Though Valentine’s Day dinner is certainly a thing*, to me, Valentine’s Day dessert is more of a thing. You know, sweets for your sweet and all.
Whether I’m dining with friends, male companions (I did not mean that to be risqué, so don’t be dirty) or Mom, my favorite part of the meal is the end: coffee + dessert. It’s that part of the meal where bellies are full, guards are down, and ordering it sort of says, “I’m not done with you yet.” Coffee and dessert doesn’t even have to be post-dinner, but an afternoon event that can go on on for hours, no matter time of the day, and may be our cue to stay just a little bit longer.
Growing up, when the parents had company, coffee + dessert was almost an entirely separate thing altogether. As dinner plates were being moved to the kitchen and leftovers packed into the fridge, the coffee would drip and Mom would plate desserts to be taken out as everyone reconvened in the dining room after a post-dinner stretch. She did an excellent job; depending on the dessert, coffee was brewed and paired with spirits accordingly.
On that note, I thought I’d whip up some treats from Spain for a lovely coffee + dessert pairing: café con miel (strong coffee with honey) + chocolate turrón, a chocolate-rice-krispie sort of candy.
To help in my coffee making endeavors, I got to play with the newly launched Ninja coffee bar, which is actually quite perfect for tailoring a brew so that each of you and your guests get their perfect cuppa joe. I’ve never been one to stay painstakingly true to the art of coffee brewing, and in fact, I’m pretty sure previously when left to my own devices that I made a pretty rubbish cup. Therefore, the thought of making any sort of fancy coffee would have left me throwing in the towel early. Not so the case anymore.
The cool thing about this is that I can make espresso-strength coffee for recipes like the café con miel or a café breve, or regular-strength for a standard cup, or even over ice for a Thai iced coffee. All in either single serve, travel mug or carafe size and with no special sort of coffee other than what I’d add to my normal drip.
I’m not going to lie when I say that I was skeptical that I could brew a Starbucks-quality cup of fancy coffee drink. For all the skillz you see here, mixology ain’t one. Plus, I am not a fan of the extraneous kitchen gadgets. However, as I went to take a sip of my cafe con miel, I did say out loud, to no ears but mine “damn, that’s good.” I used the specialty brew option** to give espresso-strength coffee, and added it to some honey and frothed milk. Topped with cinnamon because that’s how it’s done, and served with the chocolate turrón because that’s how awesome is made.
- 2/3 cup coffee, brewed at double strength
- 1/2 cup milk, preferable 2%
- 2 TB honey
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- To each cup, add 1 TB of honey to the bottom. Add 1/3 cup of hot coffee to each.
- Foam up your milk by pouring it into a jar, but no more than halfway full so there's room to make some foam.
- Screw on the lid. Shake the jar as hard as you can until the milk is froth and has roughly doubled in volume, 30 to 60 seconds. Take the lid off the jar. Microwave uncovered for 30 seconds. The foam will rise to the top of the milk and the heat from the microwave will help stabilize it. Pour the warm milk into your coffee and spoon the milk foam on top.
- Sprinkle each cup with about 1/2 tsp cinnamon.
- Using your coffee bar, brew the 10-ounce size cup with 6 TB coffee using the "specialty brew" setting. Froth the milk using the milk frother rather than using the aforementioned jar method.
- 1 cup (227 gr) semi-sweet baking chocolate
- 1 cup (227 gr) dark chocolate 60% cocoa
- 2 1/2 oz (70 gr) shortening
- 1 tsp instant coffee diluted with 1 TB hot water
- 2.5 cups (80 gr) puffed rice cereal (such as Rice Krispies)
- 1/2 cup (85 gr) slivered almonds
- Place the chocolates in a medium size glass mixing bowl with the diluted instant coffee and place in the microwave for 1 1/2 minutes. Stir. If not melted, return to oven and cook for another 30 seconds. Repeat until chocolate is completely melted. You can also do this over a double boiler.
- Add the shortening to the melted chocolate immediately and stir until melted.
- Stir in the cereal and nuts. Spread chocolate mixture into a loaf pan.
- Cover tightly with plastic wrap and place turrón in refrigerator for at least 6 hours. Remove and run a paring knife around the outside of the mold. Twist container/mold to loosen turrón, then turn out onto plate. Cut into slices about 1/4-inch thick.
I was a bit sad to say goodbye to the coffee maker that I inherited from a beloved roommate ages ago, but I got over it in 0.0567 seconds. Hello, Ninja. I can’t wait to really get to know you.
In going with the coffee + dessert flow, I thought it’d be fun to dive into the archives to see what else I could concoct in the way of global coffee and dessert pairing, as a way of offering many a choice for your post-dinner needs if themes are your thing, because they certainly are mine.
For more globally inspired coffee drinks, check this.
**If you don’t have a specialty coffee maker, just use coffee brewed at double strength.
This post was sponsored by Ninja. All opinions, recipes and ramblings are my own.
Written whilst sandwiched between some chai tea and some pound cake, an ideal situation.