Coffee features daily in most of our diets, whether it’s a morning boost of espresso to wake us up or a mid-morning latte. Just
as people are becoming more interested and passionate about the provenance of the food they eat, more are starting to think in a similar way when it comes to coffee. We want to know the origin of the coffee beans we use, how they’ve been ground and what makes them special. We want to discover what makes different beans, blends and crus taste and smell different.
"Match coffee with earthy, nutty or sweet ingredients to add a delicious robustness"
I was lucky enough to help launch Scotland’s first Nespresso boutique in 2013, where I learnt a huge amount about coffee from their team of experts, who are genuine connoisseurs. It also made me think about ways to use coffee in my cooking. Add coffee to a dish and you immediately give it an extra kick – in flavour, depth, complexity and aroma. The roasted quality, the bitterness and creaminess, can make it the perfect complement to drinks, sweet dishes and indeed savoury recipes.
If you are cooking with coffee, match it with other earthy, nutty or sweet ingredients to add a delicious robustness to a dish. And don’t worry about the consequences, coffee isn’t difficult to balance and it can often add the perfect punch to a stock, sauce or dessert. If you are trying coffee in a recipe, I would apply the same rule as I do with wine – you don’t need to go for the most expensive coffee you can find, but you do need to make sure it’s coffee you would enjoy drinking on its own.
This week, I’ve included recipes for a martini and a panna cotta which are a good place to start and get used to balancing the flavours – and perfect for the festive period that’s just around the corner.
• double shot of espresso
• 37.5ml diplomatico anejo rum
• 12.5ml crème de cacao blanc
• 12.5ml vanilla syrup
• 3 coffee beans to garnish
Combine all the ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with three coffee beans.
Espresso Panna Cotta
• For the panna cotta
• 220ml espresso coffee
• 220ml whole milk
• 120g sugar
• 4 gelatine leaves
• 360ml double cream
Method for the panna cotta
Chill the panna cotta moulds, coffee cups/glasses or ramekins in the fridge. Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water until soft. Meanwhile, heat the coffee, milk and sugar in a pan until the sugar has dissolved.
Add the softened gelatine to the warm coffee mixture and whisk to fully dissolve. Leave the mixture to cool completely to room temperature (don’t put in the fridge).
Meanwhile, whip the double cream, then fold it into the cool coffee mixture, minimising any lumps. Pass the mixture through a sieve to ensure it is smooth. Pour into the chilled moulds (leave room for layers of milk “foam” and syrup later and chill to set as quickly as possible).
Ingredients for the milk foam
• 300ml whole milk
• 65g sugar
• 300ml double cream
• 2 gelatine leaves
• ½ vanilla pod (seeds scraped out)
Method for milk foam
Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water until soft. Heat the milk and sugar in a pan with the vanilla pod until the sugar has dissolved. Add the softened gelatine to the warm milk mixture, remove the pod, and whisk to dissolve.
Leave the mixture to cool completely (don’t put in the fridge). Meanwhile, whip the double cream, then fold it into the cool milk mixture, minimising any lumps. Pass the mixture through a sieve to ensure it is smooth. Pour on top of the already set coffee panna cotta to create a foam layer. Chill in the fridge to set as quickly as possible.
Ingredients for the espresso syrup
• 300g sugar
• 125ml espresso coffee
• 25ml brandy
• toasted hazelnuts, biscotti or biscuits
Method for the espresso syrup
Heat the sugar in a heavy-based pan stirring continuously until fully melted and a golden brown caramel has formed. Pour out on to a silicone mat to cool and set hard.
Break the hard caramel into small pieces and blend in a food processor to create a powder. Mix the powder with the coffee and brandy in a pan, heat up and whisk to fully dissolve the caramel powder. Reduce the syrup by half in volume and leave to cool to room temperature (do not put in the fridge).
Remove the panna cotta from the fridge, pour the syrup on top to create a “crema” effect. Garnish with toasted hazelnuts and biscotti or any favourite biscuits.