Although I’m a pretty fussy coffee drinker, I never had any interest in buying an espresso machine, for the extra time it would take to grind coffee beans and clean the machine afterwards. First thing in the morning, I want my coffee immediately! But when I saw the sleek and shiny red NESCAFÉ® Dolce Gusto® Circolo capsule machine, I thought it could be a great alternative. I actually did not know that this machine was the first capsule system in Australia that could be use to make both hot and cold beverages, and so I agreed to give it a try. It looks great on my kitchen bench – now just need my dream shiny red Kitchenaid to match! 😉
The range consists of 6 models, ranging in size and priced from $99 to $229, but I have seen several great specials recently which see them selling for even less. I found the machine really simple to set up and use, with the touch of a button, you are ready to brew a cup of coffee in a matter of seconds. You can adjust the strength of your coffee however you like, although each pod has the recommended level on the packaging. There are 15 flavours to choose from including hot chocolate, chai tea latte, mocha, and even peach iced tea, retailing for $8.49 for a box of sixteen and available from the online store or most supermarkets.
I made a Cappuccino for my housemate, and because I love my coffee black, I tried the Espresso Ristretto. I really liked the rich and strong flavour of the espresso, tasting like any freshly brewed coffee that you would buy with a nice crema, for a fraction of the price (just over 50c per cup) and always consistent. K said the cappuccino had a slight caramel taste. And as a bonus, clean up couldn’t be simpler! I was also pleased to see that they have a capsule recycling program on their website, to ease the environmental impact of the excess packaging of all those empty coffee pods.
Of course I couldn’t help but make a little snack to go with my afternoon coffee, one of my favourite things – crostoli. It was always a treat to buy these crispy fried biscuits with a dense sprinkling of icing sugar from the Italian bakery. They are often seen at Italian celebrations such as Easter and Christmas, and I think I might have to start this tradition in my family too!
The biscuit pastry came together easily, I mixed and kneaded it by hand but you could also make it in a food processor. The only way these could be even cuter is to use a fluted pastry wheel for that lovely decorative edge. My only advice is to keep a close eye on the oil temperature and not attempt to cook too many at once because they cook very quickly and it can’t be hard to keep an eye on them so they don’t overcook. They are just perfect with a coffee!
- 235g plain flour
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons caster sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
- 60ml Frangelico
- 1 egg
- 20g butter, melted
- Icing sugar, for dusting
- Vegetable oil, for deep frying
Sift flour and cinnamon into a bowl, add caster sugar, vanilla, orange zest, Frangelico, egg and butter and stir until dough starts to come together. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5-10 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour to rest.
Divide dough into four. Working with one piece at a time, and using a pasta machine with rollers at widest setting, feed dough through rollers, reducing settings one notch at a time until 2mm thick. Cut into long strips with a fluted pastry wheel, then cut an additional two slits vertically in each strip. I created a little twist by threading the pastry through each of the slits. Place in a single layer on a tray lightly dusted with flour.
Heat oil in a deep saucepan or deep-fryer to 180C. Deep-fry pastries in batches, turning occasionally for 1-2 minutes until crisp and golden, then drain on absorbent paper and dust heavily with icing sugar mixture. Serve warm or at room temperature with an espresso! If you have any left over, you can store in an airtight container for 1 day.