Cold Brew Coffee Cake with a Strawberry-Grapefruit Buttercream │ Why French Macaroons are the Toughest Cookies

Cold Brew Coffee Cake with a Strawberry-Grapefruit Buttercream

Cold Brew Coffee Cake with a Strawberry-Grapefruit Buttercream
Coffee has always played a quintessential role in the shaping of my young adult life. Maybe that’s a little bit of an exaggeration. Even if I never started drinking coffee until I began college, the idea of freshly brewed coffee and light-hearted conversations gently floating back-and-forth through the early morning air has always been a staple of my family’s heritage and traditions. People drink coffee, not for the drink itself, but for the conversations that stem from it. I come from a line of avid coffee drinkers on both sides of the family tree. I inherited my unhealthy obsession for coffee from my mother, who in turn inherited it from her father. I can remember going over to my grandparent’s house as a kid, the sun trickling its way through the slightly closed blinds and the light danced shadows across the old, wooden dining room table. My grandfather, sitting at the head of it, reading the morning paper, and sipping a steamy mug of, you guessed it, coffee.  
Pouring Coffee Cold Brew Coffee
This past week was my colleges spring break, meaning that the school year is almost over! It also means that with every passing week, I’m just one step closer to the first day of classes at the four year university I’m transferring to in the fall. I hope to find an apartment near the college where I can cook and keep the blog up and running. More information on that to come. I got to spend time with family and friends, cook and bake a little, and just take a moment to breathe before wedding seasons gets into full swing. Had lunch at this little Irish pub called Dublin O'Neil's this past Friday with Jon and Momma Crawford. The smoked Gouda mac and cheese and the Irish coffee cheesecake were to die for. Plus, I got a really rockin' button-up for Easter, which I was obsessed with.

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This past Tuesday, I got to host one of my friends/incredibly talented baker, Yeojin, for lunch and an afternoon of baking. She works at a bakery/cafĂ© in town where she is the head French macaroon baker. This girl is truly a magician when it comes to mastering the French macaroon and cold brew coffee. She brews her cold brew coffee at home in an actual machine, which is a lot more professional looking than my make-shift, "run-it-through-a-sock" version. Being that my first attempt at French macaroons didn't go too well a few weeks prior, I knew I needed guidance. 

With skillet nachos baking in the oven, freshly made Pica de Gallo sitting on the table, and homemade cold brew stewing in our mugs, we ventured out into the art of the French macaroon. When they say these are the hardest cookies to master, they are. Every ingredient and exact measurement count. Estimations are far from allowed. Unfortunately, our macaroons failed this time around. Bitter tears were shed. After baking the first of four batches, the outer crust of the cookies failed to harden, leaving us with caved in macaroons and very burnt bottoms. With some investigation, we found out that it was the cornstarch in the off-brand powdered sugar I had purchased that destroyed the molecular integrity of the egg whites. Lesson learned. 

Cold Brew Coffee Cake with a Strawberry-Grapefruit Buttercream Cold Brew Coffee Cake with a Strawberry-Grapefruit Buttercream
Getting on to what this post is actually about. The French macaroons were supposed to be strawberry and grapefruit flavors with coinciding flavors of buttercream. When our cookies failed, we were left with about 2 cups of buttercream that was going to eventually be thrown away. Inspiration had instantly struck and I knew what I was going to do with this unexpected scenario. Yeojin had left a mason jar full of cold brew coffee because she knew I was dying to try it (which I truly was). I was going to use the buttercream and the coffee to make a literal coffee cake. 

Fruit flavored buttercream and coffee cake, really? I was anxious about the flavor outcome myself. I feared the sweetness would counterbalance the flavor from the coffee. What I got was an unexpectedly delicious, moist, multi-flavored cake that was unlike any cake I have ever had. The round-toned aroma from the coffee mingled beautifully with the subtle sweetness from the buttercream. The flavors balanced each other out perfectly and I was left with an exquisitely defined cake. This cake is definitely perfect as a mid-evening dessert for your next dinner party, on a quaint afternoon with tea, or a guilty pleasure early in the morning (just don’t let the kids see!). 

The cake recipe is adapted from Ree Drummond's original recipe. The topping recipe is inspired by Alex Guarnaschelli's recipe. 

Cold Brew Coffee Cake with a Strawberry-Grapefruit Buttercream


Cold Brew Coffee Cake with a Strawberry-Grapefruit Buttercream


3 sticks Butter
2 tablespoons Strawberry preserve
2 tablespoons Grapefruit marmalade
1-2 cups confectioners’’ sugar

              1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
2/3 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, sifted
1 teaspoon kosher salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

            2 cups Flour
            2 cups Sugar
            ¼ teaspoon Salt
            2 sticks Butter
            1 cup cold brew coffee
            ½ cup Buttermilk
            2 large eggs
            1 teaspoon Baking Soda
            2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract


Pre-step: “Don’t hyperventilate, just stop taking your cake out of the oven every five minutes"  – Momma Crawford 

Step One: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, add the nuts, flour, sugars, cinnamon, and salt. Use a spoon to blend. Stir in the melted butter. The topping should resemble the appearance of clumpy sand. Transfer the topping to the baking sheet and, using a knife, chop up the nuts until desired coarseness is achieved. Set aside.

Step Two: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease two baking pans using 2 tablespoons of butter. Add 1 tablespoon of flour to each pan and gently coat the pan by tilting the pan slightly and tapping on the sides.

Step Three: In large bowl, mix together the sugar, flour, and salt. Set aside. Melt 2 sticks of butter in a medium sauce pan. In another pan, bring cold brew coffee to a boil. Once the butter has melted, add the coffee. Let that mixture come to a boil for about ten seconds. Turn off the heat and set aside to cool slightly.

Step Four: In a separate large bowl, add the buttermilk, eggs, baking soda, and vanilla. Mix until well combined. Pour the butter/coffee mixture into the flour mixture. Whisk together to combine. You want this batter to be smooth and as lump-free as possible. Add in the egg mixture and whisk gently until well combined. Pour the batter into the pans. Sprinkle over the nut crumble mixture on both cakes. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until set.  Allow to cool completely. Assemble and chill for an hour before serving.

Step Five: To make the buttercream, take three sticks of room temperature butter and whip until pale white in color. Add in the marmalades/jams and confections’ sugar. Use immediately.

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