew Coffee Packs
1 cup (120 grams) raw almonds
3 1/2 cups (830 mL) filtered water, divided
3-5 tablespoons maple syrup, to taste
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

The cold brew and almond milk creamer need to be started the evening before serving.

To prepare the cold brew coffee, follow the directions according to the package.

To prepare the almond milk creamer, place almonds in a container and cover with 2 cups filtered water. Seal container and allow to soak overnight, for at least 8 hours or up to 2 days.

Strain almonds and rinse with fresh water. (The almonds release phytic acid while soaking, which prevents the body from absorbing nutrients; rinsing the almonds removes this acid.) Place almonds and 1 1/2 cups filtered water in a blender. Blend on high for 2-3 minutes. Using a nut bag, layered cheesecloth, or fine mesh strainer, strain the almond milk to remove the pulp. If using the fine mesh strainer, run the milk through several times to eliminate pulp. The leftover pulp can be used in smoothies, muffins, or bread, or it can be dehydrated and used in the same manner as almond flour. Add maple syrup and vanilla extract to the almond milk.

Keep the almond milk creamer refrigerated. It should stay fresh for 5 to 7 days. The creamer may undergo separation in the refrigerator. Give the creamer a good shake and it will come back together quickly.

To prepare the cold brew coffee drink, place prepared cold brew in a glass with ice and add almond milk creamer to taste. For best results, freeze some of the cold brew into ice cubes in advance. This method keeps the cold brew chilled and prevents it from getting watered down as the ice melts.

©The J.M. Smucker Company © 2017. DD IP Holder LLC

Coffee Eclairs

Pastries are my first love. When I lived in Montreal, the scents of butter and yeast swirled out onto the sidewalks, luring me into the small pâtisseries. I could rarely resist. Naturally, baking became my second love, which developed from a desire to create that which I first loved.

In partnership with King Arthur Flour, each month I want to challenge you with a new recipe to help you grow and develop as a baker. This month we're taking on coffee éclairsa classic French pastry merged with the American love of caffeine.  Eclairs feature a pastry shell filled with custard and glazed with chocolate. The name éclair comes from the French for "flash of lightning," an apt name because the pastries are often eaten "in a flash."

The pastry shell of an éclair is pâte à choux or choux pastry. Choux pastry forms the base of many popular desserts, including cream puffs, profiteroles, crullers, and gougères. The pastry consists of butter, water, flour, salt, sugar, and eggs, but the technique in which they are combined makes all the difference.

Unlike most pastries, choux is cooked on the stove before it is baked. Choux starts by bringing the butter and water to a boil. The flour is added and stirred until uniform, as shown in the top left photo. It has a resemblance to dry mashed potatoes. The choux is placed back on the stove and stirred constantly for 2-3 minutes. As the pastry loses moisture, it will begin to pull away from the sides of the pan and form a ball. The dough will also form a film on the bottom of the pan, a starchy layer from the flourthis is a good sign. When the dough looks like the image in the top right, it is done.


The batter should cool for several minutes before the eggs are mixed in to prevent scrambling them. When the eggs are added one at a time, the dough and egg will look like they will never combine, but after enough mixing, the batter will become smooth. While you can use a mixer to do this step, I prefer to do it by hand. Using the same pot creates fewer dirty dishes and a little elbow grease never hurt anyone.

The batter is the correct consistency when it forms a V-shape on the end of a spatula. It should drip off very slowly. If the batter is not dripping, add water, a tablespoon at a time, until it reaches the right consistency.

Place the choux in a piping bag with a large tip. The éclairs can be piped with a star or round tip (I used a 1 M). I prefer the star tip because the ridges make the éclairs easier to hold when filling and glazing. Eclairs are typically piped so they are 4 inches long and 1 inch wide. In order to make the eclairs uniform, I create a guide by using a ruler to draw 4-inch lines on parchment paper. Keep the lines at least 2 inches apart and make sure to flip the parchment upside down so the ink does not bleed onto the pastry.

When piping, keep the bag at a 45 degree angle to the surface, but do not touch the surface. When you reach the end, stop the pressure and bring the tip back over the pastry, folding the remainder over onto itself (as shown above). Don't worry about having a perfect shape here. The choux loses much of its shape when it puffs in the oven.

You will know the choux has finished baking when it has a uniform dark brown color. This is often a shade darker than you think it should be. If it’s too light in color, the pastry will have a gummy interior, which you definitely do not want. When finished, the oven is turned off, the door is cracked, and the choux is left for another 15 minutes to dry.

