Secret Recipe: Tosca Cafe's House Cappuccino


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The second-most-famous “cocktail” in San Francisco (which happens to predate its better-known relative, the Irish coffee), Tosca Cafe’s House Cappuccino has been the “coffee break” of choice since its debut in 1919—never mind that the original version wasn’t actually very good. When Tosca reopened in late 2013, bar manager Isaac Shumway found purpose in remaking the classic. “It was something worth making really special,” he says. Shumway commissioned a custom ganache from Dandelion Chocolate for the rich, complex, strangely espresso-free concoction. On Tosca’s new cappuccino menu, you’ll find five versions inspired by the original (think ancho chili liqueur and hot chocolate), but for your at-home pleasure, the house recipe here should satisfy any late-afternoon slump.

House Cappuccino

Serves 1


3 to 5 ounces cream

2 ounces house cappuccino mix (see below)

½ ounce Buffalo Trace Bourbon

½ ounce Marie Duffeau Armagnac

Equipment needed:

Electric milk frother (Shumway recommends the Bonjour brand) or cappuccino machine with steam wand and foaming canister*

Irish coffee glass, heat-tempered glass, or large coffee mug

  1. Heat cream in a small pot until nearly simmering, and then turn heat off.
  2. Use milk frother to create foam. Set aside.
  3. In a separate pot, heat the 2 ounces of cappuccino mix on low, whisking constantly so it doesn’t burn. Turn heat off just before it simmers. Use milk frother to aerate slightly.
  4. Pour cappuccino mix into Irish coffee glass, and then add bourbon and Armagnac.
  5. Top with hot cream and foam. Serve. 

House Cappuccino Mix

Makes 2 cups

2 cups heavy cream

8 ounces Dandelion Chocolate bar (or a 70% dark bittersweet chocolate bar), cut into shavings

Pinch salt

2 ounces vanilla syrup (see below)

6 ounces water

6 ounces organic milk

  1. Heat cream in pot on heat. Do not boil.
  2. In a large bowl, combine chocolate and salt.
  3. When cream is almost simmering, pour over chocolate and let sit 3 to 5 minutes.
  4. Stir cream and chocolate until combined.
  5. Add vanilla syrup, water, and milk, and mix well.
  6. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator. When ready to make cappuccino, let the mix warm to room temperature for easier handling. This mix will last up to 2 to 3 weeks in the refrigerator.

Vanilla Syrup

Makes 1½ cups

1 vanilla pod

1 cup white sugar

1 cup hot water

  1. Slice vanilla pod in half, and scrape insides into a small bowl with sugar, adding pod as well.
  2. Add hot water and stir to dissolve.
  3. Should last 2 to 3 weeks in the refrigerator.

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This article was published in 7x7's October 2014 issue. Click here to subscribe.


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