Last year, a reader wrote me via my Where Can I Find It column that I write each week for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. His wife had been in Europe and discovered a speculoos spread that resembled peanut butter but tasted like a spicy, brown sugar cookie. They couldn’t find the spread locally and weren’t sure what to look for since they didn’t have a brand name.
Sure, I’ve gotten up close and almost indecently personal with Nutella, but a cookie spread? Eventually, I found it. And now, I spot this spread pretty much everywhere.
It looks like peanut butter, it tastes like nirvana.
So, since answering that reader and finding Biscoff, as well as delicious knockoff’s (Trader Joe’s stocks its own brand), my pantry has never been without a jar of this spread. Oh, and I recently discovered that it comes in creamy and crunchy. My pantry now stocks both.
The problem is that I don’t really do anything with this fabulous creamy cookie thing. I poke my index finger into the jar on occasion and invite visitors to do the same, but I’ve never taken advantage of a whole jar. Until recently.
Not long ago, I made a chocolate cake with peanut butter-cream cheese icing. So, I thought that it might be interesting to make a similar icing but to substitute the Biscoff for peanut butter. And, so, I played around with it and topped chocolate-espresso-cinnamon cupcakes with the icing when I needed an adult finger food dessert for a neighborhood cocktail party. Those and my grilled steak sliders with fat-free horseradish sour cream sauce were the hit of the party.
Until now, I didn’t write down the recipe for the cupcakes or the icing. And, of course, there’s a twist. The cupcakes have been tweaked to the nth degree and no longer contain butter. Instead, I’ve subbed out the butter for avocado. If you’ve never tried this, you’ll be surprised at how absurdly moist the cupcakes turn out. And they contain less fat than cupcakes make with butter. Avocado provides healthy fat, so you shouldn’t feel as guilty when you indulge. The frosting, however, is not guilt free.
Oh, and I swear to you that you won’t have a clue that these cupcakes contain avocado. Poke your finger in the batter, and I dare you to tell me you taste avocado. You won’t. Go make these and let me know what you think.
Here’s what you’ll need for the cupcakes:
Here’s what you’ll do:
Add the instant coffee or espresso powder to the brewed coffee. Set aside to cool.
Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
Whisk the dry ingredients until well blended.
Add the vanilla to the coffee/espresso mixture.
Add the milk to the coffee mixture. Set aside with the dry ingredients.
Measure out 1/2 cup of the avocado. It’s about one medium avocado.
Mix the avocado with the brown sugar.
I know. It’s getting green. Don’t’ worry, it’s a passing phase. Trust me on this one.
Oh, dear. It does look like guacamole at this point. Ignore, ignore.
Add the egg to the avocado/sugar mixture and mix well.
Pour the coffee mixture into the green mixture. Mix well.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet in two batches. Mix until blended.
See? Doesn’t it look like traditional chocolate batter? Tastes like it, too.
Beautifully moist chocolate cupcakes with a hint of coffee and cinnamon, and no discernable trace of avocado.
Check out the cookie frosting:
Only four simple ingredients make this icing. Five if you need the tablespoon of milk.
As soon as you remove the cap from Biscoff, this weird thing happens and your index finger goes in for a scoop.
I measure a heaping 1/2 cup of cookie spread, but you could be more conservative. In fact, you should be. I get carried away.
Combine the cream cheese, Biscoff and vanilla. I’m using vanilla paste but liquid vanilla is just fine, too.
Mix until smooth before adding the powdered sugar, one cup at a time.
After all of the sugar has been mixed, you might notice that the mixture looks crumbly. If so, add 1 tablespoon of milk, then mix until smooth.
Once the small amount of milk is added, the mixture almost immediately transforms itself into a smooth icing.
The resulting mixture will end up looking like taffy.
If you need help when filling your pastry bag with the frosting, use a large glass or cup as a stand to hold up your bag.
Avocado-Mocha Cupcakes with Cookie (Spread) Frosting
Makes 10 cupcakes
1/2 cup strong brewed coffee
2 teaspoons espresso or instant coffee powder
1 and 1/3-cups cake flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup milk (you can use 1%, 2 % or whole milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup mashed avocado (about 1 medium avocado)
1 cup light brown sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cupcake pan with cupcake cups
Stir the espresso/instant coffee powder into the brewed coffee. Set aside and let cool.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.
Combine the cooled coffee mixture with the milk and vanilla. Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat the avocado and sugar on medium-high speed until completely smooth, about 2 minutes. Mixture will be fairly thin. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the egg and beat until well combined.
Add milk/coffee mixture and mix until well blended.
With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients in two batches, mixing just until blended
Fill the cupcake cups about 2/3 full. Bake for 16-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cupcakes cool in pan for 5 minutes or so before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Cookie (spread) Frosting
2 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup Biscoff cookie spread (or any other brand)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 and 1/2-cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk
Combine the cream cheese, cookie spread and vanilla in a medium bowl. Mix well until smooth. Add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, until smooth. After the last bit of sugar is mixed in, if the mixture looks crumbly, add 1 tablespoon of milk and mix until smooth.
Pipe or spread the frosting on cooled cupcakes.