Everyone knows that coffee and dessert just belong together – there’s a reason virtually every coffee shop has a display case of muffins, cookies, and pastries. But have you ever found that drink-and-dessert combo that’s just a little more perfect than others? To help you celebrate National Coffee Day with the best pairing possible, we’re diving into which drinks best complement the most common desserts and pastries at your favorite coffee shop. And if you prefer to enjoy your coffee at home in your Ember Mug², like us, we’ve got an easy-to-make recipe recommendation for every category of coffee.
Straight espresso can easily dominate subtle flavors, so it should be paired with something equally bold. Rich, dark chocolate desserts and pastries work best. Consider ordering that flourless chocolate torte or double dark chocolate cookie.
Recipe Choice: Flourless Chocolate Torte
Lattes and cappuccinos have a milder, milky taste that pairs well with a broader range of desserts than espresso. The ubiquitous muffins, scones, and biscotti in your favorite café all work nicely. Texture-wise, we prefer to counter the creaminess of the drink with a dessert that has a firmer texture and a bit of a "snap" or "crunch" that can handle dunking. Biscotti or a crisp sugar cookie are our go-to's.
Since lattes tend to have more milk than cappuccinos and, therefore, a milder coffee flavor, you may also consider pairing them with a coffee-flavored dessert like tiramisu.
Recipe Choice: Almond Biscotti with Chocolate
Cortados have less milk than either lattes or cappuccinos, so the espresso flavor is quite strong. We recommend a similar pairing like that of an espresso drink – i.e. something bold and chocolatey – though the chocolate doesn’t need to be quite as dark to work. A brownie or chocolate scone pair well and will contribute a “mocha-esque” flavor to your cortado.
Recipe Choice: Salted Fudge Brownies
Since flavored lattes already have plenty of flavor and sweetness of their own, they pair well with something simple. Croissants, bagels, biscotti, and plain shortbread cookies are all neutral choices that won’t overload your palate with sweetness and will allow the flavors of your latte to be the star of the show.
Alternatively, you can order something that complements the flavors of your latte (as long as you don’t mind the additional sweetness). Fall-flavored drinks work well with desserts with cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, or pumpkin pie spice. (Think snickerdoodles, gingersnaps, or pumpkin-flavored anything). Peppermint-flavored drinks work best with chocolate. Vanilla and caramel are both fairly neutral flavors that work well with most desserts, though we love something slightly acidic like a lemon bar to avoid a sweetness overload.
Recipe Choice: Classic Shortbread Cookies
Black coffee pairs well with almost anything, but we prefer to enjoy it with desserts that have a little extra sweetness to cut through the bitterness of the coffee. Iced cookies and scones work nicely, and they’ll be available at almost any coffee shop. Another classic pairing that’s super sweet? Glazed donuts, of course.
Recipe Choice: Iced Sugar Cookies
Pour over is a preferred brewing method for bringing out the subtle flavors in specialty and single-origin coffees. If this is why you’re ordering it, you’ll want to pair it with something subtle that won’t overwhelm the notes in the coffee. Again, plain croissants, bagels, and shortbread are all great choices here. If you just enjoy the clarity or taste of pour over coffee but aren’t concerned about detecting subtle flavors, you can order more strongly flavored desserts.
Recipe Choice: Butter Croissant
Treat yourself this holiday by giving up cold coffee for good. Sip and celebrate with Ember Mug².