Greek-Style Cold Caffe Mocha
Emulsions must be the quintessential chemo-physical state of culinary creations. We seem to be hardwired for enjoying and looking forward to the luscious richness of their combinations.
Let’s think for an instant about the sensation that a melting nugget of sweet butter elicits on our tongue and let us compare it to the one created by, let’s say, a lump of congealed coconut oil. We immediately think of how rich the first seems and about how oily and strange the second is by comparison. Butter, as cream and many other dairy products, is a natural emulsion of butter fat and water (usually around 20% of the total weight).
But what are emulsions? Emulsions are simply a somewhat-stable mixture of a watery and a fatty substance. Since these two types of substances don’t generally like to mingle with each other, we need some sort of mediator to keep them together. These substances are called emulsifiers and are widely available in nature. You might have already heard of lecithin; either derived from soy or from egg yolks, these molecules are powerful emulsifiers (do you know that you can make close to six gallons of mayonnaise from just one egg yolk?) and are widely employed by the food industry (in chocolate, for instance).
Emulsifying two substances usually requires the use of physical force in terms of shear action, like stirring. This allows us to break the oily phase into smaller and smaller droplets that are more easily and uniformly coated with the emulsifying molecules and are more stably linked to the watery phase. This has the pro of increasing the thickness of our creation and allows us to obtain sauces and drinks that coat our food and linger in our palate, releasing the aromatic compounds they have dissolved in them.
In cocktail making, alcohol helps us a bit in keeping oil emulsified in our creations (see my July article), but it can go only so far. If our aim is to create something with a rich mouthfeel and where flavors carried by an oil are at the center of our flavor profile, we have to resort to some sort of emulsifier. In the recipe I propose to you, we will employ the lecithins normally present in store bought chocolate and the natural emulsifiers of unsweetened condensed milk to help us bind a noticeable quantity of extra-virgin olive oil in our final cocktail.
Greek-Style Cold Caffe Mocha
Yield: 2 cocktails
Glassware: tumbler or cocoa mug
3-4 tsp. (15-20ml) coffee grounds
3/4 cup (200ml) water
100g dark chocolate
4 tbsp. unsweetened condensed milk
4 tbsp. high quality extra-virgin olive oil
approximately 3 fl. oz. (80ml) ouzo
grated orange zest for garnish
fresh dill for garnish
1) In a small saucepan, combine the coffee grounds with the water and set on medium heat. Bring the mixture to a simmer, reduce the heat, and let it simmer for 5-10 minutes (the longer, the stronger the coffee). Switch off the heat, cover the saucepan, and let it steep away from the heat for another 10 minutes to let the coffee grounds settle a bit.
2) In the meantime, prepare the chocolate ganache. Transfer the chopped chocolate in a small pot set over low heat or a bain-marie. Let the chocolate melt, gently stirring regularly. When the chocolate is almost completely melted, add the unsweetened condensed milk and stir. If you see that the mixture is really thickening (the chocolate is seizing), add roughly 1 tablespoon of water. When the ganache is smooth and shiny, take it off of the heat, add the olive oil to it one tablespoon at a time, and whisk vigorously to combine them together.
3) When the coffee is ready, add it to the chocolate-olive oil ganache with three separate pours, filtering each through a fine meshed sieve. Whisk the ganache and coffee together until well-combined after each addition of coffee. At this point, transfer the coffee-chocolate drink to a bowl or an empty water bottle and refrigerate until well-chilled. Add the ouzo to the chilled coffee-chocolate drink and mix it thoroughly.
4) Serve in chilled glasses, garnishing with freshly grated orange zest and dill.