August 1, 2010

Better than a Coolatta

For a few years I've been trying to duplicate the Dunkin Donuts Coolatta at home so that I can have one whenever I like, but also so I can make one with a lot less sugar. the real Coolattas are the liquid equivalent of cheesecake.

I've made a few attempts and got pretty close, but have always been somewhat disappointed, especially with the texture. You need a powerful blender. Trying to get the crushed ice just right is tough. Also, the milk will tend to go foamy on you. I suspect that the filler they use in the "for recipes" Splenda was contributing to foaminess.

The closest I've come was when I used a recipe out of one of Todd Wilbur's Top Secret Recipes books: Top Secret Recipes Unlocked. Todd found that one of the distinctive flavors in the Coolatta is hazelnut. If you don't order a hazelnut Coolatta, you still get hazelnut flavor in your Coolatta. Even with that knowledge, I didn't love my recipes.

Finally, I've got a substitute I like, but it's nothing like an actual Coolatta. It's essentially like an iced latte, but I like it better than the slushy drink I used to buy at Dunkin Donuts. I make these without measuring, but I am giving you a recipe below so you can try to recreate it for yourself if you care to (and so I can remember). My recipe is low calorie, but you can make an even yummier one if you use real sugar and whole milk. It's up to you.

Also, this is fairly sweet because that's what a Coolatta is like. If you don't like your coffee sweet, omit the Splenda altogether, taste, then add one packet at a time to your taste. Remember, the flavored syrups are sweetened.

DrMomentum Low-Cal Hazelnut Latte


  • 20 ounce cup or larger
  • 3 or more ounces of very strong-brewed coffee. (Preferably espresso or Italian coffee made in a bialetti stove-top pot. Espresso roast. Fresh beans ground just before brewing. Chilled if you have time, use extra ice if not.)
  • small ice cubes
  • skim milk
  • Fat free half & half (optional)
  • 2 packets of Splenda
  • Torani Hazelnut flavor syrup
  • Any vanilla flavored syrup for coffee (I use sugar-free, Torani or Archer Farms from Target)

Half fill cup with ice.

Empty 2 packets of sweetener onto the ice.

Add 1 tsp of each of the syrups (eyeball a splash of each).

Pour 3 oz (that's essentially 2 shots) of espresso onto the ice. If your cup is >20 ounces, add another ounce or half shot. If your coffee is not that strong, you need to use more of it.

Add a splash of fat free half & half if you've got it. We've always got it because Maggie uses it every day.

Top up with skim milk and stir.

The important thing here is the strong coffee. Remember, you're diluting it with the milk and ice. If you want a milkier latte, use less ice so you have room for more link.

Brewing strong coffee / espresso substitute

To brew really strong coffee, I use a Bialetti Moka pot on the stove and I take it off the heat before it's done brewing so that the coffee in the pot is concentrated (the coffee that comes out later in the brewing process is less strong). I stop the extraction by running cold water over the bottom of the pot, or wrapping the pot in a frozen kitchen towel.

How do you make really strong coffee? let me know in the comments.

Posted by James at August 1, 2010 2:14 PM
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I haven't made strong coffee in forever, but the moka pot (not a Bialetti, but some lesser knockoff) has been by far the best.

I tried at least two different French presses and was never very happy with them.

I tried Turkish grind at least once, thinking it would be the most straightforward way to get strong coffee. I don't remember a thing about the experience(s), but the fact that it didn't become a habit suggests that the results were extremely poor. (Maybe I did it wrong; I don't even remember what I did.)

Long ago, I had a little espresso machine which produced coffee at least as good as the moka, and it was much easier to use; but it was harder to clean. I sold it at the yard sale before I moved up here. I didn't get a new one because it was so expensive (my old one had been a gift). It had a little attachment to steam the milk - that was REALLY miserable to clean, plus I don't like milk in coffee anyway. I'd rather either have it with cream, or just BLACK.

Posted by: Julie at August 2, 2010 8:55 AM

I saw a video the other day of someone using a french press and a moka pot to make cappuccino. They used the moka for the coffee and they microwaved the milk in the press' flask and later agitated the milk with the plunger until it was frothy.

They have little whip blenders that can froth up milk, too, and they're easy to clean. I know there is a qualitative difference, but I cannot imagine a scenario in which I would want to steam milk at home. It foams up fine using stuff I have around the house.

But mostly I just use cold milk in cold coffee. If I'm going to drink it hot at home, I drink it as espresso.

Posted by: James at August 2, 2010 12:23 PM

Ah. I'm glad someone found a good use for the French press.

It's possible that the French press is actually great, but by coincidence the two that I had (different models, but both from Bodum) are poor examples.

Posted by: Julie at August 3, 2010 8:22 AM

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