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Cold-brew coffee is a hot hot hot trend, and you can make it yourself

Basic Cold-Brew Coffee. (Roy Inman/Kansas City Star/TNS)

If summer's heat has left you feeling bitter and over-extracted, think cold-brew, as in cold-brewed coffee. Fans say cold-brew is less bitter than coffee that has been subjected to heat. While there are gadgets for producing cold-brew, you can make it with no special equipment. This technique is so low-tech that anyone with running water can enjoy it.

The facts:

Cold brew has a lower acidity level. Since boiling water is not running the show, the grounds are not the subject of heat, and therefore the chemical profile of the brew is different. The difference is lower acid and a smoother cup of Joe. The taste difference is noticeably sweeter, no matter what your coffee bean choice.

Caffeine is most soluble, and therefore extracts most easily, at high temperature, but cold brewing uses a higher bean-to-liquid ratio and time as a friend, giving the final product a more concentrated caffeine ratio. Just as with your favorite hot cup, temper your cold brew with cream to tone it down.

One of the best things about a cold brew for a cold drink is that you will not dilute your drink by icing a hot liquid. Use this simple trick to control your chilled beverage: Freeze cold-brew coffee in an ice cube tray and when making iced coffee drinks, use the frozen coffee cubes to help chill, avoiding the proverbial meltdown of the libation. If you dare, add cream or flavoring to the cold brew cubes for a special kind of melting fun.

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Basic cold-brew coffee

Makes about 6 cups of cold-brew concentrate

10 cups cold water

1 pound coffee, medium grind

Place ground coffee in a large container. Pour water over coffee. Refrigerate container for 12 to 24 hours.

Strain elixir through a coffee filter, and strain it again. (Sometimes, it is a good idea to strain it again, just to make sure no grounds made it through.) Refrigerate and use as needed.

Per 1-cup serving: 2 calories (none from fat), no fat, no cholesterol, trace carbohydrates, trace protein, 13 mg sodium, no dietary fiber.

To make a cup of iced coffee: Add 1/4 cup cold-brew concentrate to 1 cup of cold water. Serve over ice.

Variation: If you prefer milk in your coffee, begin with the same 1/4 cup cold brew and add 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup milk. Serve over ice.

Per beverage, using 2 percent lowfat milk: 58 calories (34 percent from fat), 2 g total fat (1 g saturated), no cholesterol, 6 g carbohydrates, 4 g protein, 62 mg sodium, 4 g dietary fiber.

Tip: These recipes were tested with Parisi Artisan's Bolivian organic dark roast coffee. The description states that the blend is "rich and sweet with hints of milk chocolate and a nuance of honeysuckle." It makes a perfect cold brew.

The Cold-Brew Coffee Float. (Roy Inman/Kansas City Star/TNS)

Cold-brew coffee float

Makes 1 float

4 ounces cold-brew coffee concentrate

4 ounces club soda

1 ounce coffee liqueur (optional)

2 scoops ice cream, use vanilla or if you prefer a mocha, chocolate

In a mug or large glass, add coffee and club soda. Stir in liqueur, if desired. Gently add ice cream.

Per float: 232 calories (34 percent from fat), 7 g total fat (5 g saturated), 29 mg cholesterol, 30 g carbohydrates, 2 g protein, 84 mg sodium, no dietary fiber.

Gooey Cold-Brew Butter Cake. (Roy Inman/Kansas City Star/TNS)

Gooey cold-brew butter cake

Makes 16 servings

For the cake:

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for baking dish

1/4 cup warm whole milk (100 degrees)

1 envelope active dry yeast

2 tablespoons cold-brew coffee concentrate

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon coarse salt

2 large eggs

2 cups all-purpose flour

For the topping:

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 1/3 cups granulated sugar

3/4 teaspoon coarse salt

1 large egg, plus 1 large yolk

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

1/8 cup light corn syrup

1/8 cup cold-brew coffee concentrate

Powdered sugar, for dusting

Brush a 13-by-9-inch glass baking dish with butter. Line with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on each of the long sides, and butter. Set aside.

