We are big coffee fans and like to stay in the know as to the latest coffee trends. Last month we were invited to a coffee tasting at the Nespresso Boutique in San Francisco to learn about their product as well as to sample their coffees, particularly two new releases the Palermo and the Milano. After enjoying the Palermo that morning, I immediately knew I needed some sweet as well as Sicilian to serve along with it. This recipe for a Deconstructed Cannoli is perfect.
If you have never been to a Nespresso Boutique, you should add it to your must-do list. You can find the boutiques throughout the world, and if the other locations are anything like San Francisco, you are in for a luxurious treat. The first floor is flooded with light, a beautiful decor and the aroma of coffee enticing you to linger a little longer. The second floor was dark and sexy, and is where you can indulge your shopping whims; all things Nespresso can be found here. Ladies, I can see spending a morning shopping in Union Square and then popping over for an afternoon of coffee, sweets, and conversation.
I was very interested to learn more about Nespresso as it is a pod system coffee maker, which is typically something we do not use. Until now! While I love a great cup of coffee, and the ritual of getting to the point of sitting down and enjoying it, I always want to know more. There are two things I look for when buying coffee, where the beans come from, and how a company helps the farmers of these countries. As well, I am concerned with waste, being sustainable and recycling. One reason I have not switched over from pods is that they typically are not recyclable. I was very interested in learning about these areas during our coffee tasting, and they must be hot topics with Nespresso as we started out of casual over coffee conversation learning more.
Nespresso has a program called the AAA Sustainable Quality Program which was launched in 2003. The program engages expertise with sustainable farming and the livelihoods of the farmers who grow the beans, with the Rainforest Alliance, which is a leading non-profit conservation organization. They are focused on quality and community, not only profit. At the end of 2014, the AAA program counted over 63,000 coffee farmers in 11 coffee growing countries.
Recycling is also important to Nespresso and they offer collection points throughout the areas they sell coffee as well as doorstep collection in some regions. I was more than happy to learn that Nespresso is doing their part in making an effort in keeping helping our environment.
After a discussion on the different beans and blends of coffee pods that Nespresso offers, Karsten Ranitzch, Head of Coffee, showed us the proper way to taste a cup of coffee. First, it is important to smell the coffee as it warms your cup and to appreciate the creme. The creme is that rich golden caramel layer that is on top of a cup of espresso. As you stir the creme, the aroma becomes more enticing. Coffee is like wine, you need to breathe in, then drink by slurping from a spoon. It was really fun actually watching everyone get into it, and into enjoying a lovely cup of espresso.
Nespresso was excited to introduce us to two of their new coffees, the Palermo and the Milano. Both capsules are limited edition and pay tribute to Italy and Sicily. I loved the Palermo as I am a huge fan of a good strong coffee. What was exciting about this coffee was how smooth it was, without any bitterness; it had hints of caramel and spicy undertones. Immediately I thought of something sweet and creamy to serve alongside it.
Mr. Ranitzch was engaging in a conversation with us about food pairings and mentioned that cannoli is the perfect companion for the Palermo. My mind immediately went to work at developing the perfect cannoli. This recipe evolved over the past month and became this luscious Deconstructed Cannoli recipe. While I like cannoli, I tend to shy away from the ones in the US as they are overly sweet and the shells can be greasy. This recipe is the complete opposite. I used ricotta as well as mascarpone cheese to create a rich and creamy texture that is only lightly sweetened. I added vanilla, candied orange peels, and my favorite go-to secret ingredients cocoa nibs which enhances the creamy flavor of the Italian cheeses. Instead of serving in a shell, I crushed amaretti cookies over the top. It is the perfect companion for the Palermo espresso.
When I walked away from my Monday morning at Nespresso, I had a better understanding of the company and its product as well as an appreciation for what they are doing with local coffee farmers as well as their brand. I was impressed with the quality of the coffee as well as the ease of using their machines. I feel confident suggesting Nespresso to our readers as well as loved ones. I am thinking a Nespresso machine and coffee would be a great addition to Thanksgiving entertaining. As well, wouldn’t one of their machines make the ultimate holiday gift for someone special!
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1 cup whole milk ricotta
1 cup mascarpone cheese
1/8 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1 1/2 tablespoons minced candied orange peel
1/2 cup cocoa nibs
a hand full of amaretti cookies, light crushed
In a mixing bowl whip together the ricotta and mascarpone cheese until smooth and creamy. Sprinkle in the sugar along with the vanilla and mix together.
Fold the orange peel and cocoa nibs into the cheese mixture.
Spoon evenly between 4 small bowls.
Sprinkle the crushed cookies over the top.
*** Disclaimer Nespresso supplied us a coffee maker and coffee, as well as inviting us to the coffee tasting event; but did not require us to write about it. This write-up as well as photos and all opinions belong to us.