I can’t imagine a better way to end my week of coffee topics than with the perfect coffee cocktail. There are so many tantalizing ways to booze up your coffee, you could have a different concoction every week for a year without repeating the same one twice. Although I love hot coffee cocktails, it’s way too hot today for one – when is the cold weather going to come already? Thankfully, I had some cold brew coffee ready to go. I have a bit of a sweet tooth tonight (what else is new) and am hankering for a Mounds candy bar. Remember those commercials from the 80’s for Mounds and Almond Joy? “Sometimes you feel like a nut. Sometimes you don’t!” Chocolate and coconut (plus or minus the almonds) – yum! I LOVE the combination of chocolate and coconut, but it’s missing one thing – COFFEE! Here is my coffee cocktail version of a Mounds candy bar.
Ingredients (makes two generously proportioned cocktails)
2 oz coconut rum
1 oz Kahlua
1 oz vanilla simple syrup
12 oz cold brew coffee (or hot brewed coffee that has cooled off)
Cocoa (for rimming the martini glass)
Are you tired of having your iced coffee watered down by the melting ice? Well you don’t have to put up with it any longer! The answer to all your problems, or at least this one, is COFFEE ICE CUBES. I know – mind blown right? Next time you make coffee, make some extra. Whip out your ice cube tray and freeze. The next time you need them, they’ll be ready for you. Enjoy!
It’s Sunday afternoon. I’m feeling lazy – lounging in front of the TV while my husband and daughter are at the park. I’m in the mood for something sweet and satisfying, but all we have is some vanilla ice cream, which is just not going to do the trick. And then I see it. On the cooking show in front of me they are making affogato – an Italian dessert where you pour espresso over vanilla ice cream or gelato, plus or minus amaretto or other liqueur. The problem is I don’t have an espresso maker. So I brew some regular coffee instead. I don’t have amaretto so I add a splash of Kahlua. It works perfectly and is a delectable accompaniment to my Sunday afternoon. Happy Sunday!
I love coffee – hot in the morning or with a dessert, iced in the afternoon or to cool off on a hot day. Whereas soft drinks, even diet soft drinks, have been shown to have a multitude of negative effects on health, from increasing risk of type 2 diabetes to osteoporosis, coffee (in moderation) has been shown to have a positive impact on health. Coffee is rich in anti-oxidants, which help the body eliminate the free radicals that cause inflammation and cell damage. Studies out of UCLA and Harvard both showed an inverse relationship between coffee consumption and risk for type 2 diabetes. Studies have also shown moderate consumption of coffee helped protect against heart failure, lowers risk of liver cancer and lowers incidence of liver cirrhosis, and even helps patients with Parkinson’s control movement.
Unfortunately, some people cannot partake of this heavenly beverage, because acids in the coffee exacerbate their acid reflux. Enter cold brew. Remember in chemistry class when you learned that heat helps increase solubility? For example, trying to dissolve granulated sugar in a glass of iced tea is an exercise in futility, but it readily dissolves in hot tea. The same holds true for some of the compounds in the coffee bean. When coffee is brewed hot, many of its acidic compounds are soluble and enter into the final beverage. When coffee is brewed cold, the flavor slowly diffuses into room temperature or even cold water over a period of 12-24 hours. Because of the lower temperature, many of the acidic compounds that were present in the hot brewed coffee are no longer soluble – resulting in a smoother, less acidic brew, that some even find to be sweeter than the regular hot brew. Because of the lower acid content, people who might otherwise not be able to tolerate coffee, may now be able to enjoy it and all of its benefits. In addition, because of the sweeter taste profile, the need for sweetener is lessened (which is good, because sugar won’t dissolve in it anyway. If you do need sugar, you will have to make a simple syrup – directions below). I usually need cream and sugar in my hot coffee, but this cold brewed coffee is so good, I drink it black.
The best thing is – because of the cold brew process, this coffee stays fresh longer, so you can actually make a bunch of it and keep in the fridge all week. No more rushing around in the morning, trying to hurry up and brew your coffee before work.
How to make it:
Step 1: Put coarsely ground coffee in desired container and fill with filtered water. America’s Test Kitchen recommends 1 cups of grounds to 4 cups of water for a concentrated brew. Leave at room temperature or refrigerate for 12-24 hours.
