Showing posts with label Holiday Grind. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Holiday Grind. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Copycat Starbucks White Chocolate Mocha that Elf would Love by Cleo Coyle

New York City dazzles in December. The Big Apple is sparkling, magical...and a little coconuts

The crowds, the lines, the traffic...all of it can feel overwhelming, but then so are these little moments of happy surprise, like a Buddhist monk who digs the shopping at Macy's... 

Check out this smile...

In the middle of a crazy, busy, cell-phone yapping public, here is this sweet man, sharing a moment of joy...and that is what I hope each of you finds this season.

If you're having trouble finding it, I recommend a viewing of Will Ferrell's Elf. The film acknowledges our Age of Alienation but undercuts the snarky cynicism with humor, surprise, and a character so filled with innocent joy that it's impossible to dismiss him. (Okay, maybe some people dismiss him, but then some people are snark monsters, and I wouldn't let Elf get closer than hawking distance of them, anyway. :))

In the clip below,
Elf (Buddy) "Discovers" New York

...including the
"World's Best Cup of Coffee"


Which brings me to today's recipe. It may not be the world's best copycat Starbucks recipe, but it's pretty darn good; and, given Elf's love of drinking sweet things (especially syrup), I can't help but think he'd recommend this heavenly drink to the big man himself.

Cleo Coyle, who thinks
we should just say no to
"Bah! Humbug!", 
is author
The Coffeehouse 
Cleo Coyle's
Copycat Starbucks
White Chocolate Mocha

This is one amazing cuppa joe. It tastes like a rich, warm, coffee-infused milkshake--perfect for a snowy winter night. 

If you're a reader of my Coffeehouse Mysteries, you might also recognize this drink as one of the many recipes that I included in my yuletide culinary mystery Holiday Grind. To learn more about this book, click here. To learn more about my entire series, click here.

Enjoy the season, everyone!
~ Cleo

To download a free PDF of this recipe that you can print, save or share, click the link below:


½ cup milk
¼ cup white chocolate, chopped;
    or white chocolate chips
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
1–2 shots hot espresso or double-strength coffee
      (*see my note at the end of this recipe)
Whipped cream (optional)
White chocolate curls (**see my note below on how to make these) 


Step 1: Combine milk and white chocolate in a heatproof bowl and place over a saucepan about one-third full of boiling water. (The water level should be under the bowl and not touching it.) Stir constantly until chocolate is melted. 

Step 2: Whip in the vanilla using a whisk, hand blender, or electric mixer. Continue to whip about a minute until the warm mixture is loosely frothy. 

Step 3: Pour the espresso into a large mug. Add the steamed white chocolate milk and stir to blend the flavors. You can top with whipped cream and white chocolate shavings, but it’s just as delicious without.

**Cleo Note: To create chocolate curls, start with a block of room temperature chocolate. (If you want to grate chocolate, chill or freeze it; but if you want to create curls, room temp is the ticket.) Using a simple vegetable peeler, scrape the block and you'll see curls of chocolate peel away (truly a thing of beauty). 

*Cleo Note: For double-strength coffee, simply make a strong version of your regular cup. For instance, in a drip coffee maker, instead of using 1½ - 2 tablespoons of ground coffee for every six ounces of water, use 3 – 4 tablespoons and...

Drink with joy!

~ Cleo Coyle, author of

My December Newsletter will be going
out this week! 
To subscribe, 
e-mail to 
that says Sign me up. All subscribers are
entered automatically in my
weekly drawings 
for a free package of my monthly Coffee Picks.

To download more of my recipes 
or learn about my two national
bestselling mystery series, visit my
online coffeehouse at: 


Congrats to my
Penzeys Spice winners!

Libby Dodd of


My Overnight Oatmeal Cookies
(no butter, no flour, but lots of tasty flavor)!
Click here to get the recipe.
Libby and Tamara left comments on my Overnight Oatmeal Cookie Brittle blog post and were chosen as winners by random number generator. Thanks to all of you who entered my contest and stay tuned for tasty new comment-to-win contests in the near future! ~ Cleo

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Passover Crack for Easter (Chocolate-Covered Matzo Buttercrunch) from Cleo Coyle

Yes, you read that right. My post today is Passover Crack for Easter. Allow me to explain: This recipe for chocolate-covered buttercrunch is so deliciously addictive that people have jokingly called it crack. It was created a few years ago for the observance of Passover (which is why it uses matzos), and yet it makes an especially wonderful and poignant addition to an Easter celebration, too. Why do I say that? Well... 

