Instant Espresso Whipped Topping Makes for Delicious Dolloping

Who knew instant coffee granules were so good at foaming?

Published May 25, 2021.

Remember the dalgona coffee craze?

The whipped “quarantine coffee” drink took TikTok and Instagram by storm just as the world was shutting down. It sounded so comforting: whipping instant coffee granules, sugar, and water into a luscious, billowy foam to dollop on top of a glass of milk. 

But a social media–worthy drink isn’t the only use for this simple combination of instant coffee powder, sugar, and water with magical foaming abilities. In fact, when looking for a plant-based topping for the Chocolate Espresso Tart incuded in our Complete Plant-Based Cookbook, Deputy Editor Stephanie Pixley came across an intriguing video for “coffee whipped cream” that relies on the same three ingredients.

(Why are instant coffee granules good at foaming? Our Senior Science Research Editor Paul Adams explains: Instant coffee is dried in a way that removes almost all the oils—the enemy of water-based foams—and it contains long soluble polysaccharides, a type of carbohydrate, which stabilize foams.)

With a little work adjusting the ratio of sugar to espresso powder and water, we discovered a glossy, billowy, meringue-like topping that we could pipe into beautiful peaks that held their shape for hours. And the pantry-friendly ingredients make this the perfect topping to whip up when you need a sweet, showstopping topping tempered with coffee’s bitterness, without the need of cream or eggs.

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Instant Espresso “Meringue”

From The Complete Plant-Based Cookbook

This would be delicious dolloped on brownies, chocolate pudding, milkshakes, pies, or tarts.

6 tablespoons (2⅔ ounces) sugar
¼ cup ice water
4 teaspoons instant espresso powder

Using stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whip sugar, ice water, and espresso powder on high speed until soft peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer mixture to pastry bag and pipe decoratively, or dollop as desired.

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