What to do with that sweet-looking nut that comes with its own little pixie hat, and unfortunately, is so full of tannins only squirrels, wild boar, deer & weevils can eat them?
People - only desperate people, I might add - have for a long time roasted and ground acorns up to make a coffee substitute(i have seen an episode of the 1970s Colditz series where the prisoners made a huge pot of it...ra ra ra old bean).
Many countries leech the tannins out of the raw nut by pulverising it and rinsing it in water, and then use the flour in pastries, puddings and pastas.
I tried the acorn coffee and it does work (albeit a labour of fondness).
After roasting the shelled acorns at 180°C until dark brown, taking care to watch them (I used a timer set to go off every 5 mins once they had started to colour). They do suddenly burn! Taking into account the amount of time it takes to pick and shell them, you may find yourself as wound up as you feel when trying to speak to someone at a bank or an electricity supplier on an automated telephone line. So don't let them turn to charcoal, the flavour is bitter enough!
The acorn trees at the front of our house are not English oaks but evergreens, which means that pigeons shit all year round all over the car in all sorts of wonderful colours. The next wild food meal may just have to be some Kentucky-fried squirrel and roast wood pigeon washed down with a tasty Licor de Bellota
When I was a Spanish food rep for a short time, I was introduced to an acorn liqueur which was surprisingly good and tasted like amaretto. This Licor de Bellota is made from Holm Oak acorns. Holm Oak is the same Mediterranean evergreen that grows outside our house, favours coastal regions and is often used as a wind break(my wife thinks thats handy considering my diet and the beer i consume). My last batch of acorns are definitely going to be turned into this warming tipple!
I digress... Anyway, back to the acorn-no-caffeine-coffee. Once roasted, grind up the nuts which will now be rock hard and brittle. Grind them to a powder and stick them in a cafetiere. Process as you would for normal coffee and voilà! it looks like coffee, smells exactly like coffee, and tastes worse than crap, cheap percolated coffee you would find at a 'bring and buy' sale in the local church hall!.. Mmm, get out the nice biscuits and bourbons.
So I ask myself, "What's the point?"...
I then think about the types of food I could get this flavour into. I've never been a great fan of coffee-flavoured anything. I can't abide coffee cake though can tolerate mocha.
It makes sense for the bitterness to be offset by sugar in a desert, and my first attempt was definitely a surprising success.
Acorn crème caramel.
And as it so happened. It tasted very much the same as a classic coffee crème caramel.
And that was exactly the point!