I like coffee a lot. Which is slightly ironic because when I was younger, I hated it with a passion. I did eventually discover the allure of espresso while in Italy but I didn’t get the obsession with sweeter coffee drinks. This was about the time that Starbucks was becoming hugely popular and restaurants were almost required to buy espresso machines because everyone wanted a mocha or latte at lunch. Suddenly coffee shops were opening everywhere, even in teeny tiny Kodiak, Alaska, and people were drinking fancy flavored coffee constantly it seemed. Except for me.
There wasn’t much to do in our town, so nearly every day my best friend Nikki Sea and I would walk downtown just to meander about. Usually we would end up at the same little coffee stand, next to a record store. I would religiously order an Italian cream soda and Nik would always order a “black and white” (which after an embarrassingly long time I finally discovered was simply a vanilla mocha). Every time we would swap drinks so the other could taste a sip, and every time the drink was passed back to its owner while we mirrored looks of exaggerated disgust.
Slowly I grew more interested in her drinks and less enthralled with my still delicious, yet slightly unsatisfying Italian sodas. Finally came the day where I ordered (a la When Harry Met Sally) “one of what she’s having.” And from there, it was all downhill.
Which leads me to this masterpiece of a coffee drink from the Pioneer Woman. I have been drooling over the recipe for over a year and it was high time I finally made it. Christmas Eve day seemed like the perfect time so I got all my goodies together and started with the dulce de leche. It’s an easy thing to make with a can of sweetened condensed milk and a little time. Now lots of people swear by just cooking the can in a pot of boiling water but it just made me nervous thinking about the potential for an exploding can of caramel.
So I decided to cook it instead in a double boiler of sorts, following these instructions. It was easy enough, even though I was nervous it wouldn’t turn out. But it was genuinely perfect — just look at it in all of its sticky caramel glory! I was so proud.
In fact, I probably could have eaten it straight from the bowl, but the call for caffeine was just too great. I brewed some very strong coffee, whipped up some heavy cream and dug out the bottle of Kahlua. And it was wonderful, fantastic, amazingly delicious. Make it now! There is absolutely no reason to wait a year for this indulgence.