I was browsing around the net researching something when I came across this interesting tip on Chow.com for an intriguing way to jazz up your favorite cuppa java:
Not a cocktail, but if you like creamer:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup milk
1/3 cup maple syrup
Heat in a saucepan stirring constantly until it starts to steam. Add 1 vanilla bean and the innards from it (scraped), or 2 tsp extract. Let it cool, then pour it through a fine mesh sieve.
You now have creamer that will knock your freakin’ socks off. 🙂
So of course I had to try it ;). I made a batch and split it into three equal parts to tweak & experiment with.
I was determined to make my own deliciously homemade, gourmet-style dairy sweeteners like those you can buy in the stores.
I didn’t have a vanilla pod in the pantry so I just used extract. The other two I tried were Pumpkin Pie Spice and Almond…and they were delicious! You’ll find my test recipes and results below.
1 cup whipping cream
1 cup milk (I only had 2% and it was fine)
1/3 cup maple syrup
Heat as instructed and stir constantly so the milk doesn’t scorch. Once the mixture is steaming hot, pour evenly into three glass mason jars (250 ml were just right, had a decent amount of head space to shake) and then add flavorings.
- Vanilla: 1/2 tablespoon extract (I wanted it to be strong so I used more per mixture than the advice given above)
- Pumpkin Pie: 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- Almond: 1/2 tablespoon almond extract
Stir well then fit lids on loosely. Once things are cool enough that you are able to hold the jars, tighten the lids and shake well. Let them sit at room temperature and shake occasionally. When the liquid is no longer warm, refrigerate.
I left these in the fridge overnight before trying them in my morning coffee, I don’t know if it matters but I thought I’d give the ingredients some time to infuse and work their magic. Shake well before each use.
- The pumpkin pie version made a nice fragrant cup but the spices did settle in the bottom of the mug while I was drinking it, this didn’t bother me but you can strain first if you prefer (wait until cooled before straining).
- Since I was just using extracts and didn’t want a big batch of one single type until I figured out what I liked, I decided to incorporate the flavorings after the milk had steamed. You do want the dairy to be hot so everything infuses more fully.
- Adjust the amount of flavorings to your preference (stronger or weaker) and try mixing and matching (ie. vanilla and almond together).
- This should keep in the refrigerator just fine for at least a week or so.
An Alternate Twist Of Homemade Goodness
While I was experimenting with batches of this delightful treat, I decided now was a good time to try a different take on things with an easy recipe I bookmarked quite awhile ago (found at SlashFood, no longer available online). The idea is to make a simple syrup with sugar and water and then mix in the flavorings. Pour a bit of this elixir into the mug, next half & half and then top with freshly brewed hot java.
2 cups sugar (white or brown, I tried both)
2 cups water
Bring to a boil and keep at a slow boil for about 10 minutes or so, stirring often (I wanted the consistency to be a little thicker and less runny). Remove from heat, pour evenly into three 250 ml mason jars and then add ingredients. I tried:
- Cinnamon: 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Chocolate Mint: 1 tablespoon cocoa, 1 tablespoon peppermint extract
- Orange Chocolate: 1 tablespoon cocoa, 1 tablespoon orange extract
- Vanilla: 1 tablespoon extract
Stir well and top jars loosely with lids. Once the glass has cooled enough to handle, tighten lids and shake. Leave at room temperature and continue shaking jars off and on. When they’re at room temperature, refrigerate.
Directions: Pour a little syrup into the mug, add regular cream (if desired) and then top off with freshly brewed java. Stir well and enjoy!
- Yowza! The flavors were really concentrated in this version, I first tried 1 tablespoon of the finished product for a large mug (holds 16 oz) and was it ever strong! Too much for my tastes so 1/2 tablespoon per 2 cup mug was my next attempt and it was great.
- I usually don’t add sugar to my hot beverages so if a small amount of this concoction isn’t sweet enough for you, cut back on the amount of extract when making it (then increase amount of syrup stirred into coffee) or try a bit extra sugar in the mug.
- For the cocoa recipes, the chocolate taste wasn’t as pronounced as I’d like…next time I’m going to try using the same amount of cocoa but only half the amount of extract to see if that helps.
- Glass canning jars are a good choice since this concoction is HOT, you want something that can withstand the heat and not shatter.
- This will seriously burn you if you spill it on yourself when pouring, please be careful when you’re making a batch.
- When using powdered cocoa or ground spices, you’ll want to shake A LOT while this is still hot/warm so it will fully dissolve. I found it pretty clumpy until after the third or fourth time and then it was fine.
- Shelf Life: These should keep nicely in the fridge for a few weeks.
Choosing Between The Two
The syrups were really pronounced in flavor with a little going a long way, and they have a longer shelf life so they’re my pick. Super cheap and easy to make too!
Beans & Grounds
It’s easy to infuse aromas and flavors into whole coffee beans or grounds. You can do a whole can or bag at a time or in smaller batches of 2 or 3 pots worth instead. This method is less messy and the result is lighter and more subtle though the longer it’s stored, the stronger it will be.
- A vanilla pod or two to canister of coffee and seal for a few days before using.
- Lightly sprinkle a few drops of your favorite extracts or combinations of them over the coffee, stir well, add a few more drops, stir and then seal and refrigerate (use glass containers for this rather than plastic).
- A cinnamon stick or two to canister (you can also sprinkle a little cinnamon over coffee before brewing).
- Dried citrus peels (such as oranges) to a container of beans or grounds will give a light scent and orange taste to them.