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Crema + sugar = insanely tasty meringue-y stuff


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I was reading the glossary thread, and was reminded of a little terminology issue I had last summer in Rome. I went to the corner coffee place and ordered a cappuccino for breakfast. The woman was looking out for me, and asked if I wanted it 'con crema'--or at least that's what I thought she said, but I don't really speak Italian. In addition to a little foamed milk, she got out a big lexan full of brown fluff, and ladled on a gooey spoonful. She explained it was crema beaten up with sugar. It had the consistency of a not-yet-baked meringue, all glossy, and tasted like a coffee macaroon.

So what's this stuff really called, I wonder? Is crema used to refer to both straight-up espresso crema, and the sugarized fluff? I did go in every day after that and order 'cappuccino con crema' and got the same thing--but maybe they just knew a sugar junkie when they saw one.

And more important, did millions of cups of espresso really have to die to make it? It just seems ridiculously impractical to make the way I'm imagining (make espresso, scrape off crema, drink crappy leftover espresso, repeat), so there must be a shortcut?

Edited by zora (log)

Zora O’Neill aka "Zora"

Roving Gastronome

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I've heard some Italian guy refer to that as "Spuma". He stirred so much sugar into it that it became creamy, like a topping. He actually did it with an espresso I served him. I prefer that my espressos not be adulterated with anything. I wanted to tell him, "YOU'RE NUTS, probably because you eat too much sugar!"

Edited by SL28ave (log)
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  • 3 months later...

I just though to revive this topic upon discovering an interesting "add-on" at the cafe where I recently began putting in a few morning shifts each week. As a customer of theirs before I began workign there, I paid no attention to whipped cream as I rarely have a drink that calls for it.

Here's the good part: they offer four styles of whipped cream!

- espresso flavored

- vanilla

- regular

- macadamia/caramel

I'm a cappa/short latte/coffee drinker but people love this offering. I'm surprised I haven't seen it elsewhere.

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Owen, thanks for reviving this thread, which I had completely missed before.

The sugar crema or spuma (or cremina as my brother calls it) is quite close to what SL28ave described, only to work you need to catch the first drops of coffee coming out of the machine, which are richer in "cream" formning substances.

I'm not a big fan: to achieve the desired result you have to stir soooo much sugar in there. You might just dip a sugarcube in your espresso and suck that!

Il Forno: eating, drinking, baking... mostly side effect free. Italian food from an Italian kitchen.
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  • 3 weeks later...

Not sure how much this helps but...

My mother used to make something like this. You take an egg and beat it with sugar and some espresso (or instant coffee, if you don't have any) and you beat it until it is like meringue and then you add hot water to it. When we were little, that was the only kind of coffee that children were allowed to drink, the rest was for grownups only.


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  • 2 weeks later...

I was just mentioning this stuff on another thread. I was taught to drink espresso by the owner of an italian cafe by my old apartment. When I reached for the sugar he told me no, i had to use his "special" sugar. What he handed me was a little jar with this paste that was light and sticky and smelling of espresso and sugar. I used that to sweeten my espresso and it was the best I had and have ever had. I asked him what was in it and it was simply espresso and brown sugar. He told me it was just used to sweeten your drink instead of adding plain sugar. IT was good. It was really good!! I miss that place (he handed the reigns over to his sister and it was never the same)

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