Introduction: How to Make Chocolate Liquor Cordials - Now Extra-Helpful!

Is there any greater pleasure than consuming a tiny chocolate bottle of your favorite alcohol?

Think about it: a rich, bittersweet shell of chocolate hides a wafer-thin shell of sugar. At the first bite, a rich "snap" rewards your efforts, which is soon followed by the warming flush of a small sip of liquor. The flavors mingle, interact, explode!

But wait... You just realized, you can't get your favorite flavor of alcohol in a candy, can you? Sure, if all you want is whiskey, rum or cognac. But we here on Instructables are connoisseurs of the exotic and unusual.

Where's the cobra whiskey candy? Can we put grapefruit liquor to work? What about skittles or bacon vodka?

"Oh," you may be saying to yourself, "if only we could make these candies at home, the happy drunken sky would be the limit!"

Well, I'm here to tell you that your heartbreaking search is at an end - you can make these confections yourself... and it's easier than you think.

Step 1: Sweet, Sweet Science

Here's an overview of the procedure we'll be following.

First, sugar and water are heated together to a set temperature in order to produce a near-saturated sugar solution. That means that the water has dissolved the maximum quantity of sugar possible - the addition of more sugar will cause the formation of crystals.

Second, warm liquor of the chef's choice is added to bring the solution slightly above the saturation point.

Third, the solution is gently transferred to pre-prepared cavities in a bed of pre-dried cornstarch. The starch provides seeding points for the now supersaturated sugar solution. If the concentration of sugar in the candies is right, a thin shell of sugar will grow around the liquid centers. When the interior solution has been sufficiently depleted of sugar, the growth of the shell will stop.

The candies can be consumed as they are, or dipped in chocolate to provide a nice finishing touch.

I recommend starting this procedure in the morning on a Saturday. This way, the starch can be dried in the morning, the sugar syrup can be prepared around lunchtime, and the candies will be ready to eat by Sunday morning.

Step 2: Required Equipment

A quick note about measurements - I am a follower of the school that believes everything should be measured accurately, especially in the kitchen. For pasta sauce, this isn't really necessary, but for candymaking precision is vital.

You will need a decent scale with a sensitivity of at least 1 g, and a good instant-read digital thermometer. Both of these items can be found cheaply at any store with housewares, and are well worth the cost.

For the starch molds:

Two baking dishes (9"x13")
Two large metal bowls
Several boxes of cornstarch (four to eight)
A metal mesh strainer/sifter
An object to be molded - this doesn't have to be fancy, it can be anything from a small bottle to a dowel to your finger.

For the candy solution (makes about 100 small pieces):

Small saucepan
Plastic tablespoon

87 g water
247 g sugar
100 g alcohol. The alcohol chosen must have a reasonably high proof to work. Beer won't work at all, and even wine would be pushing it.

Chocolate (for coating)

Optional but helpful:

Silicone pastry brush
Offset spatula

Step 3: Prepare the Molds

The first thing you need to do is to dry your starch well. Very dry starch repels liquids, causing it to bead up. If your starch is too moist, it will absorb the candy solution and leave you sad and frustrated.

Fill each baking dish with enough starch to make an even layer about 1 3/4 inches deep. Transfer the starch to the two metal bowls, and place in a 200 degree (fahrenheit) oven for 3-4 hours.

Once the starch has dried, sift it from the bowls into the baking dishes. Aim for a layer about 1 1/4 inch deep. You need to retain a good bit of starch for later - don't forget that, like I always do.

Extinguish all open flames for this step (seriously). Airborne starch can explode, and you're going to be getting it everywhere.

Shake the dish to spread the starch around, and level it with your spatula.

To produce the cavities for your molds, simply press the object to be molded into the starch to a given depth. I used the pestle from my mortar and pestle - the red mark indicates the depth of the starch, and the blue one is the depth I wanted my cavities to be. This gives me nicely gumdrop-shaped candies.

Step 4: Prepare the Syrup

Pour the sugar into the center of the saucepan, making sure that the middle is higher than the sides. Avoid getting crystals stuck to the sides of the pan.

Pour the water down the sides of the pan. This will wash down any errant flecks of sugar.

Heat on a medium-high burner until the temperature of the syrup reaches 246 F (119 C) for unsweetened liquors, or 243 F (117 C) for sweetened liquors. Yes, that three degree difference really does matter. If crystals have formed on the side of the pan, wash them down with a silicone pastry brush dipped in cold water.

