Honey Chestnut Café au Lait

March 16, 2021

As soon as the holiday season ends, I find myself chasing the flavor of my favorite chestnut praline latte. The sweet nuttiness just pairs so wonderfully with frothy steamed milk and strong coffee. I knew there had to be a way to capture a similar concept at home, all year long. This recipe isn’t a copycat, but the use of chestnuts was inspired by my favorite latte. Instead, I decided to combine them with a honey syrup and add to a classic café au lait.

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My home coffee bar includes a single-serve coffee maker, an espresso machine, and a French press. In your average week, I use them all to make different kinds of fun coffee drinks each morning. But you don’t need all that fancy equipment to make something delicious that tastes like it came from your favorite cafe.

You can brew your coffee in a simple drip maker or using a pour-over system. You can froth your milk with a frothing wand or even just by shaking it vigorously and then warming in the microwave. My advice: start by using what you have, and then invest in the tools that make it easier to make your favorites.

What You Need to Get Started

You can easily find all of the ingredients for this honey and chestnut café au lait at your grocery store. You can also order online using Amazon Fresh for grocery delivery.

Let’s Make a Honey Chestnut Café au Lait

The only part of this coffee that is remotely time intensive is the syrup, and even that is so easy to make. Once you have made up a batch, you can store the leftover syrup in a sealed mason jar in the fridge for three weeks. So feel free to make it in advance, or the same morning you’ll be enjoying the coffee. You will get enough syrup for plenty of drinks.

To get started, combine the honey and water in a small saucepan, and cook over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the honey into the water. The honey will provide plenty of sweetness, plus its own unique flavor, while the water helps keep the syrup thinner than straight honey, so it stirs more easily into your coffee.

Bring the mixture to a boil, and then turn off the heat and add in the chopped chestnuts. I used store-bought roasted and peeled chestnuts for this. One time, I tried roasting my own and it was an experience I don’t need again. However, feel free to try this recipe with fresh chestnuts when they are available.

Let the syrup sit and infuse for at least half an hour. This will give you a nice subtle nuttiness. If you are a major chestnut lover, allow it to sit for even longer, and feel free to give it a taste until it’s perfect for you. When it’s ready, pour the syrup through a fine-mesh strainer into a jar.

Whether you are using the syrup immediately or another day, you will need to steam the milk just before you want to enjoy this café au lait. Steamed milk doesn’t store well, and the aeration will begin to collapse if it’s made too far in advance. I like to steam mine just before serving.

There are a few different ways you can do this. I used the attached wand on my espresso machine, which will warm the milk and froth it at the same time by steaming. If you don’t have an espresso machine with a built-in milk steamer, don’t worry. There’s other ways.

First, you can heat the milk in a microwave safe mug until it is warm to the touch but not too hot to handle, and then froth using a standalone milk frother. If you don’t have a frothing wand either, you can simply add the milk to a mason jar. Seal it tightly, and shake vigorously until it’s frothy. Then uncover the jar and microwave until it’s warm.

To make the café au lait, combine the freshly brewed coffee with a few spoons of syrup in your favorite oversized mug. I used a French press to make my coffee, because I love how I can have better control over the strength. However, this will be just as delicious if you use a single-serve, drip, or pour-over coffee maker.

Stir to mix in the syrup, and then slowly pour the frothed milk on top of the coffee, while continuing to stir it gently to combine. You will probably still end up with a little bit of foamy milk, so scoop that out and add it on top.

If you are looking for a fun twist as the weather is getting warmer, try an iced version. Simply use iced or cold brew coffee over ice and stir in the syrup. Instead of steaming, use a milk frother (or the shaking method) to whip up cold milk, and pour it into the coffee, with any extra cold foam on top.

You can make coffee-shop style beverages at home! Try this rich, sweet, and nutty drink: a honey chestnut café au lait.

How to Serve a Café au Lait

The first time you make this syrup, you do need to have the time to let it infuse. But after that, putting together this café au lait is super quick and easy. That means it’s perfect for a weekday morning breakfast, alongside some espresso chocolate chip muffins.

