Despite what we try and tell ourselves, there is always time for a sweet pick-me-up. Picture yourself on your dream Italian holiday; whether it be sitting in a trattoria of a small quaint town among the rolling hills of Toscana, or roaming the bustling streets of Milano, nothing can stop that ‘I need something sweet’ craving. We find that feeling comes knocking particularly after lunch, so if you wish to bypass the Italian no-no of having milk in coffee past 11am, these pots of joy are your secret weapon, as you can fervently argue they are a form of dessert!
So, when you next find yourself licking the remnants of salt from your fingers which held a freshly made panino many moments before, promptly whisk yourself to the nearest caffetteria and order yourself one of these:
Created in the city of Alessandria in the northern region of Piemonte cafè marocchino literally translates to ‘Moroccan’. Given its Italian origins its name derives not from the North African country, but instead to Marrocchino/Moroccan leather, the creamy-brown colour of which is reminiscent to this sumptuous liquid.
Using the same ingredients as a café mocha, it is ultimately the proportions which set them apart:
- Cafè marocchino remains a relatively short, sweet fix using: 1/3 espresso, 1/3 hot chocolate or cocoa, and 1/3 milk foam
- Cafè mocha on the other hand, is a long, richer drink using: 2/5 chocolate, 2/5 espresso, and 1/5 steamed milk
Although not necessarily sweet in the traditional sense of the word, this coffee still falls in the category of an elevated drink which really ‘hits the spot’. Consisting of a shot of espresso with a dash of liqueur, traditionally grappa but also sometimes with sambuca or brandy (if you’re unsure ask the bartender which regional liqueur they recommend). The word ‘Corretto’ means ‘correct’ in English, as in ‘corrected’ suggesting that the coffee is made ‘right’ by the dash of strong alcohol.
The proportions vary from the bartender sprinkling a few drops into the espresso to the spirit being served as a shot alongside the coffee for the customer to pour in their desired amount. Occasionally, particularly if the customer is a local the bartender may present the customer with their espresso and the bottle of spirit and allow them to pour their own preferred measure.
To express which fiery spirit you would like to tickle your tastebuds you can order by saying: “un caffè corretto alla grappa… alla samcuba… al cognac” etc.
Espresso con Panna
Literally meaning “Espresso with Cream” this drink is exactly what it says on the Italian tin. The classic black espresso (single or double) served in a small espresso cup with a dollop of whipped cream. A simple yet effective addition and if you’re feeling it, ask for a sprinkling of cocoa powder or cinnamon sugar (una spruzzata di cacao/canella) for an extra indulgent twist.
Quite possibly one of Italy’s finest inventions, affogato is a simple but delicious Italian dessert where a shot of espresso coffee is poured over scoop of ice-cream, usually vanilla. More traditionally it is known as affogato al café meaning ‘drowned in coffee’, and we can confirm you will drown-and-go-to-heaven once you’ve tried it.
Since its wide-spread rise in popularity in the late 1900’s, a plethora of variations have been created using for example, pistachio or mint-chocolate chip ice-cream alongside liqueurs like Frangelico (a rich hazelnut liqueur) as well as a whole host of toppings from roasted nuts, to melted white chocolate or caramel sauce. Although widely considered as a dessert in Italy, it still quenches that post-meal coffee kick!
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