Cleo Coyle, who eats Easter
eggs and matzos is author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries
Here in New York City, we live on top of each other, so the idea of "interfaith interaction" is more than just some abstract PC concept. It’s a way of life. Not that every corner of my fair city is filled with sweetness and light.

Certainly, when we don’t know much about a neighbor’s heritage, culture, or faith, we tend to feel wary of that person. But learning leads to understanding, which is why food can be such a great first step toward bringing us together.

Almost everyone enjoys food (talking about it, eating it) and food is often a window into a person’s nationality, heritage, and/or beliefs. As I put it in Holiday Grind: "A diversity of cultures means a diversity of foods. Eat with tolerance, I say."

Below you’ll see one of my favorite examples of New Yorkers with a great sense of humor about food, faith, and culture. Click the arrow in the window to see-- 

20 (Other) Things To Do With Matzo:

And now for today's recipe...

MY PASSOVER INGREDIENT: Monday evening marked the first night of Passover, one of the most widely observed Jewish holidays of the year. An important food custom that’s followed during this week is to eat no yeasted bread, only unleavened bread. Why? Because this is a time when Jews all over the world celebrate the story of Exodus, in which the ancient Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt. They left Egypt so quickly that there was no time to bake yeasted bread. During their journey through the dessert, they took the raw dough and baked it in the hot desert sun into hard crackers called matzos.

MY EASTER INGREDIENT: The Christian holiday of Easter, also one of the most important holidays of the year, is closely tied to Passover. The crucifixion of Jesus took place during Passover and biblical scholars believe that the Last Supper was a Passover seder. To prepare for Easter, many Christians observe 40 days of Lent in which they fast and make sacrifices to prepare for the celebration of Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection. Giving up treats like chocolate and candy is a common custom. That’s one reason why chocolate is consumed with joy on Easter Sunday. Christ is risen, Hallelujah! Lent is over and it’s time to celebrate with feasting and favorite foods, including chocolate.

MATZOS + CHOCOLATE = AN INTERFAITH TREAT: Over the last few years, the basic recipe for Matzo Caramel Buttercrunch has been posted all over the Internet, but it was originally created by Marcy Goldman, author of A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking. You can see Marcy's famous, original version at her website here. David Lebovitz also adapted her recipe here. Today it’s my turn! I hope you enjoy my version, too.

Love and peace to you. Happy Passover, Happy Easter, Happy Spring! And may God bless us, every one.

~ Cleo Coyle

Cleo's Passover
Crack for Easter

Black-and-White Chocolate-Covered
Matzo Buttercrunch (An interfaith candy :))

Adapted from Marcy Goldman's
Matzo Caramel Buttercrunch

To download a PDF of this recipe that you can print, save, or share, click here. 


1 half-sheet pan, jelly roll pan, or large cookie sheet
   + Aluminum foil
   + Parchment paper
1 saucepan (nonstick if possible, and a silicone spatula is helpful, too)
2 tablespoons (for spreading the melted chocolate chips)


5 boards of unsalted matzos (see my matzo note below)
1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine (see my butter note below)
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted (nuts are optional)
1/2 cup dry roasted, unsalted pistachios (measure after removing shells)

(a) Matzo note: If you're not observing Passover and you can't find matzos, try Saltines or another cracker.

(b) Butter note: I've done this recipe with butter and margarine. Both work just fine as long as you boil the mixture for the length of time noted in the recipe. I've also used salted and unsalted butter, both taste great.

(c) Sugar note: I prefer the dark brown sugar, but if all you have on hand is light brown, that's fine, too.

(d) Chocolate note: If you don't like white chocolate, simply double the amount of mini chocolate chips. I find the mini chips melt much faster and easier than regular chips. If you prefer chopped block chocolate, that's certainly an option, too.


Step 1 - Prepare pan: This recipe is easy but can be messy so cover your baking pan with aluminum foil first and then a sheet of parchment paper; otherwise, the caramel will stick to the foil. 

Step 2 - Prep oven and nuts: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. If you're topping your chocolate buttercrunch with sliced almonds (or walnuts, pecans, or hazelnuts), then toast the nuts for better flavor. To save time, I'll throw my sliced almonds onto a cookie sheet and toast them in the already preheating oven. Nuts generally toast up in 8 to 10 minutes. Stir them once to prevent scorching. When you can smell the scent of toasting nuts, you know they're done or very close to done.

