For coffee lovers, every trip to New Orleans comes with the mandatory stop for a cup of frozen cafe au lait. Frozen coffee with milk, you might think, what’s so special about it?
The blend of french coffee and chicory dates back to the Civil War and has been the region’s specialty. Stay with us to learn all the details.
- What Is Frozen Cafe Au Lait?
- Secrets To a Good Frozen Au Lait
- Frozen Cafe Au Lait Recipe
- Delicious Pairings
What Is Frozen Cafe Au Lait?
So what is frozen cafe au lait? It’s the modernized version made with a rich and dark blend of coffee beans with chicory and milk.
It’s sweet, more bitter than standard coffee with milk but less acidic, and has less caffeine.
Chicory has a slightly woody and nutty flavor, cuts the acidity of the coffee but makes it more bitter and less potent.
Secrets To a Good Frozen Cafe Au Lait
A good frozen cafe au lait is refreshing, smoothly blended, and hard to resist! When made well, the chicory compliments the taste of the coffee. Sourcing the right ingredients can make or break the frozen au lait!
1. Dark Roast Coffee
Cafe au lait is brewed using French Roast, a rich and dark roast of coffee. Back in the 1700s, the French brought coffee for the first time to New Orleans. So New Orleanians got accustomed to the solid and heavily-bodied coffee.
It’s an irreplaceable part when trying to brew authentic frozen cafe au lait.
The chicory got mixed with coffee for the first time because of the coffee shortage during the war. Chicory is responsible for the slight bitterness, chocolatey, and nutty flavor of the frozen au lait.
To achieve the right taste, use Cafe Du Monde Coffee & Chicory instead of mixing coffee and chicory separately.
3. Scalded Milk (Not Steamed Milk)
The milk for cafe au lait doesn’t require frothing or steaming but scalding. Scalding is warming up the milk to 181°F and letting it cool to room temperature. In the frozen version, this step lets the milk infuse better with the chicory coffee.
You should try not to texturize the milk. Whole milk works great as it gives the coffee richness, but homogenized milk is acceptable too.
Frozen Cafe Au Lait Recipe
A sweaty glass of delicious frozen au lait is the perfect treat on a hot day. If you long for the taste of New Orleans or want to try and see what’s the hype with the frozen au lait, we have the right recipe.
- Cafe Du Monde Coffee & Chickory Blend: 4 tbsps
- Whole milk: 2 cups
- Syrup to taste
- Get your hands on a can of Cafe Du Monde Coffee and Chickory Blend. It's inexpensive, and you can get it online. Making the mixture yourself just won't give you the right result, as they don't disclose the ratio.
- Using 4 tablespoons, brew 4 cups of the coffee and chicory blend. Let it chill to room temperature and transfer to ice trays and place it into the freezer.
- Shortly before the coffee cubes are completely frozen, you need to scald the milk and let it chill to room temperature. It takes some time, but you won't get the right drink if any of the two ingredients are warm.
- To scald the milk, use a steam wand, hot plate, or your microwave. Place 2 cups of whole milk into the pitcher or saucepan and warm it until 181℉. Don't try to froth or steam the milk!
- Place the coffee ice cubes, the scalded milk, and syrup of choice in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth, stopping along the way to scrape the walls of the blender.
- Transfer the mixture into glasses, add some straws and serve on a warm afternoon. Share the delightful beverage with your favorite people and enjoy!
What can make frozen cafe au lait even better is pairing it with some delicious treats? Take notes from New Orleanians and their Cafe du Monde to pick the dessert or snack that compliments the coffee best.
Beignets are the most famous pairing for frozen cafe au lait. This french pastry was introduced to North America in the 18th century.
They’re essentially deep-fried squares resembling a doughnut in a different shape.
The fried dough pillows are covered with loads of confectioner’s sugar. They’re even better when served hot.
New Orlean’s Style Bread Pudding
The New Orleans bread pudding is slightly different than what you’re used to.
You can make it by following the standard bread pudding recipe but switching regular bread for French bread.
The best part is the whiskey sauce(2) made with heavy cream and bourbon and drizzled over the warm bread pudding.
Pralines come in various combinations, but nothing comes close to the traditional New Orleans pralines.
These fudgy, nutty delights offset the bitter taste of the coffee.
To make them, roast some pecans, combine them with melted butter, sugar, and milk. Place small servings on parchment paper and let them set. They serve as great pairings to the frozen au lait.
King Cake is a winter treat that hits the bakery shelves from the beginning of December until Ash Wednesday(3).
It’s a giant, uncut cinnamon roll covered with cream cheese, green, yellow, and purple icing.
The three colors represent the three kings that visited Jesus and brought him gifts. While you can try making it at home, we recommend ordering one to sample the traditional taste.
Final Thoughts on Frozen Cafe Au Lait
Cafe au lait is a cherished New Orleans tradition that provides a quick insight into the region’s history. The frozen cafe au lait respectfully puts a modern spin on the recipe while still keeping the same taste and ingredients.
The key to serving genuine cafe au lait is using chicory to achieve the right taste and honor the tradition.
New Orleans was one of the largest coffee ports in the world and America. During the Civil War, the blockade of the port led to a coffee shortage. French soldiers were the ones to introduce chicory to those on the lookout for the best coffee replacement. Since chicory tasted very similar to coffee, it was a widely accepted idea.
You don’t have to travel to New Orleans, as Cafe Du Monde is distributed all over North America. You can find it in smaller stores and large chain supermarkets like Walmart. When it comes to getting it online, you can buy it directly from their website, Amazon, or other online coffee retailers.
Cafe latte and cafe au lait might translate the same but have few crucial differences. The latte is made with espresso and steamed milk, topped with a layer of foam, and served in a cup. New Orlean’s style cafe au lait is made with brewed coffee mixed with chicory and scalded milk.
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