When the required temperature has been reached, remove the saucepan from the heat. Add the liquor, which has been warmed in the microwave. Just make it warm to the touch, no need to boil it.

Stir the solution gently until all of the liquor has been incorporated.

If you agitate the solution too much at this point you can induce crystallization, which will ruin all the work you've done. Just stir the solution in - slowly - with the plastic spoon.

Once it's all mixed, you can fill the molds.

Step 5: Fill the Molds

Using the plastic spoon, gently fill the cavities you've prepared in the starch almost to the top.

Sift the reserved dried starch over the tops of the molds, making sure you've covered them fully.

If you've forgotten to reserve starch for this step, fill the cavities about 3/4 full, and (carefully) sweep starch from the top over the candies using a dry pastry brush.

Let the candies sit for 3-5 hours. Flip the starch-containing tray over (Tupperware-topped Pyrex trays work well for this step), and let it sit overnight.

Step 6: Finish the Candies!

The next morning, the candies are ready! Digging them up is fun, but messy. For maximum efficiency I recommend scooping out ladlefuls of starch and gently sifting it into a large metal bowl. As the candies are revealed, pick them out and set them on a plate.

DO NOT THROW THE STARCH AWAY. The starch, having been properly dried, can be stored and re-used as many times as you want! It's the ultimate molding material for candies - food-safe, infinitely re-usable, and dirt cheap.

At this point, the candies are delicious but not shelf-stable on their own. If you don't want to coat them with chocolate, be sure to put them in a sealed, dry container or to consume them within 24 hours.

To coat them, temper a batch of chocolate.

To do this, melt chocolate in a bowl in the microwave by heating for 5-15 second increments and stirring with the thermometer (which you have washed and dried well, by the way). If you start with tempered chocolate and do not let the temperature exceed 97 F (36 C), you will not lose your temper.

Pun intended!

Stir the chocolate well to melt all the chunks and distribute seed crystals. to test the temper, dip a knife in the chocolate and let it sit for a minute. If you can't see any streaks, and the chocolate wipes off cleanly, you're good to go.

To coat, just drop the candy in the chocolate the move it around with a fork to coat. Remove it from the chocolate with the same fork, then tap and scrape on the bowl to remove excess chocolate. Let the candy roll off the fork gently onto parchment paper to cool.

The candies can be dusted with ingredients before the chocolate hardens to identify the contents, like cinnamon for rum candies, or perhaps snake scales for cobra whiskey.

Consume, enjoy!

Step 7: Troubleshooting Your Candy

Sometimes, things go wrong. If your candies fail (thin-skinned, thick skinned, lack durability) check this list to get some help. There is an art to making candies like this, and each different liquor you try might need a bit of tweaking to get just right. Don't fear a failure or two, though - sugar is cheap!

Problem: Weak bottoms.

Flip sooner - If the "bottom" side of the candy is thin or weak, that means they the "flip" step came too late. Flip the candies after less time has passed.

Problem: Thin skins, weak candies.

A thin sugar shell is caused by under-crystallization, which can stem from several factors:

Too much water in syrup - cook the syrup to a higher temperature. Aim to increase the temperature by two or three degrees each time, so that you don't overdo it and end up with a solid block. Alternatively, you can add less liquor, or liquor of a higher proof.

Too much acidity - Acidic flavorings "invert" the sugar, breaking it into a molecule of glucose and a molecule of fructose. This inhibits crystallization, so you should avoid using flavorings that are acidic.

Not enough time - Let the candies sit for another 24 hours. Some liquors seem to require this step, but I can't figure out why. Captain Morgan Parrot Bay rum, for instance, produces candies that are soft and squishy after one day, but perfectly fine after two.

Problem: Candies begin to degrade after removing them from the starch.

Check the humidity - Humidity is the candymaker's worst enemy. Here where I live, the humidity is already reaching the level where it can disintegrate a batch of candies. I think the key here is to carefully limit exposure to the air. Get the chocolate in temper, and remove the candies one-by-one with a fork, de-starching them as best as you can and plopping them straight into the chocolate.

Problem: Skin too thick/candies almost solid.

Thick skins are caused by overcrystallization of the syrup.

Not enough water in syrup - Cook the syrup to a lower temperature.

Sugar syrup cooked improperly - Once the syrup has reached its desired temperature, be sure to avoid stirring or other excessive agitation. If there are crystals on the sides of the pot, that can prematurely seed your solution and cause it to crystallize.

Problem: Chocolate untempered.

