The barbajada. That’s a name we don’t hear often. Sure, everyone talks about lattes and cappuccinos, but the barbajada is a traditional coffee drink on the same level as the most popular coffee specialties.
Invented in Milan, this coffee is synonym with high fashion and up-scale restaurants — more than a drink; it’s an experience.
So, what is a barbajada anyway? Well, it all starts with Italian espresso, of course, freshly made and steaming hot. Then, you whip it with cream or milk, chocolate, more often than not in equal parts, and sugar. Finally, it’s topped with whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
The barbajada was created somewhere in the 19th century, and it’s somewhat the ancestor of more modern coffee and chocolate drinks like the mocha.
Although there are many recipes for barbajadas, and no one seems to agree how the original was made, we’re making ours with a shot of espresso, a tablespoon of cocoa powder, milk, sugar and whipped cream. However, you can also use ice cream.
That’s the big question right there, should you use whipped cream or ice cream to top your barbajada? If you use whipped cream, you’ll enjoy the drink hot from start to finish. Ice cream will instantly cool down your drink — I guess it depends; how’s the weather today? In summer, go for ice cream and leave whipped cream for the cold winter evenings.
Traditionally, the barbajada was served with a thick slice of panettone, a sweet cake from Lombardy served primarily during the holidays. The dough is mixed with dried fruits and raisins for an exceptional pound cake.
Other sweet but not overly sweet desserts are lovely with the barbajada as well. Try a tiramisu or a panna cotta; they’re both from roughly the same region. And you want to try this drink with international desserts like a chocolate cake or a nice fruit tart because, why not?
The truth is, when coffee and chocolate come together, a good time is guaranteed, no matter what you choose to serve it with. Let’s make a round of barbajada and call your friends over because you’re going to want to share what you know about this drink with everyone!
Combine the espresso, cacao powder, sugar and whole milk in a mug.
Heat in the microwave to the desired temperature, preferably steamy.
Garnish with whipped cream.