Ask Peter: Cooking with coffee
I’m wondering what I can do with leftover ground coffee? Is there a recipe that uses lots of ground coffee (I have about 100g), as I don’t want to let it go stale. Bonny
Leftover coffee grounds — I’m assuming this is a regular occurrence or else I imagine you’d simply drink a lot more coffee to use it up. If it’s regular, then you need to think of several ways to use it as there’s only so much coffee custard one can eat in a week.
Here are some ways it can be used, and hopefully several will appeal.
Obviously coffee likes to be brewed with a liquid, whether that be milk or water. A simple coffee syrup would be a good start. It works well drizzled over vanilla icecream topped with roasted chopped hazelnuts and brandy. It can also be used to drizzle over peeled oranges, thinly sliced and cut on the round, or on barbecue pork chops that have been marinated with a lot of chilli and ginger.
Bring 1½ cups water and 1½ cups caster sugar (although an unrefined light brown sugar will also work well) to the boil. Simmer for 5 minutes, then turn the heat off. As soon as you do, gently whisk in the coffee grounds (and half a vanilla bean — but not necessary) and leave to cool. Once cold, strain though a coffee filter, or a Chux cloth, and store in the fridge.
Coffee custard couldn’t be more delicious and as long as you’re used to cooking custard and not curdling it, you’ll be fine here.
Bring 400ml cream and 200ml milk to a gentle simmer with 50g caster sugar — again, an unrefined light brown sugar would also work well. Turn the heat off and whisk in somewhere between 50g-100g of the coffee — I’m uncertain how strong it will be. Leave to cool then strain through a fine sieve into a clean pot — some grains of coffee let loose will be fine. Bring back to a simmer. Whisk 6 large egg yolks together with 50g sugar until quite foamy, then slowly whisk in quarter of the coffee cream until fully emulsified. Pour this back into the hot cream, whisking as you do, and put on medium heat. Cook, stirring (or using a small whisk) constantly until it thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Strain through a fine sieve into a clean bowl.
If you like mocha more than espresso, stir in 80g broken or chopped chocolate to the warm custard, until melted, before straining it.
A coffee trifle is a good thing to make and this can be done several ways — either by using the coffee custard above to separate the layers of plain sponge, or by drizzling the coffee syrup over the sponge, or by making a sponge cake to which you add 30g coffee grinds to the mixture (sift it in with the flour).
Other yummy flavours in a coffee trifle would be pears poached in red wine and grated chocolate. Tiramisu, the Italian dessert, is also another perfect way to use up your coffee syrup.
Meringues and pavlova
Imagine a really strong espresso-flavoured meringue nest topped with whipped slightly sweetened cream and some poached fruits such as dried apricots, quince and pears. Delicious. In that case add a few teaspoons of ground coffee to the mixture in the last 20 seconds of whipping — any sooner and it can cause the meringue to collapse a little.
In our Ask Peter series, executive chef Peter Gordon answers your curly culinary questions. If you're stumped over something food-related, send your question to firstname.lastname@example.org and keep checking in for answers. You can read more on Peter on his website, have a read of his Ask Peter articles or check out his recipes here.