You'll also want to finely chop the shelled pistachios. To finely chop any nut, simply place it in a resealable plastic bag and bang it with a hammer, rolling pin, or back of a heavy spoon.

Step 3 - Lay out matzo boards:  In the half-sheet pan you see in my photos (13 x 18 inches), I fit 5, full matzo boards. You can break the boards into pieces to fit them into the pan.

Step 4 - Make a quick caramel: In a medium saucepan (nonstick is best), melt the butter or margarine and add your brown sugar (dark or light), stirring to combine ingredients. Because the mixture is sticky, I use a nonstick (silicone) spatula. When the mixture begins to boil, start your timer for three (3) full minutes. Keep stirring to prevent scorching and continue boiling. The mixture will foam up as it boils, just keep stirring.

Step 5 - Cover: Pour the caramel mixture over the matzo boards. Work quickly with your nonstick spatula or the back of a spoon to spread the caramel as evenly as you can. As the mixture cools, it will be difficult to work with so spread fast!

Step 6 - Bake: Place the pan in the oven for 12 to 13 minutes. Rotate the pan once in the middle of this baking process to prevent hot spots from burning your candy. The cooking is done when you see bubbles have formed over the entire pan.

TIP: For a delicious buttercrunch (without chocolate)
you can simply stop at this stage and slide the pan into
the refrigerator for thirty minutes. Break the matzos
into pieces and you have Caramel Matzo Buttercrunch.
(See photo below . . . )

Step 7 - Sprinkle chocolate chips and melt: As you can see below, my black-and-white version of this buttercrunch covers half the caramel-topped matzos with semi-sweet chocolate and half with white chocolate. Sprinkle the chips as you see in the photos then place the pan back in the oven for another minute or two. Take care not to allow the chocolate to burn but make sure it's melted enough to easily spread . . .

TIP: Larger chocolate chips may appear
to keep their shape, but if you gently press
down with the back of your tablespoon, you will likely
see they've melted. Once you press them flat, begin to
work them with your spoon, spreading the chocolate as
you would cake frosting. Keep extra chips on hand, ready to
cover any bald spots or you may have trouble getting
an even layer of chocolate.

Step 8 - Finish and chill: Toss your nuts onto the melted chocolate.

Now slide the pan into the refrigerator for thirty minutes. That should harden up the chocolate nicely. When the candy is firm, use your hands to gently break up the big pieces into smaller shapes, and . . . 

Eat with joy!

White Chocolate-Pistachio


Happy Passover!    Happy Easter!
Happy Spring!

~ Cleo Coyle, author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

To get more of my recipes, win free coffee,
or find out more about my books, visit me
 at my *virtual* coffeehouse:

Click on the book covers above
to learn more about Cleo's culinary mysteries.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

3 Cleo Coyle Holiday Recipes and a Book Pub Party!

What do you most look forward to tasting every holiday season? Pumpkin pie? Gingerbread? Sugar cookies? Candy canes? Rum balls? Stollen? Panettone? Latkes?

Leave your answer in the comments section of this post and help me kick of the holiday cooking (and eating) season!

Congrats to Melissa who left a comment on Tuesday and won this adorable Gimme Coffee Latte Cup! Follow this blog for more chances to win throughout November as I continue to celebrate the release of my light, Capra-esque Coffeehouse Mystery: Holiday Grind.)

Cleo Coyle, author of the
Coffeehouse Mysteries,
celebrates the release of
Holiday Grind in paperback
(What can I say? Like most of
the country, we're on a budget!)
So what's my favorite holiday food?

When I was a little girl, my Italian-born aunt taught me (just as her aunt taught her) how to fry up crispy-sweet bowtie cookies and dust them with powdered sugar. Aunt Mary is gone now and I deeply miss her, but whenever I cook and bake the foods we prepared together, it always brings her back to me.

This Proustian idea of foodie memories is exactly what inspired the culinary theme in Holiday Grind. At the start of the book, Clare Cosi (my series' amateur sleuth) holds a latte tasting with her coffeehouse staff, asking them to share their most powerful holiday flavor memories.

Clare uses their answers to create a menu of Fa-la-la-la-lattes (yes, a bit twee-sounding, but effective). The coffee drinks bring remembrances of holidays past to her customers. They become so popular they actually save her shop from the ravages of the tanked economy.

Even better, this winning idea came from Santa himself, a genuinely jolly stand-up comic named Alfred Glockner who collects for charity near Clare’s coffeehouse.