Make the cake: In a small bowl, stir together milk and yeast; let stand until slightly foamy, about 5 minutes. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter, coffee concentrate, sugar and salt until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour in two additions, alternating with the milk mixture. Beat on medium speed until it forms a soft dough, 3 to 5 minutes. Press dough into prepared baking dish and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm place until puffy and full of air, about 1 hour.

Make the topping: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar and salt on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg, egg yolk and vanilla and beat to combine, scraping down sides of bowl. Add flour in two additions, alternating with corn syrup. Beat until thoroughly combined. Add cold-brew coffee concentrate and beat one additional minute. Spread topping evenly over risen dough using an offset spatula. Bake until just golden around the edges, about 20 minutes. Let cool completely in baking dish on a wire rack before dusting with powdered sugar and serving.

Per serving: 346 calories (49 percent from fat), 19 g total fat (11 g saturated), 100 mg cholesterol, 40 g carbohydrates, 5 g protein, 223 mg sodium, 1 g dietary fiber.

Skirt Steak Marinade to Wake You, with beef and veggies. (Roy Inman/Kansas City Star/TNS)

Skirt steak marinade to wake you

Makes 4 servings

1/2 cup cold-brew coffee concentrate

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup vegetable oil

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

3 tablespoons dark brown sugar

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 skirt steak

In a large zip-top bag, combine coffee, soy sauce, oil, vinegar, sugar, ginger, pepper, salt and garlic. Add skirt steaks to marinade, and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours.

When ready to cook, remove steaks from marinade, reserving marinade. Grill steaks to desired doneness.

Pour marinade into a skillet and bring to a boil. Allow to boil for at least 3 minutes, reducing liquid by half. Serve with grilled sliced skirt steak.

Per serving, using 4 ounce skirt steak per serving: 375 calories (61 percent from fat), 25 g total fat (7 g saturated), 58 mg cholesterol, 13 g carbohydrates, 23 g protein, 1,583 mg sodium, trace dietary fiber.

Wake up a salad with cold-brew coffee vinaigrette. (Roy Inman/Kansas City Star/TNS)

Cold-brew coffee vinaigrette

Makes 1 cup

2 teaspoons cold-brew coffee concentrate

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup sherry wine vinegar

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Combine all ingredients and chill. Refrigerate for up to one week.

Serve on your favorite selection of baby greens, with feta, tomatoes and diced peppers.

Per 1-tablespoon serving: 68 calories (97 percent from fat), 7 g total fat (1 g saturated), no cholesterol, 1 g carbohydrates, trace protein, 67 mg sodium, trace dietary fiber.

 Serve coffee shots with a cookie or fruit for a perfect after-meal sweet. (Roy Inman/Kansas City Star/TNS)

Shots shaken, not stirred

Makes 8 (1 ounce) servings

Fill a martini shaker with ice and add { cup cold-brew concentrate and { cup heavy cream. Shake and strain into shot glasses. Serve with a cookie or fruit for a perfect after-meal sweet.

Per serving: 52 calories (94 percent from fat), 6 g total fat (3 g saturated), 20 mg cholesterol, trace carbohydrates, trace protein, 6 mg sodium, no dietary fiber.

Freeze cold-brew coffee in an ice cube tray and use for iced coffee drinks. (Roy Inman/Kansas City Star/TNS)

Frozen cafe treat pops

If you don't have a frozen treat mold, you can make your own. In a small plastic or paper cup, freeze your favorite blend of cold-brew and milk, in layers if you feel adventuresome. To keep a stick in place while freezing the first layer, tightly cover the cup with plastic wrap, and poke the stick through the middle into the liquid. After the first layer is frozen, the plastic wrap can be removed for freezing the rest of the layers.

Cafe butter

Makes 1/2 pound compound butter

Place 2 tablespoons cold-brew coffee concentrate, 1 tablespoon vanilla and 2 sticks softened, unsalted butter into bowl of food processor and pulse with metal blade until coffee and vanilla are incorporated into butter. Refrigerate until ready to wake up pancakes or toast.

Per 1-tablespoon serving: 102 calories (99 percent from fat), 11 g total fat (7 g saturated), no cholesterol, trace carbohydrates, trace protein, 2 mg sodium, no dietary fiber.

Story by Karen Elizabeth Watts / The Kansas City Star

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