Festive season is approaching. Well, actually after Halloween shops, bars and cafes begin to dress up in red and gold for Christmas. People are starting to think about New Year’s resolutions, Christmas gifts and food preparation for holidays banqueting.
A new tendency for holiday dishes, in the last five years, has been food pairing. Cocktails and pizzas, dim sum and gin tonic, champagne and street food have been the most trendy ones. One I would like to see more is coffee and food. Of course, coffee is easy to pair with food, don’t be afraid. Coffee – in particular filter coffee – goes very well with savoury recipes, desserts, whiskey cocktails. The easiest way to approach coffee&food pairing is to go on classic: chocolate.
Chocolate is another ingredient very present during festive season: we buy pralines to offer to friends, we eat choco bon bons when we are craving something sweet during cold winter days, we share a cup of hot chocolate with a friend in our favorite cafè. Filter coffee is easy to pair, especially beans from South America have a strong chocolaty-nutty aroma which goes perfectly with our favorite beverage. Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Milan launched a new chocolate experience: tasting different coffees paired with different chocolate pralines. I have tried this experience and here is what I have been eating/drinking.
I finally went to Starbucks Reserve Roastery on Tuesday afternoon. It was not too crowded as always so it has been the perfect occasion for a chocolate-coffee pairing. I decided to try the chocolate combined with a new coffee they introduced lately: Ecuador Loja. The official description given on the their card says: “juicy flavours of lemon and bright red currant notes with hints of toffee”. Sounded great for a coffee tasting. Unfortunately the barista was not aware of the differencies the pralines had and if the coffee I chose was suitable for these. Nevertheless I decided to give it a try. The first chocolate was plain dark chocolate, nice nutty flavour. It could be suitable with almost every South American coffee. The middle one was the best one: milk chocolate with an inside filling of citrus fruits and really strong bergamot flavour. This was the perfect match with Ecuador Loja. The third one was covered with ruby chocolate and inside there was a nice velvety hazelnut cream. Nice starting point for food pairing with coffee, could also be a way to offer an extra experience to your customers.
At home I wanted to recreate this in order to have a nice afternoon break when coming back from a hard day. I decided to buy different chocolate pralines that reflected the aromas of my favorite coffee beans: toffee, strawberry, white chocolate, creamy nougat, orange zest and berries.
Coffee is also perfect when combined with crunchy and buttery croissants, even if this combination is not very popular in Italy. Despite that, I have found some good croissants with coffee aroma and crushed coffee beans inside the pastry dough that gave me the inspiration to try and bake some home made croissants in the next few weeks. For now I will let you with this nice and full of positive vibes coffee pairing, just a small preview of upcoming holiday recipes with coffee.