Joe, java, jitter juice, nectar of the gods, lifeblood — whatever you call it, we like our coffee. In the morning, it makes daylight bearable. On the road or on deadline, it keeps things moving. And it’s not just for drinking. Coffee has long been a popular flavor enhancer in both sweet (think tiramisu) and savory dishes. Chuck-wagon cooks on the western frontier were known to add a few slugs of coffee to their roasts, stews, and chilis.
If you’re a fan of the daily jolt, try experimenting with coffee in your own cooking. Avoiding the caffeine buzz? No worries; use a high-quality decaf instead.
Tips for Cooking With Coffee
Try adding a couple of tablespoons of ground espresso or dark-roast coffee to your favorite spice rub recipe for beef or pork.
Brush chocolate cake layers with coffee simple syrup before frosting, to keep them moist and to add flavor. To make coffee simple syrup, combine 1 cup strong brewed coffee with 1 cup sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Let boil 1 minute; remove from heat and cool.
Dissolve 1 teaspoon espresso powder in 1 tablespoon of hot water and stir into your favorite boxed brownie or chocolate cake mix. The coffee will enhance the chocolate. If you’d like a stronger mocha flavor, use 2 teaspoons of espresso powder.
Next time you’re grilling beef or pork ribs, stir 2 tablespoons of strong brewed coffee into your favorite barbecue sauce before mopping your ribs with it.
Always use a good-quality espresso or dark roast coffee for best results.
Coffee-Kicked Pulled Pork
Coffee has a natural affinity for pork. You won’t taste the coffee in this recipe, but the coffee imparts a depth of flavor that really sets this slow-cooked pulled pork recipe apart. Try adding it to your next slow-cooked brisket or pot roast, too.
- 1 (5 pound) pork butt roast
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1-1/2 cups beef stock
- 1/3 cup strong brewed coffee
- 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- favorite barbecue sauce, optional
Spray slow-cooker insert with nonstick pan spray. Place roast in slow cooker. Drop crushed garlic cloves around roast. Combine beef stock, coffee, vinegar, and brown sugar and pour over meat. Season with kosher salt and black pepper.
Cover slow cooker and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours. Roast is ready when meat shreds easily with forks.
Remove meat from cooking liquid and serve with your favorite barbecue sauce, if desired.
Dark Chocolate and Espresso Mousse
Coffee enhances dark chocolate and, in this recipe, transports it to a whole new level of craveability. Use a good-quality Italian espresso powder for the best results. Serve this with amaretti or biscotti for a simple, classy dessert.
Yield: 4 servings
- 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1/2 teaspoon flavorless granulated gelatin
- 6 ounces good-quality dark or semisweet chocolate, chopped
- 1 ounce butter
- 1 teaspoon espresso powder
- 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
Melt chocolate and butter together in the top of a double boiler or in the microwave. Stir till smooth. Set aside to cool to almost room temperature.
Place 2 tablespoons of heavy cream in a small heatproof bowl. Sprinkle with gelatin granules; set aside to bloom for 10 minutes. Heat cream in microwave at 10-second intervals until the gelatin starts to melt. Do not overheat. Stir until gelatin is completely dissolved in the warm milk. Stir in espresso powder. Stir gelatin mixture into chocolate.
Combine remaining cream and confectioners’ sugar and beat on high speed until whipped to soft peaks.
Add a dollop of whipped cream to the cooled chocolate mixture and fold in to lighten. Then fold the chocolate mixture — a large dollop at a time — gently into the whipped cream.
Place in serving bowls, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until ready to eat.
Photos are courtesy of the author.