FOOD : Sweet Java : A Light Coffee-Flavored Dessert for a Romantic Dinner

<i> Betsy Balsley is The Times' food editor </i>

NO MENU DESIGNED to promote romance on Valentine’s Day could be complete without some sort of memorable sweet ending.

There are, however, those still suffering from a sweets hangover lingering from the December holidays.

For a dessert that is light on sugar but also satisfies the need for a romantic ending to a special meal, the following coffee-flavored desserts are perfect solutions. Neither too sweet nor too rich for those with long holiday memories, they are special enough to mark any romantic occasion. The souffle, which is an easy do-ahead treat, makes a delicate, airy finish for a celebration meal. Or, if even so frothy a dessert is too much, the coffee drink can be called upon to do double duty as both after-dinner coffee and dessert.

COFFEE CLOUD SOUFFLE 2 tablespoons instant coffee powder 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves1 cup hot water6 tablespoons sugar1 envelope unflavored gelatin teaspoon salt1 cup milk3 eggs, separated 1/2 teaspoon vanillaChocolate-covered coffee beansChocolate leaves Blend coffee powder, cinnamon and cloves. Stir into hot water. Blend 3 tablespoons sugar, gelatin and salt in top of double boiler. Add hot coffee and stir mixture until gelatin and sugar are dissolved. Add milk. Beat egg yolks lightly and blend into coffee mixture. Cook, stirring, over hot water until custard coats metal spoon. Chill until slightly thickened.


Beat egg whites until foamy. Gradually add remaining 3 tablespoons sugar, beating thoroughly after each addition, and continue to beat until meringue holds stiff, shiny peaks after beater is withdrawn. Fold into thickened gelatin mixture along with vanilla. Turn into 1-quart souffle dish. Chill at least 2 hours. Garnish with chocolate-covered coffee beans and chocolate leaves. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Note: For individual servings, divide souffle mixture among 4 to 6 individual souffle dishes that have 1-inch-wide foil collar attached to top rim. Remove foil collar before serving.


1/2 cup coffee liqueur 1/2 cup orange curacao3 cups very hot strong black coffeeWhipped creamOrange-peel strips Combine and warm coffee liqueur and orange curacao . Combine with hot coffee. Pour into 4 cups or heat-proof glasses and top each with 2 to 3 tablespoons whipped cream. Garnish with orange peel strip. Makes 4 servings.

Photography Kathryn Kleinman / Styling Amy Nathan