Caramel’s Cafe Has Loved Having You!!!


We are thrilled that so many fabulous bloggers came to place a drinks order and have a chat with us every Wednesday here on WordPress! This is the last week of CARAMEL’S CAFE…but don’t worry – we have more in store for you to keep you warm through winter!

Coffee, Caramel Macchiato, Cappuccino

We are all getting used to rules chopping and changing from week to week, so there are not rules at CARAMEL’S CAFE. The more the merrier!

So please feel free to place a drink’s order in the comments below. Jack is going to make the drinks. I am here as your cheerful hostess with the mostess.

For the last week at CARAMEL’S CAFE (yes that’s right everyone, normal cafes are back open next week!) we have picked a song that we want you all to sing along to with me and Jack. To help you we found a video with the lyrics on the screen! Do it – go on, I know you want to….. 🙂

Warm Up At Caramel’s Cafe!

If you are struggling with lockdown or social distancing restrictions, then come and hang out at CARAMEL’S CAFE right here on WordPress!! You are invited along every Wednesday for throughout November to come and hang out with other bloggers.

Coffee, Caramel Macchiato, Cappuccino

We are all getting used to rules chopping and changing from week to week, so there are not rules at CARAMEL’S CAFE. The more the merrier!

So please feel free to place a drink’s order in the comments below. Jack is going to make the drinks. I am here as your cheerful hostess with the mostess.

Here is a song to warm your cockles as we all pull together and support each other as THE HUMAN FAMILY!

Caramel’s Cafe Is Taking Orders Now

If you are struggling with lockdown or social distancing restrictions, then come and hang out at CARAMEL’S CAFE right here on WordPress!! You are invited along every Wednesday for throughout November to come and hang out with other bloggers.

Coffee, Caramel Macchiato, Cappuccino

We are all getting used to rules chopping and changing from week to week, so there are not rules at CARAMEL’S CAFE. The more the merrier!

So please feel free to place a drink’s order in the comments below. Jack is going to make the drinks. I am here as your cheerful hostess with the mostess.

We have a tune for you, that’s right you. Have you had your moments this year when you felt isolated and alone, overwhelmed with stress and confusion? We are rooting for you! Please do not ever feel alone. Please reach out and cuddle up with us – other members of THE HUMAN FAMILY who want to help everyone get through these hard times. We are looking up at the same moon and stars as you and sharing your dreams ❤

Caramel’s Cafe Is Open!

Here in England cafes are closing for a month. However Caramel (that’s me!) is opening a new cafe right here on WordPress!!! You are invited along every Wednesday throughout November to come and hang out with other bloggers.

Coffee, Caramel Macchiato, Cappuccino

We are all getting used to rules chopping and changing from week to week, so there are no rules at CARAMEL’S CAFE. The more the merrier!

So please feel free to place a drink’s order in the comments below. Jack is going to make the drinks. I am here as your cheerful hostess with the mostess.

Think of CARAMEL’S CAFE as a place to drop-in and say hi to some of the most lovely people on WordPress. By all means leave a link to one of your recent posts to help other bloggers find your site easily. Come and have a chat. If you are struggling with keeping your spirits up during lockdown measures, then spend time chatting with some brilliant bloggers.

We are opening up today’s CARAMEL’S CAFE with a little tune to get you all tapping your feet and singing along. We know times are stressful – but we really are going to pull together and get everyone through this – WE ARE THE HUMAN FAMILY! And as we think about the necessities for each day and take one day at a time – Jack and I are giving out virtual bear hugs to everyone!

First Coffee Date In Months!

Coffee, Table, Shades, Sunglasses, Chill

Jack and I did something we have not down since February I believe. We went out for a coffee.

To think that I used to worry about public dates with Jack! It was great to be out in public with him. The staff recognised Jack and were super friendly. I think some of the other customers spotted him, but nobody approached to say hello.

I know it might sound insignificant, but it was great to be back in a cafe sipping Italian coffee and munching on macarons. It is so long since I had macarons, I forgot how delicious they can be…not as delicious as Jack of course.

Pastries, Sweetness, Macarons, Cake.

