2009-05-14 / Features

Iced Coffees That Are Easy On Wallet

By J.M. Hirsch AP FOOD EDITOR

Warm weather and a serious caffeine habit can make it hard to resist those fancy iced java jolts from the coffee shop.

But shelling out all that cash to suck down all those calories can thin your wallet while plumping your waistline.

Don't use regular ice. As it melts, it waters down the drink, and watered down coffee is tasteless at any temperature. Instead, pour brewed coffee into ice cube trays and freeze it. Keep a bag of these cubes in the freezer for use whenever the mood strikes.

Ditch skim milk in favor of fat-free half-and-half. Most standard skim milks lack body and taste. Fat-free half-and-half is remarkably creamy and works well in frozen drinks.

Invest in flavored syrups. These are what the coffee shops use to juice up their pricey drinks. They come in many flavors and are cheap. A 750-milliliter bottle costs less than $10 and makes about 25 servings.

No espresso maker? Pick up a jar of instant espresso powder. It's an easy way to add tons of flavor to an iced coffee drink. It's also great mixed into baked goods, such as chocolate cakes and brownies. Caramel-Chocolate Coffee Cooler Start to finish: 5 minutes Servings: 2 1 double shot espresso 1/2 cup fat-free half-and-half 1 cup coffee ice cubes 1 tablespoon vanilla flavoring syrup 1 tablespoon caramel flavoring syrup Whipped cream, to top Caramel sauce, to drizzle

In a blender, combine the espresso, half-and-half, coffee ice cubes, and vanilla and caramel syrups. Puree until smooth, then transfer to a tall glass. Top with whipped cream and drizzle with caramel sauce.

Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 164 calories; 40 calories from fat; 4 g fat (3 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 20 mg cholesterol; 25 g carbohydrate; 3 g protein; 0 g fiber; 102 mg sodium. Mocha Orange Freeze Start to finish: 5 minutes Servings: 2 1 cup fat-free half-and-half 1 1/2 cups coffee ice cubes 3 tablespoons chocolate syrup (the sort used to make chocolate milk) 1 tablespoon sugar Whipped cream, to top Zest of 1/2 orange

In a blender, combine the half-and-half, coffee ice cubes, chocolate syrup and sugar. Puree until smooth. Transfer to a tall glass, then top with whipped cream. Sprinkle with orange zest then drizzle with chocolate syrup.

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