Good Question: Can I Replace Espresso Powder With Espresso?

All of the (wonderful) coffee coverage this week has reminded me of a question that's been at the back of my mind. I run across a number of baking recipes that call for espresso powder, and I've yet to find it in stores. Sure, I could just order it online, but since I have an espresso machine, I was wondering:

Does anyone have any tips for adding brewed espresso to recipes? It's easy enough when there's already water called for, since I can just replace that, but cookies and brownies and meringues rarely give me that luxury.

- Mike

Great question, Mike. We have done this with coffee, and we are pretty loose about replacing any liquid with coffee or espresso. If a recipe calls for milk or oil we sometimes just throw in a couple tablespoons of additional liquid. We suggest experimenting and seeing how it works. Espresso is concentrated, but not as concentrated as espresso powder, though, so it may not give you as intense of a flavor.

Also remember that coffee is an acid, which reacts with baking soda and baking powder in a different way than more neutral milk and water. So if you are replacing all or most of your liquid with espresso or coffee, you may need to adjust your leavener. See this post for more details on how baking soda and acid interact: Pantry Basics: What's the Difference Between Baking Soda and Baking Powder?.

Meringues are a different story, though. They are so limited in their moisture that adding a couple tablespoons of espresso will make a real difference. We suggest using ground espresso instead, or coffee extract. See our Coffee Meringue recipe here.

Any other suggestions for Mike?

(Images: The Coffee Brewers)