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Saturday, 3 March 2012

Tiramisu Cups - and Nescafe's newest 'Dolce Gusto'

Disclaimer Note
This is not a paid advertisement, and I do not get compensations for reviewing any product here on my blog. On my Blog, I do sometimes write reviews, and recommend specific products like in the case of 'The sisters Olive Oil' in my previous post. But these are products I have found -on my own - to be outstanding, and believe you must know about them as they can tremendously change your cooking results. Therefore I have written these reviews and recommendations on my own behalf and did not earn any income for doing so. As I have promised you, my blog is dedicated to helping you understand food and take your cookery skills to the next level, part of that is knowing good products, equipment, and staying up to date with market offerings, which is why I do these recommendations for you. 
In the case of a paid advertisement/review appearing on my blog, you will be informed :)


A few weeks ago I got a phone call from Nescafe, where I was asked if I would try their new coffee machine. The lady says: "...we are launching a new coffee machine soon and before we release it in the market, we want to first launch it online..." Basically, they have chosen some "Digital Influencers" to be the first to try the machine, who will then talk about their experience through their social networks; so when the machine is released in the market, you already know all about it.

I do not usually do product reviews of this nature, as mentioned above. However, I was totally impressed with their marketing strategy, something about it hit home with me. You see, my own Brand 'Dima Sharif' came to life online. My whole concept first saw light online and on social networks, then grew from there. I really liked how they were eager to tell their customers what other customers think of the product, and through channels that are familiar to them...etc, so I decided to go for it. A few weeks later, I received a package from Nescafe that included the Dolce Gusto coffee machine and 5 different flavours of coffee: Grande Intenso, Cappuccino, Esspresso, Iced Cappuccino & Chococcino. I was super impressed with lengths to which Nescafe had gone with the packaging. They have completely personalised the packaging to my social networking persona (specifically on Twitter). The Dolce Gusto machine pack even had some of my tweets on it, and my twitter profile too! I found that to be very cool, it kind of gives the impression that Nescafe which follows you on twitter really follows you and knows you. After all this is why we do social networks. We tweet to be heard. We follow people whom we find interesting to get to know about their opinions and hear what they have to say, isn't it? And best of all was the badge sealing the cover of the package, which had my name on it, so you know this package was meant to be sent to you, not just some generic package for anyone to try... Super Cool.

There it was, the new Dolce Gusto by Nescafe, the 5 flavours and a whole lot of tasting to take place...
But before we dive into all those tastings, let me tell you a little something about my Retro Nescafe Experience :)

Old VS New
I come from a culture that drinks mainly Turkish Coffee and seldom any filtered or instant coffee. It is just in the past couple of decades that the younger generation started getting into the whole filtered and instant coffee consumption on a large scale. Coffee shops such as Caribu, Costa and starbucks just recently opened up in Jordan. Before then the coffee options were mainly the turkish coffee, cappuccino at a local coffee shop or the Nescafe 'Red Mug'. I grew up in a home where mum is a tea drinker (no coffee at all), and dad is a notorious Turkish coffee drinker. So when I started drinking coffee, it was either the non-convenient boiling of Turkish coffee, or the instant Nescafe. Then at campus, Nescafe was the only coffee on offer, so you can say I drank quite a bit of Nescafe! They used to offer it in Styrofoam cups mixed with loads of sugar and milk/coffee mate, or you could have it black. For the longest time, I drank this coffee and found it very tasty (just as coffee should taste like, in comparison to only itself)!!
With the passing of time, and trying out of many other different coffees, I came to learn that coffee could taste different. It can taste better or worse.

When I finally tasted the Dolce Gusto: Grande Intenso Coffee, which is an intense dark coffee flavour, it is definitely a long walk ahead in the right direction. Way better than the famous instant granules! The machine's ability to create foam, makes it even better in texture and experience as the foam lends a hint of creaminess although cream is non present. I had it straight black, without the addition of sugar, which is how I usually like my coffee. I found that it tastes good, slightly on the bitter side of things though. One major improvement from the old Nescafe products, is that the coffee lacked on that sour note it used to have before. I find that sour notes in coffee are terribly offsetting. Not only that, but everytime I made a Dolce Gusto Coffee, whichever flavour, the coffee aromas were really robust, that everyone complimented the smell of my home as they walked in. First my hubby says: "Something smells very yummy, like a coffee smell". My guests said "your house smells like really good coffee"! I was very happy.

Hot & Cold Coffee Drinks
Of course, my second choice to taste was the Cappuccino. The box even said: "Have a Cappuccino with @ElsaMclean"!! My friend who also follows me on twitter, how cool is that?!! The best thing about the Dolce Gusto machine is that it is simply a matter of placing a capsule (already filled with the coffee) into the allocated slot on the machine, then you fill the small water tank at the back with water and press the hot water button. Yes there is another button for cold water!! The machine also makes iced Cappuccino!! The same process, just with a cold water button and some ice!
Once the Cappuccino cup was made I have to say, it looked gorgeous! Just the right layering and with a tiny sprinkling of cocoa powder it was nothing short from any good Cappuccino I would be served in any cafe. This is a fact that impressed all 4 ladies I had over to taste the cappuccino. All four of them agreed that it was beautiful, delicious, creamy and would go for seconds. I and just another lady both agreed that it was a tiny bit too sweet, and thought it would be nice to have it non-sweetened as an option.
(The milk Capsule was the sweet part, the coffee wasn't. For the rest of the ladies it had just the right balance.)

