Hello breakfast, hello coffee bircher muesli!
It has been an epically cold week in Southern Tuscany. As I was getting ready for work this morning, the water came to a drizzling halt. I opened the tap and nothing came out. I stood there, kettle in hand, without a clue. I put the kettle down and decided I could get ready without water. Half a minute later, I was back in the kitchen staring at the sink wishing I had water. I don’t think more than 5 minutes had passed before I went into crisis mode. I ran to the outside tap with all the bottles I could find, thinking I had to start conserving whatever water was left. There I was at -4°C in my pyjamas for all the town to see stockpiling water. And as that tap too drizzled to nothing, tiny white flecks of snow began to fall.
Snow in Southern Tuscany is a once in a decade event and this time, the flecks were freezing into deadly icicles before they even hit the ground. Everything was silent and I could hear the jasmine vines on my terrace crackle and snap as if they were shaking the snow off their leaves. It was an incredible sight and I couldn’t resist blowing off work to drive around taking pictures.
So what does all of this have to do with coffee bircher muesli? Well I am so bad in the morning that 9 out to 10 times, I don’t make it out onto the main street to move my car before I get a fine. Last week, I did such a rushed job colour correcting my makeup, that people kept asking me if I had an allergy – my eyes were rimmed in red! Thanks YouTube makeup bloggers!
Then my pipes froze and this muesli became something of a floating bright orange buoy in a sea of early morning despair.
Bircher muesli has to soak overnight, which was a godsend since I couldn’t really make anything else for breakfast. We had no water and no electricity, which also meant no tea. If you have ever tried facing a -4°C day with no caffeine, you’ll know it is practically impossible.
So I spooned out enough bircher muesli to get Giulio and I through the day and then drowned the lot in my coffee syrup. I put so much, the muesli was almost floating, but I needed to get my caffeine fix somehow. I don’t recommend you use so much coffee syrup, but definitely don’t give it a miss. I find bircher muesli really bland. My mum makes it all the time and I’ve always given it a miss, but it’s actually a really delicious and nutritious way to start the day, especially if you’re used to eating five oreos for breakfast with the excuse you’re too busy to make anything else (cough, cough, guilty as charged).
The base is simply milk, oats and chia seeds. You can use whatever milk you like. I’ve used cow’s milk, but almond milk is delicious, as is coconut milk. Before you mix it all together and chuck it in the fridge, you can flavour it with pretty much anything. Sugar and vanilla are my go-tos because they suit the chocolate and coffee syrup I pour over everything, but I’ve made this before with a teaspoon of rosewater and a tablespoon of raspberry jam folded through. Then the next day, I’ve topped the lot with maple syrup and fresh strawberries!
The chocolate and coffee syrup definitely elevates this bircher muesli recipe into something that seems decadently healthy rather than just healthy. Good Italian espresso is bitter, but rich and Dutch processed cocoa powder has its own sweetness and fruity notes that I think pair really well with the dates. We bought these dates in Turkey ages ago, so I am glad to finally have an excuse to use them, but if you truly hate dates then switch them out for prunes, or better yet, sliced bananas and chocolate chips!
This bircher muesli recipe is for all of us who tell themselves they’re going to get up half an hour earlier to do yoga, who make a vow to always fix their bed before they leave for work and who swear that this year, this year, they’ll make the time to put on sickening makeup and do their hair before they go out the door…. and yet despite their best efforts, still hit the snooze button 15 times and get up 10 minutes before they have to leave.
coffee bircher muesli with dates
80g rolled oats
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
for the coffee syrup
60ml freshly brewed espresso coffee
1 teaspoon unsweetened dutch-processed cocoa powder
fresh double cream or Greek yoghurt
Combine the oats, chia seeds, brown sugar and vanilla essence in a bowl. Add the milk, stir to combine and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.
To make the espresso syrup, combine all the ingredients in a small mason jar, close the lid tightly and shake until well mixed.
To serve your coffee bircher muesli, spoon some muesli in a bowl. Top with cream or yoghurt, scatter over dates, a drizzle of honey and as much coffee syrup as you need to shock your system awake!
*I like my bircher muesli cold, but you can microwave for 30-60 seconds for a more porridge like breakfast treat.
Chuck the ingredients in the bowl the night before and like magic, breakfast is ready. It’s almost as good as when I was a kid and mum made me breakfast everyday before I left for school!