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Subbing Real Coffee for Instant

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I frequently see instant coffee used in baking, candy making or liquor recipes.

Is there any reason I can't use actual coffee in recipes that involve mixing the coffee powder with hot water? Or even steeping coffee grounds in whatever liquid is in the recipe (milk, cream, water, whatever). Is there some benefit to instant coffee that I'm not aware of, besides convenience? I ask because I'm a coffee drinker and I always have coffee beans on hand, but I do not ever have instant coffee in the house.

I've tested this theory once already, steeping coarse ground coffee beans in the heated cream that I used to make the ganache for some truffles. It came out wonderfully, with a strong but not overpowering coffee flavor. In what situations would this not work? Any?

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  1. Should work with no issues..

    I lot of recipes feature stuff like instant coffee because they were created by the companies trying to push the product not because they were good.

    "Onion soup mix" is another example of that. The stuff is just salt with dried onions and is useless but it was featured in lots of recipes in order to create uses for it.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Hank1

      Not so fast. Instant coffee allows you to add concentrated coffee flavour without additional liquid. For drinking, instant coffee isn't my idea of coffee. But it works very well in chocolate concoctions where you want a coffee hit but there's no room in the recipe for any liquid. And when I want to make a coffee flavoured cream, I will add instant coffee to the cream instead of going through the whole rigamarole of infusing warm cream with ground coffee and then straining it out. It has its uses.

      I don't think you can compare it to onion soup mix, really.

      1. re: Nyleve

        Yes, I agree with Nyleve. Many recipes call for an addition of coffee flavor but the process of steeping is not always an option.

        As in cold desserts, such as coffee flavored whipped cream. Instant coffee dissolves very easily in a tiny amount of liquid and adds the strong flavor without changing the recipe makeup.

        For example, I use instant coffee when splitting a batch of creme brulee into two flavors....vanilla & coffee. I can add add the small amount of instant coffee dissolved in less than 2 teaspoons of hot water to half my recipe and keep the other half vanilla. I can then bake(water bath) all my ramekins at the same time & the coffee cremes always sets as nicely as the vanilla.

        1. re: Nyleve

          I third Nyleve.
          I ususally use instant expresso in anything that also has sugar (pretty much all desserts). I find that I love a strong coffee flavour.