I made the mocha ice cream ahead of time and brought it with me so we could have a nice, cool dessert beverage to finish off the evening. These were a big hit, although I ran into some snags with the prep. I'm not sure if it was the humidity or what, but I couldn't get the cream to peak. It was just a mess. And the chocolate (I used dark) was still kind of gritty in the final product. It was fun, though, and it was a great way to end the meal. It was a nice spin on a traditional root beer float, and the Vietnamese cinnamon really does make a difference. I've been hooked on that stuff for years.
Cinnamon-Spiced Mocha Floats
Food & Wine August 2002
Cinnamon is known as a sweet spice, but it can have a pungent bite. Vietnamese cinnamon, also known as Saigon cinnamon, is an especially fragrant variety, and its taste is sharper than that of regular cinnamon. It is worth seeking out.
¾ cup boiling water
½ cup finely ground espresso (1 ounce)
¼ cup plus 1 ½ tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon, preferably Vietnamese (see Note), plus more for sprinkling
2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup heavy cream
¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Chilled club soda
1. In a glass measuring cup, pour the boiling water over the espresso. Cover the measuring cup with a small plate and let steep for 10 minutes. Strain the espresso through a paper filter into a small saucepan.
2. Whisk ¼ cup of the sugar and 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon into the espresso and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to moderate and simmer for 1 minute. Remove the saucepan from the heat, add the chocolate and, using a wooden spoon, stir until smooth. Using a rubber spatula, scrape the mocha mixture into a small bowl and let cool to room temperature, stirring a few times.
3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whip the heavy cream with the remaining 1 ½ tablespoons of sugar and the vanilla until the cream holds soft peaks. Add the cooled mocha mixture and whip until the cream holds firm peaks. Cover the mocha cream and freeze until set, about 3 hours.
4. Using a medium ice cream scoop, add 3 or 4 small scoops of the frozen cream to tall soda glasses. Add club soda and sprinkle cinnamon over the top. Serve at once with a straw and a long-handled spoon.
Make Ahead: The mocha cream can be frozen for up to 2 days. Let it stand at room temperature for about 10 minutes before scooping.
Notes: Vietnamese cinnamon is available by mail order from Penzeys Spices, 800-741-7787.
Big Flavors Rating: 4 Stars