Step 2: Filter out the grounds. Take a strainer, lined with a coffee filter, and put it over the receiving vessel. Slowly pour the coffee into filter.
*Although you don’t need any special equipment to cold brew, if you have a French press, it will make the easier since you can just press it like you would a hot brew.
Step 3: Dilute with either cold or hot water (depending on whether you want iced or hot coffee). Before adding any milk or sweetener, taste it. You may find (like I did) that it is just perfect how it is. However, if you so want to add a little sweetness to it, you can add a little simple syrup (recipe below), sweetened creamer, or if it’s cocktail hour – a little Kahlua or Grand Marnier couldn’t hurt (if you’re over 21).
Simple syrup is equal parts water and sugar. You must heat the water in order to dissolve the sugar into it. Once made, you can keep it in the fridge for up to 1 month.
In a small saucepan, heat ½ cup sugar with ½ water until it comes to a boil. Turn heat to low and stir until all the sugar is dissolved.
Flavored Simple Syrup
If you really want to live large, nothing is more luxurious that a flavor-enhanced simple syrup. Although there is no end to the types of flavors you can make, for coffee I would recommend the following:
- Vanilla – split open a vanilla bean and scrape out all of the beans and put in the cold water and sugar. Then throw in the vanilla pod. Once you have turned off the heat, let the vanilla continue to infuse its glorious flavor for about 20-30 minutes. Strain out the pod and voila! You have vanilla simple syrup. (Hint: Don’t throw your vanilla pods away! Once they’ve dried out, throw them into a container of sugar. The vanilla flavors will infuse into your sugar and now you will have vanilla sugar).
- Cinnamon – with the holidays coming up, hints of cinnamon seem to be everywhere. No reason it can’t also be in your simple syrup. Throw a couple cinnamon sticks in your sugar water and repeat the process you did for vanilla.
A spoonful of sugar does indeed help the medicine go down – or in this case, almonds. I personally find almonds delicious simply on their own, especially if lightly toasted in a dry pan or in the oven. However, my daughter sometimes needs a little “sugar” to coax her into partaking of this delicious “medicine,” so I make candied almonds with sea salt (recipe below). When I call almonds “medicine,” I’m not being facetious. These little guys contain copious amounts of vitamins and minerals, as well as being rich in mono-unsaturated fats which help lower “bad cholesterol” and help raise “good cholesterol.”
Now some might argue that this recipe counters all the good effects of the almonds by the negative effects of the sugar and salt. However, if you see this recipe as a dessert, instead of a daily snack, it’s actually one of the healthiest desserts you can have. Candied almonds are also great on salads, on top of oatmeal, or dare I say it – on top of ice cream. And they’re super easy to make. Here’s how I do it:
Almonds – 1 cup
*Sugar – 4 Tablespoons (you can put more or less sugar, depending on how sweet you want it)
Kosher salt – ¼ teaspoon
Sea salt or Fleur de sel (optional) – ¼ teaspoon
*Use the regular white granulated sugar for this recipe. Organic or raw sugar does not work well.
In a dry pan, add the almonds, followed by the sugar and kosher salt. Turn the heat to medium high. Don’t walk away from the pan or it will burn. Once you see the sugar starting to liquefy, stir the almonds carefully with a wooden spoon. Continue to gently stir the almonds around so they are evenly coated in caramelized sugar. When the sugar is almost completely liquefied, turn the heat off, and continue to stir the almonds in the pan so they can continue to toast. Once they are the desired deep toasty brown, carefully transfer them to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and spread them out in a single layer. Lightly sprinkle with sea salt. Enjoy!
*Use the regular white granulated sugar for this recipe.
Sugar burns are the worst! Sugar gets REALLY hot and will stick to your skin, making the burn even worse. Always have a bowl filled with ice water next to you when caramelizing sugar so you can quickly plunge your hand (or elbow – whatever body part got caramel on it).
Where to buy:
The best place to buy almonds is at Costco. A 3 pound bag runs around $12. Grocery stores can be expensive when it comes to nuts. I store my almonds in the freezer to make them last longer.