Durango foodies alert

The Durango Adult Learning Center helps sponsor an annual coffee festival every September. This event, plus Durango’s week of beer-related events – taking place as I write this blog – did not get much press this year, at least from this writer. I feel bad about that, because Durango is a coffee and artisan beer community.

By way of explanation, The Durango Herald uses freelance writers and editors, in conjunction with in-house staff including photographers, to create the weekly Food and Nutrition section. Because we share resources, it’s critical that we hear about food-related events a month ahead of time, to allow us to schedule coverage. Annual events can be put on the calendar six weeks ahead. All it takes is an email with the basic info to kbrucolianesi@durangoherald.com – you can add the details later.

I went to last week’s coffee festival and helped two others judge coffee-infused appetizers and desserts. Appearance mattered and played a significant part in the judging. So did the presence of coffee, as that was the purpose of the festival – to celebrate its flavor and wide application of uses.

Some of the desserts, such as Lynn Deary’s entry, were beautiful and well-executed. Deary’s cupcakes did not win because the flavor of coffee was not prominent enough to pack a punch. Still, they were my personal favorite.

After the judging, I told Lynn that I loved the balance between the chocolate and stronger almond with the coffee, but the coffee flavoring was not pronounced enough to take first place.

Judges did not see the recipes. Still, I was not put off when I learned of its simplicity – she started with a cake mix and added pudding. I suggested she substitute cold coffee for the water in the package directions.

Deary sent me the recipe, amended with this change and I want to share it with you.

These cupcakes were moist and light, and – were dessert. In our suddenly raised consciousness about the amount of white sugar, flour and fat in desserts, just about everything is verboten. Decide you want dessert and surrender to the ingredients. Or skip it. There’s no half way.

Lynn’s Java Cake or Cupcakes

For cake:

1 package Devil’s Food cake mix

¾ cup instant coffee granules

1 3.4-ounce package instant vanilla pudding mix

½ to ¾ cup powdered sugar

For icing:

1¾ pound powdered sugar

2 sticks butter

5 tablespoons instant coffee granules

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1½ teaspoons almond extract

¼ teaspoon salt

5 tablespoons heavy cream


Preheat oven to temperature indicated on cake mix package.

Prepare cake mix using package directions, EXCEPT substitute strong, brewed, cold coffee for water.

Add instant coffee granules, pudding mix and ½ to ¾ cup powdered sugar to batter. Mix well.

Line cupcake tin with cupcakes papers and fill ¾ full. Bake for 22 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Allow to cool completely.

Combine all icing ingredients and frost cupcakes.

Prepare for a wonderful caffeine and sugar buzz, and enjoy! Thanks, Lynn.