Adventuring Twin Cities: Dreamcoat Coffee

I have discovered a hidden gem. Of coffee. A hidden coffee gem. 
It’s called Dreamcoat Coffee

Boy is it dream-worthy! Try their S’more Latte and you’ll be thinking about it for days!

Look at this deliciousness! 
It would be even more delicious if you weren’t gluten-free and were able to have the crushed graham crackers and caramel sauce on top. But no matter—this pile of whipped cream with chocolate sauce suits me just fine. 

They have these cute little journals all around the store so you can write whatever you want about your trip to Dreamcoat–of course, I left a note! A journal with a pen anywhere calls my name.
Oh wait! I didn’t tell you! 
(and maybe I’m only telling you now since I moved away?)
But this coffee shop is CONNECTED TO A THRIFT STORE. 
I’m sorry to shout in your ear. 
But it’s truly like a dream—an amazing little find of a coffee shop, attached to a Salvation Army thrift store Boutique. 
Look at all of these fun things you could snatch up! 
How could I not love this?
xo
Natalie

New Nordic Ginger Chocolate Orange Brownies

This is the first of a few New Nordic recipes I’m creating in collaboration with King Arthur Flour. Brownies are all-American, but I’ve incorporated Scandinavian flavors of ginger, orange, and traditional Swedish pearl sugar. My friend who lives in Sweden says that these could also be baked in a round tin and called Kladdkaka, an unleavened chocolate cake with a gooey center. If you follow me on any social media platform (you totally should, I’m hysterical on Twitter and sappy on Facebook), you’ve seen me raving about these brownies. And discussing techniques for cleaning frosting off my keyboard. 
Uffda. These brownies. 
They are incredible.
They are rich, chocolatey, gooey but not underbaked, and they have a nice crunchy crust and firmer edges.
I honestly think they are the best brownies I’ve ever had, gluten-free or not. 
The frosting?
It tastes exactly like a Terry’s Chocolate Orange.
Good enough to eat by the spoonful, followed by a gulp of ice-cold milk.
I think it’s the next “Nutella.” 
As if Nutella would ever be “over.” But seriously.
The frosting recipe makes just enough extra for a few spoonfuls (I think of these things. Aren’t you glad we’re friends?).
If you didn’t watch the King Arthur Flour ingredients video, you might be thinking I’ve gone crazy and added giant crystals of kosher salt to my brownies. Fear not, it is actually Swedish Pearl Sugar! This texture switch really makes these brownies knock-out. The fudgy brownies, the whipped frosting, and the crunchy sugar. Orange, chocolate, ginger, and pearl sugar? A match made in New Nordic heaven.

New Nordic Brownies
{Ginger Chocolate Orange Brownies}

Fudgy Ginger Brownies

4 eggs
1 1/4 cups cocoa powder (Dutch-process preferred)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups sugar
2 tsp. grated fresh ginger

Note: This is a unique technique, but don’t let it scare you off! It works, I promise! 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease or line with parchment paper a 9″x13″ pan. Beat the 4 eggs with the cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, and ground ginger. This will be a very thick concoction. Now, in a small saucepan, melt the butter and add the sugar. Heat until thoroughly hot but not simmering, being careful not to scorch the mixture. Combine the two mixtures, adding only a little of the hot butter to the egg mixture at first to temper the eggs. Then stir in the rest of the mixture. Stir in the flour and fresh ginger until just combined. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
Chocolate-Orange Frosting (by Good Girl Style)
1 stick unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon Orange Oil from King Arthur Flour
2 Tbsp. milk
Swedish Pearl Sugar from King Arthur Flour
Beat the butter. Then sift in the powdered sugar and cocoa powder, and mix, scraping down sides frequently. Add the orange oil and the milk and beat until whipped. 
Cut and frost brownies when cool, and sprinkle with Swedish Pearl Sugar.
*Ingredients provided by King Arthur Flour. Thank you, KAF!

