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Drink Up! Chocolate and Coffee Beverages
You’ll have guessed from the title that this edition is about drinks containing both chocolate and coffee, one of my very favorite combinations. Because I do not drink coffee by itself and never have, until the time I began experimenting with recipes for this edition I had never owned a coffee maker. If you’ve always gone the instant coffee route yourself, let me urge you to consider acquiring a coffee maker, even an inexpensive, simple “drip” model. The difference in the end product is like the proverbial night and day. Instant coffee certainly has convenience and perhaps a lower cost going for it, but that’s all; in every other category the real thing blows it away.
The best advice I’ve ever seen or heard about making coffee involves water. It makes sense, given that you use far more water than coffee per cup. If you don’t get great-tasting water from your faucet, please think about some sort of water filter or filtration system. I won’t enter the always-heated debates about ground coffee vs. grinding your own beans, different brands and varieties, or where to store your coffee. Those are hornets nests into which I don’t need to step.
The combination of chocolate and coffee is usually referred to as “mocha”. Originally, however, “Mocha” was simply a port on the Red Sea in the country of Yemen, from which a notable coffee was exported. No matter what you call it, if you’ve ever flavored your coffee with some form of chocolate, or your hot chocolate with coffee, you’ll enjoy the recipes below. Note that all of the recipes can be made with either brewed or instant coffee, but do try the American Bicerin with brewed!
Recipes of the Month:
2 Tablespoons good-quality chocolate syrup, preferably dark chocolate syrup (you can use more if you like your milkshake sweeter)
Cold, strong coffee (up to 1 cup)
About 1 cup slightly softened good-quality chocolate ice cream
You’ll need a powerful blender for this shake. Assemble blender container and place on base. Place chocolate syrup into a 1 cup liquid measure and add cold coffee to the 1 cup line. Stir thoroughly with a spoon to dissolve chocolate syrup.
Place slightly softened ice cream in blender container. (To soften ice cream, I start with a full pint, removing any lid and liner over the ice cream. Microwave at 50% (medium) power for about 10 to 12 seconds, depending on your microwave, just until ice cream softens slightly.) Work quickly now! By large spoonfuls, scopp about 1 cup of the slightly softened ice cream into the blender container (no need to measure; just “eyeball” the quantity). Pour coffee-chocolate syrup mixture over top.
Cover blender. Blend at highest speed just until smooth. This will be a thick shake; if it’s too thick, add another couple tablespoons of the cold coffee and blend again. Serve immediately!!
About 2 cups, 2 to 3 servings
Darrell’s Café Arabe (Arabian Coffee)
This cold, delicately spiced coffee drink can be tinkered with as you wish. Try adding different spices (a friend has suggested cardamom), or adjusting the spice/cocoa/sweetening levels up or down. If spices in coffee aren’t for you, try the Café a la Vanille variation. The finished drink will keep overnight in the fridge if tightly covered, but don’t leave the cinnamon/cloves/orange rind in it overnight.
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon unsweetened alkalized (Dutch process) cocoa powder (see Notes)
1-1/2 cups hot brewed coffee (see Notes)
1 cinnamon stick, 3 inches long, snapped in half
6 whole cloves
2 pieces orange rind, each about 3 inches long by 1 inch wide (scrape off any white pith)
In medium heatproof bowl or three-to-four-cup liquid measure, combine sugar and cocoa powder. Add hot coffee; stir thoroughly to dissolve solids. Add cinnamon stick halves, cloves, and orange rind. Let stand at room temperature briefly, then chill until very cold, at least a couple of hours. Stir thoroughly (the cocoa likes to settle at the bottom). Strain to remove spices and orange rind before serving. Serve plain, over ice, or with milk.
About 1-1/3 cups, 2 servings
---Some brands of alkalized cocoa powder have absurdly high levels of sodium. Do not use them; there’s no reason for these high levels. Try to find alkalized cocoa powder with a sodium level of less than 10 mg. per tablespoon. I use Droste, an excellent import.
---If you’d like to use instant coffee here, you can. Use 1 Tablespoon of instant coffee granules; mix this with the sugar and cocoa powder before adding 1-1/2 cups of boiling water.
Variation: Café a la Vanille
Make Café Arabe according to above instructions, using 1 or 2 pieces of orange rind, but omit cinnamon and cloves. Just before serving, stir in 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract. This is especially nice with a little milk added.
