Coffee. We wake up with it, sip it all day, and drink it after dinner. But coffee is more than a beverage. For years, professionl chefs have used coffee to boost the flavor of meats, sauces, and desserts. While I'm not a professional chef, I'm a competent cook and have fixed buffet dinners for 70 and romantic dinners for two.
In fact, I was a food writer before I became a health writer. Like many other writers, I love coffee. I love coffee so much I decided to add it to some classic dessert recipes. Results? Coffee improved the flavor of all of them.
The coffee in Molten Mocha Cake gives this gooey dessert an added depth of flavor. Coffee Ice Cream sauce is a celebration of coffee flavor. Cinnamon and nutmeg give Pioneer Cookies lots of flavor, but coffee brings our the flavor of the spices. Fudgy Pudding, a rich, dark, and creamy dessert, is comfort food at its best.
Read the recipe before you start cooking. Notice that I've swapped healthy ingredients for less healthy ones when possible. Splenda for sugar. Applesauce for shortening. Skim milk for whole. Whipped topping for cream. Don't worry, these desserts are still delicious and satisfying.
Buy the best coffee - ground, instant, or instant espresso - you can afford. Use fresh coffee only, not sludge that's been sitting around since the birds got up. Drip coffee should be made with one tablespoon of coffee for every two cups of water. Get out the mixing bowls, the measuring stuff, the necessary ingredients, and start cooking. Then sit back and enjoy a coffee dessert with a cup of “Joe. "
MOLTEN MOCHA CAKE
1 cup regular flour, 1/3 cup granulated sugar, 1/3 cup Splenda, 2 tablespoons cocoa, 1 teaspoon instant coffee, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/8 teaspoon salt, 1/2 cup water, 2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup cocoa, 1 teaspoon instant coffee, 2/3 cup light brown sugar, 1 3/4 cups hot coffee
Combine cake ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Pour into a one and a half quart casserole dish that has been coated with cooking spray.
Combine topping ingredients in the same bowl. Gently pour this mixture over the cake batter. Bake in a 350 oven for 45 minutes. Cook cake 10 minutes before serving. Serve plain or garnish with whipped topping or sugar-free frozen vanilla yogurt. Yield: 6 servings.
COFFEE ICE CREAM SAUCE
1/4 cup granulated sugar, 2 teaspoons cornstarch, 1/4 cup strong coffee (room temperature), 1/4 cup skim milk, 1/4 cup fat free half and half, dash of salt, 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Combine sugar and cornstarch in a small saucepan. Using a whisk, add coffee, milk, half and half, salt (but not vanilla) to the cornstarch mixture. Cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until the sauce is smooth and thickened. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Let sauce cool. Serve over sugar-free vanilla or chocolate frozen yogurt. Yield: 6 servings.
PIONEER COOKIES (A SOFT, CAKE-LIKE COOKIE)
1/2 cup butter-flavored Crisco, 1/2 cup brown sugar (light or dark), 1/2 cup calorie-free brown sugar, 1 large egg (room temperature), 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour (pre-sifted kind), 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/4 cup strong coffee (cold), 1/2 cup dried currants or cranberries, 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Cream Crisco, brown sugar, and egg until fluffy. Combine dried ingredients (excluding fruit and nuts) in a large bowl. Add to creamed mixture in small batches, alternating with the coffee. Fold in fruit and nuts. Drop dough by heaping teaspoons onto prepared cookie pans. Bake at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes, or until cookies are puffed and golden. Yield: 4 dozen.
1/4 cup cornstarch, 1/3 cup Splenda, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons instant coffee, 2 cups skim milk, whipped topping (sugar-free)
Combine cornstarch, Splenda, salt and instant coffee in a small saucepan. Slowly add milk to this mixture. Cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until pudding is smooth and thick. Remove from heat and cover with plastic wrap. Chill pudding until set. Serve with whipped topping and a few sprinkles of instant coffee. Yield: 4 servings.
Copyright 2005 by Harret Hodgson. For more information on her work please go to www.harriethodgson.com .
Harriet Hodgson has been a nonfiction writer for 27 years and is a member of the Association of Health Care Journslists. She was a food writer for the former “Rochester Magazine" in her hometown of Rochester, MN. Her latest book, “Smiling Through Your Tears: Anticipating Grief, " written with Dr. Lois Krahn, is available from http://www.amazon.com