DamGoodSweet: Desserts to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth, New Orleans Style by David Guas and Raquel Pelzel, includes recipes like King Cake; Chocolate Cupped Cakes with Coffee & Chicory; and Banana Pudding with Vanilla Wafer Crumble.
I'd often sneak into my mom's car and ride stowaway-style in the back seat when she left home to "make groceries" at the A&P or Schwegmann's. No sooner had she turned off the ignition than I'd pop my head up and scare the bejesus out of her! In the market, we'd get coffee beans ground fresh from this giant red coffee grinder—I swear it was at least 3 feet tall. My mom gave the coffee man (usually the bagger at the checkout aisle) explicit instructions on the coarseness of the bean grind for her chicory-laced coffee. After he had bagged our beans, I'd stick my nose up the metal spout and inhale the heady aroma that always made me dizzy and happy.
In a typical New Orleans home, a pitcher of coffee can almost always be found in the fridge, whether left over from the morning or brewed specifically to make iced coffee later in the day. This coffee and chicory cupped cake is made with a stiff, eggless cake batter that gets topped with a cocoa crumble and then covered with coffee. Baked in actual coffee cups, the cake souffles up and makes its own built-in lava sauce on the bottom. It's fantastic eaten within an hour or two of baking while the cake is still warm, soft, and molten.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray the insides of 6 large oven-safe coffee cups or six 6-ounce ramekins with nonstick cooking spray and place on a rimmed baking sheet.
To make the cocoa sprinkle, whisk 1/4 cup of the sugar, the light brown sugar, and 2 tablespoons of the cocoa powder in a small bowl until most of the brown sugar lumps are broken up, and set aside.
Using a stand mixer (or in a large bowl if using a hand mixer), blend the butter and remaining sugar together on medium speed until the sugar looks like wet sand, about 2 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and add the cream and vanilla, mixing until well blended, using a rubber spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl as necessary.
Whisk the flour, the remaining cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl and then add it to the butter mixture. Mix on low speed until a stiff dough comes together, then increase the speed to medium and beat for 15 seconds.
Divide the batter between the coffee cups, filling each one about half full, using the back of a spoon to press the batter into the cup. Top each with 2 tablespoons of the reserved cocoa sprinkle and then pour 2-1/2 tablespoons of coffee over the cocoa. Bake until the cakes souffle up and the top of each cake is crusty and dry on top with no visible wet spots, about 55 to 60 minutes. Cool for at least 20 minutes before serving.
Make Ahead This cake is best eaten warm within a few hours of baking. If you have some left over the next day, you can heat it up in the microwave before serving to get its gooey quality back.
Tip You'll have a little of the cocoa sprinkle left over after making the cakes. Use it to top a scoop of ice cream or stir it into iced coffee (with condensed milk if you really want to go all out).
If you don't have oven-safe coffee cups, you can make this cake in a 9-inch-square baking dish and serve it casserole style, scooped into dessert bowls (it may need an extra 5 to 10 minutes in the oven).
The port of New Orleans has been a site of international trade since 1718, with the first coffee shipments coming from Cuba and the Caribbean soon after. By the 1840s, the port was the largest importer of coffee after New York City, and today 250,000 tons of green coffee beans come through the port every year. With six roasting facilities located within 20 miles of the port (including the world's largest coffee bulk-processing operation), New Orleans remains the country's premiere entry point for coffee.
New Orleans' chicory tradition goes back hundreds of years, too. Perhaps New Orleanians got the idea of adding roasted and ground chicory to coffee from the French, who used the root to stretch their coffee supplies during the Napoleonic blockades of ports in the early 19th century. During the Civil War, when Union naval blockades cut off the port of New Orleans, Louisianans began adding chicory root to their coffee—the difference is that we Louisianans became enamored of the sweet, nutty, toasty quality that chicory lent to our cafe au lait, so in typical New Orleanian style, we clung to the tradition with fierce loyalty. In fact, even though I haven't lived in New Orleans for a decade, I still am always sure to have a fresh-opened red bag of Community® Coffee New Orleans Blend® in my cabinet.
While chicory doesn't contain any caffeine whatsoever, it does give off more soluble matter, creating a darker, stronger-tasting cup of coffee while using fewer actual coffee beans. Go figure that now New Orleans-style chicory coffee often costs more than 100% Arabica!
This page created July 2010
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