Tonawanda News

May 5, 2013

PINSPIRED: Foiled plans lead to original creamer recipe

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The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — Editor’s note: Please note we changed the name of our Pinterest account, though those of you already following us don’t need to find our account again.

I feel a little bad for you readers on the weeks you get stuck with me instead of Jill for this column. It seems like I’m fated to have little mini disasters when I decide to get clever with homemade beauty, technology and food projects, but lucky for you, I managed to pull this one out of the fire.

For my take on a pin I found for homemade flavored coffee creamer I decided to take the ditch-the-original-recipe-and-go-rogue approach.

The original pin calls for a can of full-fat coconut milk (size, who knows? but the photo shows a 13.6 ounce can), 1 tablespoon of peppermint extract and six drops of liquid stevia. 

It seemed like an appropriate project for me because I love flavored creamers — cream and sugar all in one! — and I’ve always been confused about why they’re labeled “non-dairy” on the packaging. Also, what are sodium caseinate, dipotassium phosphate, mono and diglycerides, sodium stearoyl lactylate, polysorbate 60, and carrageenan? Let’s get rid of these things, shall we?

The plan was going fine until I waltzed into the baking aisle at the Lexington Co-op, the closest grocery store to my house that carries liquid stevia. I heard the proverbial record screeching when I saw the $21.99 price tag under the bottle. 

“Surely that’s wrong,” I thought.

Nope. It was right and suddenly I was without my homemade coffee creamer project. I’m all about going natural, but that price tag was pushing my limits.

But wait. Wasn’t the fact that bottled creamer isn’t actually dairy part of what bugged me in the first place? Alright, it’s time to overhaul this entire recipe. So back went the handful of mini cans of coconut milk I found and I grabbed a pint of heavy cream.

My recipe is pretty straight-forward and is comprised of ingredients we can all name and most likely already find in our fridges. I decided to go with an orange chocolate flavor, but you can use any extract you can get your hands on — vanilla, almond, peppermint, etc.

Take half a cup of simple syrup and heat it in a sauce pot over medium heat. I keep a jar of simple syrup — a one-to-one mixture of sugar and water boiled together — on hand in the fridge at all times as a great way to sweeten cold tea.

Whisk in about two tablespoons of cocoa powder until there are no globs of powder left. Remove from heat. Mix cocoa mixture with two tablespoons of extract and two cups of heavy cream — you can use half and half or milk here, but I went with heavy cream because I knew it would be thinned out by the simple syrup mixture.

Be careful not to do much whisking or shaking of the mixture once the cream is added. This is where the disaster portion of this story comes into play. I didn’t realize how easy it is to shake heavy cream into whipped cream inside a mason jar. Boy, that takes no time at all.

Lesson learned.

The beauty of this recipe is how flexible it is. Add more or less extract, simple syrup and cocoa to intensify or weaken certain flavors. Use lower fat milks if you’re concerned about your fat intake. Want to see what happens if you add cinnamon? Go for it! Keep in mind that if you’re not using any cocoa or other powdered ingredients, you can skip the stove step.

So the beauty of this little half-disaster of a Pinspired project is that it taught me not to be so hung up on the exact directions other people suggest out in the interwebs. Use your Pinterest boards more as a source of inspiration ... or just leave it up to me and Jill to figure out what works and what doesn’t. Definitely pin OUR version of homemade flavored coffee creamer, but don’t worry about being too precise.

• WHAT: Homemade flavored coffee creamer • DIFFICULTY: Easy • TIME: 10 minutes • RESULT: Pin it.

Contact Sunday Lifestyle editor Danielle Haynes at 693-1000, ext. 4116. Find us on Pinterest.com by searching "Greater Niagara Newspapers."