I’m a coffee snob. And a caffeine addict. I get headaches on days that I don’t have coffee before noon. And I’m immensely picky about my coffee, I blame Melbourne for that. When we first moved to Canberra what seems like an age ago, the joke around the grad group was that everyone knew the Melbourne grads because they complained about the coffee to anyone who would listen. Dammit, I hate when I’m a stereotype and I can’t argue with the stereotype.
When I first moved to Melbourne, over ten years ago now, I didn’t drink coffee. That all changed very quickly with the city’s bustling, hipster, just-so-damned good coffee scene. But coffee was an expensive habit and it wasn’t long before I looked to make my own. No Nespresso for me, I lived in Melbourne goddammit and I wanted a real coffee machine. My student budget meant that I started with a factory seconds unit. A year later I sold that and bought a secondhand Rancilio Silvia and Rocky – the mark of a serious coffee addiction. I figured that I’d really be saving money in the long term, which was definitely true. I bought beans from my local freshly roasted on Carlisle St. Even with my shiny new machine, I couldn’t get any crema happening and my attempts at frothing milk were a total disaster.
Lucky for me, a roastery tucked into one of the side alleys around North Melbourne, near my uni was offering to teach people how to use their machines for free. I can’t tell you how appealing that was when I had already invested hundreds in equipment and didn’t want to spend more on a barista course. I learned a lot that day – but mostly that all good coffee should have a roast date on it, because there is no substitute for freshness. Too freshly roasted isn’t necessarily better either, coffee settles around 7-10 days after roasting. Eight years on, one machine upgrade and two moves later, I’m still fiercely loyal to my favourite coffee roasters, Di Bella Coffee. I am very pro supporting local, but in Canberra, I never found better beans at a similar price point. I personally don’t think you can get better coffee for under $40 a kilo. My picks are Modena or if you’re feeling fancy Arnika Reserve, a blend named after the founder’s daughter.
I blame getting older, but coffee in the evenings keep me up all night these days. But old habits die hard, and I miss those after dinner coffees. I’ve been on the lookout for something with enough of a coffee flavour kick but not quite enough caffeine to keep me awake. This make ahead dessert is decadent enough on it’s own, but top it with salted butter caramel and praline and you’ve got a show stopper.
It’s a pretty straightforward recipe as long as you make sure to not overwhip the components. You can overwhip egg whites, and the same goes for cream so be careful there. You can’t overwhip egg yolks. Trust me, I’ve tried.
*This is a sponsored post. I’ve used Di Bella for over eight years, well before they approached me to write this post.
- 60ml espresso
- 1 tbsp Kahlua and/or Amaretto
- 1 tbsp cocoa powder
- 4 eggs, separated
- 100g sugar
- 300ml whipping or thickened cream
- 50g dark chocolate, cut into small pieces
- 125g sugar
- 150ml cream
- 50g butter
- good pinch of salt
- 100g sugar
- 1 tbsp coffee beans, roughly crushed
- Oil and line a 1-litre loaf tin with cling film. Put the espresso, Kahlua and/or Amaretto, cocoa, egg yolks and half the sugar in one bowl. Put the egg whites in a large bowl and pour the cream in another.
- Beat the egg whites until foamy with an electric whisk, then add the remaining sugar and beat until stiff peaks. Beat the egg yolk mixture until thick and leaving a trail. Now beat the cream until it holds its shape. If you beat everything in this order, you don’t need to wash the whisks in between.
- Fold the cream into the espresso mixture, then carefully fold in the whites. Fold through the dark chocolate pieces and tip into the loaf tin. Lightly cover the surface with cling film. When frozen, overwrap in foil and freeze. Will keep for up to 6 weeks.
- To serve, unwrap and turn onto a platter. Strip off the cling film and top with the cooled salted butter caramel.
- Place the sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat and cook until light golden brown. Immediately take off the heat, add the cream all at once (be careful it will bubble up!). Stir, then add the butter and salt. Allow to cool and add more salt if needed.
- Line a baking tray with parchment paper and set aside.
- Heat the sugar until just lightly golden, then add the crushed coffee beans and mix through. Immediately pour onto a baking tray. Lift the corners of the baking tray to spread the praline evenly. Allow to set, then break into large shards.