by Jolene Adams
The morning cup of coffee for most is an essential part of the day, especially in the days after we spring the clocks forward! I am one of the many people who cannot start the day without coffee, and this last week has been extra difficult. Needless to say I have been partaking in an extra cup in the morning. Although I enjoy coffee as a drink, I recently started cooking and baking with it. All I can say is wow. It is unbelievable how many dishes benefit from the addition of the sweet, smoky, nutty flavors coffee provides.
Not all coffee is created equal. Just like with any ingredient used in creating a delicious dish, quality matters. Sure, you can use a generic instant coffee in a recipe, but the final dish will lack the wonderful flavors of a good quality roasted bean. Coffee beans are classified by variety and origin, as is wine. Just like wine, different coffees have different flavor profiles. Coffee flavor profiles can be described as sweet, sugary, spicy, peppery, chocolatey, herby, floral and acidic. Also just like cooking with wine, different coffees will highlight different flavors in a dish, so experiment with several coffees to find the ones you like the most.
For savory dishes, add flavor to a roast by using coffee in the marinade. It will also help to tenderize the meat. Add it to the braising liquid in beef short ribs; as the liquid cooks down, the coffee caramelizes, adding a delicious bittersweet dimension to the dish. Try stirring a little coffee into barbecue sauce for grilled chicken, or add a bit to beef chili to round out the flavor.
Sometimes you end up grinding a little too much for your morning cup. Don’t waste it; turn it into a spice rub. Mix the coffee grounds with salt and paprika to keep on hand. Use a little of this spice mix next time you’re making burgers. Coat the burgers right before grilling for a great caramelized burger.
Want to stick with coffee at breakfast? Try eating it instead of drinking it. It works well with sausage, so try a Southern classic like red-eye gravy. Or for a quick pick-me up snack, try chocolate covered coffee beans. Many coffee shops sell their own brand of the sweet snack bean.
Probably the most familiar way to use coffee other than drinking it, is to infuse it with desserts. The popular Italian dessert tiramisu has a wonderful coffee flavor. Coffee flavored ice cream is also popular. When baking brownies or chocolate cake, add a little coffee for a mocha flavor. One tip, when making a sauce, ice cream or mousse, use an instant espresso powder instead of ground beans. Unlike ground coffee, the powder will dissolve completely and won’t leave any grittiness in the final product.
Emeril Lagasse’s Short Ribs Braised with Coffee and Ancho Chiles
Yield: About 6 servings
*5 dried ancho chiles (about 2 ounces)
*1 1/2 cups boiling water
*1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
*1/4 cup finely chopped garlic (about 8 large cloves)
*2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
*2 teaspoons dried Mexican oregano
*1/4 cup chicken stock
*1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoon vegetable oil
*6 pounds beef short ribs
*3 teaspoons salt
*1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
*1 cup all purpose flour
*Pinch of Emeril’s Original Essence
*1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon instant espresso
*1 cup beef stock or store-bought low sodium beef broth
*1 cinnamon stick
*2 bay leaves
Position the oven rack to the center and preheat to 325 degrees F.
Soak the ancho chiles in the hot water until soft, about 30 minutes. Strain through a fine mesh sieve, reserving the liquid separately. Discard stems and seeds. Transfer the chiles to a blender along with the onion, garlic, dark brown sugar, dried oregano, chicken stock, reserved chile soaking liquid, and process to form a smooth puree.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a 6-quart or larger Dutch oven (large enough to cook the ribs in one even layer) over medium-high heat. Using paper towels, pat the ribs dry and season with 2 teaspoons of the salt and the black pepper. Add 1/2 cup of the flour and Essence to a re-sealable 1-gallon plastic food storage bag. Place the ribs in the bag a few pieces at a time and shake until well coated with flour. Remove the ribs from the bag and, working in batches if necessary, cook the ribs until nicely browned and caramelized on both sides, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the short ribs to a baking sheet and set aside until ready to use.
