The Ultimate Coffee Lover’s Cheesecake

November 16th, 2016 by

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If you like to sink your teeth into a good baking project on a cold day, this one is worth the effort. As pretty as it is delicious, it’s also the perfect dessert for a holiday dinner or special occasion. Consider it the dessert version of an after dinner coffee drink, a drink with a cinnamon-coffee layer, a chocolate-coffee layer, cream cheese frosting, and a chocolate cookie crust!

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Ingredients

For the cheesecake:

1 1/2 lb cream cheese softened at room temperature

14-oz can sweetened condensed milk

4 large egg yolks

1 cup sour cream

1 tablespoon confectioners sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

4 ounces dark chocolate, melted (we used the 70% cocoa variety)

4 tablespoons turkish or extra fine ground coffee, divided between layers

4 tablespoons coffee liqueur, divided between layers

2 tablespoons cinnamon

For the crust:

24 chocolate cookies-finely crushed

1/4 cup unsalted butter-melted

2 tablespoons turkish or extra fine ground coffee

For the topping:

1 lb cream cheese softened at room temperature

1 cup sour cream

1/2 cup confectioners sugar

Dark chocolate shavings

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 10-inch springform pan and set aside. Finely crush the cookies in a food processor. Add the coffee and then the melted butter and blend until it’s all moistened. Press crumb mixture onto the bottom of the prepared pan and bake for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and set on a wire rack to cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 275 degrees and begin making the filling layers. Beat together the cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk. While beating, add the egg yolks one at a time and beat until very smooth. Add the sour cream, confectioners sugar, and vanilla. In a separate bowl, beat 4 egg whites with 1/2 t salt until stiff. Fold into the cheese mixture.

To create the layers, divide this mixture in half. For the bottom (chocolate) half, whisk in 2 tablespoons of the coffee, 2 tablespoons of the coffee liqueur, and the 4 ounces of dark chocolate. For the top (cinnamon) layer, whisk in the remaining 2 tablespoons of coffee, 2 tablespoons of coffee liqueur, and 2 tablespoons of cinnamon. Pour the chocolate batter into the 10-inch springform pan lined with the crust, followed by the cinnamon batter. Bake at 275 degrees for 1 hour. Turn off the heat and let sit (door closed) for 45 minutes or more. The cake should cool completely in the oven.

Meanwhile, beat together the first three topping ingredients and let sit at room temperature. When the cake is cool, remove from the oven, spread the cream cheese mixture over the top, and add the chocolate shavings. Run a knife around the inside of the pan and store in the refrigerator uncovered for the first few hours to prevent condensation. Remove from the pan when cold.

To serve, slice the cake while still cold using a thin, non-serrated knife and rinse the blade under hot water between slices. Another great slicing method: use a piece of dental floss, fishing line, or thin wire to cut through the cake. Drop one end at the bottom after each cut and pull it through!

Flash Brewed Iced Coffee

September 8th, 2016 by

Flash Brew

If you’re one of the many iced coffee lovers who’ve made the switch to cold brew, you may be wondering what all the fuss is about “flash brewed” iced coffee. Back before cold brew was a thing, iced coffee was often regular strength hot coffee (or yesterday’s coffee) poured over ice. The result was watery and disappointing. Also called ice brewed or Japanese-style iced coffee, flash brewed iced coffee is brewed fresh over ice, usually using a pour-over brewer like the Chemex or Hario. For a visual, check out our video on brewing hot or iced coffee with the Chemex. It can also be made with a regular old automatic drip machine or an Aeropress. The key is allowing the coffee to drip directly onto the ice as it brews. Drip by drip, it cools instantly and less dilution occurs than if you were to dump a cup or a pot full of hot coffee over ice.

Flash brew vs. cold brew

If cold brew tastes a little flat to you, that’s because ground coffee requires heat to release some of its acids and aromatic oils (for details on the cold brewing method, check out our post). Cold brewed coffee is much less acidic, but possibly also less nuanced in flavor. High temperatures also cause these oils to oxidize and degrade over time, resulting in the sour or stale taste coffee acquires after sitting on a burner too long. Both methods claim to minimize oxidation, cold brewing by omitting heat and flash brewing by minimizing the amount of time between exposure to heat and consumption.

Another important difference between cold brew and flash brew is texture. Cold brew is less filtered since the coffee sits in contact with the grounds for a long period and some finer sediment dissolves over time. The end result is a rich, mellow cup, with the velvety texture of French press coffee. Flash brewed coffee by comparison is cleaner and crisper, with more bite, more aroma, and some would argue, more flavor.

Flash brewed coffee also has a few convenient advantages over cold brews, depending on your perspective. While nothing is lazier than dumping grounds and water in a bowl and letting them sit, flash brewed coffee is ready right away – no wait required. Also, less coffee is required since cold brew recipes typically make a concentrate with a high ratio of grounds to water. For flash brewing, start with the amount of coffee you would normally use, and replace half the brewing water with ice. Increase the grounds to water ratio if you like a little stronger taste from your iced coffee.