The Final Verdict
In total, I had asked 9 friends (coffee lovers) to join me to try the different coffee flavours and give me their feedback.

On The Flavour
Those who are into cold coffees voted the iced cappuccino as their favourite and agreed that it is better than any other iced coffee they had ever attempted at home. Those who prefer cappuccino were very impressed with the hot version and loved the flavour. Most said it was very well balanced. The ones who like espresso and dark coffee thought it was slightly over bitter.
We have all agreed though that it would be nice to have capsules that are not sweetened for those who do not wish to have a sweet drink.
Therefore, I am putting this request forward to Nescafe here, hoping they would take it into consideration and offer a sugar-free cappuccino and chococino capsules.
I have been given only 5 flavours to try, but Dolce Gusto offers a total of 10 flavours, which sound fabulous:

  1. Cappuccino
  2. Espresso & Decaffeinato
  3. Esspresso Intenso & Ristretto
  4. Cafe Lungo
  5. Aroma & Cafe Crema Grande
  6. Cortado & Espresso Macchiato
  7. Vanila Macchiato & Late Macchiato
  8. Chococino
  9. Cappuccino Ice
  10. Nestea Peach (Iced Tea)

Machine Shape & Function
All 9 tasters unanimously agreed that they would buy the coffee machine because it was a convenient and affordable version of the Nespresso. They all thought the Dolce Gusto Machine is less bulky and actually very well shaped for the over crowded counter-tops of Dubai's small kitchens. The whole group agreed that the design of the machine was impressive, sleek and modern.
We all thought that the machine was very user-friendly. Easy to operate and clean, which made it even more convenient. With the Dolce Gusto, you no longer have to worry about the right ratios, the clean up, the cup size...etc as it is all taken care of and easy to apply. However, the machine produces one cup of coffee at a time, which could be a bit non practical when preparing many cups of coffee at once.

Everybody was excited to know when the machine was going to be in the market, and said they couldn't wait to buy it. So I would say, it was a hit with the coffee lovers :)

Of course, I would not just let it go without somehow assessing its performance in food making. I have put the Dolce Gusto to the ultimate test, by using its strong black coffee in the making of a dessert that is a true coffee dessert. One that coffee lovers love, and one that is so well known that tasters know what to expect when they have it. What can be better than the old fashioned Tiramisu? I have to say here, that my Tiramisu recipe is always celebrated. Everyone who's tried it before, always told me it is super delicious. The same people who tasted this version of Tiramisu, know my original one very well, and can therefore tell the difference.
The Tiramisu turned out fabulous. The coffee flavour was pungent and very well received. Everyone loved it, and said it tasted just like my Tiramisu (for which I usually use premium coffee). So the Dolce Gusto Won the hearts of everyone yet again, and I was happy with the results.

I have served the Tiramisu in Cups to stay true to the Dolce Gusto theme, and layered them as much as possible like the Cappuccino cup to simulate the same experience. I have for this reason, separated the chocolate from the mascarpone mix, and used it in the form of a dark chocolate Ganache instead. In the original recipe, however, the grated chocolate is folded into the mascarpone mixture. Whichever way you go, is fine, but I will post my original and classic Tiramisu recipe for you to try (and as I have always been requested).
You can serve Tiramisu in cups, or layered in a large platter, from which you serve everyone.

Classic Tiramisu
Using Dolce Gusto - Grande Intenso & Esspresso
Makes 6 cups or 1 large dish to serve 8

You Need
1 packet Italian Millefoglie (puff pastry cookies) or lady fingers
3 tbsp sugar
1 cup Dolce Gusto Grande Intenso
2 tbsp sugar syrup
500g mascarpone cheese, softened
½ cup sifted powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
60g grated chocolate (bitter-sweet is best)
1 cup whipping cream
2 tbsp Dolce Gusto Esspresso
More grated chocolate optional or cocoa powder to dust the tops

Chill a medium bowl and beaters of electric mixer for 30 minutes. These will be used for whipping the cream. The chilling helps the cream whip faster and prevents separation.

Make Coffee syrup
In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and cup of Grande Intenso. Bring to boil over medium heat, and continue boiling for 1 more minute. Remove the saucepan from heat. Stir in the sugar syrup and cool completely.

For Mascarpone Mixture
In a medium bowl stir together the mascarpone, powdered sugar and vanilla. Stir in grated chocolate (60g).

To assemble in cups: 
Cube the Italian Millefoglie. Soak each cube in the coffee syrup and place at the bottom of each cup. Top with a layer of the mascapone mixture. Add another layer of soaked Millefoglie cubes and top with some crushed Milfoglie. If your cup is big enough for another layer of Mascarpone mixture, then add another layer of both the mascarpone and soaked cookie cubes. If not, then just move right to the whipped cream layer.

In the chilled bowl and beaters, add whipping cream and 2 tbsp cooled esspresso. Beat on medium spead till soft peaks form. Spread this mixture over the top of the last layer and sprinkle with grated chocolate or a layer of cocoa powder or both.

Cover and chill at least 4 hours before serving. Serve cold and be showered with compliments :)

The Dolce Gusto machine is now launched and had been spotted in Carrefour. Hope this post gives you a good idea about its function.

Thank you for reading this post, hope you enjoyed it. Drop by again soon for more fab food, and kitchen talk :)) Would love to hear from you, so don't shy away and leave me a comment before you go...