Chocolate tempering is an issue all by itself. Until I can put an Instructable up about tempering chocolate, I'd recommend these fine resources:

Tempering Chocolate on Cooking for Engineers

Tempering Chocolate on Chow.com (video)

Comments

author
MarjiH1 made it! (author)2016-11-28

Question - can I insert the liquor drops into a candy mold and cover with chocolate?

author
liewye made it! (author)2016-03-28

Wow!!!!! Thanks for ur sharing n guidance!!! Gonna try it soon!!!!

author
MandaLynnS made it! (author)2015-11-24

These were a big hit last holiday season, the cornstarch step happens faster than one expects, don't let them sit too long or the cornstarch will soak into the rest of the liquid ball. I'm playing around with some cherry soaked cordials this year, I'll also try some different techniques for chocolate them, but big thank you to this recipe for getting me started, these are a big favorite of mine to make now.

author
surabayamodels made it! (author)2015-01-21

Hi, i need help... why when I pour the liquor (I use vodka 40% alcohol) the syrup suddenly crystalize ? So confused with this step..

author
marcmoore made it! (author)2014-11-08

How do you get around these abc laws with this? There's not a permit for it and if over more than .5% it's against the law. I'm trying to get permit to do similar thing before launching website and keep hitting block wall. Better yet how can I measure the content? I may not be over the .5%

author
ambicapruthi made it! (author)2013-11-18

Hey, This is awesome. I have been looking for a guide for a long time. I have two questions. I am based in a very high humidity climate (Singapore). Do I need a cold environment while working on Candies ? I usually keep my Aircon on when I work with chocolate here. 2nd one you have mentioned in Step 5 to flip them over ? Do you mean turn the tray upside down?

author
WUVIE made it! (author)2012-08-11

Oh my gosh. BRAVO on this Instructable. Fabulous, fabulous, fabulous.
Thank you!

author
shortone made it! (author)2011-12-09

https://www.instructables.com/id/For-the-Diva/

Just thought I'd let you know I included you in my guide! I'm not sure if the pictures are showing up properly because my internet is a little weird, but hopefully I'll figure it out tomorrow :)

author
Mongpoovian made it! (author)Mongpoovian2012-05-30

Thank you! I'm honored. :)

author
lizzie.rudd made it! (author)2012-05-27

Looks brilliant! But I'm wondering if its possible to not use the starch mould?
I make filled chocolates a bit, and normally make a chocolate cup, fill it with the filling then cover up the cup with chocolate, leaving time between each for stuff to set.
This is the first time I'm trying with alcohol - so yeah. Is it possible to put the alcohol syrup straight into chocolate cups?

author
Mongpoovian made it! (author)Mongpoovian2012-05-29

That would probably work just fine! The only thing that might be an issue would be capping the cup with chocolate. I'd think that sprinkling the top of the syrup with a tiny bit of starch would probably induce crystallization enough to safely coat the cup.

Let me know if it works!

author
rdk285 made it! (author)2011-08-03

"If you start with tempered chocolate and do not let the temperature exceed 97 F (36 C), you will not lose your temper. "
haha! great instructable! but i was wondering if the same can be done with chocolate molds and if its possible to completely omit the starch bit.... to make shells out of chocolate n then coat it with chocolate on the top after there is a thin sheet on crystallized sugar on top as u say!

author
ram_ram_7 made it! (author)2011-07-31

hi.I need manual of How to Make Chocolate Liquor Cordials but i don't pay money for sign up because i am iranian and don't have credit card.hence every one can help me please send manual of How to Make Chocolate Liquor Cordials to my mail(ram_ram_7@yahoo.com).
tnx

author
aedelstein made it! (author)2011-06-26

What would the ratio of sugar : water for maken this simple syrup? thanks :)

author
Mongpoovian made it! (author)Mongpoovian2011-07-20

The syrup has 87 g water, 247 g sugar, and 100 g alcohol in it.

author
midoshah made it! (author)2010-10-12

can i replace the liquor and use soy sauce
and put any ingredient live vineger or corn syrup to have this result

author
Mongpoovian made it! (author)Mongpoovian2010-10-13

That's an interesting question! I don't think that using non-alcoholic liquids would work. My feeling is that water-based liquids would result in an excessive amount of crystallization, resulting in something closer to rock candy. Vinegar and other acidic ingredients actually break down sugars, so the problem with using them is the opposite - you might not get crystallization at all.

