Fresh Ginger Tea with Steamed Honey Cream

I didn't realize that it would be nearly-April and I would still be talking about warm things.

This should be the season for fresh salads, sparkling cocktails, and pretty pastel sweets.

There should be fresh flowers. Lighter jackets. Flats instead of boots.

But...it isn't time yet. And so I'm finding ways to warm it up the only way I can--from the inside.

Ginger tea has long been one of my favorite beverages. In fact, it was the first recipe I posted on this site, a little over 6 year ago.

I love it because it's hot and spicy, with a warmth that's deeper than the steaming mug of tea.

Though I typically drink it plain or with a splash of cream, I recently have fallen in love with a new way of sipping it--topped with a frothy pile of steamed honey cream.

It's a simple addition, but tastes like pure luxury. I heat heavy cream with a few teaspoons of fragrant honey and then use a hand-held milk frother to whip it into a thick, bubbly foam.

You can use a blender if you don't have a frother, but I really recommend you get one. They're inexpensive (mine was about $17) and so so useful. I use mine every morning, turning a simple mug of tea or coffee into a decadent treat.

The sweet foam is light and dissolves gently into the spicy tea with each sip, creating the absolute perfect drink for chilly days.


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Fresh Ginger Tea with Steamed Honey Cream
Makes 2 Servings
Ingredients
1 3" piece of fresh ginger root, cut into slices (no need to peel)
4 cups water
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 teaspoons honey

Special equipment: Milk frother (like this one).

Directions
Combine the sliced ginger and water in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to the lowest temperature and let simmer gently for at least 30 minutes, or until the water has reduced by half and is a light honey color.

Once the tea is ready, combine heavy cream and honey and heat in microwave or in a small saucepan until it starts to bubble on the sides. Use the frother to whip until the cream has tripled in volume and is fluffy and airy (can also be done in a blender).

Strain and divide tea into two large mugs, and top off with the steamed honey cream. Drink immediately.

(Sometimes I like to add a sprinkle of nutmeg on top!)

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Frozen Dark Chocolate Banana Cups

I realize that it is, like, 20 degrees outside and therefore not really the ideal time to share this frozen treat.

But...I can't help it. These little bites are so so good.

By now you probably already know that mashed frozen bananas kind of taste like ice cream.

It's not exactly as amazing as real ice cream (nothing is!), but it's still pretty fantastic.

And bananas + chocolate are always a winning combination.

So these treats? Absolute perfection!

They're basically a banana version of peanut butter cups, except they're frozen and made with dark chocolate.

Note that you have to keep these in the freezer, where they'll last for at least a week. Perfect for when you're craving a little healthy treat.

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Love Always Order Dessert? Let's connect! Follow me on Twitter or Pinterest, become a fan on Facebook, or sign up to receive my once-a-week e-mail updates. And if you ever need any entertaining or cooking advice, please don't hesitate to e-mail me. Thanks for reading!   



Frozen Dark Chocolate Banana Cups
Makes 12 banana cups

Ingredients
1 large ripe bananas (not banana-bread-ripe--just eating-ripe is perfect)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
16oz (2 cups) cups dark chocolate chips or bars, chopped
2 teaspoons coconut oil, divided

Equipment: muffin tin, paper or foil muffin liners

Directions
Place liners in 12 muffin tins. In a small bowl, mash the banana until smooth, then whisk in the vanilla with a fork. Set aside.

Place about half the chocolate in a bowl with one teaspoon of coconut. Microwave for 30 second intervals, stirring in between, until the chocolate is melted and smooth.

Use a spoon to pour a bit of chocolate in each muffin well, using the spoon to push it a bit up the sides. Place in refrigerator for 15 minutes or until set.

Once chilled and set, add a small dollop of the banana mash to each frozen well. (You may have extra banana leftover--I like adding this to yogurt or oatmeal!)

Add the rest of the chocolate and coconut oil to the bowl, and repeat melting process.

Top each of the cups with a few spoonfulls of the chocolate--note that you're not trying to fill the muffin tin--it should only cup up about 1/3 to 1/2 way.

Place in freezer for at least 2 hours, or until frozen.

Remove from muffin tin and store in an airtight container in freezer with a layer of wax paper in between.

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Dark Chocolate Layer Cake with Espresso Buttercream

Eugene turned 31 last Wednesday, and I decided to make him a birthday cake. I actually make him a birthday cake every year, but this year it was especially important as I wasn't really able to do much else.

I'd gotten back from Vermont on Sunday night nursing the beginnings of a bad cold. I was achey and feverish and way too stuffy to do much of anything but lay around in bed watching On Demand episodes of Elementary (I'm obsessed).

Going out to celebrate was off the table, and I didn't even have enough energy to walk 5 blocks to the drugstore to get him a birthday card.

(It didn't help that it was, like, 2 degrees outside.)

So I definitely had to make a cake.

A trip to the grocery store was out of the question, so I looked around the cabinets to see what I had to work with.

Flour. Sugar. Cocoa Powder. Eggs. Coffee.

I could totally work with this.

For the cake portion, I chose one of my favorite Ina Garten recipes: Beatty's chocolate cake.

It's a moist and rich dark chocolate cake recipe that's enhanced with the addition of a full cup of black coffee. Whenever I make it, I like to pump it up with a bit of espresso powder.

I also add a bit more vanilla, cut down on the sugar, and use large eggs. (Because, seriously, Ina--what's with the extra-large egg obsession?!?)