So which one wins? They are both great, but certain coffees are better with one brewing method than with the other. Cold brewing will emphasize more chocolaty or nutty characteristics while the acidity of flash brew will taste fruitier. Try picking a single origin coffee with an acidity level and flavor notes that will either play up or balance these characteristics. For instance, the higher acidity level of Ethiopian Yirgacheffe really jazzes up a cup of cold brew. To further emphasize its brightness, try it flash brewed. To minimize the acidic flavor of flash brewed coffee, try an Indonesian varietal like Papua New Guinea or Estate Java. Flash Brewed coffee tends to have a more nuanced flavor, perfect for a light roast coffee, but there are no rules. Experiment with roast level, see what you like, and share your recommendations!

 

 

 

Dark Moon Cocktail

August 12th, 2016 by

Dark Moon Square

In case you need an excuse to have a cocktail on a Tuesday, National Rum Day is August 16th. In honor of rum, we’re mixing up a batch of this cold brew cocktail. This recipe makes a pitcher and can be made in advance. Just combine the liqueur and rum (we used Kahlua and Sailor Jerry) with cold brewed coffee and store in a covered container in the fridge. When you’re ready to serve, add the cola, pour over ice, and spoon a little heavy cream over the top of each glass.

Ingredients (serves 8)

  • 1 1/2 cups cold-brew coffee.
  • 1/2 cup coffee liqueur
  • 1/2 cup spiced rum
  • 1 12-ounce bottle Coca-Cola
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (divide among glasses)

Adapted from Bon Appetit

Iced Chai Bubble Tea

August 2nd, 2016 by

Bubble Tea

Bubble tea, also known as boba, is a Taiwanese drink with many variations. The oldest version is sweetened iced tea with milk, shaken until frothy, sometimes poured over tapioca pearls. We decided to try this basic recipe with our Spiced Chai Black Tea, which is delicious sweetened with milk. Unlike store bought bubble tea, you can add as much or little sugar as you like, and any type of milk or creamer you prefer (coconut milk would be great). Have fun with this recipe and make it your own!

Supplies (per serving)

1/4 cup dried tapioca pearls (boba) for bubble tea, such as these

3 teaspoons of looseleaf chai tea

1 cup milk (or to taste)

Simple syrup (substitute agave nectar or honey if you prefer)

extra wide straw

cocktail shaker

Instructions

Make a strong cup of tea and let it cool. We used three teaspoons of loose leaf chai, brewed for about three and a half minutes. Cook your boba according to the instructions on the package. You can find tapioca pearls in different sizes and colors (even rainbow), all of which have a pretty neutral flavor, but the cooking time varies. Once the pearls are cooked and drained, submerge them in simple syrup and store in the fridge. When you’re ready to put it all together, add a scoop of the boba with syrup to the bottom of a glass. Add the milk, tea, and a splash of simple syrup to a cocktail shaker with a few ice cubes and shake well. Strain into your glass, add a fat straw, and enjoy!

 

 

Vietnamese Coffee

June 23rd, 2016 by

Vietnamese Coffee

If you’ve never had Vietnamese coffee, you have to try it. It’s shockingly good. I like my coffee black or with a little cream, but never sweetened so I can’t explain why I like this intensely sweet drink, but I love it, especially over ice. The sweeter the better. Coffee in Vietnam is typically Robusta, which has a reputation for being slightly bitter. Dark roast levels are common, as they minimize this bitterness. A big spoonful of sweetened condensed milk helps too. For this recipe we used our Super Dark Espresso, which contains some Robusta as most espresso blends do. We also used a traditional 6 ounce Vietnamese coffee filter called a phin. These stainless steel filters are inexpensive and easy to find online in several sizes. You can substitute brewed espresso or strong French Press coffee if you prefer.

Ingredients (1 serving)

  • 2 tablespoons (or more to taste) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 1/2 heaping tablespoons ground coffee. A French press (coarse) grind works best
  • Hot water

Instructions

Pour the sweetened condensed milk into a heat safe glass or mug. Start with a little if  you’re not sure how much sweetness you’ll like and stir more in if you prefer after brewing. Remove the interior screen from the filter (you may need to unscrew this manually). Add coffee to the filter and replace the inside screen, tightening the screw fully, the unscrewing it one full turn to give the coffee room to expand. Rest the filter on top of your mug or glass and add a splash of near-boiling water. Let this sit for half a minute, then fill the filter chamber with water. Cover the top of the filter (there’s a cap provided) and allow the coffee to drip through. Once the water has drained through, remove the filter, stir, and enjoy hot or pour over ice.

This entire process takes about five minutes. If the water drains through too quickly, your grind may be too course and you’ll have a watery cup of coffee. Too fine a grind will clog the filter. If you grind your own beans, play with the grind level until you find what brews and tastes best with your filter.