Recipe Corner Cooking Techniques

Instant Coffee Boosts Your Brunch & Dessert Menus

255-mochadblchocbrownieIt's time for instant coffee to emerge from the back of the pantry! Coffee aficionados often chuckle and turn a cold shoulder to freeze-dried coffees, but drinkers of the brewed stuff may not recognize instant coffee's ready-made charms.

One of its best uses can be summed up into a single word: "mocha." From mocha chocolate brownies to 18th-century Italian Bicerin (an espresso drink mixed with chocolate and milk or cream), we love coffee's complexity -- the touch of bitterness -- that balances many sweet and savory dishes. Instant coffee makes the process even easier: Just a teaspoon and a cup of hot water later, a dessert's flavor profile is somehow more elegant.

However, instant coffee's talents aren't restricted to desserts. Feel free to incorporate the versatile beverage into the featured dish of a weekend breakfast or brunch menu.

Try a Southern favorite: country ham, grits and red-eye gravy (called "red eye," because the gravy, which is actually a thin sauce, is made from a breakfast ham's drippings and coffee). Sugar- or honey-cured ham slices are lightly fried in a skillet, and then coffee is slowly stirred with the caramelized salty-sweet drippings. Spoon the sauce onto grits or a buttermilk biscuit, and learn to say "y'all."

Here's to Southern hospitality -- in an instant.