I have a dirty little secret: I have a thing for milky, sweet coffee drinks.
Look, I know the fondness for a spicy or sweet latte isn’t the worst sin a person could have, but it isn’t a transgression I want to indulge in all the time. Now that my job description includes working in with lovingly crafted artisanal coffees, my palate needs to be developed so I may experience the nuanced flavors, exciting aromas, and subtle textures of a well-made cup of coffee or espresso.
Coffee is like wine; the flavor of the beverage is the result of climate, growing technique, varietal, location, and how the fruit is harvested. The process of getting a bean ready for consumption requires such an incredibly long process and delicate labor, it seems wrong to cover up its natural flavors.
Ask any coffee expert and they’ll tell you that a truly great coffee — like a beautiful glass of wine — should be enjoyed in its most natural state. A mindful drinker can experience aromas, flavors, and mouthfeel that can only be encountered if the beverage is treated with respect.
Additives assault a coffee and rob it of its inherent and natural flavors. Overly hot milk, whipped cream, packages of refined sugar, spice dustings, sprinkles of cocoa, Splenda, or flavored syrups do nothing to heed the delicate nature of a coffee bean. All that extra stuff disses the fruit.
All that being said, I really do enjoy a hand-crafted, flavored latte. Forget mass produced syrups, artificially enhanced nondairy creamers, or flavored powders. If I’m going to attempt to make a flavor cocktail with my caffeinated beverages, I use high quality ingredients.
Salted Caramel Latte (Dulce de Leche con Sal)
What makes this decadent salted caramel latte so good is the balance of espresso with the sweetness of the caramelized milk and the highlight of Maldon sea salt. This isn’t the lowest calorie beverage, but it’s a cheat-day worthy treat!
2 Tablespoons of Dulce de Leche*
1 cup of whole milk.
1 shot of espresso
1 pinch of Maldon Sea Salt
Begin to heat the milk in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Add the dulce de leche. Stir often, making sure not to let the milk scald. The milk is ready when it begins to thicken and micro bubbles begin to appear on the side of the pan. Add half the pinch of maldon to the milk. Stir and remove from the heat.
Pull your espresso shot. Add your shot to a warm, appropriately-sized coffee cup. Add the milk. finish the drink off with the smallest 1/4 of a pinch of pulverized Maldon sea salt.
*Dulce De Leche is an ingredient you may buy from a store or make from scratch at home. For a 100 % from scratch recipe, I suggest Alton Brown’s 3-hour step by step guide. Or if you want to make dulce de leche from sweetened condensed milk, David Lebovitz has some suggestions.