A funny thing happened the other day . . .
I took the kiddos to Starbucks for a treat. That’s not the funny part. Although, according to my Starbucks App I hadn’t been to the cafe in over six weeks. So maybe that is the funny part.
To be fair, although I hadn’t paid for a beverage from Starbucks in over 6 weeks, I had enjoyed a few cafe mistos and iced-coffees that my husband was generous enough to bring to me. I just hadn’t visited myself.
I guess that in itself is strange. During the school year we went to Starbucks pretty regularly. I’d treat myself to coffee in the mornings before work, pick up a breakfast sandwich for Kyle once a week or so, and surprise the kids with after school Frappuccinos every once in awhile.
But with an entirely different and quite busy summer schedule Starbucks just wasn’t part of our regular routine.
So, when Kelly asked if we could go one afternoon I said sure. After some initial disappointment that their favorite Dark Chocolate Mint Frap wasn’t an option, Kelly and Kyle were both excited to try a Double Mocha Frappuccino – one of the special summer drinks.
But I could tell that with just one sip both of them were disappointed. I watched, amused, as they both sort-of-grimaced with that initial sip. I wondered what was wrong with the drink. Imagine my surprise when they both declared, “It’s soooo sweet!”
Kelly took a few more sips of hers and then announced that she should have only ordered a tall because it was too sweet for her. Kyle managed to drink most of it (despite my assurance that he didn’t have to), but he kept commenting on how sweet it was.
While I definitely do not restrict access to sweets, I actually have a sweet-tooth myself, we don’t often indulge in sugary drinks or processed treats. And it appears, that over time, my children’s palates really have changed.
Now, I’m not suggesting that they will never enjoy a Starbuck’s Frappuccino again. Or that there isn’t another flavor they would have enjoyed more. But they both commented that they’d rather just have an iced-coffee next time.
Which got my wheels turning.
I have been enjoying Starbucks cold-brew coffee over ice with a splash of cream on these hot summer morning. I know I could make cold-brew myself but it doesn’t seem worth the effort. The Starbucks black unsweetened version is good enough for me. I wondered if I could use that same cold-brew to make homemade frappuccinos.
I remembered that my Mom used to mix leftover coffee with sweetened condensed milk and serve it over ice as a special treat. So I thought that maybe some cold-brew, ice, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla, a dash each of salt and maybe some cinnamon would make a great homemade frozen coffee.
Only I paused at the inclusion of sweetened condensed milk. It’s just not the type of ingredient I usually have on hand. I was pleasantly to surprised to learn that the only ingredients in sweetened condensed milk are actually milk and sugar. But there is a LOT of sugar.
So I figured I could probably make a homemade version by combining some whole milk and raw honey in a saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently so it didn’t burn. When steam began to rise off the milk I reduced the heat as low as it would go and let it cook away until it was reduced by about half. I just eye-balled it but you could use a popsicle stick to measure the starting height and the half-way height to be more precise. Once the mixture was reduced by about half I removed it from the heat and then stirred in a couple of tablespoons of butter and vanilla. Then I strained the mixture into a large measuring cup to remove the solids from the raw honey to ensure that my condensed milk was nice and creamy. Finally, I transferred it to a glass jar and allowed it to cool to room temperature before putting it in the fridge to cool completely.
When I was ready to make the frappuccino I simply filled a mason jar with ice, poured cold-brew coffee over the ice until my cup was about 3/4 full, added 1 tablespoon of cold honey sweetened condensed milk, 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla, and a dash of salt and cinnamon. Then I poured everything into my blender and processed until the ice was chopped finely and the mixture was creamy and blended.
I served with a dollop of homemade whipped cream just because I had some in my fridge, and a sprinkling of dusting sugar so it would look pretty in the pictures. 😉
My kids (and I) loved this mildly sweet version of our favorite iced-coffee beverage. It tastes crisp, cool and clean with only a fraction of the sugar found in the Starbucks versions (and none of the artificial flavors) .
This is a great base recipe that can easily be switched up by adding different flavors, like chocolate or caramel, or whatever your favorite coffee mix-in is.