Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Frothing Milk Without a Frother: and, Steamed Milk, Lattes and More

Thanks for reading this post, I'm so excited to visit with you!  
After you've gleaned all the good information you need, visit our new blog platform at www.farmandhearth.com to read even more fascinating tidbits from the kitchen and the fields. 

Dear steamed,

I love frothy, foamy milk.  Whether it's for filling a toasty mug of hazelnut-butter rum milk, or topping a nutty, fresh cappuccino, something about foamed milk just adds the perfect touch of sophistication, beauty and downright special feeling.

Needed frother 

I've been though a couple expensive frothers, ranging from $80 to $100.  They disappointed sorely.

Cruddy cellphone pic since my camera is still on the fritz
Happy ... for a while  

At first, they were great.  I loved them.  I sang their praises.  I couldn't be more pleased.  My milk was whirred to perfection in the little machine and poured, as thick as seafoam and just as moldable, into a cup of waiting espresso.  But they all started to fade.  Quickly.  Our first Keurig model lasted a few months, then quite eagerly heated but did not foam the milk; I returned it.  I got a new one - maybe that one was defective?  I used it twice, and then it reverted to wearily heating, and no longer foaming, the milk.  Disgusted, I returned that one, too.

Why me 

I started doing a little research, and learned that just about every milk frother seemed to fall prey to the same discouraging issue!  What's to be done?  I didn't want to spend a bunch of money on one again, even though I did get my cash refunded for my original purchase at Bed Bath and Beyond (I highly recommend this store for purchases of this nature, as they stand by their products!).

Why froth

But I still wanted bubbled, foamy milk!  Aside from being more fun, frothed milk - milk with air incorporated - tastes sweeter and has a more developed flavor than flat, plain milk.  I finally hit upon a fortuitous solution and have been using it steadily, well, every day, to fill my cup with bubbles of milk.  Using a french press, I utilized a method that most of you probably already use for washing your press!  Do you see where I'm going with this?  Read on ...

Frothed Milk
We have two small French presses, and a large one.  One of the small presses travels with Mr H when he is in the country, and the other is my pet toy for milk and tea.  The large one makes the perfect quantity of coffee for both of us in the morning - any leftovers are poured into a glass and refrigerated for iced coffee in the afternoon!  

Warm milk to desired temperature, stirring constantly to avoid developing a "skin" on top (if it does, just whisk it back in).  Pour into a French press - if using a small one, fill only halfway to avoid overflow.  Churn the plunger up and down rapidly several times until the milk turns to thick foam.  Top your cappuccino, latte, steamed milk, or other drink with an inch of foam!

I heat my milk on the stove, not the microwave.  This is a matter of personal preference

Just think - you probably burn about four calories just pumping this baby!

 Steamed Milk (more accurately, Hot Milk, since we don't use a steamer!)
My friend Chester told me about steamed milk when I was in college studying synapses and biopsychology.  "That's disgusting," I said.  Then I had one; life forever anew, welcome to me!  I drink steamed milk just about every day now!  I love it.  Hot milk doesn't have to be sweet, but if you like it sweet (I love just a hint), there are a variety of choices.  

Milk:  Start with whole, preferably raw or low-heat pasteurized milk.  I don't recommend ultra-pasteurized milk.  Even though we are heating our milk here, ultra-pasteurized milk goes through a process that is ill-designed for your health.

Sweetener: Cane sugar, brown sugar, sucanat, palm sugar, mild honey, maple syrup, stevia powder, stevia liquid, Torani syrups if you so desire

Flavors: Torani syrups, extracts and essences such as (but not limited to!) almond, lemon, ginger, orange, anise, vanilla, butter rum, hazelnut cream, maple, coconut, cardamom, pistachio, banana, caramel, french vanilla, peppermint ... If you have any great flavoring ideas, please mention them in the comments below!!  I like to use a mix of a few extracts - hazelnut being a favorite, followed by caramel, vanilla and almond!

Suggested: Natural Nut Flavors Natural Fruit Flavors Sweet Brown Flavors

I also highly recommend quality homemade extracts, Penzeys, or MarketSpice for superior flavor.  

Process: Steam milk to desired temperature: 140 - 150 is the norm, and anything above 160 will burn the milk and taste like gross.  Stir constantly; if milk develops a skin on the surface, I blend it right back in.  Pro tip: Never reheat cooled, previously steamed milk.  That stuff tastes nasty.

Drop flavors, syrups, and sweeteners into a mug, preferably warmed (you can fill it with hot water while you are preparing the milk to warm it).  You will have to adjust to your preference; over time, you will know what you like.  Easy does it, though.  With quality flavorings, a little goes a long way.  Nothing is quite like a cup of perfectly foamed, perfectly heated, overwhelmingly over-flavored cup of milk!

If your milk is perfectly foamed, then foam and milk will be one and fill your cup seamlessly.  As you whisk, the bubbles will rise to the surface (you can see this if you use a glass cup), leaving the bottom layer of smooth, creamy milk, and the top layer of foamy, bubbly milk.

Butter rum?  I think so.  
 Cafe au Lait
A Frenchie take on the simple latte, this is one of my favorite ways to steam up.  I don't follow convention exactly when preparing this, but for my purposes, the effect is about the same.  


Fill a warm mug halfway with strong brewed coffee.  I like Green Mountain Organic Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, myself. Fill the mug the remaining halfway with hot, frothed milk.  Whisk gently together and enjoy.

Caffee Latte
This is the italian version.  Italians like their coffee a little bolder - hence the reason they are hairier than Frenchmen. 

1 ounce fresh espresso
6 ounces steamed milk, frothed

Milk in cup; espresso in cup.  Whisk if desired.  If you like it sweet (I don't - it interferes with my bold espresso experience!), add sweetener of choice to the milk before frothing.

{White} Chocolate Mocha
We used this delectable treat to warm up after exploring the wreckage of Hurricane Sandy near our home.  It's pretty sweet, so we reserve it for special occasions only! 

1/4 cup chocolate chips (white, milk or semi-sweet)
8 ounces steamed, or hot, milk
1 shot espresso (1.5 ounces) or strong coffee
Whipped cream (optional) or foam
Chocolate, white or caramel syrup (optional)

Melt chips in a double-boiler. Using a spatula, scrape into a warmed mug (you can rinse with very hot water for a few moments prior to using).  Pour in the shot; add steamed or hot milk.  Whisk briskly.  Top with whipped cream or foam; add drizzled syrup or shaved chocolate if desired.  Read more about this drink here.

Not impressed
I need more

For a more complex guide on frothing milk, latte art and barista skill, check out this seven-part guide by coffeegeek.

Frothing 'til the cows come home,

Mrs H

tweet us @_mrs_h for chewy nuggets
Pin us at Pinterest for pretty photos and intriguing articles
Follow us on Facebook for recipes, giveaways, and brilliant flashes of perspiration!

Tools of the trade 
The highest-rated French press, and the one I use, is the Bodum.  They offer a variety of sizes.  I suggest the Bodum if you don't want to go through several broken presses in the first year of use!

Primula makes an aluminum-free espresso maker ... 

Or if you want legitimate italian, try the superstar pot, Vev Vigano!  Be aware that espresso pots are measured in "cups" which refer to an espresso cup, about 1 ounce each.  



Related Posts with Thumbnails