Espresso, Express!

But what if you, like us, still find yourself champing at the bit for your daily brew, craving not so much a caffeine kick as that inimitable coffee flavor? We'd go to great lengths, any time of year, to keep coffee in our world, and since here at Chocolatier our world is all about dessert, we couldn't think of a sweeter way to justify yet another indulgence than with an infusion of coffee.

During summertime, the trick then becomes keeping time in a hot kitchen to a minimum. We've come up with six coffee-laced treats that use a maximum of six ingredients. As an added bonus, three of the desserts don't require the use of an oven. How's that for satisfying a java jones?

After some experimentation and much taste-testing, we've carefully selected a range of desserts that stand on their own, but also pair well with either hot or cold coffee for those seeking high flavor impact. Essentially, these are earthy sweets that reflect the versatility of the good brew itself: Have you ever actually stopped to count how many alternatives you have when ordering a cup of coffee? Add dessert to the mix, and the options are downright overwhelming. We took the time to pare down the choices for you, and hopefully inspire you both to revisit some classics and try something new.

Enjoy freshly unmolded Espresso Madeleines and thick wedges of Mocha Bean Shortbread solo, or intensify their flavor with dunks in iced coffee. Cool off outdoors with frozen desserts like our Strong Coffee Ice Cream and Coffee Almond Semifreddo, or eat a helping indoors with a hot latté or espresso. But be sure to save the mouth-melting Mexican Coffee Fudge and Espresso Mascarpone Parfaits, with their requisite notes of
nostalgia, for a cappuccino, the adult answer to a frothy cup of milk.

Whichever dessert you choose, achieving maximum flavor is easy. The market for home baking remains devoid of coffee-flavored extracts, but it's so easy to make your own that you won't mind taking the additional step. All that's required is dissolving some instant espresso powder in hot water. To achieve a stronger coffee taste, just use a teaspoon more than we suggest.

For the freshest flavor, we like to use actual coffee (or espresso) beans, either for infusion or as a stir-in. By grinding the beans very coarsely - we smashed them in sealable plastic bags with the bottom of a metal measuring cup - even more flavor is released than by using whole beans, and you can select the bean based on your personal taste preference and price point. You can also increase the intensity by steeping more beans for a longer period of time. While in the short-term this may mean a little bit of extra work for you, in the long-term it means extra flavor for everyone.

But even with the extra work these steps require, these are all very straightforward recipes to execute in express time. (Espresso does, after all, mean fast coffee when translated from Italian.) Occasionally, you may need some special equipment, like an ice cream maker or a candy thermometer, but no special know-how that we can't help walk you through.  In the end, you'll be armed with an even more expansive dessert repertoire, and no doubt you'll be brimming with ideas for your own java-enhanced goodness - be it winter, spring, summer or fall.
Before you get started, let us leave you with one last hint. With a mere six ingredients per recipe, the taste of each individual ingredient will be much more profound than when either balanced or masked by myriad other flavors. Now is the time to splurge for some of those highfalutin, top-of-the line ingredients you've heard so much about.  Even if you try just one, with so few ingredients to stock up on, you won't bust your budget, and you can decide for yourself if there's a difference. Valrhona cocoa, Callebaut chocolate, Plugrá butter and organic eggs are all worthy investments that we highly recommend. Your desserts will sing, and your friends and family will sing your praises.

Next Article:  Chocolate Chip Cookies

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