Looking for a novel recipe to share with friends? K.C. Compton, editor in chief of The Herb Companion, shares a recipe straight out of her own collection. In concert with our recipes for warming winter drinks from the December/January 2012 issue, you won’t have a shortage of yummy drinks to serve when friends drop by on a cold winter’s evening.
K.C.’s Quickie Mexican Mocha
I first tasted Mexican coffee while sitting in front of a fire at a beautiful downtown hotel in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The surroundings were congenial, the company convivial, the fire irresistible and the recipe heavy on tequila and coffee liqueur (which might have added to the conviviality). But the flavor combinations were delicious enough to instantly enter my repertoire of winter drinks. Who ever thought to combine cinnamon, nutmeg and coffee? Bless them forever. Over the years, I’ve made adjustments and the beverage has now morphed into more of a hot chocolate drink than a cocktail, but it still has the capacity to warm the cockles, with flavor to spare. I use fair-trade, organic chocolate that’s at least 70 percent cacao—the darker, the better in my book. Think of it as antioxidant therapy.
• 1/2 bar dark chocolate
• 1/4 cup strong coffee
• 3/4 cup milk
• 3/4 teaspoon vanilla
• Sprinkle of ground nutmeg
• Sprinkle of ground cinnamon
• A little brown sugar, honey or agave syrup, to taste
• 1/2 jigger coffee liqueur, optional
• 1 cinnamon stick
• Whipped cream
1. In a coffee mug, break dark chocolate into bits. Pour coffee over and stir to melt chocolate. (Warm gently in microwave if coffee isn’t hot enough to melt chocolate.)
2. Add milk, vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon; heat in microwave for 1 minute. Check temperature and give it another 30 seconds or so if it’s not hot enough.
3. Stir in sweetener and coffee liqueur with cinnamon stick. Top with whipped cream and sprinkle with a little more ground cinnamon and/or nutmeg.
If you’re feeling especially festive and don’t have to drive anywhere, add a dash of tequila for the true Mexican coffee experience. (Some recipes call for brandy instead of tequila. Either way, gracias a la vida!) Stay warm!
K.C. Compton has battled winters in three Rocky Mountain states, and now faces the cold Kansas winds at The Herb Companion headquarters. Dark chocolate helps, she says.