Espresso Yourself

Coffee is not just an essential of everyday life but, explains Rachel Allen, its rich flavour makes it ideal for cooking the perfect pick-me-up.
 
Coffee's transformative power is well known in our house. My husband, Isaac, becomes a new man after he's had his morning cup or two. I drink coffee, too, but not every morning. Often, just that gorgeous, unmistakably roasted aroma is enough to get me going.
 
Yet coffee's caffeine content is not the only reason why it is the world's most consumed drink. That unforgettable flavour is as addictive as any morning boost, and is an essential part of some of my favourite desserts.
 
When cooking with coffee, I use different kinds, depending on the recipe. The tiramisu recipe, opposite, uses strong black coffee; espresso works particularly well. Real coffee is ideal for this recipe -- not only for the rich coffee flavour, but so that it is soaked up, along with the brandy, by the sweet boudoir biscuits for that perfect tiramisu texture.
 
Tiramisu means 'pick me up'. It's said to be called this for two reasons: either because it has all that alcohol and caffeine, or because tiramisu is so good that people, on eating it, are said to swoon and need picking up! Uncompromisingly indulgent with mascarpone cheese and cream, this tiramisu can be made up to 24 hours in advance, making it a perfect choice for entertaining.
 
The coffee and mascarpone cake recipe uses Irel coffee essence; a strange substance that mysteriously also contains chicory.
 
The story goes that it was originally developed to be used as an instant coffee for the army. Now it's mostly used in baking, where it's often better to use than brewed coffee as it adds so little liquid to the mixture.
 
Coffee cake is a real classic and this recipe opposite is a versatile, elegant one that I think most people should have in their repertoire. It can be made as a dessert and, of course, is lovely eaten with a cup of coffee.
 
The hazelnut-and-coffee meringue recipe makes use of instant coffee, which is especially useful here as the meringue shouldn't have any liquid added.
 
These meringues are perfect on their own with tea, or, if you like, you could serve them with whipped cream, or even dip them in melted chocolate and allow them to set before serving.
 

Related Coffee Recipes

 
Rachel Recommends
 
Pat Whelan is one of our finest butchers, and he's absolutely right that it's about time we had a cookbook dedicated to one of our country's finest foods. Thankfully, he and Katy McGuinness have written the wonderfully extensive The Irish Beef Book. It is full of delicious recipes and innovative ideas about cooking with beef that draw on Pat's decades of butchery experience.
 
'The Irish Beef Book' is published by Gill & Macmillan, RRP €22.99
 
Rachel's Tip
 
Don't throw away egg whites. When you're separating yolks from whites, keep the whites for meringues. The whites will keep in the fridge for weeks -- they'll also keep in the freezer. If you forget how many whites you have in a container, don't worry: one egg white weighs roughly 28 grams or one ounce.
 
 

Rachel Allen Jan 19, 2014 News