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Coffee in your dessert. Heaven or Hell?

Now, I know we all love a cup of coffee - why else are we here together, right?! But what about coffee as a flavour in your desserts?

As I sat and pondered on a topic for this month’s blog a question came to mind, and now I cannot get it out of my head, so this month let us just have a chat (or I waffle on, and you read my musings) about coffee in your dessert.

In my dessert of choice, I would never have considered a coffee option, I mean, how could I turn down anything made with chocolate and choose coffee instead. It just was not going to happen. I always think I should branch out and try different things, but when it is time to order I seem physically unable to say anything other than “Chocolate brownie/fudge cake/profiteroles please.” Though I may make an exception for a Sticky Toffee Pudding.

As much as I love my coffee, I just did not enjoy it as a flavour in my dessert. Until now.

On a recent family holiday in the Cotswolds we stopped at a lovely little tea shop for coffee and cake and I found these words coming out of my mouth “Coffee cake please”, my partner looked at me in disbelief and said “Are you sure?” I have no explanation other than, I just fancied it. And I ate it. And I enjoyed it.

Daniela is famous for her desserts at our family dinners, and she also makes luscious ice cream with which she experiments with all different flavours. And I am always happy to test them for her, “Hmm, perhaps I need another spoonful -  or two - to be sure...” Well, she made a coffee one. When she offered me some I was very much on the “no thanks” team, but she made me try a little…and I liked it!! And would happily take more. Hopefully she reads this!! Nudge nudge Daniela. We have a customer, Peacock’s Ice Cream, who make an ice cream called Lebanese Morning, rippled with our Lebanese coffee, chocolate and date syrup caramel! Wow!  Keep an eye out for when it is available at www.peacocksicecream.com Picture below 

And then there is the question of affogato…ice-cream and coffee. Two of my favourite things. But does it really constitute a dessert? Surely there just aren’t enough calories in it to be a real dessert, yet I find myself opting for one! A delicious and strong espresso poured over some rich, creamy ice cream. And the bonus to an Affogato is as your after-dinner coffee is part of your dessert you may as well have another glass of wine!

Though I am still not voting for a coffee granita. But that may just be me and granitas. I find them too sweet...and they are just ice!

There have only ever been two desserts with coffee in that I have always eaten, tiramisu and French Religieuse. Tiramisu, a classic, lots of coffee, lots of marsala please – made with luxurious mascarpone it just melts together to become delicious. Daniela makes a good one of these too, she always makes a fresh pot of Velluto Nero to soak her sponge fingers in. And the Religieuse, they are a French cake made of two choux buns on top of each other, one smaller than the other and filled with crème pâtissière mostly flavoured with chocolate or coffee, finished with some of the same flavour icing on top. My mum used to pop over to France for the day to get some shopping (back in the day when you couldn’t find it all here anyway!) and she used to bring back these delicious filled choux buns, two chocolate, two coffee and for some unknown reason the coffee ones were the best, yes, even over the chocolate ones! There was just something about the sweetness of the icing alongside the coffee that won my vote. A yummy picture of a Religieuse below. 

I know tastes can change, but do you think it is an age thing? Or maybe it is my lack of sleep, that I look for coffee and caffeine where I can get it?! Who knows…? The positive is that my dessert options have opened even further so there is even more dessert for me! Yay!

I have had a longing to make a coffee and walnut cake for a while now – whenever I mention this at home I just get told to “get on a make it!”. It is a favourite of my partner. I am going to have to make one to get it out of my system. Who wants to see my efforts? I would even offer to share it but I will get told off.

One thing I do not understand, when looking at many recipes for coffee flavoured cakes or desserts many use instant coffee. Why? Is it due to accessibility and ease for the baker or is there something in the flavour? I would only really want to use freshly brewed coffee, naturally. Surely that would be better? Or is it less intense? Maybe I should experiment - or am I just looking for excuses to make and eat lots of dessert? I think this is a perfectly valid and acceptable excuse.

So, what shall I make first? I think it may have to be a classic Coffee & Walnut cake, though I did see a recipe for a tiramisu cake! Layers of sponge with coffee and marsala soaked into it with a mascarpone filling. This will have to be baked at some point. I also saw a recipe for a Coffee Pannacotta which just sounds amazing! Coffee mousse? The ideas are coming.....

Where do you stand with coffee in dessert? Do you find yourself relishing a slice of coffee and walnut cake? Do you have a coffee dessert favourite? Or any of your own recipes you would like to share with us?

Well, that’s it from me this month. I hope you enjoyed our little chat. The worst part about writing this month’s blog was looking through all the recipes and photos – I was salivating!

Have a fabulous weekend and enjoy the upcoming Jubilee Weekend! - Marisa x


will Daniela soon be hosting cake mornings, or afternoons….? I’m in!

I vote for Tiramisu; I was given a superb recipe that is used as a yardstick whenever anybody in the family buys said dessert in a restaurant and mine wins hands down (not boasting, really)

My Gran and Mum made fantastic coffee and walnut sponge cakes and many years ago I used to make them too, but my Gran’s were always the absolute best. This year I’m heading to England to help make Tiramisu, make that many Tiramisu, for a wedding

I also love coffee and walnut cake, although I make it with almonds these days because of allergies (not all nuts are equal) and love making tiramisu. I now use espresso or cafeteria to make the coffee part. I think instant was used because real coffee, as it was known in our house, was not so freely available as it is today.

Coffee and walnut is absolutely the best cake ever.. as regards the use of instant coffee in baking, I assume that you need something that’s soluble, concentrated in flavour and has minimal moisture? Certainly in baked goods.

You’re very persuasive. But the coffee-flavoured chocolate in the box was always the one I either passed on to someone else, or ate first to get it over with. I will admit that chocolate sauce, especially over ice cream, always benefits from being spiked with the bitterness of some coffee added to it. I think a flavoursome tea, like Lapsang, might be superior in cakes, but I haven’t tried it myself.

Viva the Algerian Coffee Company!!

Any day, of any week, of any year, coffee flavor over chocolate – anything. From kidhood on, my taste buds have said, ‘’Chocolate? Why bother?’’ I’ve tried to educate them, but they simply glare back. And yes, taste buds can glare.
So – coffee frosting, and cake drizzled – no, stormed – with Kahlua.

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