I love the taste and aroma of a good cup of coffee, but the truth is I don't drink the stuff too often—all that caffeine and acidity isn't how I like to start my morning. But I do love to bake and cook with coffee, which is a great way to get its roasted flavors in a less aggressive package. Of course, you can also mix coffee into all sorts of drinks, from a breakfast milkshake to Irish coffee-style cocktails. Tiramisu, coffee-rubbed ribs, a Fernet-scented coffee cocktail, and more—keep reading for 17 of our favorite recipes that make use of coffee.
Coffee, Banana, and Hazelnut Morning Shake
I'm not someone who can just drink a cup of coffee for breakfast—I need something with a little more heft. This shake has the caffeine jolt I sometimes crave in the morning, but it's bulked up with bananas, hazelnuts, and milk. The hazelnuts add a nutty flavor to the drink and also have enough fat and protein to fill you up.
Barbajada (Milanese Hot Chocolate-Coffee Drink)
Can't decide between coffee and hot chocolate? Why not just mix them together? There's not much more to this recipe than mixing the two drinks, but it is worth taking a minute to consider what kind of cocoa you want—since coffee is pretty acidic, we prefer earthy Dutch process cocoa to more acidic natural cocoa.
I spend a lot of my lunch hours in taquerias, and that means a lot of horchata. On a rough day, though, this is what I really need—a sweet, cinnamon-scented horchata made with dark-roast coffee. We grind the coffee and cinnamon in with the rice and almonds and let everything sit at room temperature overnight.
Just-Do-Ya (Hazelnut-Spiked Irish Coffee With Chocolate Whipped Cream)
I'm sure you're familiar with a classic Irish coffee, but whiskey isn't the only liquor you can pair with hot coffee. This Nutella-inspired twist on the cocktail gets the hazelnut from Frangelico and the chocolate from a cocoa whipped cream. A tiny pinch of kosher salt helps bring out the flavor of the chocolate in the whipped cream.
Everything Nice (Spiced-Rum Coffee With Butterscotch Whipped Cream)
Spiced rum is a natural pairing for coffee—we love the way the rum's sugarcane sweetness softens coffee's bitter edge. For this Irish coffee variation we bring the two ingredients together and top them with a butterscotch whipped cream made with malted milk powder and brown sugar (trust us, it's much easier than making traditional butterscotch).
Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go (Fernet-Spiked Irish Coffee With Lemon Cream)
The most unusual of our twists on Irish coffee, this one is made with minty Fernet Branca. This is for serious Fernet lovers—the bitter aperitif gets even more assertive when poured into a cup of joe. Rather than garnish with something that will provide balance, we double down with a tart lemon whipped cream.
Architects and Kings
This cocktail also plays up coffee's aggressive side, this time by adding bitter Amaro Abano and bracing rye whiskey. To tone it down just a bit we smooth it out with apple brandy, demerara syrup, and whipped cream.
Rich and Creamy Tiramisu
Recipes for tiramisu vary significantly, but ladyfingers, mascarpone, booze, espresso, and cocoa are all basically constants. We use whole eggs rather than egg yolks to make our filling lighter and swap the traditional Marsala for a blend of crème de cacao and Cardamaro. If you want to make the absolute best tiramisu possible, use homemade ladyfingers.
Bold and Bracing Coffee Ice Cream
We have two recipes for coffee ice cream, and this one puts the coffee front and center. We use 5 tablespoons of ground coffee and just a cup and a half of cream for a quart of ice cream, giving the dessert a bold coffee flavor with a pronounced (but not overwhelming) bitterness.
Milky and Mild Coffee Ice Cream
If you're more of a milk and sugar coffee drinker, you might prefer this ice cream made with two cups of cream and just two tablespoons of ground coffee. We actually dial back the sugar compared to the previous recipe, though—we don't want the flavor of the coffee getting lost entirely.
Vegan Chocolate-Coffee Muffins
Coffee and chocolate are natural partners that have a way of bringing out each other's flavor. In this recipe the (vegan) chocolate gets a boost from not one but two forms of coffee: freshly brewed and espresso powder. Be warned—these muffins have a richness that puts them nearly into cupcake territory.
Double-Chocolate Cream Pie
Our double cream pie is a great example of the way coffee can emphasize chocolate. The filling has just half a teaspoon of espresso powder in it—not enough to taste like coffee, but enough that you'd miss it if it were gone. As for the chocolate itself, we go with 72% dark chocolate and Dutch process cocoa powder.
Rich and Flavorful Guinness Beef Stew With Potatoes
Guinness stew is great in theory, but in practice the mild-tasting beer pretty much disappears after a few hours in the oven. You could just replace it with a stronger stout, but if you want to stick with Guinness then your best bet is to fortify its roasted flavors by adding coffee and chocolate to the stew.
Cocoa-Coffee Steak Marinade for Grilling
This might sound like an intense marinade, but strong coffee and unsweetened chocolate actually make for a surprisingly subtle marinade when sweetened with brown sugar. Both ingredients are just bitter enough to reinforce the charred flavor of the grilled steak. We flavor the marinade with just a pinch of chili powder, but feel free to add more if you want.
Oven-Baked Espresso-, Cocoa-, and Chili-Rubbed Baby Back Ribs
Too cold for grilling? These baby back ribs will give you similar flavors as the previous recipe—coffee, chocolate, and chili—without making you light up the grill. Pouring some beer in with the meat midway through cooking adds extra flavor, and a finishing brown sugar rub gives the ribs a dark crust.
Coffee-Ginger Barbecue Sauce
This easy barbecue sauce starts with a ketchup base, to which we add strong coffee, a little chocolate, and lots of ginger. Interestingly, though, we don't usually add any vinegar—the ketchup, coffee, chocolate, and Worcestershire tend to have enough acidity on their own.
The Best Chili Ever
The dried chilies in our best chili ever already have aromas of coffee and chocolate, so it's not a stretch to add actual coffee and chocolate to amp up those flavors. We also mix in a trio of our favorite flavor enhancers—Marmite, soy sauce, and anchovies—to make the stew extra meaty.