Just a quick post today. I've had this one in the works for some time but I just never quite got around to posting it with full photos. One of my favorite desserts and one which I first came across at Chez Panisse Cafe in Berkeley CA, the flavors and textures balance perfectly between tangy, sweet, creamy, toothsome, bitter, and soft. I just had to post my own version here. I added the candied fruit paired against the bittersweet chocolate, added as a side instead of shaved over the top, for the sake of palate pacing and I think its all for the better:
Small (1 oz) Scoop vanilla ice cream or gelato
1 oz chopped dark chocolate
Candied Kumquats or Tart Seasonal Fruit
SPECIAL TOOLS: Italian Espresso Press or Countertop Espresso Machine
Yield - This recipe for ONE serving
This is one of those super simple yet elegant recipes that can really wow at a dinner party or fine dinner date for two. If you like coffee this is for you but even if you or your guests shy away from the black stuff, you can make these a la Cafe au Lait with drip coffee in place of the stronger espresso. Well get back to that in a minute though...
Start with the ice cream:
To keep the ice cream from dissolving at near light speed when you pour on the steaming hot coffee, chill it and it's glass (plastic wrapped) in the freezer for about 25 minutes. If you are making dinner, just toss the prepared glasses in the freezer when you start and take them out just as you serve dessert. The frosty glasses also add some visual flavor.
Next for the Chocolate bits:
The tradition with this dessert is often the pinnacle of simplicity, omitting everything but the coffee and ice cream. When chocolate is used, its usually just shaved on top but I like chocolate with coffee so I use chopped pieces.
When it comes to picking what chocolate to use, think like you would when selecting a fine wine. What are you having for dinner, if at all? What kind of fruit is in season that will be on the plate, if any? The most important factor though is the coffee, with dark 54% pairing much better with an espresso and a milder 30 - 40% pairing better with milder drip coffee. All that aside, just like wine, don't buy anything you wouldn't just eat on a regular day!
Just before brewing your coffee, prepare your dessert plates with whatever combo of fruit and chocolate you like and set aside. Plating is still one of my favorite things because you get to be as artful or crazy as you like with color, height, texture... lots of fun!
Now for the glorious coffee! ...I like coffee...
I personally prefer the quality of coffee from an Italian stove top espresso press. That not withstanding, the simplicity of cleaning/assembly, the small footprint and finally the price (about $30 vs over $100 for an automatic) is enough for most folks out there including myself!
The only thing to worry about with this little gizmo is too much heat applied too quickly. Fill the base up to the fill line and fill the coffee cup, tamping just a tiny bit to even it out only. Screw the top on and put it on the smallest burner you've got to brew. For both gas and electric, I would even suggest placing the brewer half way over the burner on medium to medium high heat.
When the coffee bubbling through the stand spout starts to get a frothy light foam (the crema for those in the know... I looked it up as I was not one,) remove from heat and get ready to pour! Pull out your ice cream, plate the glasses and serve. Pour the hot espresso over the chilled ice cream table side for a little bit of fancy!
So simple and elegant, I know I've used this recipe many times and I get great reviews every time! With as many varieties of coffees, chocolates, fruit, ice creams... so many combinations open up in this one. Even try flavored coffees if you like them! Try it, you'll like it!