What are Biscotti? Biscotti are oblong, thick, brittle cookies designed to be dipped in coffee, cocoa, or wine. Originally from Italy, “biscotti” translates as “twice baked” because the cookies must be baked long enough to make them dry and crunchy. Although traditionally almond flavored to complement dunks in a glass of red wine, now biscotti have multiplied with exotic flavors and creative additives.
The first biscotti emerged from an Italian countryside full of vineyards. They used abundant almonds to flavor a cookie that was so dry and crunchy, it wasn’t apt to turn stale before they could dip in it wine. Soon, other European countries adapted the twice-baked recipes to their own favorite spices and special ingredients. Recently, the increase in popularity of coffee drinks has spurred the proliferation of many new kinds of biscotti. A dunk in a warm beverage softens the cookie and makes it easier to chew. Tomorrow: an easy Biscotti recipe.
Can you make espresso without an espresso machine? Yes, there are stove-top espresso makers like this available from stores and online at Amazon.com. The name for these stove top espresso makers is “moka” which comes from Italian. The pot is divided into a lower and upper chamber which screws apart at the center. You put water in the lower chamber and then place the piece that holds the ground coffee with the stem down into the water. Finally screw the top chamber in place securely. When the pot is put on the stove and the water reaches the correct temperature, it is forced up through the coffee grounds into the upper chamber. It is best to place the pot on medium heat and on the smallest burner you have. You need to keep an eye on it and remove it from the heat as soon as you hear the last of the water coming into the top chamber. You’ll soon know when this is happening by the sound that the moka pot is making. Consider the size before you buy. You don’t want to buy one that is any bigger than the number of cups you are typically going to make. Use good beans and grind them to a medium grind, not the fine grind you use in an espresso machine. As always, use high quality espresso beans. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to make crema like you do in an espresso machine when using a moka pot, but if you are using good beans, you will still have delicious coffee to enjoy.
Flat White is an espresso-based drink common in New Zealand and Australia. In making a flat-white you are essentially making a latte, but pouring less milk to start, and then placing less of the micro-foam milk on the top, hence the word “flat” in the name. Whereas a latte has about half to one inch of micro-foam on top depending on preference, a flat-white has only about 1/4 inch of micro-foam on top.
When preparing your milk for a flat-white, blend or fold the micro-foam into the rest of the milk either with a spoon or by swirling the pitcher. The milk should be velvety and wet. When making a flat white, after the milk has been steamed, let it rest for about a minute. Just before pouring the milk into the espresso, fold the fluffy micro-foam milk that will be sitting at the top of the pitcher into the milk sitting at the bottom. Yes, “fold”, just like when baking a cake, but not with a spatula; use a teaspoon. Or if you don’t like to use a spoon, swirl the pitcher so that the micro-foam mixes with the milk. You should end up with milk that is rich, velvety, and wet. Pour this into the espresso to the desired level, but bearing in mind that in a true flat-white you do not drown the espresso in milk. At the very end cap the coffee with about 1/4 inch of the micro-foam that you should find has separated from the milk.
Macchiato comes from the Italian word that means “stained”. Quite literally it is a short espresso with a dollop of steamed milk foam added to it, one to two teaspoons max. In America there is some confusion as to what a macchiato is because of Starbucks which sells a long coffee drink with caramel flavor added to it that it calls a macchiato. To distinguish the true macchiato from the one on offer at Starbucks, you will find many coffee shops refer to a true machiatto as an “espresso macchiato”. A true Macchiato should look like the one in this picture. Most often they are made in full-sized cups (12oz) and the amount of milk foam that is heaped on top of them turns them into a cappuccino.
How to Make the Best Cafe Cortadito
Add a tablespoon or two of hot milk to the Cuban café.
Need to make Cuban Coffee? – Click here for easy instructions
How to Make the Best Cafe con Leche
To make café con leche (the Cuban version of café au lait), you add one shot of Cuban café to a small cup of hot (usually steamed) milk.
Need to make Cuban Coffee – check out instructions here
Photo courtesy of: ShoestringWeekends
Cuban Coffee Recipe – Authentic Cafe Cubano
There are two methods to making coffee the Cuban way: the traditional method using a metal stovetop espresso pot, or with an electric espresso machine. While the stovetop method takes longer, it’s certainly the authentic method, you can find a stovetop espresso maker at most online Cuban store websites.
1. Using an espresso machine, add the desired amount of finely ground coffee, common Cuban style brands include Bustelo, Pilon and La LLave (I’m partial to Bustelo supreme). You can also purchase fresh whole coffee beans from supermarkets like Whole Foods, any of the very dark roast Colombian brands will work best for Cuban coffee. I used to grind whole beans there at the store so that it is fine, fresh and ready to be made (espresso grind setting), I eventually bought my own small grinder. Do NOT store your ground coffee in a freezer, but do keep it in a cool place away from sunlight.
2. For every demitasse cup of coffee you plan on making, use a teaspoon of sugar. The key to Cuban coffee is that it be very sweet. The trick here is to put the sugar into the glass carafe before you even brew the coffee.
3. Brew the coffee just as you would an espresso. The coffee will pour over the sugar in the carafe as it begins to brew. After it is finished filling the carafe, stir it briskly as there will still be a little undissolved sugar. Pour the coffee into several demitasse cups and enjoy.
* For Cafe con Leche, simply use 2 parts Cuban Coffee to 1 part steamed milk. For this and more Cuban recipes be sure to visit: http://www.tasteofcuba.com/cafecubano.html