Last year was my first attempt at competition. Like everyone entering I placed a great deal of importance (correctly or not) on my signature drink. At the time I had been doing some private work at the Fat Duck restaurant in Bray. They gave me some great ideas and we came up with a few ideas that we are still working on.
My first thought on the drink was that it had to be short, no more than 2 fluid ounces, in order to keep the coffee taste right at the front. I did a great deal of experimentation with unusual flavours, but what they lacked (as interesting as some of the drinks were) was the “wow, can I have another one” factor that I really wanted.
In the lab I had tasted some tobacco infused chocolate and this had got my mind going. Coffee and tobacco have a long history together and during a lot of my early research into coffee volatiles I found that tobacco and coffee had a great deal in common – which is why you may find tobacco on the flavour wheel on cupping charts.
So with one unusual flavour I needed to get some very traditional flavours. I talked to the various people about how best to infuse the tobacco and it seemed the best way was into cream. Not only did this bring over a good range of the flavours but also toned down the tannins in the tobacco. The chocolate helped to marry the flavours up so I chose to make a ganache which I would then mix with espresso.
This was all well and good but it lacked something. I looked again for very traditional flavours and settled on biscotti. I got some full fat milk and infused it with toasted almonds, toasted pine nuts, toasted hazel nuts and rosemary. I found it best not to chop or tear the rosemary as it brought out the more medicinal flavours in the herb.
I had trouble getting the chocolate right. I tried a few of the better ones but in the end settled on a supermarket brand one. The fruity tastes in the chocolate threw the whole drink off balance.
The tobacco I chose was a pipe tobacco and the most expensive I could find in a London tobacco shop. The flavours were amazing! Deep and rich, fruity and sweet. It was well wrapped and beautifully moist. Dry tobacco is a waste of time.
So here is my recipe. I don’t expect people to try it, but this is as good as copyrighting it.
Infuse 70ml of single cream with 10g of tobacco for 10 minutes (or to taste)
Toast about 20g each of hazelnuts, pine nuts and almonds
Chop roughly or grind in pestle and mortar and infuse in 100ml of full fat milk. (10 minutes at least) along with 20 or so leaves of rosemary.
Melt 60g of good chocolate. Beat in a small knob of butter and then beat in the cream. Scrape mixture into small beaked pitcher and add 4 shots of espresso. Mix and pour into preheated shot glasses.
Strain the milk and then foam. Top each shot glass with 1 cm of milk foam.