Pastry cream is made in a similar method to pudding (in fact, pastry cream is actually just a rich pudding). Sugar plays an interesting role in the creation. Whole milk and half of the sugar are brought to a boil over medium-high heat. The sugar increases the boiling point of the milk which makes it less likely to burn when heating. In a separate bowl, the remaining ingredients are whisked together. The remaining sugar helps prevent the flour from clumping  when mixed with the milk.

Once the milk has boiled, pour a small amount into the egg mixture and whisk to bring up the temperature of the egg mixture. This process tempers the eggs and prevents them from scrambling when added back to the hot milk. The pastry cream should be cooked at a full boil for at least one minute in order to thicken. When it is the consistency of pudding, it should be removed from the heat and run through a fine mesh strainer to remove any lumps. The pastry cream should be refrigerated before using. While this pastry cream is coffee flavored, you can leave out the espresso powder for a vanilla flavor.

The pastry cream can be made several days in advance as long as it is kept airtight in the refrigerator.

The éclairs are coated in a glaze of chocolate ganache. The ganache is made by pouring near boiling cream over chopped chocolate. The mixture is allowed to set for at least 5 minutes before stirring to encourage even melting. Espresso powder is added to enhance the flavor of the chocolate. This recipe makes more than you'll need for the eclairs, but I prefer to have extra when dipping to make the process easier. The leftover ganache can be rolled into truffles, drizzled over baked goods, or eaten by the spoonful.

The chocolate ganache can also be made several days in advance. Warm the chocolate before using.

To assemble the éclairs, use a sharp knife to poke a hole into both ends of the pastry shell. With a pastry bag filled with the chilled pastry cream, pipe the filling into both ends. You'll be tempted to overfill the pastries, but you don't want to do it. When overfilled, the pastry cream will leak out every time the pastry is handled, causing a mess everywhere (I speak from experience). If you hold the pastry up to the light while filling, you can see the cream fill the pastry and it makes it easier to get the right amount.

The tops of the éclairs are then dipped into the melted chocolate. Make sure you use a bowl that's at least 5-6 inches in diameter to make dipping easier. Let the chocolate set before serving; it happens faster in the refrigerator.

These éclairs are a classic French pastry with a coffee twist. The pastry shell is made from choux pastry, which puffs and hollows in the oven. The interior is filled with a rich coffee pastry cream and glazed with dark chocolate. Most of the work for the éclairs can be done several days in advance, making the assembly a quick maneuver. Serve to friends and family and celebrate your own love of pastry.

One Year Ago: Chocolate Raspberry Tarts
Two Years Ago: Chocolate Almond Biscotti
Three Years Ago: Pomegranate White Wine Panna Cotta, Toasted Almond Cookies, and Coconut Raisin Granola
Four Years Ago: Beer Bread, Baked Tortilla Chips, Roasted Pepper Feta Scones, and Chocolate Rum Cake (GF)
Five Years Ago: Banana Bread Oatmeal and Chocolate Blueberry Ice Cream

Coffee Eclairs

Yields 2 dozen

1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter
1 cup (250 mL) water
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup (120 grams) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
4 large eggs

1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar, divided
1/4 cup (40 grams)
King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 tablespoon espresso powder
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups (415 mL) whole milk

8 ounces (225 grams) Valrhona dark chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup (250 mL) heavy cream
1 teaspoon
espresso powder

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).

For the dough, combine the butter, water, sugar, and salt in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove pan from heat, add the flour, and stir until uniform. Return to heat and continue stirring. In 2-3 minutes, when the dough visibly pulls away from the sides of the pan, forms into a ball, and forms a film on the bottom of the pan, remove from heat. Let dough cool in pan for 4-5 minutes.

Add the eggs one at a time, using a spatula to beat them in, making sure the first egg is completely incorporated before continuing. Once all the eggs have been incorporated and the mixture is smooth, put the dough into a piping bag fitted with a large star or round tip. Pipe the dough into 4-inch long, 1-inch wide tubular shapes on parchment-lined sheet pans. Bake for 25 minutes, or until uniformly brown in color. Turn oven off and crack open the door, drying out the shells for an additional 15 minutes.

For the filling, whisk together 1/4 cup sugar, flour, espresso powder, eggs, egg yolks, vanilla extract, and salt. Set aside.

Place the milk and remaining 1/4 cup sugar in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Immediately remove from heat. Temper the egg mixture with the milk and return back to the saucepan. Bring back to a boil, whisking constantly, until mixture thickens into a pudding consistency. Remove from heat and refrigerate until needed.

For the glaze, bring the heavy cream to a boil in a small saucepan. Immediately remove from heat and pour over chopped chocolate, allowing the chocolate to melt for 5 minutes before stirring until smooth and uniform. Stir in espresso powder. Set aside.

