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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

'X' Marks The Spot Summertime Iced Coffee

You know the math...do it with me!

Summer + Florida = Hot

Hot + Hurricane Season (Rainy Weather) = Sticky Humidity

Soooo, Hot + Sticky = X

Then X must equal.....Iced Coffee!!

Yes, I said it. You can thank me later...

I have professed my continued undying love for coffee before, particularly the McDonalds variety.  As I am not abundantly loaded with cash to purchase my favorite cuppa multiple times per day, brewing at home is a necessity. Papa Bear has been schooled well in the art of coffee making. He has a full, fresh pot of java waiting for me every single morning. [cue Beetlejuice theme music here] Oh, how I love that man of mine...

I've used the flavored syrups that are readily available at the local supermarket, but no matter what the flavor, be they sugar-laden or sugar-free, they all have this weird, tinny aftertaste...much like that of a diet soft drink. Drama Queen swears the Monin brand Vanilla is her favorite and she doesn't pick up on the aftertaste.  But if I am going to have an iced coffee, I want a good one.

I begin the day before my anticipated craving for said beverage by making coffee ice cubes. That way, the drink doesn't get diluted by your normal, run-of-the-mill ice cubes...and who likes watered down iced coffee? Not me! These cubes are made with regular old Folgers Classic Roast. Nothin' fancy. Of course, you could use a flavored coffee to make the cubes... Say, an Irish Cream? When it melts into the drink, you would slowly have that flavor seep into the finished product sip by sip.

Then I make my own simple syrup. I usually do a 1:1 ratio of sugar to water, but if I require a sweeter syrup for a sweeter drink (such as iced coffee), I adjust the sweetness level of that ratio to 1.5:1 or 2:1 depending on how sweet I want.  I am also fond of cinnamon flavor in my coffee, so I will toss in a cinnamon stick or two. This syrup is phenomenal over ice cream, too...oooh! Ice cream coffee floats, anyone???

(cue that 70's disco wocka wocka guitar music*...)
I just had a terrific thought for homemade Christmas gifts for those I love...
                                                                                                                             (end that 70's disco wocka wocka guitar music*...)

Really any flavoring extract is fair game here; you can use liquid extracts like pumpkin or peppermint, or dried flavorings like nutmeg or cinnamon. There are so many flavor combos that are only limited by your imagination!! Not to mention the price savings for making your own syrups! I think the last bottle of flavoring syrup I actually purchased was close to $7 and that was over two years ago - I'm sure they've gone up.

In goes the (strong brewed) coffee; again, it's just Folgers Classic Roast. You can add it in hot if you want the cubes to melt faster, especially if using a flavored coffee in the cube, or use lukewarm or room temperature coffee. Ever wonder what to do with that half a pot of coffee left over from this morning? That's your excuse to make iced coffee!

Now you have a decision to make at this juncture:  Do I use milk or half-n-half?  This is strictly a preference call.  Go with your gut feeling on this one.  I use milk just because it's more economical. Once in awhile I will reach for the half-n-half, just for the added richness it provides, but I've come to like the milk in this drink. Iced coffee is a completely different animal that my beloved coffee, so I accept my milk preference. On the other side of the coin, I will not drink hot coffee with milk ever - even if my life depended on it. It has to be half-n-half or I won't drink it.

The syrup is heavier than any other liquid in the glass, so it won't want to give up that primo space at the bottom of your glass easily. You can do one of two things here again: stir with a spoon or your straw, or if you have one of those handy-dandy milk frothers, you could use of of those.  I have tried stirring an iced coffee with my hand-held milk frother, and while it does mix everything exceptionally well, it also thickens the dairy in the beverage, and I am not a fan of that texture in my iced coffee; in a cappuccino maybe, but not here. I go straight for the straw-stirring method.

All that's left is to snag a nice shady spot outside and enjoy! I know I'll be enjoying these for awhile...

* FYI: 70's disco wocka wocka guitar music (you know, like from those cheesy cop shows like TJ Hooker, or those really funkadelic disco guitar riffs? If you don't know what I mean, click here to listen to some) is what I hear in my head when I have a really, really great idea. It's how my brain works...but I hear this sound in my head when I fail at an idea...

Iced Coffee

One hot day
One tall glass
Coffee Ice Cubes, minimum 3 to 4 per glass
Simple Syrup (see below)
Strong Brewed Coffee, room temperature
Milk or Half-n-Half

For Coffee Ice Cubes:
Use cooled coffee in an ice tray. Yep, that's it! Use your favorite flavored coffee for an extra kick.

For Simple Syrup:
In a small saucepan, add 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar. Over medium heat, dissolve sugar and bring to a boil. Add 1 Tbsp any type or combination of flavoring if desired. If using cinnamon sticks, use two. Let the mixture simmer and thicken, but keep a close eye out - you are boiling sugar after all, so don't walk away.  When the mixture gets pretty thick (like coating the back of a spoon thick), remove from heat. Set pot aside and let the syrup cool to room temperature. If using cinnamon sticks, just leave them in the syrup until cool.  Once cooled, transfer to a sterile container ( I use a Tupperware-like drink container thing made for keeping salad dressing or health shakes. It has a lid and everything.). You can store your syrup in the fridge for up to a month, but I will bet you ten bucks it won't last that long!)

Measurements are your preference. Experiment to see what you prefer to make your ultimate iced coffee. I will share how I do it, but make it any way that makes your tummy tickle with delight!  In a 12 ounce glass (like in the photos) I used 4 coffee cubes, about 2 inches of syrup, about 2 inches of cooled coffee, and filled it the rest of the way with 2% milk.

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