author
midoshah made it! (author)midoshah2010-10-14

thanks for reply and your interest but i m work in molecular gastronomy and i didn't use alcoholic liquids and the result is perfect your topics is very helpful
tanks

author
mikebook made it! (author)mikebook2011-05-29

Did you make any adjustments to the reciepies or procedure to use a non-alcoholic liquid? Do share the knowledge if you have it!

author
beehard44 made it! (author)beehard442011-02-15

non alcoholic liquid mixed with some buffer of some sort?
yeah, i'll try with ice tea

author
Lynnette_69 made it! (author)2011-01-01

Just wanted to know if you let the sugar mix cool down some before adding the liquor. I added it after cooking off the suger and the stuff looed like it just boiled off. I scewed up the first batch had fresh corn stach so I dint dry it first
trying to make another batch.

author
scoochmaroo made it! (author)2009-03-23

I love this and can't wait to try it. But it looks so complicated!
I'm not good with the 'difference of 3o' thing.
Could you use silicone molds instead of cornstarch?

author
Mongpoovian made it! (author)Mongpoovian2009-03-24

It's actually not that hard to get the right temperature - if the syrup is cooked over medium heat, it's slow enough that it is (usually) easy to catch it at the right point. Once the temperature hits about 115, you just need to be extra vigilant. :) Unfortunately, silicone molds don't work. The first time I tried this, I poured the leftover syrup into a set I had. The top surface crystallized, but the rest didn't. I don't know if pre-starching the molds might work, but it seems like it would be pretty difficult to insure a clean, even coating.

author
SixTwelve made it! (author)SixTwelve2010-02-10

Shouldn't be any harder than getting a clean, even layer in a bundt pan. Apply a thin layer of butter or Crisco over the dish surfaces, dust on some starch, and shake the excess all over your clothes. Or a sink. Probably both.

author
scoochmaroo made it! (author)scoochmaroo2009-03-24

Interesting. Lucky me you already tried it! I love a good instructable that comes out of trial and error! I'm definitely going to try it. I'll post my results. I have a good feeling that this might become my new signature holiday gift candy. . .

author
Mongpoovian made it! (author)Mongpoovian2009-03-24

Please do post your results! I'd like to know what liquors people try, and which ones are problematic. I'd love to compile a list of successes and failures to add into the instructable.

author
MadBricoleur made it! (author)2010-02-09

Darn it i miss chocolate liquor bottles.

author
SixTwelve made it! (author)2010-02-08

Trying this at all was thanks to your instructable. Trying a second (and successful!) time was thanks to the troubleshooting guide. Thanks!

I found two refinements that are working for me.

1) I'm using a tea infuser as a sifter. The type that scissors open like a clamshell? They don't work for tea, but the mesh is very fine and it sifts in a very localized manner, making it easy to sift within the lines.

2) I took your complaint to heart about forgetting to reserve some starch for the top. Let's just say I recognized myself in that paragraph. So before the starch goes in the oven, when my brain's fresh and I'm not worrying about errant crystalization, I set up the trays the way I want them and fill a ramekin with the topping starch as mis en place. Everything goes in the oven, and there's nothing to remember.


author
sugar.rush made it! (author)2010-02-04

Can you use actual candy molds for the sugar molding-process (perhaps dusted with corn starch and topped w/corn starch for moisture prevention) or is there a purpose beyond a simple mold for the corn starch?

author
photosniper made it! (author)2010-02-02

how high would the alcohol content have to be for it would 15% vol be enough

author
Mongpoovian made it! (author)Mongpoovian2010-02-02

I've never ventured too far away from hard alcohols. 15% might be pushing it, but it's hard to say without conducting the experiment.

author
photosniper made it! (author)2010-01-13

Hi. just wondering how much chocolate do i need for a batch

thanks

author
red-king made it! (author)2010-01-08

 that cobra whiskey sounds potentially harmful... what with the "numbing effects" and "possibly neuro-toxic" 
interesting though...

author
photosniper made it! (author)2010-01-08

Hi. I would like to try this but just have one question. would it be possible to use couverture chocolate for this

author
Mongpoovian made it! (author)Mongpoovian2010-01-08

Couverture chocolate would work superbly for this.

author
HollyHarken made it! (author)2010-01-07

I have always wondered how liquor filled chocolates were made and now I know!!  Thanks for a great instructable.  For years I've bought liquor filled chocolates in a local Polish Deli in the town that I live in.  I've always wondered how they were made.  It is great to know that I can make my own if I ever want to.  I'm not overly fond of having my kitchen covered in cornstarch.  I have enough trouble keeping it clean in general.

author
Mongpoovian made it! (author)Mongpoovian2010-01-07

Thanks! You'll have to let me know how it goes for you if you try to make them.