Lower the heat to medium low. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of oil and whisk in the remaining 1/2 cup flour. Cook, stirring constantly to reach every portion of the bottom of the pot to scrape up the browned bits. Continue cooking and stirring constantly until the roux reaches the color of milk chocolate. Carefully add the chile puree (mixture will splatter!) and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 5 minutes.
Add the instant espresso, the beef stock, the cinnamon stick, bay leaves and the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt, and stir to mix well. Return the short ribs to the pot, meaty part facing down, and bring to a boil. Cover with the lid, transfer to the oven, and cook until the ribs are very tender, about 2 1/2 hours.
Remove from the oven and skim any fat that has risen to the surface, if desired. Serve over rice, mashed potatoes, grits, or polenta.
Chocolate Cake with Caramel-Coffee Mousse
From Food and Wine Magazine
Yield: 12 slices
*1 cup sugar
*1/4 cup water
*1/4 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
*2 cups heavy cream
*1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
*1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch-process)
*1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons boiling water
*1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
*1 cup plus 2 tablespoons cake flour
*3/4 teaspoon baking soda
*1/4 teaspoon baking powder
*1/4 teaspoon salt
*6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
*1 cup sugar
*1 large egg, at room temperature
*1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
*2 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso
*1 envelope unflavored gelatin (about 2 teaspoons)
*Caramel (see above)
*1/4 cup sour cream
*1 cup heavy cream
*1/2 pound bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar with the water and lemon juice and bring to a boil over moderately high heat. Using a wet pastry brush, wipe down the side of the saucepan. Simmer the syrup undisturbed until it begins to brown around the edges, 4 to 5 minutes. Swirl the pan, then simmer until the caramel turns a medium-dark amber, about 3 minutes longer. Remove from the heat. Carefully add 1/2 cup of the cream in a steady stream. Stir with a long-handled wooden spoon to combine, then add the remaining 1 1/2 cups of cream. Stir in the vanilla. Transfer the caramel to a bowl and refrigerate until very cold.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter the bottoms only of three 9-inch round cake pans and line them with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk the cocoa with the boiling water until a paste forms. Whisk in the milk until smooth; let cool.
Sift together the cake flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter with the sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the egg and egg yolk and beat until creamy. Add the dry ingredients; beat until smooth.
Divide the batter evenly among the 3 pans (the layers will be shallow) and smooth the tops. Bake the cakes for 12 to 14 minutes, or until the tops spring back when lightly pressed. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 15 minutes, then run a knife around the edges. Turn them out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
In a small microwave-safe bowl, dissolve the instant coffee in 3 tablespoons of cold water. Sprinkle on the gelatin and let stand until softened, about 5 minutes. Using an electric mixer, beat the caramel with the sour cream just until soft peaks form. Working quickly, microwave the coffee-gelatin mixture at 10-second intervals just until the gelatin is completely dissolved and hot to the touch. Quickly whisk the hot gelatin into the caramel.
Line a 9-inch round springform pan with plastic wrap, leaving at least 4-inches of overhang all around. Place 1 of the cake layers, flat side down, in the bottom of the springform pan. Spoon half of the caramel mousse over the cake in the pan and top with another cake layer. Press lightly. Add the remaining caramel mousse and top with the final cake layer, flat side up. Fold the overhanging plastic wrap over the cake and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.
In a medium saucepan, heat the cream just until small bubbles appear around the edges. Remove from the heat. Add the chocolate and let stand for 5 minutes. Stir until smooth. Let the glaze cool until thick but pourable.
Unwrap the top of the cake and invert the cake onto a large serving plate. Pour about 3/4 cup of the chocolate glaze over the cake and spread it all around, filling in any gaps. Refrigerate for about 5 minutes, until set. Pour the remaining chocolate glaze on the cake and spread it all around; do not spread once the glaze is smooth.
Refrigerate the cake for about 15 minutes to set the glaze. When ready to serve, cut the cake into wedges. The cake can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.
Lincoln Land Community College offers credit programs in Culinary Arts, Hospitality Management, Baking/Pastry, and Value Added Local Food, and non-credit cooking and food classes through our Community Learning Culinary Institute. For more information, visit our website at www.llcc.edu.