To assemble, place pastry cream in a pastry bag with a small round tip. Using a sharp knife, puncture a small hole at both ends of the eclairs. Pipe pastry cream into both ends; take care not to overfill. Dip tops of éclairs in chocolate glaze and allow to set until chocolate firms. Keep refrigerated.

This post is sponsored through a partnership with King Arthur Flour. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Espresso Chocolate Coffee Cake

It was Sunday evening, the kitchen was a mess, and I was left empty-handed. It was my first weekend baking in nearly two months, and I had nothing to show for it. After traveling most of August and facing the whirlwind of starting a new school year, the longest I had spent in the kitchen up to this point was the length of time it took to fry an egg. This was going to be the weekend I would reacquaint myself with mixing bowls; it was the weekend I would remember why I held baking so dear to my heart.

Instead, I picked through the almonds in a failed batch of granola bars (I can never seem to get them to stay together) and stared at my attempted vegan caramel in disgust. When compared against the jar of bacon fat from breakfast, the similarities were a little too coincidental for my liking. I had reaquainted myself with the kitchen, true, but the scene was not quite what I had envisioned.

I keep a few recipes on the back burner for moments like this, scribbled on pieces of scrap paper and buried between papers on my desk. I made this coffee cake back in the beginning of June, a gift for my sister and her boyfriend's family. They were going to spend a weekend at their lake home and I thought a cake would nicely round out the weekend. As it turns out, it did.

But, when it came down to it, I didn't want to post this recipe. I didn't want to share it because I didn't think the photographs were good enough. The lighting was stark; the shadows were too dark. Perhaps it is a quality reserved for creators, but the longer I spend with something I have made, the more my vision narrows, focusing only on the flaws until they are the only aspects I can see. After three months of holding onto the photographs, I could find nothing positive with them anymore. My boyfriend tried to sway me in the opposite direction, but I had already criticized my workmyselfto a point where I could no longer see the worth.

 It has been said that artists are their own worst critics and I am inclined to agree. I often hold myself to an impossible standard with this blog, demanding only the best recipes, photographs, and writing from myself. After putting in a full work week and then some, sometimes "the best" is a little out of my reach.  I'm learning to loosen the reins, to lower the impractical standards, and to continue to keep blogging an enjoyable experience.

I sat down at the computer tonight, looked through the photographs again, and laughed at myself. With some time to clear my head, the flaws I couldn't escape from earlier seemed to fade away. I had forgotten what this cake was all about, what this blog was all about. Food is about sharing and togetherness. It is about experiencing and expressing joy with the ones that you love. It doesn't have to be pretentious or perfectthe intentions just have to be true.

I lost sight of that for a moment and it seems silly to admit all the trouble that happened over a simple coffee cake. If ever I should lose my way again, please point me back to this imperfectly perfect cake and remind me, softly, of why we gather here. 

Espresso Chocolate Coffee Cake is a simple cake for everyday occasions. The base is a buttery cake made rich with the addition of sour cream. An espresso cinnamon topping is sprinkled on the top and in the center of the cake to add a burst of flavor. Since I can never leave well enough alone, I sprinkled chocolate chips with the topping, complementing the flavors already present. Serve this cake with a cup of coffee or a glass of milk and you cannot go wrong.

One Year Ago: Chocolate Banana Chip Cookies and Vanilla Bean Malt Cake
Two Years Ago: Dark & Stormy (with Ginger Ale), Blueberry Cream Cheese Cupcakes, S'mores Pancakes, and Maple Roasted Peaches with Coconut Whipped Cream
Three Years Ago: Plum Clafouti, Basic Pie Crust, Banana Cake with Chocolate Glaze, and S'mores Pie
Four Years Ago: Dark Chocolate Raspberry Oatmeal Muffins, Brown Sugar Coconut Bubble Tea, and Whole Wheat Baguettes

Espresso Chocolate Coffee Cake

Yields 10-inch bundt cake

For Cake:
1/2 cup (113 grams) butter, room temperature
3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup (228 grams) sour cream (or plain yogurt)
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour

For Topping:
1/3 cup (66 grams) granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon espresso powder
6 ounces (170 grams) miniature chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Heavily grease a 10-inch tube or bundt pan and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in the sour cream and vanilla until uniform.

Gradually fold in the salt, baking soda, baking powder, and flour. The batter will be thick. Set aside.

For the topping, whisk together the sugar, cinnamon, and espresso powder in a medium bowl. 

Pour 1/2 of the cake batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle half of the topping and half of the miniature chocolate chips over the batter. Pour the rest of the batter over the top and sprinkle it with the remaining topping and chocolate chips.

Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the cake is lightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 20 minutes before removing and transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.