I know what you mean about the cornstarch. I'm also not a particularly tidy person, but a layer of fine powder all over the counter is enough to drive even me a little nuts.

author
jophia made it! (author)2009-10-14

Hi, i can't really get the step for adding alcohol. how should i add inorder not to agitate it? because i tried twice but i'm still stuck atthat step. can you advice me more on this? thank you.

author
Mongpoovian made it! (author)Mongpoovian2009-10-14

What you don't want to do at this step is to vigorously stir or whiskthe mixture.

The best way to slowly add the liquor is to pour it slowly down the sideof the container. It'll form a layer on the top of the sugar syrup.Then, to mix it, just place the spoon in the mixture and slowly stir thecontents. It might take a while to completely incorporate, but that'snot a bad thing.

author
jophia made it! (author)jophia2009-10-14

Thanx! i will give it a shot again ! =)

author
arbitrarylogic made it! (author)2009-03-25

Oh dear. You see, I have quite a few friends who either have recently turned 21 or will in a few months, but I've personally decided to buck the trend by refusing to touch alcohol in any form when my time comes. But as a hobbyist with a penchant for molecular gastronomy (and working on a chemistry BA), this Instructable is forcing me to reconsider my commitment. Perhaps I could reverse the usual tradition of most 21st birthdays, instead doling out the celebratory ethanol in chocolate shells to anyone but the celebrant? Damn it all, though, I thought nothing, absolutely nothing, could come along and sway my resolution with this topic. But alas, I checked the front page of Instructables a couple of days ago, and all that is now up in the air.

author
walkie74 made it! (author)walkie742009-06-13

I find your solution to the traditional 21st birthday fascinating, but what, pray tell, would you then give the birthday man/woman? It seems a bit unfair to give the presents to the guests and nothing to the person of the hour...

author
Malable made it! (author)2009-03-29

I'll have to report a mixed result. My coconut rum liqueurs were like a soft bag of liquid after 4 1/2 hours, so I left them overnight before flipping. After a further 7 hours, the first trayful, made in a flat tupperware-type thing, were wonderfully fulfilling to excavate out, looking like little hard-gums. The 2nd tray, setting in a small baking tin, had not flipped cleanly, and each small candy started oozing as I picked it out of the cornflour. If I leave it overnight again, will the syrup solidify enough so I can sieve the cornflour for another attempt later (much later)? Excellent instructions though, and following the links I have also learned how to temper chocolate.

author
Mongpoovian made it! (author)Mongpoovian2009-03-29

I'd leave them in for another day, it couldn't hurt! More time in the starch did wonders for my overly soft coconut rum candies. It's odd that half a batch worked and half didn't - was there any difference in the way the two containers were covered or stored?

author
Malable made it! (author)Malable2009-04-02

Yes – the batch that worked were in a container with a clip-on lid, so the candies inverted neatly onto their heads. The other tray was inverted into another tray of a similar depth, so they misaligned and slipped. I finished the handful of successful candies and took them to a funeral (I'd made them to cheer up my cousins) where they went down a treat! I will definitely be trying again. Maybe next time with a nice 8 year old rum..

author
Dandeman321 made it! (author)2009-03-23

So while the candies are in the corn starch the outside forms a shell while the insides remain liquid? Also, after cooking, do these still contain a lot of alcohol? Could you eat a batch of them and get drunk!? :D

author
Mongpoovian made it! (author)Mongpoovian2009-03-23

That's how it works! And they do still contain a lot of alcohol, though I don't know exactly how much. You can really feel the liquor in the back of your throat when you eat them, though. :)

author
arbitrarylogic made it! (author)arbitrarylogic2009-03-25

Does the alcohol content of the contents make these long-lived confections? That is, how long of a shelf life, or how far in advance can these be made and still retain their integrity and quality?

author
Mongpoovian made it! (author)Mongpoovian2009-03-26

The longest I've ever had a batch around without eating them all is about a week. During that short period they were pretty stable. They've got two things going for a long shelf-life, though. Both the alcohol and the high sugar content would lead me tho think that these could last for quite a while without spoilage.

author
Dandeman321 made it! (author)Dandeman3212009-03-24

Awesome! I told my girlfriend about these, she LOVES chocolate. She laughed and thought that would be the perfect way for her to get drunk.

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