Kentucky Coffee Spread
I went on another foraging hike with Wildman Steve Brill this past Saturday in honor of Dave’s 30th birthday. This time, I came prepared – I dropped pins on my iPhone map whenever we passed a tree or bush that I knew I’d want to be able to find again later! But putting aside the tale of our first attempt at wild foraged NYC nocino, I want to tell you about the seeds of the Kentucky coffee tree.
Early in the hike, we passed a huge Kentucky coffee trees with leaves like the tailfeathers of a bird. The Wildman pointed out the seed pods on the ground, and told us that the seeds could be roasted and used as a tasty caffeine-free coffee substitute. After a bit of hunting, our eyes adjusted to looking for seeds instead of seed pods, and we collected baggies full of what looked like malted milk balls hidden among the dead leaves at the side of the path.
This next photo is by the Wildman himself, reposted here just so you can see what the seeds actually look like.
Following the Wildman’s instructions, when we got home we roasted the seeds in a foil-covered baking pan at 300 F for 2 hours. (The foil is there because some of the seeds end up popping like popcorn!) Our kitchen smelled like roasted chicory, and we thought of grinding up the whole seeds to make Kentucky coffee.
Dave and I are halfway through an elimination diet at the moment, though, and we’ve been craving chocolate much more than coffee. So, thinking back to when I made chocolate from scratch, we shelled the roasted seeds and used only the meaty innards.
Those innards, we ground to as fine a powder as we could. (We used a coffee grinder, but I’d strongly recommend using a superblender or sumeet instead.) I can pretty much guarantee you’ll want to sieve out the lumps.
Finally, we added in agave nectar (2:3 :: roasted and pitted Kentucky coffee tree seeds : agave nectar) and salt to taste, and blended until smooth.
It’s like a wild foraged chocolate spread or nutella substitute! What a perfect spread for toast or pancake. The Kentucky coffee spread had an intense, interesting darkness to it, and a touch of bitterness that was perfectly mellowed by the agave. As soon as this elimination diet is over, I am treating myself to a breakfast of crepes with sour cream and this Kentucky coffee spread.
One of these days, we have to go back and pick up more. In the meantime, you should go on one of the Wildman’s hikes. I think this was third or fourth one I’ve been on, and I still learned new things and had a great time.