Sticky Coconut Macaroons & Irish Coffee
I wrote this post nearly a month ago. It was conceived during that awful cold snap at the end of March. Did anyone else feel completely robbed of spring? I’m not sure why I was so surprised by the cruel dip in weather. There is no such thing as spring in the northeast. I learned that when I spent a ‘spring semester’ in Portland, Maine where it doesn’t break 50 until mid-May. Prior to that, it rains. And sleats. The snow turns to slush and then to mud. By mid-April I had given up on washing washing my car and resolved that the only time worth spending north of New York City is May-October. That way you can see everything sprout, turn pretty colors and then high-tail it before everything dies.
Back to March. The morning after a particularly nasty Monday evening, (which could only be described like this) the only thing I wanted to do was curl up with a hot drink. I roast my own coffee 2-3 times a week and had some fresh beans in the fridge. However, the idea of being caffeinated and cooped up in the house was unappealing. I decided to call over a friend of mine, a chef who pens a great column for Eat Me Daily called ‘The Natural History of the Kitchen.‘ She recommended a cocktail. It sounded appealing but I had an appointment later that afternoon. So we compromised. (And what better way to spend a rainy afternoon than with a friend over boozy coffee and sugar?)
Yield: 2 8-oz. drinks
3 ounces Jameson or any other Irish whisky
12 oz. fresh brewed coffee
6 tb. heavy cream or half and half, divided
1 tb. superfine sugar or to taste
Fresh grated cinnamon
1. Brew yr coffee (notes on home roasting below) and set aside.
2. Combine coffee and whiskey in a larger mug. Stir, then divide between two smaller mugs.
3. In a very small saucepan (a turkish coffee pot works well) gently warm half of the cream. Using a frother or small whisk (or even a little mason jar with a tight-fitting lid), whip the cream to give it some lift. Set aside. Gently heat remaining cream. Add the warm milk to each drink, topping it off with the whipped cream and a dusting of fresh grated cinnamon.
Roasting coffee at home is incredibly rewarding as well as delicious. The Brooklyn Kitchen sells green beans from Brooklyn-based roaster Gorilla Coffee. A pound will run you about 9.99- almost half the price of the pre-roasted stuff.
You don’t need anything fancy to get a decent roast. The important thing is to keep the beans fairly hot and to keep them moving so they don’t burn. A cast iron skillet works great but only if you got the forearms to shake the pan for a good seven minutes. I personally like to use an old air popper for popcorn. The biggest advantage to using this popper is the nifty air chute that spits out the corn. When roasting coffee, your beans will inevitably shed a papery skin towards the end of the process (not unlike hazlenuts). The beans, being the denser of the two, will continue to whirl inside the chamber where the chaff will eventually separate and fly out the chute. This gives the popper a new convenience factor of 10.
Excellent instructions with pictures can be found here.
Long, slender wooden spoon or chopstick
Sheet tray or large metal bowl
Colander (for cooling the beans and halting the roasting process)
Dish towels or oven mitts
* Set up the popper in a ventilated place near a kitchen exhaust fan or window, if possible. It’s nice to have strong overhead light so you can look down into the popper chamber to accurately judge the roast as it progresses. Have all your supplies within reach.
* Put the same amount of coffee in the popper that the manufacturer recommends for popcorn. For the West Bend Poppery II (which is what I have), 4 oz. is the maximum, or 2/3 to 3/4 cup.
* Put the plastic hood in place, and a large bowl under the chute. I tend to use a sheet pan as it covers more surface area. The chaff really flies everywhere.
* Turn on the machine and immediately begin start stirring the beans. Continue for a good minute or so until the beans start to pop up themselves.
* Watch for fragrant smoke and the “first crack” of the beans in about 3 minutes. Wait another minute, then start to monitor beans closely for desired roast color.
* Total time for a lighter roast should be around 4 minutes, full city roast around 5, and darker roasts closer to 6.5 minutes. Roasts develop quickly, so be vigilant. You want to pour the beans out of the popper when they are a tad lighter than the color you desire, since roasting continues until beans are cool.
* Agitate beans in metal colander until they are warm to your touch.
* Coffee should be stored out of direct light (and not in a fridge or freezer) in an airtight glass jar, but with a fresh roast, wait 12 hours to seal the jar tightly; it needs to vent off C02.
* Warm, fresh roasted beans are wonderful, but the coffee attains its peak 4 to 24 hours after roasting. If you store it as recommended, we’ll call it fresh for 5 days. When you open that jar in the morning, you will know what fresh coffee truly is.