A few years ago, the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf offered a summer drink called the Banana Caramel Ice Blended. It was essentially a caramel ice blended coffee drink with banana added to it. A few years before that, Starbucks had a Banana Mocha Frappuccino on their menu that was very similar. These drinks only lasted the season, but they had quite a few fans – including some friends of mine who are reminded of them every time they’re in the mood for a frappuccino. Fortunately, with a blender, some bananas and some coffee, I was able to put together an acceptable substitute to hold them over until they reappear on menu boards.
This Banana Mocha Ice Blended starts out like a regular blended mocha drink with a whole banana added to it. The banana alone might not seem like it goes well with coffee, but both coffee and bananas go very well with chocolate, and the three work together beautifully when combined. The drink is creamy, with a nice coffee kick and some extra sweetness from the banana. It’s very refreshing and the banana adds just enough of a nutritional punch that you could justify drinking one of these for breakast as well as an afternoon pick-me-up.
A few years ago, I made my first Cadbury Creme Egg Coffee by dissolving a whole Cadbury Creme Egg into a mug of hot coffee to both create a sweet, mocha-like drink and make good use of leftover Easter candy. The drink has become an Easter tradition for me. This year I decided to mix things up with Chocolate Cadbury Creme Eggs, which I hadn’t had before. These eggs are filled with a rich chocolate mousse-like filling that is sweet, but also has a strong chocolate flavor.
When I dropped the egg into my coffee, it melted smoothly and turned out an even more delicious drink than the classic Creme Egg does. It is rich, creamy and has a great mocha flavor – even though I didn’t add any milk. I will be stocking up on Chocolate Creme Eggs just to keep them on hand to make these after Easter – but you might want to pick some up for an Easter brunch or party because these eggs make serving coffee quite a bit more fun (and, of course, tasty).
If you want to make your sweetheart something that is a little sweet and a little spicy for Valentine’s Day this year, try making a Salt and Pepper Mocha. This drink has a little kick to it – courtesy of Trader Joe’s Organic Stone Ground Salt and Pepper Dark Chocolate. This is a coarsely ground, Mexican-style chocolate that TJ’s has been selling recently and it is perfect for making a grown up mocha or hot chocolate.
The chocolate comes in discs and it is easy to break up into pieces by hand. The chocolate has a very crumbly texture and, while you definitely get a sweet and fruity dark chocolate with your first taste, the salt and pepper flavors are very distinct. This gives the chocolate a savory, spicy quality that is a nice change of pace from other chocolates – and from other mocha drinks. I melted half a disc of the chocolate into a mug of hot coffee, then topped it off with hot, steamed milk to make my mocha. The coffee goes extremely well with the salt and pepper flavors in the chocolate, so the drink only needed a touch of milk to round it out. If you’re not a big dark chocolate fan, or simply prefer your mochas a little bit sweeter, feel free to stir in a bit more sugar than I used.
If you want to try this but don’t have access to the Salt and Pepper Chocolate, don’t worry. Simply substitute the same amount of dark chocolate and add a generous pinch of salt, along with a slightly smaller pinch of pepper, until the chocolate has a little kick to it.
There are all kinds of mocha and dark chocolate drinks out there. They’re delicious – no doubt about it – but sometimes I think that white chocolate is slightly underrepresented. I like white chocolate and there are plenty of coffee drinks that you can make using it, as well, but you might have to look a little bit harder to find inspiration than you do with regular mocha recipes. In this case, I found inspiration in a box of chocolates.
The first time I made this drink, I had a bunch of white chocolate truffles in my kitchen and simply popped them into my coffee. The white chocolate added a really nice sweetness to the drink, and the truffles melted smoothly. It is a must-try if you already have white chocolate truffles around, but a very quick and easy chocolate ganache lets me make this drink over and over again even if I don’t have some in the house already.
You can make this with strong coffee, or you can make it with espresso. I think that espresso is the way to go, since you get a slightly more intense coffee flavor, but more milk that will pick up on the richness of the truffles. If you are going for the coffee option and using whole truffles, you might find that you want to add one extra to sweeten it up a bit.