How to Make Home-Made Frappe's
Not as easy as it looks....
I'll be honest. I like making my own blended drinks at home. In fact, before I worked for a cafe, I thought I did a darn good job at it, too. A little splash of milk, vanilla, some ice and some coffee, and what else do you need?
Only then, about halfway through drinking it, I'd hit a weird patch, or it would lose its flavor and just taste like chopped up ice, and I'd end up dumping the rest down the drain. And it was always the same ingredients, every time, I was afraid to try anything different because I didn't want to waste more than I already would.
Sounds funny, right? Sound familiar at all?
I was making them wrong all along!
I was using too much of some ingredients and not enough of the RIGHT ingredients.
And what's more, I was watching them make the drinks at Starbucks and Coffee Bean and those other fancy cafes, with their fancy equipment, and then I just figured it was because I had a horrible blender and left it at that. Not necessarily the case!
Now that I've worked in a fancy-schmancy-we've-got-all-the-cool-toys cafe, I started experimenting with things at home, and turned my little crap-tastic blender into the best ice-blended coffee maker in the ...err...apartment. Well, you know what I mean. It works!
And here's how....
Getting it "right" depends on a couple of small things - the right ingredients and the right proportions of each ingredient. Especially with a smaller blender, you are more likely to put too much of one thing and not enough of another in there if you base it all off of what you see people put in the large industrial blenders.
Here's a little hint - your home blender might be "supercharged", but it's not going to blend things the same way an industrial one will. A lot of it has to do with blade type rather than speed, but speed can still be a factor. I know for a fact that my little blender has a different blade, so I have to adjust ingredients based on the size it chops things up in.
And another thing - you see people in cafes put a cup to a cup-and-a-half of ice in there, which is all well and good if you like super-cold drinks, but there's another ingredient they put in there to help emulsify the ice - a special syrup to help smooth everything out. Chances are, you're not going to have that at home. So if you like your drinks extra-icy, be careful - use already cold or chilled ingredients rather than more ice, put your coffee in the freezer for ten minutes before you use it. Otherwise, you'll get a disgusting ice layer at the top of your coffee and you'll wonder why you bothered, because it just tastes like watered-down coffee.
First thing's first - choose your blender. I personally prefer my magic bullet over my bigger blender because that way if I mess up I haven't wasted much. And that's half of the fun of making them - you never know how they're going to turn out. Plus, that way I can't make more than I can drink at one time. They're best fresh, after all. And let's face it, I don't need more than one serving, I'm trying to lose my squishy tummy, not gain more.
Next, choose your blender blade (if you can). I like to use the one on the right for mine, but that doesn't mean another one won't work. Experiment with each one and find a texture you like.
Now it's time for ingredients.
- coffee (brewed at home and let to get cold, or put in the fridge for a while)
- milk (if you like a little mocha flavor, I highly recommend Chocolate Silk brand soy milk. They also have a vanilla that goes VERY well in these also. I not only like the Silk because I'm lactose intolerant, but it seems to get a LITTLE less foamy when blended)
Seriously, that's it, for the absolute basics.
Then you have to decide how fancy you want to get, here. Do you (a) want a plain old smooth-blended cold coffee drink, maybe a little flavor, but nothing too special; or (b) want something daring, exciting, and maybe a little more...chewy?
A. You just need the basics listed above. Don't like soy milk? You can add a little bit of hershey's syrup (a couple teaspoons), or you can add a smidge of vanilla extract (half a teaspoon for a magic bullet cup at the MOST - powerful stuff! Very easily overpowers everything and ruins the drink)
Feeling a little more adventurous? Try Option B. Adding something in. Below are lists of things that work and, well..things that you really shouldn't stick in a blender.
Things that DON'T work
- candy bars (twix, snickers, etc)
- caramel (again, I'd be worried about that)
- granola bars
Why? Most of these ingredients when exposed to ice just get too sticky and clog things up, or clot into little sticky globs rather than blending in smoothly. Caramel from candy bars especially (oh boy did I hate cleaning that one up when I tried my twix bars. Tasted great, but I nearly took off a finger trying to get the caramel from it off of the blades!)
Granola bars, even the deliciously unhealthy kind that you'd THINK would work, well... don't. Sure, there's a little texture, but usually it just soaks up the flavor and doesn't give it back, at least in my experience.
Things that DO work
- 100 calorie packs of cookies
- Famous Amos brand cookies
- Chocolate Chips (I haven't tried them but I bet Caramel Chips - since they're not gooey but more the consistency of chocolate chips - that they have in stores now would work too!)
- Syrups (chocolate, creme de menthe - I'd be cautious about using caramel IN the blender, though)
Why? Smooth syrups that are made for ice cream and such *should* blend in just as well - just like with chocolate milk, the chocolate syrup will just mix in perfectly.
I don't know why, but 100 calorie packs of fudge stripes are my absolute favorite - they blend PERFECTLY, and it mimics one of the frappuccino's we have at my cafe right now, almost gives it a mocha-cookie-crumble type of flavor and texture. A little bit to crunch with your teeth, and a LOT of flavor. And one pack is perfect for one magic bullet cup.
How much is enough?
Unlike cafe type blended coffee, you don't want it to be 90% ice. It's not going to blend as smoothly as you want it to that way. You want it to be mostly coffee and milk, as with home blenders, that's what foams less, and is going to give you a truer flavor. I don't know about all places, but I know starbucks-style cafes use a coffee-flavored syrup to help with both the flavor and the emulsification process, to make things smoother when blended.
In my magic bullet, this is the ratio I use with the large (regular) cup for my favorite mix:
- 1/2 cup drip coffee left to cool on its own
- 1 package 100-calorie-pack-cookies (fudge stripes, yaaay!)
- 2 standard-size-tray ice cubes. Yes. Two. That's all it takes
- milk (silk, vanilla or chocolate depending on my mood) to a 1/4-inch below the rim of the glass.
- Fill 1/2 of the cup you are using with regular, cold or room temperature drip coffee from your coffee maker.
- Add cookies or syrup you are using, or other flavorings. Anything extra, really.
- Add two standard-size ice cubes.
- Add milk up to 1/4-inch below blending cup rim.
- Screw on your blade-bottom, plug in your blender, and hit it.
- Pour into a glass, and enjoy!