The marocchino coffee is a delight to look at, before being a delight to taste. A reworking of the Turin drink ‘bicerin,’ this coffee, served in a glass cup, combines flavors and textures together in a sublime way to delight your palate. The bitterness of the cocoa accompanies the coffee and contrasts with the sweetness of the foamed milk. How and where did this recipe come about? The first thing to clarify concerns the fact that this drink, despite its name, has nothing to do with the coffee prepared in Morocco. Are you ready to discover the story of marocchino coffee?
Marocchino coffee: history and origins of its name
Do you know the ‘Cavour bicerin,’ the historic drink from Turin, particularly loved by Camillo Benso, Count of Cavour? Ernest Hemingway liked it too. This is a coffee arranged in layers and served in a small glass: chocolate, espresso, foamed milk, in this precise order. With regards to its origins, everyone seems to agree: it was born in Alexandria, and more precisely at the Bar Carpano. In the first half of the twentieth century, opposite the bar, there was the head office of an Italian brand which made history: Borsalino. The hats produced at that time had a strip inside made of top-quality leather, called Marocchino, which is obtained by tanning goatskin or sheepskin and in the 1500’s it was used for binding books. The name “marocchino coffee” derives from the fact that the drink’s color was very similar to the color of this type of leather that the baristas of the Bar Carpano often saw.
How to prepare a marocchino coffee – recipe
The ingredients, the equipment and preparation steps.
It takes just a few simple steps to prepare a tasty marocchino coffee, ready to enjoy. Here are the ingredients and the equipment you will need to find and keep handy.
• 0.25oz of ground coffee
• 1oz of fresh whole milk
• bitter cocoa powder
• One 5 fl oz glass
• Milk jug 11.8 fl oz
• Cocoa shaker
The ideal glass for the Marocchino coffee
Remember that the ideal glass for the marocchino coffee has the base narrower than the mouth and is in clear glass: this allows the consumer to be able to admire the overlapping layers of the different ingredients, because, as all enthusiasts know well, the marocchino is not just creamy and tasty, it is also a feast for the eyes.
The Preparation of the Marocchino coffee
1. Sprinkle the bottom of the glass with a light layer of bitter cocoa powder.
2. Prepare the espresso directly in the serving glass, previously heated.
3. Sprinkle the surface of the espresso with a light layer of bitter cocoa.
4. Foam the milk in the milk jug using the steaming arm of the espresso machine.
5. With the help of a spoon, ease the foamed milk onto the surface of the espresso until you fill the glass.
6. Finish off with a light sprinkling of bitter cocoa and serve your marocchino coffee.
Useful advice on foaming the milk
Preparing a marocchino coffee is a simple operation, which requires just a little skill in the foaming of the milk. In fact, this phase requires some confidence in the movements, to avoid moving the steaming arm too brusquely. The correct consistency is obtained when the milk has incorporated a certain amount of air, distributed evenly: this is achieved by maintaining the position of the steaming arm and keeping the milk moving in a circular motion, which produces a “vortex” with the steam.
Here are 4 handy hints on the movements to follow:
1. Already in position, turn on the steaming arm of the espresso machine to maximum and stay still. For the first 3-4 seconds air will be pumped into the milk, which will increase in volume by about 1/3. In this phase you will hear the milk being pumped into the milk jug.
2. You will note that the milk, in moving, will create a “vortex” effect which will burst the air bubbles injected in the previous phase.
3. Try to stay as still as possible! At this point the milk will stop increasing in volume and you will no longer hear the air, but it will continue its circular motion. Monitor the increase in the temperature of the milk and, once it has reached around 55 °C, switch off the steaming arm.
4. Quickly remove the steaming arm from the milk and with a clean, damp cloth (used only and exclusively for this operation) clean the external surface of the arm; while to clean the internal tube of milk residues, simply switch on the steam for about 1 second.
Marocchino coffee: same taste, different names
This drink is quite common everywhere in Italy, but depending on the region it has different names. In Piedmont, it is called “marocchino,” but sometimes also called “bicerin”, whereas in some areas in the south, it goes by the name of “vetrino” and you may even hear it called “espressino”. Even the order of the ingredients, which, as we have seen, is fundamental, is not always fully respected: at times, the marocchino coffee is prepared by pouring the foamed milk in first and then the coffee.
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