A Little Mocha-Java If You Please
I was never one to go for oversweetened frappucinos at the local Starbucks (which we call Tenbucks in our house, as a couple coffees can set you back just that). Instead, I'm more like Willona from the old sitcom "Good Times," who said, "I take my coffee like I like my men, hot, strong, and black."
Then this tiny little sweet-nothing of a book called Mocha arrived unexpectedly. It's a nifty little cookbook, although not destined to win any IACP awards.
Mocha is an assortment of chocolate-coffee recipes, collected from renowned coffee houses and pastry shops, in the United States, Canada, and Italy. An old friend once said "Irish Coffee is the perfect food. It has all four food groups, sugar, fat, alcohol, and caffeine." If you agree, you might want to check out this book.
It begins with a brief tutorial on chocolate and coffee, then jumps right into the recipes. They're generally very rich and sweet (hmmh, maybe I could be persuaded to like men with those characteristics too).
I was happy to find a recipe for Mayan hot chocolate, spiced with Ancho chili. I have always loved the spicy Mayan chocolate drinks, although I'm inclined to use something hotter than an ancho, and use far less cream than the eight ounces of half-and-half per person the recipe suggests.
There's an interesting recipe for Coffee and Cardamom-Scented Hot Chocolate. The recipe extols the virtues of Kenyan coffee, and uses Valrhona Palmira (an exclusively Criollo cacao). I quite enjoyed it. At first glance I thought the recipe would be a little lighter than some of the others in the book, with 12 ounces of 2% milk for 6 servings. But it has you make up for that by stirring in a few tablespoons of butter, and cream, and garnishing with whipped cream.
Move on to what the book calls "outrageous desserts." There are actually a few nice little recipes in there. The Kaffee Schokolade Coffeecake from Dufflet Rosenberg, who is a Toronto icon when it comes to cake, did not disappoint. It is literally coffeecake, with an espresso coffee flavor nicely balanced with chocolate, pecans, and lots of sour cream.
Ah, a coffee flavored coffee cake! Reminds me of the Seinfeld episode with Kramer and his coffee table book on coffee tables. Would I be digressing too far if I told you it also reminded me of the Beavis and Butthead episode where Butthead says he wants a tattoo on his butt, and the tattoo is a picture of a butt. Then Beavis says, he wants a butt tattoo on his butt, and the butt in the butt tattoo also has a tattoo of a buttâ€¦
OK, focus! That coffee flavored coffee cake was a nice recipe, one I would definitely make again. I will take exception with the author's introduction to the recipe, which discusses the Kaffee-Konditorei of Vienna, and says that a cake like this might be a "proper accompaniment." Having spent far too much time in those fine coffeeshops with magnificent display cases filled with stunning tortes of great elegance and refinement, to suggest an association between this dumpy but delicious little bundt cake and those establishments, is a littleâ€¦wellâ€¦ outrageous.
I also made the Mocha-Java Cheesecake, a decadent recipe the author describes as leftover from the cigar bar days. I liked the concept, with a chocolate-hazelnut shortbread style crust. The technique of melting a thin layer of chocolate on the cookie crust as it came out of the oven was also a nice touch between the crust and the filling. Although I thought that recipe was in need of a little refinement, one person I served it to said it was the best cheesecake she'd ever had.
So if you're a fan of the Frappucino, if you have some all-nighters to do, if you just need to add a few bucks to that Amazon order to get free shipping, or if you're a lover of all things mocha, you might want to check out this little book. For less than the price of a trip to Starbucks, and measuring in about six inches square, it'll make a good coaster too.