Do NOT drink this--but definitely bake with it!

When I think about must-haves in my pantry, the first thing that comes to mind is instant coffee granules. Before you crazy coffee-loving hipsters murder me, I promise you that it's not for drinking. However, instant coffee trumps regular coffee when it comes to one thing: baking.

When you want baked goods to have that coffee kick, instant is the way to go. You can make it super concentrated--almost like an extract or a syrup--and really intensify the flavor (whereas you'd probably have to use a whole bag of ground coffee to get the same effect).

Don't believe me? What if you heard it from an "expert"? Like maybe The Pioneer Woman? Or maybe Baked NYC? Ben & Jerry's? My favorite recipe from each of these includes instant coffee. Not just my favorite recipes, but ones that are requested over and over again by my coworkers and friends. Don't believe me? Give one (or all!) of them a try:

[Made these on-request for a shower or party of some sort. I've lost count.]

Pioneer Woman's Coffee Cake, Literally
Buckle up, coffee lovers. This one is for you. Not to be confused with the cinnamon-y crumbly stuff, this a literally cake that is coffee flavored. This is a HUGE hit at parties, people, either as cupcakes or a two-layer cake. The instant coffee granules in the frosting make a really neat presentation, and of course tastes delicious. Make it, right now.

[My coworkers love/hate me for these.]

Baked NYC's Banana Chocolate Chip Espresso Muffins from their cookbook, Baked: New Frontiers in Baking (my FAVORITE baking cookbook of all time ever ever ever.)
I blogged about these during Banana Bread Week, and they're too good not to mention again here. The coffee isn't all that prevalent--it serves more to enhance the flavor of the chocolate. My coffee-abhorring mom will even eat them.

[Now THIS will seriously impress your friends.]

Ben & Jerry's Coffee Heath Bar Crunch ice cream from their ice cream cookbook, Ben & Jerry's Homemade Ice Cream and Dessert Book.
My aunt gave me this ice cream maker (no messy salt and ice!) last year, and I was skeptical at first. Won't it just make that nasty, icy stuff like in chemistry class? However, she also gave me the Ben & Jerry's ice cream cookbook, and I am here to tell you that it tastes even better than you can imagine. Coffee Heath Bar Crunch is one of the first recipes, and I've barely gotten past it because I want to make this one over and over. My friend Kate always requests it for her birthday. It'll blow you away how rich and delicious it is. (recipe here)

 [Chunks, not chips, are key in these.]

One last way I like to use instant coffee is in these Santa Ana cookies that I stumbled across when I had chocolate chunks and pecans to use up. The coffee adds a subtle but yummy depth to the batter!

Now go grab some instant coffee granules and bake your way to the bottom of the can!


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