Friday, October 8, 2010

Recipe Friday: Iced Constantine Edition, or Starbucks Stole My Childhood and Put it in a Glass

I am not generally a fan of Starbucks or similar establishments. It's probably incredibly snobbish or elitist of me, but I would rather go to some little Mom 'n Pop place or a practically unknown hole-in-the-wall Vietnamese restaurant when I'm going to buy coffee instead of making it myself. The first time I ever went to a Starbucks, however, I ordered an Iced Constantine and was in coffee heaven. I don't remember which Starbucks I was at or when or why, but I remember that drink making me feel more than a little homesick. Everything about it reminded me of Gramma's house. It wasn't made from cinnamon, honey, cardamom, and good strong coffee. Not really. Someone had sneaked into my childhood and made an icy summer drink of it.

Cinnamon was Gramma G's favorite spice so it was added to just about every baked good she made when we were growing up. One of my favorite things she'd ever make for us grandkids was leftover pie crust dough cut into strips and rolled in cinnamon before baking. Then, when they were all pretty and golden, she'd put them on paper plates for each of us and ask us if we wanted honey or syrup to go on top. The honey was often remnants of what she had canned while Grandpa was still alive. I swear to this day that it was the best honey in the whole entire world ever, all dark from that year's buckwheat crop and wild like the surrounding forest. Cardamom has been one of my favorite spices ever since I was rummaging through Gramma G's cabinets as a kid and found a tiny tin of it that she used to dust the tops of homemade muffins. I loved the smell of it and would sneak whiffs from it whenever I could. In addition to a really fun spice cabinet, there was always a fresh pot of coffee going at Gramma G's house. Always. It didn't matter if it was opening day of deer season with family and friends from as far as 3 states away all crowding into the farmhouse kitchen for early-morning biscuits and gravy or the depths of hay season with all the grandkids covered in chaff and smelling of sweat and summer, that coffee pot never got a rest.

I have made my own versions of the Iced Constantine over the years. Sometimes I'd brew the coffee with the cinnamon and cardamom in the basket with the ground beans, sometimes they'd get stirred in already brewed  coffee as I dissolved the honey. I found this copycat version of the recipe earlier this week and decided to make a batch using my own recipe (shown below) this morning for a little reminder of home and all the people there I love and miss. 

Iced Constantine
ground beans for good strong coffee
2 tablespoons cinnamon stick pieces* (I used Cassia Chunks from Penzeys)
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom (again, mine was from Penzeys)
1/2-3/4 cup honey (I like mine really sweet so it's usually more toward the 3/4 cup side)
ice cubes (I use frozen coffee cubes so my drink doesn't get watered down)
half-and-half, milk, creamer, or non-dairy substitute of your choice

Cast of Characters: honey, cardamom, milk substitute, chilled coffee brewed with cinnamon, coffee ice cubes

1. Add cinnamon pieces to brewing basket with ground beans and brew coffee as you would normally. 
Cinnamon chips and ground coffee in brewing basket.

2. To the entire pot of brewed coffee,  add honey and cardamom. Stir to dissolve, then chill. I usually put mine in the fridge overnight and use it the next morning. 

3. Fill a glass with ice and fill approximately 3/4 full of coffee. Add desired amount of milk or creamer, stir and enjoy. 

*A note on cinnamon chunks versus ground cinnamon. Cinnamon chunks work best here because they are used in the brewing basket of the coffee pot. An interesting property of ground cinnamon is its tendency to form an oozy, gelatinous mass when wet.  This oozy mass tends to block all the holes in a reusable mesh basket and coat the insides of paper filters, making your coffee pot overflow and leaving you a huge horrible mess to clean up and no delicious coffee to drink. If you do not have cinnamon sticks or chunks, just brew up the coffee and add an equal amount of cinnamon as cardamom when you add the honey.

1 comment:

  1. I never buy these at star bucks, but I will make my own now. Thanks for sharing, gonna make some coffee cubes first, great idea.


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