Bicerin is a deservedly-popular drink in Torino, Italy. It’s a layered beverage: one-third hot espresso, one-third hot chocolate, and one-third softly whipped cream. My version is a little less work and tastes almost as good. You’ll need 10 ounce mugs for this, preferably of clear glass to show off the contrast between dark beverage and whipped cream topping. Please use the best chocolate you can find for this; it really does make a difference.
This is an over-the-top drink. I heard a story once that a seller of Bicerin in Torino was continuing that theme with a very expensive Bicerin garnished with flakes of real gold leaf. I’ve never been able to confirm this story, and I’m not sure I believe it, but it is intriguing. If that’s too rich for your blood, use a sprinkle of ground cinnamon, a pinch of shaved/grated chocolate, or a combination of the two.
1/3 cup heavy cream
3-1/2 ounces best-quality semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, very finely chopped
1-1/2 cups very hot, strong, brewed coffee
Finely shaved or grated chocolate
Fill two mugs, each of 10 ounce capacity, with very hot water. Set aside. In chilled bowl with chilled beaters, whip the cream just until you can see definite traces of the beaters in the cream (in this case, if you overwhip the cream slightly, it isn’t a tragedy). Place bowl of cream in refrigerator with beaters still in it, in case they’re needed later.
In small, heatproof, non-aluminum bowl, place chocolate, which MUST be very finely chopped. Add about one-third of the hot coffee. Allow to stand for a few seconds, then whisk briskly until smooth. Gradually add remaining hot coffee, whisking until smooth after each addition. Mixture will be thin. Work quickly from here on out.
Pour hot water out of mugs and dry them quickly (you don’t need to be too thorough). Divide hot coffee mixture evenly between mugs. Check cream; if it needs to be re-beaten for a few seconds, do so now. Divide cream between mugs evenly, spooning it on carefully so it floats on top of coffee-chocolate mixture. If desired, garnish with a sprinkle of cinnamon or a pinch of grated chocolate. Serve immediately!
Chocolate Recommendation of the Month:
Jeremiah’s Pick Coffee
Jeremiah Pick, President of Jeremiah’s Pick Coffee, has an unusual background for a coffee guy. He was a Business and Cinematography major in college, and he’s a former successful drummer---quite a switch for a man who now devotes his days to coffee, tea, French presses, and the like. But the enthusiasm he has for his beans and leaves bubbles over even onto his website, and that’s no small achievement. The philosophy here is not complicated: establish long-term relationships directly with family farms and cooperatives growing products in a manner respectful of the environment, then treat those products with care. That seems simple, yes, but you’d be surprised at the number of coffee companies, especially larger ones, who can’t be bothered to take this many steps to ensure a good end result for all parties concerned.
But this is a coffee company, you’re saying. Why am I even bringing them up? Because someone here is very clever and figured out that chocolate and coffee belong together in a beverage. Jeremiah’s Pick Coffee offers Chocatal, medium-dark-roasted Arabica beans ground with cacao nibs from Africa and South America. The resulting brew is midnight-dark, with a bewitching aroma, and the beverage actually tastes both of chocolate and coffee. Chocatal is one of the “Premium” coffees here, available in ground form only (cacao nibs are just awful to grind); you also have an option of Chocatal that’s both organic and Fair Trade ™ . The company suggests that Chocatal goes very nicely over a good vanilla ice cream, and I can vouch for that (just don’t eat a lot of it late in the evening, as I did!). And if you’d like a walk on the wild side, you can try the Chocatal Spice Rub, a dry rub containing Chocatal, salt, and spices. You’ll find more information and a much greater range of products by surfing over to the Jeremiah’s Pick Coffee website, at www.jeremiahspick.com. Check ‘em out!
Stephanie (HandOverTheChocolate@comcast.net) has had a strong affinity for chocolate from a very early age. Family members claim that, as a child, she was able to hear chocolate being opened in the kitchen no matter where she was in the house. Stephanie was baking by the time she was 6 and ran a short-lived baking business out of her parents’ kitchen when she was in high school. She has a Master’s Degree in Foods from Virginia Tech but no formal training in cooking or baking. Consequently, she is a home cook, not a chef. Prior to beginning this column, she had written about chocolate for some 8 years.