If you’d rather enjoy it for a leisurely sit-down brunch, that works too. Can’t you just imagine a nice warm mug of this rich, foamy, and nutty coffee alongside a blueberry French toast bake or a pan of gooey cocoa-cinnamon rolls? Decadent.

And don’t forget about coffee with dessert. The sweet honey syrup in this makes it perfect to serve with a slice of honey pavlova with chai-poached plums. Or for a small bite-sized treat, try peanut butter chocolate cookie cups.

 

Use Up Leftover Ingredients

Other Hot Beverages to Try

Plus, use your espresso machine to make the perfect iced latte and more treats than just drinks.

Print Recipe
5 from 5 votes

Honey Chestnut Café au Lait

A simple hot morning beverage made with brewed coffee, steamed milk, and a honey-based simple syrup infused with roasted chestnuts.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time5 mins
Infusing Time30 mins
Total Time10 mins
Course: Breakfast, Brunch, Drinks
Cuisine: American
Servings: 1 drink
Calories: 91kcal

Ingredients

  • Cup Water
  • Cup Honey
  • 6 Roasted Chestnuts roughly chopped
  • 4 oz Freshly Brewed Coffee
  • 6 oz Milk of Choice

Instructions

  • In a small saucepan, combine the honey and water and bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring to dissolve the honey. Once it comes to a boil, turn off the heat and add the chestnuts. Let sit for at least 30 minutes (longer for a stronger chestnut flavor) and then pour through a fine-mesh strainer into a jar.
  • In a 16-oz mug, combine the freshly brewed coffee with 3 tsp of the syrup. Steam the milk with an espresso machine (see note), and slowly pour on top of the coffee, stirring gently to combine. Scoop out any foam that remains and add it on top.
  • Serve the café au lait immediately, since it does not store well once combined. Store leftover syrup in a sealed mason jar in the fridge for 3 weeks.

Notes

  • How to steam milk: If you don't have an espresso machine with a built-in milk steamer, try one of these methods instead:
    • Heat the milk in a microwave safe mug for 45 seconds until warm, and then froth using a standalone milk frother.
    • Add the milk to a mason jar. Seal tightly, and shake vigorously for one minute. Then uncover and microwave for 45 seconds.
  • Make an iced version: Pour iced or cold brew coffee over ice, and stir in the syrup. Use a milk frother to whip up the cold milk, and mix in. Add any cold foam on top. 
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13 thoughts on “Honey Chestnut Café au Lait

  1. I’m always looking for new hot drink ideas and I never would have thought of this. I love chestnuts! Definitely adding this to my recipes list. I also LOVE your French press. What a gorgeous colour.

  2. This sounds so delicious. I also love your tips for using whatever equipment you have, because I have a tiny kitchen and not a lot of room for all the gadgets and stuff. But I have thought about a french press… I’m just trying to decide if I’ll use it enough to make it worth it!

  3. Oh, Kait! The UPS guy just delivered my super-automatic espresso machine! It’s waiting downstairs for me to unbox and put to use. How timely! I don’t have chestnuts, but I’ve got hazelnuts…think that’ll work?

    1. Ooh yes, I bet that would be delicious! I would toast the hazelnuts first, and then infuse them into the syrup. Also you’ll need more since they are much smaller than chestnuts, probably like 15-18 hazelnuts. Let me know how it goes!

  4. This Cafe au Lait look absolutely amazing. I’ve been missing barista quality coffee since lockdown but I might have a try at this delicious coffee drink

  5. That honey syrup, I could find so many uses for it. These flavors are a new combo to me, (which I love because it’s a break from the same old). Thanks for sharing.

  6. I’m always looking to try new at-home barista recipes. I especially like that it comes with some recommended desserts because, you’re right, coffee simply cannot be served without a sweet treat to enjoy with it!

  7. This sounds beyond delicious! I’ve not really tried any flavors or anything like that with my lattes since I got my espresso machine. I might have to test this recipe out for myself sometime soon! I love the flavors you combined so much.

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