Baked Sunday Mornings: Brewing a Cinnamon Mocha

Sometimes, when you do a baking blog, it’s nice to make something a little easier, sans oven. In an arena of lengthy ingredient lists and stages of processes (creaming butter, sifting flour, proofing yeast, zesting citrus, chopping nuts, rolling dough, frosting layers, etc.), a simple cup of hot, warm comfort is just the ticket during the high peak of baking season.

So, I was excited at the prospect of this Baked Sunday Morning challenge of making a coffee drink recipe from “Baked: New Frontiers in Baking,” by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito (Stewart, Tabori & Chang; 2008). For this Cinnamon Mocha recipe, a zippy, chocolate-y coffee concoction is created by mixing freshly brewed espresso and warmed milk blended with sugar, cocoa and cinnamon.I think it’s a luxury that is almost self-nurturing to make something like this at home for yourself, versus trodding off to a coffeehouse. So I think if you are going to do it, break out the best ingredients: the best espresso, the best cocoa, the best cinnamon — even serve it in your best mugs — and get ready to loll around in your PJs on a Sunday morning. Treat yourself!

I loves me a good mocha. Trouble is, most places who serve mocha drinks throw their added sugar proportions, like caution, to the wind. So the opportunity to make your own gives you some control over this element. Looking at the contents of my blog (i.e., all the baked goods), one would hardly call me the Carry Nation of sugar, but I do not use it in my coffee or coffee drinks or tea, so I decided that it would be easy to substitute Stevia (or Splenda) for the sugar in this homemade mocha recipe. I had some good espresso on hand and loved the opportunity to use my cute little old-fashioned stovetop espresso pot. It’s nice to brew something in the oldest way, filling the bottom basin with water, spooning and tapping the fine espresso into the metal basket, screwing the carafe to the top. Soon, it was hissing its announcement that the hot espresso was ready.

When it comes to cocoa, people have their favorites, but my go-to has been Pernigotti for several years. It is deep, dark and delicious and makes everything from baked goods to candies to hot chocolates as flavorfully cocoa-y as they can be.

I have of late been purchasing cinnamon from King Arthur Flour that is really potent, in the best way (I use it regularly in my regular coffee brew, among many things). The Vietnamese Cinnamon has a lighter, sharper quality, while the Madagascar Cinnamon is deeper, smokier and more intense, almost like cloves. I used a little of each for this mocha.

As I mentioned, I do take sweets where I can, but where I can’t, I don’t. While baking projects fare best with the use of real sugars, for the most part, I do not put real sugar in my coffee drinks. And since nutrition listings for coffeehouse mochas and other drinks are now available to all, when one sees a whopping 35 grams of sugar in a drink (which would equal almost 9 teaspoons), being able to avoid that has been my choice for years. Even though this recipe really doesn’t have a ton of sugar (1/4 cup for two servings), with my version, I used the humble, but effective powdered Stevia. It works well as a sweetener in any warm or cold beverage. The espresso was blended with cocoa, cinnamon and Stevia, as well as a pinch of salt, then all was combined with the warmed milk.

Once the mocha was blended, I could not help but want to crown it with — gasp — yes, real whipped cream! If you are going to treat yourself to a homemade mocha with great ingredients, why not top it with the real thing?

It was a real indulgence, this mocha, but easy to do. When one can feel indulged with so little sacrifice and effort, the indulgence is magnified. I really enjoyed this spicy, deep, rich, potent brew (as good — and maybe better than — any version from a coffeehouse). In my jammies, of course!

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