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Add your favorite liqueur or liquor to Frappe

After a very chilly afternoon of food science and model rockets, it was time to warm up with some hot chocolate.  After ordering three medium hot chocolates and a medium fry at a local fast food restaurant, I was stunned to have the cashier tell me it would be over $12.
How did this happen?  What in the world is going on?  As I proceeded through the Drive-thru I paid closer attention to the coffee menu.
The frozen mocha drinks were upwards of five dollars a pop; I guess I’m turning into the old geezer penny-pincher. The prices had given me my first sticker shock in a long time.
I believe that we live in a great nation, albeit one in which marketing can often dictate what we perceive as good pricing on mediocre products.
As I drove home, my attention turned to the frozen mocha mega-delicious shakes that cost so much money.  I have tried making them in the past to no great success and realized that I had been leaving out a readily available product used in a great deal of food processing: xanthan gum.
You can find xanthan in the natural foods section of most stores and the brand that I have is Bob’s Red Mill xanthan that is inexpensive considering how little you have to use and the effect that it has on many food products.
A full week passed by before we began experimentation with the miraculous microbe, using it in a simple vinaigrette that permanently emulsified the mixture with great success and ease.  Next up, with the family in town and the kids playing guitar and piano at 10:30 at night, it was time to play around with a caffeinated coffee treat.  After all, nothing says ‘jamming’ like sugar and caffeine.
So I made a quick frozen mocha drink for everyone and they were a huge hit.  Plus the music continued until almost 1 in the morning.
If you have tried to make a coffee drink or fruit smoothie, you may have noticed that the water will separate or weep from your mixture, making it difficult to drink and unpleasant to look at.  With the quick addition of a thickener such as xanthan, you will notice a drastic difference in appearance and texture with no notable difference in taste.  So little is used for a batch that will serve six people that it won’t affect the flavor profile.
Digging through our pantry to make our treat, I noticed the Ghirardelli Syrup that we have had for a while.  Sometimes you can find it in the store; otherwise it can be easily procured online.
Making the treat was simple enough, thickening it was even easier and watching it disappear was the simplest trick ever performed in our kitchen. Easy, fun and delicious, this recipe does not belong in your healthy cuisine files but then I never claimed to be that chef, did I?
Another great aspect of this drink is that you can add liqueur and/or liquor to the shake, effectively creating those mystical smooth and creamy drinks you get at your favorite restaurant.  Experiment with the new ingredient in your arsenal and let me know how it goes.
So, after progressing from a chilly day with hot cocoa to a chilled mocha shake for our musical minions, I realize that it is all in a week’s work for the curious cook.  And now that this one is mastered, methinks I shall integrate more running into the week to help combat the evil effects that this may possibly have on this old body.

Hand Crafted Frappe

Makes a little over 1 quart

3/4 cup good coffee grounds
2 cups cold half & half
Chocolate Syrup, as needed
1 teaspoon Xanthan Gum, as needed
Crushed ice

Bring the coffee grounds to a boil in 1 1/2 cups of water and immediately turn to a simmer
Let it simmer for three minutes and then pull off the heat, allowing to steep for an additional ten minutes. Chill and set aside until ready to make your frappe.
Place your coffee concentrate in a good blender.
Add the half and half and chocolate syrup and blend until you have the taste that you like.  Remember that the flavor will weaken as you add the ice; so make your frappe a little over-flavored at this point.
Add the Xanthan gum and shear in the blender. (That’s fancy science talk for cutting the xanthan into your mixture which hydrates it and allows it to create the colloidal bond with the water in your mix.)
Add the ice and blend until smooth and creamy. The xanthan will keep your frappe together and not weeping, which is where the water separates from the mix. Xanthan can also aid in making fruit smoothies and mixed drinks in which you have the weeping issue. Xanthan is readily available so play with it.
Top with whipped cream and serve immediately.
Want to add some Kahlua or other liqueurs or liquors?  Xanthan is the secret in many commercially made drink mixes and the reason that the home-mixer can’t seem to make those specialty drinks like they do in the restaurants