Espresso Yourself

After a calm start to our Sunday, it’s time to wake up. Yes…it is coffee time! Here is a double shot of caffeine for you with a CHOCOLATE TRUFFLE ESPRESSO TART, which is supposed to look like this when it is finished:

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This recipe was from a supermarket magazine, but I have no idea which one. I cut it out because the recipe looked fabulous! There are essentially three stages to this tart…the pastry, the filling and the decorations. Here are the ingredients I used for this decadent dessert:

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PASTRY

  • 175g plain flour
  • 80g icing sugar (sifted)
  • 100g chilled butter (cut into cubes)
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1tbsp vanilla extract

FILLING

  • 1tbsp instant coffee (I just happened to pick up French Vanilla coffee because it sounded so delicious)
  • 300ml double cream
  • 25g golden syrup
  • 50g butter
  • 75g dark chocolate (finely chopped)
  • 75g milk chocolate (finely chopped)

DECORATIONS

  • 150g dark chocolate
  • icing sugar (to dust with)

It’s been a while since I made my own pastry (I usually cheat and buy puff or shortcrust pastry from the supermarket). I can’t remember making pastry in a food processor before, but not one to argue with a recipe, I followed the instructions.

First of all I put the 175g flour and 80g sifted icing sugar into my food processor and pulsed it briefly. Then I added the 100g chilled butter to the food processor and pulsed the mix until it looked like fine breadcrumbs. Then I added the egg yolk and vanilla extract before pulsing again. Before my eyes the pastry started to combine together into a dough.

I did add a teaspoon of water as I thought the pastry was a little bit crumbly. Then on a lightly floured surface I pressed the pastry dough into a disc and wrapped it up in cling film. I put it into the fridge for half an hour to chill.

In the meantime I preheated the oven to 160°c fan (180°c without fan). I took the chilled pastry out of the fridge and rolled out on a lightly floured surface. Then the pastry went into a fluted flan/quiche tin. I pricked the base with a fork and chilled it in the fridge for another ten minutes.

After another chilling, I placed baking parchment over the pastry and poured baking beans over the top. Then I placed it into the preheated oven and baked it for twenty minutes.

After twenty minutes I removed the baking parchment and baking beans and returned the pastry to the oven for another eight minutes. By this point the pastry was golden and felt slightly sandy.

Now that the pastry was ready, it was time to prepare the filling. I forgot to take a photo of the first step, which is to place the 1tbsp of instant coffee granules into a pan with 1tbsp of boiling water and stir them together.

I then added the 300mil of double cream and the 25g golden syrup. As per the recipe, I brought that mixture to the boil while stirring occasionally. Then I removed the pan from the heat and added the 50g of butter and the finely chopped chocolate (75g dark chocolate/75g milk chocolate). Then I went about stir stir stirring until I had a glossy smooth chocolately mix.

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I then poured the chocolate mix into the pastry case (which was still in the tin by the way) and chilled it in the fridge overnight.

The following day, it was time to decorate the chocolate tart. The recipe said to take 150g dark chocolate and place in a bain marie (heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water). Once it was melted I poured it onto a flat baking sheet.

I then placed the baking sheet into the fridge for ten minutes. The chocolate was still quite soft so I put it back in the fridge for another fifteen minutes.

Then…with a large knife I pulled curls of chocolate. There were lots of curls as you can see!

Then heaped the chocolate curls on top of the chocolate truffle espresso tart and dusted with some icing sugar.

I took the tart with me when I went to see some friends for a small garden party they hosted for some of their NHS friends they wanted to do something for. My friends were very very pleased with this tart. It was rich though! Very rich. Thin slices of tart for all of us. It had a lovely strong coffee flavour which complimented the chocolate perfectly.

This recipe is definitely a keeper! The coffee is just what we need to wake up on our Sunday morning!

Time to shake off the sleepy eyes and tired limbs…there is so much in store in todays line-up on THE GREAT BLOGGERS’ BAKE-OFF!