Clare's grown very fond of Alf, and when she finds him cruelly gunned down in an alley one snowy December night, she’s more than devastated. She’s angry, especially when the police claim Alf’s killer was no more than a random mugger.

Clare believes otherwise and sets out to find the truth. During this nearly impossible quest, she butts head with a street-hardened NYPD sergeant (who’s more interested in Clare than her theories); gets herself arrested; disguises herself as Santa’s little helper; and endures more than one attempt on her life.

In the end, she manages to reclaim her holiday spirit, something Alf, with his humor and generosity, embodied from the start.

"Fun and Gripping"
~ The Huffington Post

 "Some of the most vibrant
characters I've ever read.
Coyle also is a master of
misdirection...I challenge any
reader to figure out
whodunit before
Coyle reveals all."
Mystery Scene

 Thanks to my awesome readers, Holiday Grind became a Top-10 national mystery bestseller in hardcover last year. With its release in paperback this month, I hope even more readers will be able to enjoy the story—and the bonus recipes.

As a special gift to the many CM readers who tell me how much they enjoy my recipes and tips, I made Holiday Grind's recipe section extra large with holiday cookie and candy recipes, a glossary of coffeehouse terms, and instructions on making your own coffeehouse drinks (including lattes and cappuccinos) without an expensive machine. I even included recipes for flavored syrups like chocolate, caramel, gingersnap, apple cider spice, raspberry, and more.

As for today's recipes, see the links below. More to come in my future posts--including my darling Aunt Mary's bowtie cookies. :)
Publishers Weekly 

“Coyle's coffeehouse mysteries (Espresso Shot, etc.) are packed with believable characters and topped with serious coffee lore and holiday recipes. This one will keep your cup piping hot.”

“...a good plot and an in-your-face look at life in the Big Apple for good measure. Fans of culinary cozies will want this.”
Library Journal

“Fast-paced action [and a]
well-crafted story…sure to delight!”
—Fresh Fiction

To read Lesa Holstine's Sunday Salon
Review at Lesa's Book Critiques,
click here

From Cleo’s
Recipe File:

Every holiday season, I look forward to tasting so many delicious flavors. Among my favorites are cranberries, eggnog, and English Stilton cheese. All three served as inspirations for the recipes below. Just hit the hot links to get my recipes in a PDF format that you can print, save, or share...

Click here for
Cleo’s Colonial Cranberries,
based on a dish mentioned in
John Adams' journal.


Click here for
Cleo’s Eggnog
Latte Cookies

with easy
Eggnog Glaze

Click here for Cleo’s Holiday Sprouts with Blue Cheese. (I use English Stilton in this one, which is traditionally served at Christmastime, but any blue will do!)

Eat with joy!

~ Cleo Coyle author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

To get more of my recipes,
learn more about my books,
or sign up to win free coffee,
visit me at my *virtual* coffeehouse:

Cookie Contest!

Krista Davis is celebrating the upcoming release
of her new holiday mystery, The Diva Cooks a Goose. 
She's holding a delicious contest. Send Krista your favorite cookie recipe
at and you might win!
Find out more by
clicking here

Friday, December 4, 2009

Cleo Coyle's Holiday Brussels Sprouts with Stilton, Bacon, and Figs

This blog post was named a 
"Foodbuzz Top 9" for Sunday, December 6. Thank you, FoodBuzz! 

~ Cleo Coyle

“What does Christmas
taste like?”

When I wrote about the "flavors of the Season" in Holiday Grind, I tried to come up with an array of evocative tastes that my amateur sleuth might want to feature on her coffeehouse’s holiday menu. 
Nutmeg, cinnamon, rum, and peppermint were among the many flavors Clare Cosi considers. Of course, they're only a fraction of the tastes that we look forward to eating or drinking at this time of year—whether they're attached to our family traditions, our ethnic backgrounds, or the little discoveries that we make when we dine at brand new tables far and wide.

Today I'd like to share with you a more savory holiday taste, one that comes with the yearly availability of English Stilton at my favorite cheese monger here in New York City.
Stilton is traditionally eaten at Christmastime, and I’ve enjoyed it for many years now, pairing pungent chunks of it with fresh figs, dried fruits, or sweet slices of ripe pear.

I still remember the second time I tried Stilton. It was served to me in a Pear and Stilton Salad at Bryant Park Grill.