For the frosting, I made a simple Espresso Buttercream, using salted butter, sugar, vanilla and instant espresso to play up those coffee flavors. (Eugene is a fan of coffee-flavored things.)

The cake actually only took me about an hour and a half to make and frost (thank goodness since I kind of put it off all day!), so I was able to bake it, hide it in the fridge and clean the kitchen all before Eugene got home.

We each ate a big slice for dessert that night, and then I sent the rest of it to work with him in the morning.

(I do kind of wish I'd kept another slice...)

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Love Always Order Dessert? Let's connect! Follow me on Twitter or Pinterest, become a fan on Facebook, or sign up to receive my once-a-week e-mail updates. And if you ever need any entertaining or cooking advice, please don't hesitate to e-mail me. Thanks for reading!   




Dark Chocolate Layer Cake with Espresso Buttercream
Makes one 9" round cake. Cake adapted from Ina Garten's recipe for Beatty's Chocolate Cake

Ingredients
For the Cake:
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated white sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not dutch)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup olive oil
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
1 cup black coffee, cooled

For the Frosting:
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened (I like salted in this one, but unsalted works, too!)
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted


Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and line two 9" round baking pans with parchment paper.

Whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

In a separate bowl, beat together the buttermilk, olive oil, eggs, vanilla, espresso powder, and coffee.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and stir gently, just until batter is smooth with no dry parts.

Divide evenly into two pans, and bake 35-40 minutes, or until a tester inserted in cake comes out clean.

While the cake bakes, make the frosting:
Whisk the extract and espresso together and set aside.

Whip the butter with an electric mixer for five minutes, until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low and slowly beat in the sifted powdered sugar. Add the espresso mixture and continue to beat.

Frost the cake
Place one layer of the cake down and top with half the frosting, spreading so that it just reaches the edges. Top with the second layer, and frost with the rest of the frosting, leaving the sides and edges unfrosted. Garnish the center with cacao nibs.

Serve immediately or cover with a cake cover and chill up to 8 hours before serving.


Homemade Corn Flakes Cereal

bowl of homemade corn flakes cereal
I can't even explain to you how excited I am about this recipe!

I made cereal from scratch.

CEREAL. Not granola, which is cool and all (especially when it tastes like s'mores), but actual proper breakfast cereal!

The same stuff I used to eat when I was a kid and totally cool with eating a bowl of sugar-topped carbs for breakfast.

homemade cereal recipe
Yesterday morning I was wandering around my kitchen trying to figure out what to eat for breakfast. I was tired of eggs, didn't want oatmeal or yogurt or really much of anything. I've been fighting a cold for the past couple days, and I realized that what I really wanted was a bowl of cornflakes and milk.

I haven't had a bowl of corn flakes and milk in at least 12 years, but right then at that moment, it's what I wanted. So I said to myself: man...I wish I could just make corn flakes.

And then...wait... can I make corn flakes?

homemade corn flakes cereal recipe
So I started looking online and found a few recipes for homemade corn flakes made on the stovetop. I also found some for homemade bran cereal made in the oven, so I tested out both methods to see which worked best.

After some playing around with the proportions, I found that I preferred the oven method as it produced the crispiest cereal with the least amount of effort (total win!).

homemade cornflakes recipe
I was surprised with how good this ended up being. It stays crunchy in milk and has a lovely sweet and toasted corn flavor that is almost identical to that of the boxed cereal. Eugene loved the flavor on its own, and enjoyed handfuls of it as a snack.

The recipe below makes a small batch (enough for about 2-3 small bowls of cereal), but you can easily double or triple it--just be sure to divide the batter into the same amount of sheet pans so that it doesn't come out too thick.
Homemade corn flakes cereal recipe

This would also be great to use as a fun topping on yogurt or ice cream, or to crush to use in cornflake breading recipes.
 
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Love Always Order Dessert? Let's connect! Follow me on Twitter or Pinterest, become a fan on Facebook, or sign up to receive my once-a-week e-mail updates. And if you ever need any entertaining or cooking advice, please don't hesitate to e-mail me. Thanks for reading!     



Homemade Cornflakes Cereal

Recipe by Alejandra Ramos | AlwaysOrderDessert.com

A recipe for homemade cornflakes cereal made from scratch in the oven.

Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 55 min
Total time: 1 hr 10 min
Yield: 2 cups

Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal, divided
  • 1 tablespoon granulated white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cups water
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil and grease lightly with oil or baking spray. 
  2. Whisk together 1 cup cornmeal, sugar, and salt. Add vanilla extract and water, a little at a time, stirring until batter is smooth and thin. If it's too dry, add additional water. You want something the consistency of pancake batter.
  3. Pour batter onto prepared pan and spread out evenly. (It won't reach the edges, but that's OK. You want a nice thin layer, about 1/4 - 1/3" thick.)
  4. Combine remaining cornmeal with 1 teaspoon of water and mix until the mixture resembles course breadcrumbs (add an additional teaspoon or 2 of water if too dry).
  5. Sprinkle the top of the batter in the pan with the cornmeal crumbs (this will help give it a little extra crunchy texture).
  6. Bake on the center rack for 10-15 minutes, keeping a close eye on it, until the dough has dried out and cracked. (You're looking for a cracked arid-desert landscape look to it).
  7. Remove from oven and lower heat to 250. Let pan cool, then use your hands to tear and crack the dough into small flakes. Return to oven and let bake on the center rack for about 45 minutes or until pieces are toasted, crisp, and golden.
  8. Let cool completely before serving with milk or as you would any cereal. Store leftovers in an air-tight container in a cool dry place.

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