 

Coffee Flavoured Bliss

To give you some ideas to inspire you for THE GREAT BLOGGERS’ BAKE-OFF 2020 BAKING CONTEST, I HAVE CHOSEN A CAKE I BAKED FOR MY FAMILY OVER THE HOLIDAYS. AS YOU WILL SEE IT WAS A BIT OF A BAKING CATASTROPHE BUT IT DID TASTE AMAZING!

Well…I hope you have not overindulged too much over the last day or two. I am really hoping you might have room for dessert. I am making this and another dessert for my family as I have made them for friends and they went down a treat!

shall i

I made this for Jack a while back, the first time he stayed over at the little nest with me, and of course, he loved it! It’s a winner!! So I am going to share with you my baking journey in trying to recreate this fabulous Donna Hay recipe! Her COFFEE CHEESECAKE WITH COFFEE SYRUP – yuuuuuuuuuummmmmmmmy!!!

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I chose quadruple chocolate cookies, because you can never have too much chocolate!

If you know anything about making cheesecake, you will know that we start with the base. When I first read Donna’s recipe it said to use dark chocolate biscuits for the base. I didn’t know what kind of biscuits to use. In the end I had a good look in the biscuit section at the local supermarket and chose these babies!

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225gr dark chocolate biscuits, 50gr ground hazelnuts, 60gr unsalted butter, 1 tablespoon of coffee beans finely crushed

So I put 225g of my dark chocolate cookies, 60 grammes of melted unsalted butter and 50 grammes of pecan nuts (Donna’s recipe says hazelnuts, but I am not a fan of hazelnuts with chocolate – I know I’m weird, but i’ts my cake!) into the food processor and whizzed until they were a coarse crumby mixture. Then I added one tablespoon of coffee beans which I had already crushed with the back of a spoon.

 

I took the mixture for the biscuit base and pressed it down firmly into a 20cm spring release tin which I had already lined with baking paper. Then into the fridge it went. The recipe said to chill for fifteen minutes, but I left it in for longer.

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295gr caster sugar, 320gr cream cheese (I used Philadelphia) 480gr ricotta cheese 5 eggs (at room temperature) 1.5 tbsp cornflour 1 tsp vanilla extract 80mil coffee liqueur

Then I had to wash the food processor out (those blades are so scary sharp) so I could crack on with the filling, I placed 295 grammes of caster sugar, 320 grammes of Philadelphia cream cheese and 480 grammes of ricotta cheese into the food processor (Yes this cake is not for someone with a dairy intolerance, unless you can find dairy free alternatives!) I whizzed those ingredients until they were smooth. Then I added the five eggs (I don’t how important it is but Donna’s recipe said these must be room-temperature eggs, so I took mine out of the fridge a few hours before I made the cake.)

In a seperate little bowl, I mixed one and half tablespoons of cornflour, one teaspoon of vanilla extract and 80 millilitres of coffee liqueur (I used Tia Maria) together. Then I added this to the cheesy mixture sitting in the food processor and blitzed again.

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Then I poured this mixture over the biscuit base and as the recipe instructed, I tapped the tin a few times (gently), until I couldn’t see any air bubbles. Donna’s recipe also said to place the spring release tin onto a baking tray. I released how important this was because there was some “leakage” onto the baking tray during the baking.

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Now as you probably know, the cooking of a cheesecake is important, and you must be patient and not do anything foolish! With the oven set at 150 degrees celsius (apparently that is Gas Mark 2) I baked the cake for a whole hour. Do not open the door at any point in baking. After the hour is over – do not open the door to check the cake is set. Just turn the oven off and leave the cheesecake in the cooling oven for another half hour. Now although Donna’s recipe doesn’t mention this, my advice is to open the oven door a little, just a couple of inches, and leave the cake in the oven for another half an hour or so. Then bring the cake out and let it continue to cool at room temperature. Patience is both a virtue and a perfect cheesecake!

cakey

You have almost a whole bottle of coffee liqueur to get through while you are waiting for the cheesecake. But remember to save some for the coffee syrup!

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60ml coffee liqueur, 55gr caster sugar, 2 tbsp water

While waiting, you can be preparing for the topping. The coffee syrup is fairly simple. Over a medium heat, mix 60 milliliters of coffee liqueur with 55 grammes of caster sugar and 2 tablespoons of water.

