It’s spicy and mysterious, it’s as cool as ice and it’s got a cute little milky white bottom…
I know what you’re thinking…
…and, honestly, I’m flattered. But no. What we’re talking about is one of my new favorite ways to administer a cultured caffeine jolt: Thai Iced Coffee, served with my own unique twist (because that’s how I roll…you’ll get used to it).
Ladies…Gentlemen…These are cardamom pods, the dried seed-bearing fruit from a close relative of the lovable ginger plant and one of the more intimidating weapons in the spice rack arsenal. Aim straight & hit your target and you’re a hero…the envy of men and instant target of affection for women everywhere (or vice-versa, of course). But overshoot the mark and the spicy-sweet camphor can run rampant through dishes and desserts, beating every other flavor element into submission.
And that is why we, my friends, are going to tread very lightly… Cardamom can smell fear (this is, of course, purely undocumented).
Thai Iced Coffee with Ginger-Coconut Milk
• 6 tbsp of freshly-ground dark roast coffee
• 3 green cardamom pods
• 1″ chunk of fresh ginger, peeled
• 4-6 Thai basil leaves (and additional sprigs for garnish)
• 3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
• 1 cup coconut milk
• 4 1/2 cups water
• crushed ice
Traditionally brewed with an intriguing blend specific to Southeast Asia, containing roasted corn and sesame seeds, this exotic refresher is equally amazing with just about any dark roast style so play around and find your favorite. Personally, I like a bit of chicory in my blend but far be it from me to start a java war here.
Break up the cardamom pods and seeds by pulsing for a few seconds in a spice or coffee grinder and mix with the coffee prior to brewing. As a general rule, for this drink you will want a stronger, more concentrated brew than your basic Caffè Americano since the coffee will have to hold its own against the sweet condensed milk and coconut milk infusion. Let the brew cool and refrigerate until it’s thoroughly chilled.
Drop your ginger and bruised basil leaves into the coconut milk and barely bring to a simmer over medium heat. Let this steep for 10 to 15 minutes before straining the infused milk into a container to finish cooling.
To get that layered effect when serving, start with three tablespoons of condensed milk in the bottom of each glass before adding crushed ice. I hear the boos and hisses from the particularly health-conscious out there but I can assure you that sweetened condensed milk is key to genuine Thai or Vietnamese iced coffee.
Gently pour six to eight ounces of coffee over the ice, leaving an inch or so at the top of each glass.
Garnish with a sprig of Thai basil and finish off with a couple splashes of ginger-coconut milk.