A few years ago, banana drinks hit the menu boards in many coffee shops, including Coffee Bean and Starbucks. At the time, I thought that putting banana into a coffee drink was a strange concept. Starbucks primarily limited the fruit to blended, milkshake like drinks and the banana suited them. Coffee Bean, for instance, used a banana puree syrup to add to hot coffee drinks, along with caramel and chocolate. The combination may have seemed strange, but it tasted great. The banana flavor really suited the coffee in a way I didn’t expect it to, and the drinks were a hit with me.
I didn’t try to make this combination at home until recently. Banana puree, again, isn’t the first thing that you think about adding to your coffee! But when the banana was pureed to be very smooth (not just mashed lightly with a fork) it brought a lot of sweetness and a richer flavor to my mocha. It also reminded me of the chocolate banana milkshakes my dad used to make for me during the summertime – although this hot version has a nice caffeine kick and can be enjoyed even in cold weather. It’s kind of a fun drink and one that I’ll be making again. Be sure to get that banana pureed as smoothly as possible for the best consistency in the finished drink!
Salted caramel is exactly what it sounds like: caramel that has had additional salt added to it. This is done to cut the sweetness of the caramel, which is primarily made of sugar, and to make it even more addictive by introducing a savory note that makes your mouth water with each bite. Salted caramel shows up in all kinds of places, but most recently has been appearing in coffee shops as an addition to drinks.
You can come by salted caramel sauce in two ways: make it or buy it. Store-bought salted caramel sauces, such as Trader Joe’s Fleur de Sel Caramel Sauce are not that common, but they are becoming more widely available. Stir some into any cup of coffee for an instant salted caramel fix. The other option is to make your own caramel sauce (or buy plain) and add a big pinch of coarse salt to it. I recommend coarse salt, such as kosher salt or sea salt, because it stands out against the carame and doesn’t dissolve into the drink immediately, giving you salted caramel in coffee – not just salty coffee.
This Salted Caramel Mocha is a regular mocha – made with espresso, cocoa powder, sugar and milk – with some caramel swirled into it. I drizzled some more on top and that is where I put in my big pinch of coarse salt. Adjust the sweetness to taste when you try this at home.
When it’s cold outside, a hot cup of coffee or tea can go a long way in warming you up. And while they might be fine on just your average winder morning, but around the holidays, it’s nice to make things a little more interesting with some dressed up drinks.
A Dark Chocolate Peppermint Mocha is my top pick of this holiday season. It has a caffeine kick, rich chocolate flavor and just enough peppermint to make it refreshing, to boot. Garnish yours with a sprinkle of chopped up peppermint candies, or simply use a candy cane as a stick stick. I stock up after Christmas when they’re on sale so I have them all season
If you’re a white chocolate fan, a White Chocolate Mocha Bianca is the way to go. This drink is creamy and smooth, made with white chocolate and coffee. The white chocolate is sweet enough that you don’t need to add sugar, so the drink seems even easier to make than hot chocolate.
Speaking of hot chocolate, Drinking Chocolate is a must-try for chocolate drink fans. This variation on hot chocolate includes dark chocolate, milk chocolate and cocoa powder all in one drink. It is thick and rich tasting, a chocolate drink that can stand on its own as dessert. You can add a shot of espresso, too, if you want something with a little coffee in it, as well.
A tea latte, like the Vanilla Rooibus Tea Latte or Earl Grey Tea Latte is a great non-coffee option. These drinks are made with strong tea and steamed milk, and are lightly sweetened. I like adding a little vanilla into them to give them a rounder flavor. You can use just about any type of tea you like, too.
My last pick isn’t a coffee drink at all, it’s a Caramel Apple Cider. This drink starts with steamed, spiced cider and it is laced with caramel sauce and topped with a dollop of whipped cream. It might sound like a strange combination – especially with the whipped cream on top of the apple cider – but it really works. The drink is sweet, festive and very warming, both because of the spices and the temperature of the drink. And if you want to make it even more warming, or more adult, I think you might be able to get away with a splash of brandy in one, too.
Dark chocolate and peppermint is a great combination. Peppermint flavored candies, for instance, tend to have a really sharp sweetness to them that is tempered perfectly by the strong, but not too sweet, flavor of dark chocolate. A York peppermint patty, for instance, is a great illustration of how well this combination works and – for mint fans – it works in many different forms, such as coffee drinks.
This mocha is made with dark chocolate and cocoa powder, and is spiked with a bit of peppermint. I used a small amount of peppermint extract. Peppermint extract can be very strong, so add just a few drops at a time if you’re worried that the overall flavor will be too strong. The finished drink has a kick of caffeine and a kick of peppermint, and ends up being both refreshing and indulgent. Feel free to replace the coffee with milk if you want to make this for the kids on a holiday morning!