Christopher Elbow's Chocolate Liqueur: Sugar High Friday
On a Melbourne winter day earlier this week, I picked up a page I had torn from the December 2005 issue of Food & Wine and set out to prepare an ice-cold batch of Chocolate and Whiskey Liqueur. My reason for mixing up this summer libation while I had three space heaters blasting is that Sarah at The Delicious Life is hosting Sugar High Friday today, set to the tune of "Ice Ice Baby." This is a blogging event that I haven't participated in since I baked a Kahlua Chocolate Cheesecake for a birthday on the Mornington Peninsula in March, and I'm eager to get back in the game. This recipe's originator is Christopher Elbow, the man responsible for bringing artisanal chocolate to Kansas City.
Chocolate & Whiskey Liqueur
makes about 1 quart
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
One 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup Irish whiskey
In a saucepan, combine the corn syrup, water and vanilla seeds and bring to a boil. Add the chocolate and whisk over moderate heat until melted. Transfer to a blender and let cool for 5 minutes. Add the condensed milk, half-and-half and cream and blend. Pour the mixture into a bowl and stir in the whiskey. Blend the mixture in batches for 30 seconds. Pour into bottles and refrigerate overnight.
In the past months, I've been guilty of the vagueness that too many food writers lapse into when writing about chocolate--I've stressed the importance of "good-quality" couverture, but I haven't done much to outline the different flavors that are brought out by the world's various fine chocolates. I used one of E. Guittard's semisweet blends here, and the sweet and slightly woody taste was mellow enough for this creamy alcoholic beverage. Experiment with different products (always choosing something with a high cacao-content, all-natural ingredients, and no fats or oils other than cocoa butter), and you'll discover flavors that range from fruity to smoky to earthy. If you're at a loss about where to start with this recipe, try something from El Rey, the Venezuelan chocolate maker that supplies Christopher Elbow's own shop. And in the spirit of Elbow's inspired single malt Scotch bon-bons, I reached for the nearest bottle of Chivas Regal instead of using Irish whiskey.
The original recipe doesn't specify, but the chocolate you use should be chopped (or grated) into very small pieces in advance--it will melt in just a few seconds once added to the boiling corn syrup and water. Simply poured over ice, this drink is wonderful company when kicking back on your leather couch reading the latest issue ofThe New Yorker. For a more dolled-up presentation, try serving the chocolate liqueur over shaved ice in a champagne flute, topped with cream and some thinly-sliced fruit.