Many contemporary chocolate dessert recipes recommend adding a bit of coffee to the recipe claiming it enhances the flavor of the cocoa or chocolate. It is true. But which kind to add was the dilemma I faced a couple months ago. I had run out of the usual Italian espresso powder that I normally kept on hand, and not having time to run up to Claro’s Italian store (about a 30 minute drive from me), I shopped around my local markets and ended up with a freeze dried instant…not a great product.
In hindsight, what I should have done was brew a cup of espresso and add the actual coffee to my recipe. The liquid would have blended in just fine. And while my brownies came out beautifully and received raves from those consuming them; I was a little more critical and was put off a bit by the coffee flavor coming through. The coffee flavor stood out too much for my taste…it’s supposed to “enhance” the chocolate, not overpower it. So, I learned something. It DOES matter which coffee product I use in my chocolate recipes. It matters to me.
Since then, I have purchased King Arthur’s Espresso Powder and used it to make my decadent, dense, dark chocolate brownies for my writing buddy, Hilary’s, big birthday luncheon…the brownies were incredible (if I say so myself). But Hilary did say so. She has tested and made my brownie recipe dozens of times and she told me these were seriously the best ever. I used really good butter in the recipe and really good chocolate and really good espresso powder…so they came out …guess …. REALLY Good! 🙂
Note this label making the point that a touch of espresso powder enhances chocolate’s flavor withOUT any coffee flavor of its own. That was the problem with my substitute…it actually eeked out coffee flavor.
The aroma of King Arthur’s espresso powder was subtle and rich…the instant coffee granules was harsh and bitter – (three of us actually did a blind “smell” test and we were a bit stunned by the difference in the quality of the aroma)…it merely reinforced that ingredients do matter…but sometimes when in a pinch, you just do the best you can. I have now trashed the instant coffee….never to be used again in my brownie recipe..
My petite brownies were consumed with fervor and a few taken to go for the ride home.