The Caramel Brûlée Latte is a popular seasonal drink that Starbucks brings our around the holidays. The brûlée flavor is that of the dark, caramelized sugar that is on top of a creme brûlée and the drink is garnished with a few caramel shards. I am a big fan of the drink because I like that dark caramel flavor, which has a toaty, bitter note that takes away from the sweetness of the usual caramel sauce. And that means that the drink isn’t too sweet, even if I get a big one.
This homemade version is a little more playful because I actually added a layer of caramelized sugar to the top of the drink using a kitchen torch! The torch is a small, handheld blowtorch that is used in kitchens to easily finish off creme brûlée and is available in most well-stocked kitchen stores. I simply topped my drink with a thick, dense foam and plenty of sugar, then caramelized it with the torch. Be generous with the sugar to ensure you get a good crust.
If you don’t have a kitchen torch (and I recommend it, since they are a lot of fun), you can caramelized the sugar in a small sauce pan and let it set on a piece of parchment or a Silat, then break it into shards to finish your drink off.
The Pumpkin Spice Latte is a fall favorite that people wait all year for. It’s a warm, spicy serving of autumn in a mug. A lot of people mistakenly think that there is pumpkin in the drink, but the drink is actually named after a very common spice mix – pumpkin pie spice – which is used to flavor all kinds of pumpkin desserts, from pumpkin bread to pumpkin pie. The Starbucks drink is made with a flavorful syrup that features cinnamon, cloves and other spices that are found in this spice mix.
I whipped up a batch of Pumpkin Spice Simple Syrup to use as flavoring for my homemade version of the Pumpkin Spice Latte. My syrup is made with water, sugar and spices – that’s it. It has a warm, spicy flavor and definitely captures the essence of “pumpkin pie spice” in a sweet, concentrated form. It both sweetens your drink and adds that signature pumpkin spice flavor. Once you make the syrup, it will keep in your fridge for at least a week, which should save you several trips to the coffee shop - or simply entice you to drink twice as many PSLs, since they’re so much more accessible when you can make them in your own kitchen.
You can make your homemade version of the drink with espresso or with coffee, depending on what kind of coffee maker you have at home, and I’ve given directions for both options below.
The Starbucks Caramel Macchiato is a drink made with espresso, milk, vanilla and caramel – all flavors that I am a big fan of. The drink comes layered, so you have to give it a little bit of a stir to combine all the elements. Starbucks also makes a refrigerated version of this drink in their Starbucks Discoveries line – and I was surprised to find that it tasted a lot like the in-store version of the drink when I tasted it! This bottled drink also made me wonder what else I could do with it – and before long I was experimenting with recipes.
This Caramel Macchiato Panna Cotta is made using Starbucks Disoveries Caramel Macchiato as its base. The creamy drink mix lends its espresso, vanilla and caramel notes to this classic dessert. A panna cotta is a classic dessert that has a custard-like texture but is held together using a small amount of gelatin. They’re known for being light and silky – and they’re a lot easier to make than four star restaurants would have you believe. This is especially true if you’re already starting with a flavorful base, as I did here.
The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf has a couple of new drinks out this summer, including a Birthday Cake Ice Blended in honor of their 50th anniversary and a Rocky Road Ice Blended. Since rocky road is one of my favorite ice cream flavors, I knew that I had to give that one a try as soon as I heard about it. The in-store version of the drink was on-target. It tasted like rocky road ice cream and even had a note of walnut in it, although the drink itself didn’t have pieces of walnut or marshmallow like the ice cream does. It also had a nice coffee note that made it taste like an ice blended and not melted ice cream.
I was tempted to put ice cream into this Homemade Rocky Road Ice Blended, but wanted to make sure it stayed an ice blended drink and didn’t turn into a milkshake. It’s actually simple to make: a mocha ice blended with walnuts added to it. The walnuts add a nice nuttiness and blend up very finely in the drink, so you don’t get chunks of nut. It’s a little more refreshing than a milkshake (thanks to the coffee!) but it captures the essence of the ice cream flavor. I garnished mine with a marshmallow, but whipped cream would do the trick, too. Continue reading »