Cardamom Rose Latte

Cardamom Rose latte garnished with rose petals
In general, I’m not a fancy, foo foo, flavored latte kind of person. Mornings, I prefer a single cappuccino (no messing around with “caff” or “fat” or “pumps” or “Vente”) or, after dinner, a perfectly pulled single espresso with just a bit of raw sugar. When feeling especially indulgent, I may splurge on a true macchiato with an orange twist (Not to be confused with Starbuck’s bastardization, look it up).

These were my go-to hot beverages until, a few months ago, I discovered (gasp!) cardamom rose lattes at my local coffee house. Cardamom? And Rose? Decidedly foo foo, I was nonetheless hooked. If Chai was female, it would taste like this. I adore citrusy-spicy cardamom and use it often in my baking – an unexpected alternative to cinnamon and I’ve always been a fan of those delicate, rose-scented syrupy Indian sweets. Combine these two flavors with creamy steamed milk and a bit of espresso and you have an exotic spicy, floral sweet treat that can only be described as well-being in a mug.

Since returning to work, I’ve taken to making my own cardamom rose latte so I can begin each morning with this comforting, soothing brew. It makes my morning a bit brighter.

To learn more about the benefits of rose, check this out.


Cardamom Rose Latte

  • Servings: about 12 – 24 lattes, depending on size
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Inspired by a latte at my favorite local coffee house.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 ½ teaspoons cardamom
  • 2 Tablespoons rose water

Directions

  1. To make syrup: In a small saucepan, heat sugar and water together until sugar is completely melted and mixture looks clear. Remove from heat, stir in cardamom, cover, and let steep for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Strain through cheesecloth and add rose water.
  2. To make latte: Make latte according to your machines directions. Stir in one tablespoons of syrup (or to taste) for each 8 oz. of milk. Breathe deeply and enjoy.

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Crémasse

Cremas
…And #11: He was recently burned and isn’t ready to jump back into the fire. I will miss him.

Although slated for Thanksgiving, I made this a few days early – an efficacious mood adjuster and ideal remedy for a dating disappointment. It’s not nicknamed “The Happymaker” for nothing.


Crémasse

Similar to eggnog, but flavored with coconut, lime and almond,  this Haitian holiday beverage is traditionally served on New Year’s day.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 liter dark or spiced rum*
  • 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • 12 oz. can evaporated milk
  • 15 oz. cream of coconut (not coconut milk)
  • 2 Tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1 Tablespoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Zest of two limes

Directions

  1. Combine sugar, cinnamon sticks and water in a saucepan and place on low heat. Allow sugar to fully dissolve and make a simple syrup. Remove from heat and cool.
  2. Whisk rum into cooled syrup. Combine condensed milk, evaporated milk and coconut cream. Vigorously whisk milk mixture into rum in a steady stream to avoid curdling. Add extracts, spices, and zest. Set aside of two hours to allow flavors to meld.
  3. Strain through a fine mesh sieve. Pour into glasses, garnish with additional nutmeg and serve. Cremasse can be served cold or room temperature – I prefer it cold.

*Dark rum allows the almond extract flavor to come through while spiced rum compliments the cinnamon and nutmeg.

Thai Iced Tea

Two glasses of refreshing Thai Iced Tea
This summer, I’ve been ordering Thai delivery on an alarmingly regular basis from my favorite Thai food place. While I do indeed adore Thai food, I realize my cravings are focused less on the spicy coconut-infused curries and concentrated more on the sweet and creamy Thai iced tea that comes free with every order. I’ve caught myself slurping the last remnants with my straw before I’ve even managed to open all the food containers.

Realizing the ridiculousness of ordering a complete Thai meal every time I crave an iced tea, I decided to make my own. Unfamiliar with the actual ingredients in Thai tea, some quick Googling uncovered Pantai Norasingh Thai Tea mix available on Amazon and Ebay which produces tea with the same saffron-orange hue and vanilla aroma as my favorite restaurant tea. I’ve heard Thai tea is made with sweetened condensed milk, but after a few delicious Thai tea taste tests this week, I decided that my personal preference is a blend of whole milk and half and half. I’ve already made two batches.


Thai Iced Tea

  • Servings: about 3 cups of concentrate
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Ingredients

  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup Pantai Norasingh Thai Tea Mix
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ cup whole milk*
  • ½ cup half and half*
  • Ice

Directions

  1. In a medium saucepan, bring water to boil and add the Thai tea mix and sugar. Stir to dissolve sugar. Bring back up to a boil. When sugar is dissolved and tea is boiling, remove from heat, cover and allow tea to steep one hour (30 minutes will work if you can’t wait a whole hour for your tea).
  2. Strain the tea leaves, pressing down on leaves to extract as much tea as possible.
  3. Refrigerate tea.
  4. To serve, combine milk and half and half in a small pitcher or measuring cup. Fill two glasses with ice and fill glasses ¾ full with tea. Add milk mixture until glass is full. For the quintessential Thai iced tea layers of tea and milk, pour milk slowly over the back of a spoon. Stir and enjoy.

*You can use whole milk, half and half, sweetened condensed milk, or coconut milk. I like the richness the combination of whole milk and half and half imparts.

Lemon Verbena Liqueur

A bottle of Lemon Verbena Liqueur
Rescue me from the daily corporate grind and my creativity soon begins to flutter back to life. I’m no longer relegated to staring out the garden window, exhausted, from my end-of-the-workday couch repose and sighing, “Someday, I should do something with all that lemon verbena growing out there.” I can steep a batch of lemon verbena simple syrup to sweeten fresh-squeezed lemonade and drizzle over sliced nectarines. I can try my hand at concocting this lemon verbena liqueur. I have time to dream up experiments – delicious, delicious experiments.

While delightful on its own, the high alcohol and sugar content ensures this liqueur is best enjoyed in sipping-size portions after dinner. However, I’m convinced it would make a lovely aperitif when combined with bubbly champagne.


Lemon Verbena Liqueur

4 long weeks of steeping results in an amber liqueur redolent with the unmistakable citrusy-herbal flavor of lemon verbena.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup lemon verbena leaves, washed and well packed (divided)
  • 2 cups vodka
  • 1 cup sugar

Directions

  1. In a large lidded glass container, pour vodka over ½ cup packed lemon verbena leaves. Shake well to bruise the leaves and place on the counter for two weeks.
  2. After two weeks, add sugar and remaining ½ cup packed lemon verbena leaves. Shake well to bruise leaves and ensure sugar has dissolved. Place on the counter for two more weeks.
  3. After a total of 4 weeks, strain leaves and pour liqueur into a glass bottle. Best served cold, I store mine in the freezer.

Classic Lemonade

Homemade Lemonade

Last night’s sankalpa was an uncharacteristically nebulous “Love” rather than her customary litany of qualifiers.  That was careless.  His email was waiting for her the next morning.  Impossible love.  Foolish love.  Lost love.

Next time, her sankalpa will be crafted with finer precision.  Actionable Love.


Classic Lemonade

A shot of vodka turns this simply classic lemonade into a decidedly adult beverage.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup fresh lemon juice, from about 5 lemons
  • 2 cups cold water
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup simple syrup, depending on your sweetness preference

Directions

  1. In a pitcher, stir all ingredients together until well blended. Pour over ice and enjoy!