Did you ever have a Starbucks' Mocha Valencia?
I know that in my last post I said that I am not a fan of Starbucks, but that doesn't mean that I haven't spent my fair share of time in Starbucks. I think it's been a least fifteen years since I saw the Mocha Valencia on their menu (but a quick Google search finds that the Valencia syrup was officially discontinued in 2006). The only time I ever remember ordering one was in the downtown Chico Starbucks shortly after it opened. A Mocha Valencia was a mocha with orange syrup added. I liked the combination, but frankly Java Joe's (later purchased by Cal Java) made a better version. And the barista at Java Joe's was way cuter than the baristas at Starbucks. Boy, did I spend a lot of time at Java Joe's "doing homework" when I was in high school.
I was reminded of those delicious orange mochas this weekend when Abby and Grace were frantically peeling mandarins in the kitchen. Those 10-pound mesh bags of mandarins started appearing in the market a couple weeks ago, and we brought home our first bag Saturday. They are a little sour for my taste, but I think those girls ate half the bag over the weekend. One thing I really enjoy about eating locally is how much we genuinely appreciate the first taste of the season of everything. The first nectarine in the summer, the first cabbage or cauliflower in the fall, the first strawberry in the spring. The smell of those mandarins was so fresh and crisp and almost Christmas-y, I decided I needed to celebrate them.
Inspired by the citrus aroma and the gingerbread latte syrup I've been making lately, I snagged a couple mandarin peels before they went into the compost, and, using a small knife (I'd use my paring knife if I could find it) I cut off some of the orange rind. One could also use a citrus zester for this, but I used a knife. I added the pieces of orange rind to a simple syrup simmering on the stove. Then I stirred in some cocoa powder, strained out the peels, and viola, I had chocolate orange syrup for a Mocha Valencia.
About 2 ounces of chocolate-orange syrup plus 2 shots of espresso (or 6 ounces strong brewed coffee) and 6 ounces of frothy steamed whole milk equal one creamy, delicious Mocha Valencia.
Makes about 16 fluid ounces, enough for approximately 8 mochas or hot chocolates depending on how sweet you like it.
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
Rind (orange part only) from 4-5 mandarins or 2 larger oranges
1/4 cup natural and dutch-process cocoa powder blend -I use Saco's Premium cocoa powder, which is available in most grocery stores. If you prefer a different brand, feel free to use it.
In a small saucepan combine water, sugar, orange rind and cocoa. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and let simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Strain out orange rind and transfer to a bottle or jar. Store in the refrigerator.
David Lebovitz brings up some great points in this post entitled, "Why I Don't Hate Starbucks." Definitely worth the five minutes it takes to read it.