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Just add coffee – try these yummy recipes

Sjaan van der Ploeg’s recipes prove that coffee belongs in more than just your mug. Explore all the ways in which coffee can add a rich umami flavour to just about everything! 

Creamy tiramisu cups 

Serves 6-8 

These require minimal effort and serve as a perfect dessert for those who prefer less sweetness! Be sure all your dairy ingredients are ice-cold for the best result. 


For the Mascarpone cream 

2 tubs (500g) mascarpone
1 cup (250g) double thick cream
¼ cup (30g) icing sugar, sifted
½ cup (125ml), cream
1 tsp (5ml) vanilla essence
¼ cup (60ml) instant coffee granules
2 cups (500ml) boiling water
1 packet (200g) ladyfinger biscuits
Cocoa powder, for dusting 


  1. Beat together mascarpone, double thick cream and icing sugar until smooth.
  2. Add cream and vanilla to a bowl and whisk to stiff peaks. Fold cream through the mascarpone mixture.
  3. Mix together coffee and boiling water until the granules dissolve. 
  4. Break biscuits in half (or based on the size of dish you’re using.). Dip each biscuit piece into the coffee and soak for a few seconds. 
  5. Place alternating layers of coffee-soaked biscuits and a few spoons of mascarpone mixture in 6-8 serving cups, glasses or ramekins.
  6. Refrigerate the tiramisu cups overnight.
  7. Serve dusted with some cocoa powder. 


Honourable mentions: 

We like coffee so much that we added some more of our faves: 

Coffee buttercream icing 

Makes 4 cups 

For a more intense chocolate flavour, add ½ cup cocoa powder with the icing sugar and whisk through for a mocha buttercream. 

Place 1 cup (250g) soft butter in the bowl of a stand mixer, followed by 5 cups (1kg) sifted icing sugar. Slowly beat together until almost fully incorporated. Add ¼ cup instant coffee granules to 3 Tbsp boiling water and stir together until granules have dissolved. Add coffee to the butter mixture, along with 2 Tbsp milk, 1 tsp vanilla essence and a sprinkle of sea salt. Increase mixer speed and beat until thick and fluffy, about 4 minutes, stopping to scrape down every minute. Use on cupcakes, birthday cakes or freeze in a ziplock bag for up to three months.

Coffee syrup 

Makes ¾ cup 

Drizzle over desserts or use for iced coffees, refrigerating for up to 1 month.  

Add 1 cup strong instant or filter coffee and 1 cup sugar to a pot and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Boil for 6 minutes until reduced and slightly thickened. Set aside to cool completely before adding to a jar.

Coffee spice rub 

Makes about 1 cup 

Use as a dry rub on meats like steak, chops or brisket. The coffee aids in tenderising the meat and adds an extra smokey depth of flavour. 

Combine ¼ cup coarsely ground coffee with 2 Tbsp of each garlic powder, treacle sugar, onion powder and fine salt. Add 1 Tbsp of each ground coriander, paprika and ground cumin. Finally, add 2 tsp black pepper and ¼ tsp cayenne pepper. Rub mixture together using your fingertips (this incorporates the coffee best) and store in an airtight jar.


Recipes and styling: Sjaan Van Der Ploeg
Photographs: Zhann Solomons, Supplied 

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