Coffee as a spice

Jan 30, 2012 at 10:50 a.m. ET

Cooking with coffee received its culinary confirmation in 2006, when it was named one of the top trendy cooking ingredients. Whether savory or sweet, the noted characteristics of bittersweet chocolate, roasted nuts and ripe dark berries, add a richness to food like no other spice can do. When used as a spice, coffee has the ability to make chocolate "chocolatier," meats "meatier" and tomato sauces more robust.

Flourless chocolate cake

How do you like your coffee? Whether sweet and milky or dark and brooding, selecting, buying and brewing the perfect coffee bean has become a universal passion, with the craft of "coffee cupping," the term professionals use to assess the qualities of coffee beans, often being compared to that of an expert sommelier. And rightfully so. With as many complex flavors and aromas as fine wines, pairing coffee blends with specific foods is considered a respected art.

Flourless chocolate-orange fudge cake recipe

Serves 10


  • Butter
  • Cocoa powder for dusting
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
  • 2 teaspoons instant espresso
  • Zest of 2 oranges
  • 10 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 7 ounces salted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 5 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the inside of a cake pan and place a piece of parchment paper, cut to size, in the bottom of the pan. Butter the parchment and dust pan with cocoa powder, tapping out any excess.
  2. In a double boiler, melt chocolate and butter with the instant espresso, vanilla bean seeds and orange zest, stirring occasionally, until smooth. Remove from heat.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar. Slowly add warm chocolate mixture to the eggs to temper; whisk until smooth.
  4. Pour batter into prepared cake pan. Place cake pan in a roasting pan. Add enough hot water to the roasting pan to come halfway up the outside of the cake pan. Place roasting pan in oven.
  5. Bake one hour or until just set. Remove roasting pan from oven. Remove cake pan from roasting pan and let cool completely on a wire rack.
  6. Run a knife around the edge of the cake pan to loosen the edges. Flip pan onto a plate and tap gently to remove the cakes from the tin. Carefully remove parchment paper, discard.
  7. Serve thin wedges at room temperature, with whipped cream.

Coffee and poblano braised chicken recipe

Serves 4


  • 8 (skin-on, bone-in) chicken thighs
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 3 poblano peppers, seeded and minced*
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup brewed coffee
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes with juice


  1. In a large Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add chicken, skin side down, and cook until browned, about four minutes. Turn chicken over and add garlic, onion and peppers. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft, about four minutes. Stir in sugar, cumin, paprika, salt, coffee and tomatoes. Bring to boiling, reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook 25 minutes.
  2. Transfer cooked chicken to a cutting board. Remove chicken from bone and shred; discard skin and bones. Return chicken to pot; add salt and pepper to taste. Serve over nachos, as a taco filling or over rice.

More recipes with coffee

Coffee-glazed ham recipe
Cumin and coffee dry rub recipe
Espresso rubbed steak recipe