Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Spiced Americano

I apologize for my temporary absence. I have hit that point in my semester when projects, conferences, and grading are coming on strong, leaving me little time to bake, and even less time to write about it. I have some great posts lined up: "Good Cookies," Lemon Tart with Sour Cream Glaze, Lemon-Almond Biscotti. But to give you an idea of busy my life has been, a few evenings ago I revisited the pleasure of Duncan Hines Triple Decadence Brownie Mix--that was as "from scratch" as I could get. They were brilliant. I've always loved the perfect saltiness of boxed brownies. For these, I'll even eat the edges; they're that good.

But the recipe I'm posting today is simple but rejuvenating, and could save you a few dollars at the coffee shop. This Spiced Americano is sweet, but with a nice heat from cinnamon, allspice, and ginger. And it's easy: make a quick simple syrup, make some espresso, boil some water, mix and serve. You can certainly add whipped cream with a dusting of cinnamon for a nice presentation, but usually I just want a slightly more sophisticated version of my morning caffeine jolt. The syrup even makes enough for a few more drinks--just keep it in a jar in the fridge or make extra to give it as a gift to a friend who has an even busier week than you do. 

Spiced Americano
(adapted from Everyday Italian)

For the simple syrup:
1/2 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground ginger

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring often, and reduce heat to low. Add the spices and simmer for about 5 minutes, until the sugar is completely dissolved. (Keep in mind, the spices will not dissolve and the liquid may look slightly grainy, but it should look mostly clear.) Allow to cool.

For the coffee drink:
1 cup brewed espresso (or very strong brewed coffee)
1 cup boiling water
Spiced Simple Syrup

To a small coffee cup, add 1/4 cup espresso, 1/4 cup boiling water, and 1 T of the simple syrup, and mix well. Add more espresso or water to taste. The simple syrup is very sweet. If you are using a regular to large-sized mug, double all of the amounts, though you may wish to cut back slightly on the simple syrup.

I hope your work goes well and the craziness passes. Meanwhile, though, add some sparkle to your coffee.