Friday, June 22, 2012
Okay, I've Made My Espresso, Now What Do I Do With the Milk?
I did all of the right things to make espresso at home. I bought myself a good espresso machine. I learned which espresso beans have the best taste and how to grind them to the correct fineness. I managed to insert the gadget with the grinds, known as a portafilter, into the espresso machine, lock it into place, turn on the machine and let her rip. Great espresso!
But I wanted a cappuccino. Sue wanted a latte. Time to figure out how to steam the milk.
Sue is always dieting, so she wants nonfat milk. I found out that low fat and nonfat milk foam really easily. Whole milk takes more practice. Same thing with half and half if you want a breve.
Some espresso machines have a built in steam nozzle and some don't. You may need to buy a separate steamer. I recommend getting an espresso machine with one built in. Saves space.
The first thing to do is to put that stainless steel pitcher and milk into the refrigerator to get cold. Always start with them cold. And then my next learning curve came with remembering to fill the pitcher about a third to a half full. Milk expands really well when it's steamed. It takes only once for it to foam up, overflow and hit the floor to remember to start with a pitcher no more than half full.
Start by putting the nozzle on the surface of the milk and turning the steam on full. The milk is going to begin to foam, so keep lowering the pitcher so that the nozzle is just under the surface of the milk. About a half inch will do fine. You can turn down the pressure when the foam really begins to rise, or just take the pitcher away. Now the milk is just about at the boiling point.
Now here is something important. Don't let it boil. This is another way to get the milk to overflow the pitcher. Or even worse, it will taste burnt. Ugh. Nasty.
Your steamed milk should have little bubbles all the way through it, and there should be a light foam on the top. There you are. That's it. Now you go make whatever espresso drink you want. Next up, you can start learning how to make all those fancy designs in the top.