Swedish Sort of Day

It was a gorgeous day last week for a visit to an incredibly gorgeous place…the American-Swedish Institute in Minneapolis. Last time I was there, years ago, it was simply (ha) the gorgeous mansion on Park Ave. that belonged to Swedish immigrants. This summer, they completed renovations that added an entirely new (modern) wing. Mom, Grandma, and I (sorry to the bro and sister-in-law for the salt in the wound here) ventured there on this gorgeous day.
This glass conservatory is just stunning. I adore it. 
And of course I wore my Swedish colors! 
Wondering how they still had so many pretty red roses in the courtyard…

The old meets the new. The mansion reflected in the new addition. 
 ASI just opened their Nordic Christmas exhibit, where each room of the mansion reflects the traditional decorations and stylings of a Nordic country at Christmas. I won’t bore you with the hundreds (literally) of photos I took, but let me just say: I’m crazy-inspired by my heritage, and I can’t wait to decorate in the traditional Nordic themes for Christmas this year.


Why yes, I did ride the mechanical dala horse. You know you would have too.
His name is Gustav. 
It costs a quarter. Totally worth it.
We had coffee in their new restaurant, Fika. Fika is the Swedish coffee break, filled with lots of coffee and LOTS of sweet things. We wanted to go at Fika time because we’ve gotten in the habit of breaking for Fika  at home.

Cardamom Cinnamon Roll with Swedish Pearl Sugar, anyone? 
When we were nearly finished, we ransacked the gift shop (no, just kidding. we didn’t do that; the bus tour group that was also there did that, ha!). But I did stock up on my favorite Swedish ribbons to use for my Nordic-themed Christmas, Swedish candy, and my favorite Swedish soap. And I looked ever-so-longingly at just about everything else, including the amazing array of Swedish baking and knitting books. Swoon. 
I’m so inspired! It is so much fun to be back in Minnesota with family and tradition everywhere I look.
Outfit~ Sunnies: local store, Necklace: Kohls, Blouse: Land’s End/thrifted, Sweater: American Eagle, Skirt: J. Crew, Tights: Missoni for Target, Boots: Forever21, Bangles: J.Crew and local store

Dreams & News

You know how sometimes God softly beckons your heart, and whispers to you a dream? God has given me a whisper-dream from the time I was a little tiny girl. A whisper-dream that I hope, with His grace, I can nurture into a reality that is bigger than anything I could imagine on my own, for His glory. I’m moving back “home” to Minnesota to be with family, where I will be working towards my lifelong dream of starting a bakery. 
I know it won’t be easy. To be honest, God usually calls us to difficult things, don’t you think? But the best part is, He gives us the grace to get where He wants us going. I sit here humbly, honestly, anticipating many nights of tears and frustration. Nights where my dream takes a totally different direction and I have to struggle with my vision versus God’s. Days of schlepping back and forth, days of burnout, days of aching wrists and back, sweat from painting, hammering, and creating. 
We pay a price to follow our dreams. But what if we look at it as payment in kind, perhaps, for an opportunity to be all-out for our dreams, to be stretching ourselves into fully blossoming…putting our pennies in the piggy bank so that, down the road, we can crack it open and find that we’ve invested in something much bigger than ourselves, and much more beautiful. I know this won’t come easily. I know that we’re talking years of sacrifice. I’m signing up for something that I’m sure I’ll question time and time again. But my heart and spirit tell me: now is the time. God has ordained me to spread my wings and fly, to His glory. The past few years have been a wonderful training ground of sorts. I feel incredibly blessed to have developed a strong support system, to have gained maturity and experience, and to have sat at the feet of people so well-versed in following their dreams. It will be difficult to leave this life I have here of people, places, and memories that I dearly love. I do not let go of these things lightly; no, indeed, I will always carry them with me. But there are so many people saying, “Go, Nats! Now is the time!” with affection and tears in their eyes. That makes me feel so utterly loved and empowered. 
So now, I will pack my Subaru with baking pans, vintage clothes, and so much love, and head back to my Swedish roots. 
“Sometimes right back where you started from is right where you belong.” ~Leigh Standley 
Indeed, and I cannot wait to begin “belonging” again in Minnesota.
I am so excited to set down roots and wait for them to “flour”–oh I couldn’t help but throw in one baking pun, you know me.
🙂 
And so it begins…