Recently, I attended a coffee matching event hosted by Cafédirect with some of my fellow London bloggers, where we learned how the type coffee served with a dessert is just as important as the wine chosen to serve with the starter and main course. It was all part of an initiative by Cafédirect to encourage the British public to explore coffee in much the way a sommelier does wine. Just as different wines have distinctive regional characteristics dependent on factors such as soil, climate and altitude, the same is true for coffee.
Cafédirect then opened a competition to the public, challenging them to create the perfect dessert recipe to pair with one of their single origin coffees, for the chance to win the dream foodie prize of £500 to spend at celebrated gourmet cookery school L’atelier des Chefs and feature in a limited edition recipe book.
I was asked to go along to Cafédirect’s London headquarters to help judge the competition, along with the Head Chef at L’atelier des Chefs, Andre Dupin and Cafédirect coffee expert Thierry Akroman. We were presented with a wonderful array of desserts to sample, alongside the coffees the entrants had matched them with.
Photo credit Cafédirect
From Star Anise and Cinnamon Crème Brûlée to Honey, Fig and Madeira Baked Alaska, there was something to tempt every palate. We tasted our way through some amazing desserts, and I was really impressed by the creativity that the entries demonstrated. After much deliberation, we chose a Cardamom Chocolate Mousse with Hazelnuts on an Amaretti Biscuit Base developed by Saskia Rogerson from Wiltshire as the winner. The dessert was incredibly innovative, using cardamom, carrots and chili to create layers of flavour, and the texture of the mousse was a great foil for the crunchy base. The recipe perfectly complimented Cafédirect’s wonderful Machu Picchu coffee, bringing out its dark chocolate and nutty flavours.
Saskia’s recipe will now be the star in a limited edition Cafédirect Coffee & Dessert Matching Guide, which also features 15 shortlisted recipes each matching the profile of one of Cafédirect’s single origin coffees. The guide will be available for download from www.cafedirect.co.uk/world-of-taste in January 2012. In the meantime, here is Saskia’s wonderful recipe, which I am looking forward to making for my next dinner party!
250 grams amaretti biscuits, crushed
120 grams unsalted butter
2 tablespoons chopped hazlenuts
3 cardamon pods, grated
Caramelised carrot and chilli layer
2 tablespoons shredded carrot
2 tablespoons shredded chilli
25 grams unsalted butter
4 tablespoons muscavado sugar
Cardamom, Hazelnut and Chocolate mousse
300 grams bittersweet chocolate, broken into pieces
2 tablespoons hazelnuts
4 cardamom pods, grated
45 grams unsalted butter
5 eggs, separated
4 tablespoons caster sugar
230 millilitres double cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
shot of espresso made with Cafédirect Machu Picchu Roast and Ground coffee
For the biscuit base: melt the butter in a pan, pour in the amaretti biscuit, hazelnuts and grated cardamom. Transfer to 28″ springform cake tin and leave to cool.
Combine all the ingredients for the caramelised carrot and chilli layer in a saucepan and bring the mixture slowly to simmer until it caramelises, then pour onto the biscuit layer so it forms an even layer.
For the mousse, melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl heated over a pan of simmering water, add in espresso, cardamom, and hazelnuts. Leave to cool slightly.
Heat the egg yolks and 2 tablespoons sugar in another bowl over the simmering pan of water. Whisk until warm then transfer to electric mixer and mix until the yolk is pale and fluffy. Then fold into chocolate mixture.
Whisk the egg whites in a clean bowl until they are stiff, then fold this into the chocolate mixture. In a bowl set over ice, whip the cream until stiff and fold into chocolate mixture.
Spoon onto the biscuit and carrot/chilli caramel layer in the cake tin, and spread evenly with a spatula. Decorate with hazelnuts and grated cardamom. Cover and chill for 2 hours, then serve.