The term “Mexican chocolate” can refer to many different types of chocolate they all have one thing in common: they’re spicy. Mexican chocolate, in just about every form, is flavored with a variety of spices, and you’ll find flavors that include cinnamon and a variety of ground, dried chilies to add some heat to the mix. I’ve had it in brownies and desserts, but Mexican chocolate makes a fabulous hot chocolate and you can find it on the menus at many higher end coffee shops. It’s also easy to use Mexican chocolate to spice up your drinks at home. You can buy bars of the chocolate at many regular grocery stores these days and grind them up to stir into hot chocolate. I like to make my own mix and use it for drinks like this sweet-spicy Mexican Chocolate Cappuccino.
The mix I make includes cocoa powder, shaved dark chocolate (for extra richness), sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and a generous pinch of ground chipotle or pasila chilies. Cayenne pepper can work well, too, but should be used more sparingly as it doesn’t seem to blend quite as well with the chocolate. I’ll make a big batch and keep it in a ziploc bag for when I’m in the mood for some kicked up hot chocolate, but you can mix it up a drink at a time.
For the cappuccino, I combine the mexican chocolate mix with coffee and whisk it very well, then top it with steamed milk. Sprinkle some on top for garnish at your own risk, as those chilies can offer some real heat when they touch the tip of your tongue!
Continue reading »
Spicy gingerbread lattes are a coffee shop favorite around the holidays. Most are made with a gingerbread-flavored syrup, but I find that you don’t get quite as good results as you do at the coffee shop even when you use the same brand of syrup at home. I prefer to make my Homemade Gingerbread Lattes using ingredients that are actually found in real gingerbread instead of some artificially flavored syrup. The results are more gingerbread-y and much tastier.
This gingerbread latte starts, of course, with strongly brewed coffee. You can use espresso if you have an espresso machine. I lightly sweeten the coffee and stir in molasses, along with a pinch of cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg. Go easy on the spices, as in a small cup of coffee they will add a lot of aroma and flavor. Top off the coffee with hot or steamed milk, as well as some whipped cream, and you’re ready to serve. The drink can be sweetened to taste or with more molasses, for a stronger flavor, but it is definitely a holiday in a mug.
I visited the Smuckers headquarters in Ohio just over a week ago, and while I was there I got to spend a little bit of time in the test kitchen. Smuckers owns Folgers, which is one of the largest coffee brands in the world. I don’t typically use Folgers coffee, but it was fun to taste all the different varieties of it and use it in some of their coffee recipes. One relatively new product that they were particularly excited about were the Folgers Single Serve Packets, which put instant coffee in a handy travel pack. This was a simple mocha, which I made using Folgers travel packs and dark chocolate syrup.
I like instant coffee for making flavored coffee drinks at home because it’s very low maintenance and easy to customize. It is also easy to make just one or two servings in less than two minutes with basically no cleanup. In this case, I made a very short cup of instant coffee (quite strong, with much less water than recommended) then sweetened it up with dark chocolate syrup, milk and whipped cream. It may not sound as elegant as a mocha latte, but it definitely tasted delicious.
Continue reading »
A little spice can brighten up an otherwise ordinary cup of coffee – and add a little extra seasonal flavor. Pumpkin spice is a combination of cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg that is typically used to season pumpkin pie and other pumpkin desserts (hence the name), but shows up many other kinds of fall dishes. I’ve even used it in chili before! But like many flavors that work well in desserts, pumpkin spice also works well in coffee. You can add a splash of spice to the top of a latte, but to really get some fall flavor, I like to add this combination of spices to my coffee while it is brewing.
The amount of spice should be added to taste. You can sprinkle the spices over the grounds before turning on your coffee pot or you can blend them with your coffee beans in the coffee grinder, if you’re working with whole spices. I use about 1/2 a teaspoon of ground spices when I’m working with already ground coffee, and slightly more when I’m grinding them fresh. Either way, you’ll get a pot of coffee that has a wonderful aroma and a distinctly fall flavor. It is especially good when you’re making coffee for a crowd and want a little something different. I topped my cup with pumpkin spice marshmallows for even more spice – and a very cute look.