There is nothing better than a cup of coffee for an early morning wake up. A large cup of coffee. A very large cup of coffee, delivered to my bed. I need coffee in the mornings. Ok, so maybe I don’t need coffee right when I wake up, and to be honest if I had to stop drinking coffee for whatever reason, I probably could. But there’s something about the routine of coffee – waking up to a cup, and drinking it while still having time to actually wake up – that really makes my morning. Think about it…you are taking a break before you’ve even done anything. Combine that with a caffeinated pick-me up, and I’d say coffee is pretty much the best thing ever invented.
You know what’s even better? You can take that coffee break whenever you want. I like to take a coffee break after work, to break up the afternoon and keep me more productive. With this summer’s heat, my afternoon coffees have been iced and in an effort to tame my coffee-house vice, I came up with a way to make my own coffee treat with homemade vanilla milk!
-really good vanilla beans (not the extract)
-milk (skim is OK, but I find a little fat helps the flavor stick, I used 1%)
*Use maximum 2 cups milk per one half vanilla bean, I used 1½ cups
-coffee, cold or at least room temperature
-frozen coffee ice cubes
Pour some room-temperature or already chilled coffee into an ice cube tray, and freeze until set. Make sure to save some coffee to pour over the ice later!
Next, pour milk into any storage container that has a lid. I use glass mason jars, so that I can shake them up every once in a while to mix the vanilla beans through the milk, and so that I can see the seeds freckled throughout the milk. You can find organic vanilla beans in the spice or baking aisle – I highly recommend that you buy these. They are more expensive, but much more flavorful, and you’d be spending more if you got the barista beverage at your local chain. Slice your vanilla bean (pod) in half – all the way in half – lengthwise. Using the dull edge of the knife, scrape the seeds out of the pod, tap them off of the knife into the milk, and add the pods. Try not to use your hands, because the seeds will stick to the oils in your fingers and you won’t be able to get all of the seeds into the milk ($$). Here is where you would add sweeteners, if you wanted to. I made two batches – sweetened and unsweetened – because I don’t like sugar in my coffee, but I do like a little sweetener in my lattes. I also used coconut nectar as my sweetener, but you can substitute this with any one that you like. Coconut nectar is a newer product, and can be found in most health food stores big and small. It’s made from the meat of coconuts, has a lower glycemic index than most sugars, contains healthy amino acids, and is less processed than regular sugars and syrups. And it doesn’t taste like coconut! It tastes like an earthy sugar, sort of like maple syrup without the maple. Try it! The milk will last just as if it were non-vanilla, if you can make it last that long. I find myself drinking the unsweetened vanilla milk all by itself. It’s so good!
When all is frozen and vanilla-d, pop your ice cubes into a glass, pour in some additional coffee, and the milk. That’s it! I like to make mine more of a cafe au lait, and just pour over the milk and give it a stir – you can really taste that vanilla when you do that. This would also be a good method for iced lattes – just replace the coffee with espresso cubes!
I love vanilla milk in this iced coffee and latte, and I can’t wait to try it with some oven-hot chocolate chip cookies!