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(All straight in a little saucepan, you don’t need a bain-marie.) It should only take five minutes or so to thicken. Then let it cool before it is to be used.

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500ml whipping cream

Whip up 500 millilitres of whipping cream (I always use double cream).

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Now that the cheesecake is completely cool, remove the springform tin and stand it on a serving platter.

Now…I would recommend waiting until the cake is cold cold cold – you might even want to chill it in the fridge until the next step. If the cheesecake is not cold, the cream is going to melt into a big cream waterfall and then surround the cake like a moat.

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Dollop the whipped cream over the top and drizzle with the coffee syrup. I ended up making some extra coffee syrup because everyone wanted extra on their cake.

Et voila! For a coffee lover…this is sheer bliss! Don’t even ask me how many calories are in a slice of this decadent. Hey, it’s a new year next week…you can take up running or gymnastics or something.

Ok, ok….I know mine doesn’t look anywhere bear as amazing as Donna Hay’s…but it tastes absolutely delicious!!!!

shall i

Coffee With Caramel

latte mugsA chap came into my work premises the other day. He was very polite, but apologetic at the same time. He asked me if I would be kind enough to make him a cup of coffee.

I didn’t even ask questions. I just did it. I told him I would go and put the kettle on and explained we only had instant coffee (Nescafe Gold). He didn’t say anything, but I just presumed from the way he was dressed and groomed that perhaps he couldn’t buy a coffee at the cafe across the road. It’s cold here in England at the moment. It was a pleasure to have him come in and sit and drink a coffee with me. I even put the idea into his head that he might find writing about his life satisfying.

He told me exactly how he wanted his coffee. I made it for him and he drank it in front of me. We didn’t have any biscuits or anything to offer him to eat. (I’d already eaten my sprout sandwich a few hours before.)

I was chatting away (like I do) about coffee for the most part. I just wanted him to relax. He kept on apologising. I told him at one point I had no idea what he thought he needed to apologise for. He said he loved the way I spoke (Goldfinch might say that was like a chatterbox without an OFF switch), which is kind of your quintessential English chitter chatter, and one of those voices – nobody can quite place my accent, and I have a soft kind of tone to my voice. He thanked me for being so friendly and chatting with him. He told me that I helped him to forget all his problems.

robin anxiousThen he began to tell me some of the abusive comments that had been directed towards him by people passing. He also indicated that he had been into several of the shops and businesses on that road and asked for a drink, but he had been turned away elsewhere. And I have to say, I believe him. He didn’t tell me what it was, but he indicated that he has had a devastating situation that has stripped him of everything. He said the hardest thing is just trying to find the will to live.

And then he left. He thanked me again and he said “kindness means everything”.

Cup Of Tea

I took this one!

I don’t know his story. But I am sure he has one. He wasn’t with me long enough for me to learn how he has come to be walking into a random office to ask for a warm drink. But there is sure to be a story. He didn’t ask me for money. I didn’t have any money myself (I only take my debit card around with me), and there was no way I could take money from the petty cash (I don’t work for that company – I was temping to cover someone’s holiday). All he asked me for was a coffee. And he ended up with the drink and a fifteen minute conversation with a bubbly blonde who is never lost for words.

neignoursI work with charities, wonderful charities, that provide services and assistance, sometimes education and training to a variety of people, including those who might have lost their homes for one reason or another. In fact when I was a full time international volunteer – and lived in a huge apartment with a lawyer, a celebrity, an accountant, a joiner and an IT whizz (all working on an unpaid basis for charities), one of the lads next door, Micky, turned out to have an amazing story.

dinner chatHe also was living in a apartment that he was sharing with other volunteers. One day we invited him for lunch with some other friends, and my best friend Marta (the psychologist) joined us. Micky was so friendly. I loved how great he was at meeting new people and chatting with them. Such a gregarious cheerful lad. It turned out Micky had been homeless for several years, and had slept in various places such as back alleys and outside department stores. Anyway…he decided to volunteer for a local charity project, near to where he was sleeping rough. He loved it! He was trained in many areas of construction. He was such a lovely, hard working young man, he was selected to receive some very specialist training.

