Velvety cream, hot coffee, whiskey and brown sugar – you’re always bound for a good place with these ingredients. The only “trick” there is for Irish coffee (if it can be called a trick), is to use full fat cream. Spray cream should not come near it, although that is how it’s often served in bars. If you follow the instructions below, you’ll find a dozen excuses to go out into the forest or on long rainy cycling treks just to come home and reward yourself with this autumnal comfort blanket. You need:
1 cup of hot, freshly brewed coffee
1 measure Irish whiskey
2 tbsp velvety cream
1 tbsp dark brown sugar
Sprinkle of nutmeg
Heat the glass by pouring hot water into it. Empty it and add a tablespoon of dark sugar. Pour the coffee in, and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Add the whiskey and stir. Carefully pour about 2 tablespoons of softly whipped full cream into the glass to create a lid over the coffee. Finish off with a sprinkle of nutmeg. Enjoy immediately with some chocolate or purple plums.
Time to write about one of my favourite cafés in Brussels: Aksum. Their great coffee is hardly a secret, and housed in a small venue decked out with vintage ethiopian furniture, they are often busy. Their hot chocolate is perfect, standing strong against the stiff competition in Brussels. But for me, the true star of this café is a cake – the passionfruit dacquoise. A thin layer of crème brûlée makes it perfectly crispy on top, which is followed by a velvety, intense passion fruit cream inside, and finished with a soft and chewy bottom of almond meringue. I cannot get enough of it. This beauty is actually not made by Aksum, but sourced from a local Marolles patisserie called Secret Gourmand (a hidden gem for ordering whole cakes). Apart from the delicious passionfruit dacquiose, they also serve pistachio and cherry cake, lime and almond cake, and a chocolate cake I never had the pleasure to try. But these cakes, coupled with the friendly service, delicious coffee and nice venue, makes it a good place for a Sunday treat.
Should you be heavily into coffee, Aksum is also a good place to shop – they import coffee beans from around the world, which is ground in a lovely old school grinder by the door. If you want to take some home, they have a selection of different beans and ways of grinding them. The Finnish owner gives clear advice about the best kind of coffee (and takes the time to answer emails about it). Finally, a little trivia for the Swedophiles: you might think of Italians first when listing coffee drinking nations, but people in the Nordics are even more crazy about their caffeine.