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The Panasonic espresso machine and coffee cupcakes

If there is something us Greeks take seriously, this is coffee… We are fussy about it. We want it strong and aromatic, freshly roasted and with perfectly made froth, which is very rare to find in England! We also take our time when we are having coffee, we don’t take it on the go, we are sipping it for hours sometimes while casually chatting with friends and enjoy it to the fullest. It is the equivalent of spanish siesta… There is a whole culture behind it and only if you visit Greece you will fully understand what I am talking about. So, when I received an invitation to celebrate Panasonic’s new fully automatic espresso machine or else the NC-ZA1 I was quite intrigued….

I arrived at the House of Coffee in Clerkenwell straight after work, exhausted but curious to see what this new espresso machine has to offer to coffee lovers! In a lively atmosphere I was greeted with a Besame cocktail made with Araku Liqueur, Rum, vanilla ice cream, chilli and espresso – exactly what I needed after 9 hours in front of a computer. Cosmo Sarson, known for his giant mural of Jesus in Bristol, created an art piece using coffee which depicted the heyday of 70s disco and took me back in time…

I was in awe when I was told that you can absolutely customise your coffee preferences! What does that mean? Well lets say that you want your coffee strong but your husband/partner/housemate’s taste is a bit softer. No problem! The NC-ZA1 allows you to customise your settings at every stage of the process AND you can save them on its memory so that you don’t have to adjust them every time  you are running late in the morning (which never happens…). You love double espressos but your husband/partner/housemate is a macchiato type? Again save your personalised settings on the memory, press the button on the colour touch screen and in 2 minutes you will smell the indulging smell of coffee! My first thought was what a perfect gadget the busy Londoners! All that remains now is to try it!

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I left in a perfect mood to carry on with my evening, a subtle taste of coffee and a beautiful cotton bag by Panasonic and House of Coffee -filled with coffee and a beautiful cup- which now accompanies me to the gym and carries my lunch!

A week later a Panasonic espresso machine was waiting on my doorstep! I was waiting for the day I will wake up with the smell of the freshly grounded espresso beans and enjoy my coffee with a cupcake! I set up the espresso machine and waited like a child waits for Christmas day…

I was a bit intimidated by the rather large manual but I got over it soon and it literally took me five minutes to figure out how it works which is a big plus. I don’t consider myself a techie and I don’t like gadgets that over-complicate my life!

Soon the place was filled with the coffee aroma and I was sipping on my espresso happy and grateful! Panasonic’s espresso machine also features a fine coffee grinder which ensures coffee is always fresh. Second plus!

The next challenge was to make a cappuccino. I have worked as a barista at a cafe while I was a student and I know how much it takes to make decent cream. So, I was a bit suspicious… Well, Panasonic’s espresso machine proved me wrong! It made a perfectly creamy froth in 2 minutes! What can I say… Technology is winning!

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So, easy to operate, fast, knows my tastes, sits nicely in my kitchen and makes perfect froth as well… What else could I ask for? I felt that I had to celebrate the occasion… with espresso cupcakes to make the most out of it! I call them “adult wake up call” cupcakes… If you are sensitive to coffee don’t eat them at night, they might keep you up! But they are so rich and indulgent that you will be addicted to them! The batter looks and feels like a chocolate mousse and you will want to eat before baking!

 Your shopping list:

ingredients

For the cupcakes (makes 12)

75 gr butter

300 gr plain flour

100 gr cocoa powder

200 gr caster sugar

120 ml coffee (if you don’t have espresso you can just use instant coffee)

150 ml buttermilk

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 egg

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp bicarbonate soda

For the espresso buttercream

100 gr dark chocolate

150 gr butter (softened)

175 gr icing sugar

75 gr cocoa powder

1 tsp coffee powder (espresso or instant)

First turn on the oven at 175. Melt the butter, add the vanilla extract and set aside. In a another bowl combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and bicarbonate soda. Whip the egg with the buttermilk and combine the butter with the hot coffee. Pour all the liquid ingredients in the bowl with the dry ones and mix till they are fully incorporated. Divide the batter in the cupcake liners filling only 2/3 of them and bake for 15-17 minutes. Let them cool.

In the meantime you can make the buttercream. Place a heat-proof bowl over a pot with simmering water, melt the chocolate and let it cool for a while. Beat the butter to soften it and start adding gradually the icing sugar, the cocoa powder, the coffee and at the end the melted chocolate. Use a piping bag to ice the cupcakes or just a spatula for a minimalistic design. Whatever you choose don’t add too much buttercream because it is quite rich and over-powers the cupcake’s taste.

 

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