(The first time I tried it was at a formal dinner at Oxford University, where I happily concluded that port and Stilton were my new best friends.)
BTW: Bryant Park Grill is a great restaurant to visit if you are planning a holiday trip to NYC. Click here or on the photo to see a slideshow at New York magazine, which called it one of the best-situated and most attractive dining rooms in the city. This lovely, airy restaurant is located just behind the Main Branch of New York’s Public Library, a memorable landmark that I also used as a featured setting in Holiday GrindAs far as today's recipe, the Grill's Pear and Stilton salad was what gave me my first clue that a blue-cheese-and-fruit pairing would work well as a base for other dishes—like this one...
Although English Stilton is traditionally eaten at Christmastime, any blue cheese will work nicely in this recipe: Danish blue (aka Danablu), Italian Gorgonzola, or French Roquefort. If you’re not a fan of dried figs, try substituting dried cranberries, which is an equally festive holiday flavor. I hope you like my recipe! Eat with joy and...Happy Holidays!
Click here or on the photo of the Stilton crock to virtually visit my favoite cheese shop in New York City: Murray's Cheese. The shop is located in the heart of Greenwich Village, where my Coffeehouse Mysteries are set.
Cleo Coyle’s Holiday Brussels Sprouts with Blue Cheese, Bacon & Dried Figs

To get this recipe in a takeaway format, just click here and you can download it as a PDF document.


3 slices thick bacon
(or 4 slices thin)1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 10-oz package of whole Brussels sprouts
(about 18-20 sprouts)10 dried figs, roughly chopped (I use mission figs. You can also substitute 3/4 cup dried cranberries.)Crumbled blue cheese (Stilton is perfect for the holiday season!) 

(1) Prepare sprouts and figs: Wash and dry sprouts and slice each in half. Chop dried figs. Set aside. (If you aren’t a big fan of figs, try 3/4 cup dried cranberries.)

(2) Brown bacon pieces: Cut bacon slices into small pieces. In large skillet, fry bacon pieces until browned but not crisp. NOTE: As soon as you move to the next step in this recipe, the bacon will stop browning, so make sure your bacon displays some nice caramelized color before you move to step three and toss in your onions.

(3) Add chopped onions: Throw in the chopped onions and sauté until lightly caramelized. Remember: color equals flavor! If you move to the next step before the onions get a bit of color on them, they will not taste as sweet and the dish will not be as tasty. As with so many things in life, patience is a virtue, especially when sautéing onions! 

(4) Toss in sprouts and figs: With the bacon browned and the onions sweetly caramelized, you are ready to throw your sliced sprouts and chopped figs into the pan. Fold these in well, until they are absolutely glistening with the rich, delicious flavor of rendered bacon fat! 

(5) Add water, cover, and simmer: Here is the trickiest step. Add about 1-1/4 cups of water. This amount may vary depending on the weather and your geographic altitude. That’s why you need to watch this process and adjust it as needed. Cover and simmer the mixture on medium-high heat for about 8 to 10 minutes. After about 8 minutes, lift the lid and stir. Bite into one of the sprouts to see how far it is from properly cooked through. You want a nice “al dente” texture and not mush. If the sprout is too hard, replace the lid and keep going, checking every few minutes.

Also check to see if the water is evaporating too slowly or quickly. If too slowly, remove the lid and turn up the heat. If too quickly, add a little more water so the mixture does not burn. While you do not want this dish to be swimming in liquid at the end of the cooking process, neither do you want it to scorch. The trick here is getting the water to evaporate at the proper rate so that the sprouts are perfectly cooked through and still browned a bit in the pan, giving you that beautiful little caramelized rim that you see in my photos. (Yes, color = flavor. But black = burned!)

(6) Finish: To serve, spoon onto serving plates and crumble your favorite blue cheese on top, whether it’s a Danish blue, an Italian Gorgonzola, or a French Roquefort. For a special treat at this time of year, try English Stilton, which you can also serve as an appetizer with sweet slices of pear, or as a final course with a lovely glass of port before coffee, tea, or espresso.

Till next time,
~ Cleo Coyle
author of The Coffeehouse Mysteries

by Cleo Coyle
A Coffeehouse Mystery

Now in paperback and...
a National Bestseller

To find out more about the books in my Coffeehouse Mystery series or enter my weekly Free Coffee Drawing, click this link to my virtual home at Coffeehouse

Recipe text and photos are copyright (c) 2009 by Alice Alfonsi who writes
The Coffeehouse Mysteries as Cleo Coyle with her husband, Marc Cerasini