Several years later, he qualified to become an international volunteer, and here he was living with the rest of us. We were all equals. I loved that. I absolutely loved that we were all equal. All valuable. All from different walks of life. None of us being paid a penny. All working hard, eating together, living in the same basic accommodation, under the same rules.

volsI was told that two of the most important assets a volunteer can have is AVAILABILITY and HUMILITY. Anyway…I digress.

My thought was simply that I can’t bear that some people are treated with such a lack of kindness and dignity. I hate that some people speak abusively to others. (And on a side point…I am not political, but I find it very uncomfortable that more bloggers are using insulting terms when referring to others who do not share their political opinions – what’s going on guys? We may have a particular opinion or belief, but dismissing anyone who does not think the same way in degrading terms – that’s not a nice thing to do – at all!)

breakfastaWhen the truth is – we are equal. I long for the day when every human will be dignified as a valuable member of the human family. That guy who came into work the other day.. he was my family and yours too. A cup of coffee is nothing – is it? But from the sound of things, it is rare that anyone will give him the time of day. I think I need to make sure I always have some biscuits, or something foodies in my back pack. I felt lousy only being able to provide coffee. Next time he comes, I’ll try to do better.

From Heart To Page

The picture prompt in Fandango’s Flash Fiction Challenge this week is the same as the one I wrote a little flash fiction post to a couple of months ago. So here is is again, just in case you missed it.

I have been tagged for the TELL THE STORY Challenge by the lovely Finding French Charming.

From Heart To Page

beverage-blue-breakfast-414551

Through the school she would float. Flint-like face, devoid of expression. Steely gaze always looking ahead, never distracted by the boisterous actions of her fellow students. Heart and mind locked away from every other. She would sit in class silently and turn in Grade A assignments. There was no fault to her work. But there was no spark of life, no warmth in her manners, no colour in her cheeks. Cut off from all around her, through school she would float.

At the age of sixteen she left school with top exam results. That summer she started walking. She was no longer floating. It is impossible to float down rugged paths and rocky trails. She walked and walked mile after mile. No boisterous actions around her, just peace, serenity. The forest breathing in time with her heartbeat. Something entered her being and began to unlock her heart and mind. Gentle and careful at first, only manifest by the occasional tear which would escape from her eye-lid as she was walking.

Nobody said anything, there was nothing to say. She never uttered a word to another soul. But one day after one of her long walks, she entered a local cafe, quaint and quiet with a small bouquet on every table. She sat in the deepest corner of the cafe facing the wall, rather than the other tables. She ordered a soya cappuccino from the waitress, who promptly delivered it to her table. She pulled out a notebook from her rucksack and began to write.

It all came out, one word at a time.

___________

So I have to choose three other bloggers now and tag them to write a story based on the photo I have chosen:

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Although there is no obligation to participate, so no worries to those who are busy with other projects they are working on, the three bloggers I am tagging (although anyone is more than welcome to use the photo if it appeals to them) for the TELL THE STORY Challenge are:

Guilt And Coffee

So what is happening this weekend that Caramel might be writing about at a later date?

The coffee-date with the friend of a friend – that is happening this weekend. By the time you read this post, it will already have happened. I am not really ready for it. I have been very emotional the past few days. Which is partly very natural because I work very long hours Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

All sorts of unhelpful thoughts traipse through my mind at times about the future.  I have felt safe here for the past two years. Things will change though. I have to be prepared that I may not have the comforts I do now.

But it is also my feelings about Goldfinch and my feelings about the little blueberry I am responsible for seven weeks after Goldfinch parted. I do feel a sense of guilt about going on a coffee-date, but I have been open with Goldfinch, and I am sure he is more than happy with me.

I don’t actually have any enthusiasm for coffee-dates with other men. But this man seems very lovely, and I am going to go along and hopefully just have a real good chatter. How open I will be about my situation, I don’t know yet, But I will have to at some point.

I will let myself settle a bit before I write a post about how the coffee-date went. But right now, before I go, I will admit, I am finding it hard to see anything past Goldfinch…and the little blueberry.