Who doesn't like chocolate? . . . probably people allergic to it. Who doesn't like booze? . . . teetotalers. Hmmm. Oh well, I press onward.
Homemade flavored alcohols are easy to make. And here's how to make just one of an infinity of variations. You might like to enjoy this before, after, or during a meal of Cacao Nib Crusted Steaks .
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Step 1: Needed
* 1 cup (around 4 oz) cacao nibs
* 7.5 oz alcohol such as Everclear or Golden Grain
* 20 oz of cooled simple syrup --- equal portions of sugar and water, heated so that the sugar dissolves, then cooled
* A funnel and strainer; this could be a funnel lined with a coffee filter or several layers of cheesecloth. I happen to have access to funnels used to collect kidney stones from urine . . . they're clean I swear.
* A pint mason jar and lid
* 1 1" piece of vanilla bean (optional, but I did it this time)
* An empty container for the finished product (here, an emptied liqueur bottle with the label removed)
Step 2: Throw It Together
Measure out your alcohol and put it along with the cacao nibs into the mason jar. Add the vanilla bean piece if you choose to use it. Seal the whole mess up.
Step 3: The Long Wait
Now you have to wait. And wait. And wait. How long? At least two weeks. Which is why this is instructable is yet incomplete. Every few days you might want to check up on your mix and give it a shake. Keep it stored in a dark, relatively cool place. Why? Who knows. It can't hurt any.
Don't mind the cloudiness, that's just nib dust.
Step 4: Bottling
After you wait at least two weeks (more if you can) you might notice that the liquid has cleared. The cacao nib dust has settled. But you'll also notice something vaguely disturbing. A pillowy, milky, cloudy layer sitting on top of the nibs. That would be cacao butter that has come out of the nibs. It won't hurt anything if it ends up in the final bottle, but if you carefully decant the liquid you'll probably be able to avoid most of it.
If you have a fat separator in your kitchen you could pour the whole mess (after the nibs have been removed) into that and then toss it into the fridge. The cacao butter might solidify enough to stay put when you pour it out. Then you could think up uses for it.
* Strain away the liquid from the nibs
* Put the cacao flavored alcohol into the final bottle
* Top the bottle off with the simple syrup and mix ( In this case I dissolved 10 ounces of sugar with about 13 ounces of water)
* Then let it sit for a while. How long? A few days. A week. A year. Whatever. Some will say that it gets better with age, and it certainly may. Age it as long as you wish.
Step 5: Misc.
Even though you've removed as much of the cacao butter as you can, there still might be some in the finished bottle and over time it might haze, or even cloud up your liqueur. A number of things might cause clouding. Extracted proteins, bad decanting, etc. Don't worry about it. This will be around 35% to 40% alcohol. Nothing will be in it that will harm you.
Adjust the flavor if you need to. There's no shame in making bad booze. It happens. Taste it. If it's not up to your standards, then adjust it with vanilla extract or cacao extract. Heck, even add things like mint or citrus extracts. Add more sugar (in the form of simple syrup). Add more alcohol. Whatever you need to do to make it your own is the way to go.
Step 6: Uses
Note: Cocktail glasses should always be chilled. I usually keep two in the freezer. Plan ahead. In a pinch you can fill the glasses with ice to chill while you gather ingredients or whatnot.
2 oz brandy
1 oz cacao liqueur
1.5 oz cream or half-and-half
1/4 tsp nutmeg
Put all ingredients, except nutmeg into a shaker filled with ice. Shake, strain into a cocktail glass, garnish with nutmeg.
1 oz green mint liqueur (or whichever mint liqueur you prefer, obviously from the pictures above I prefer spearmint)
1 oz cacao liqueur
1 oz cream
Put all into a shaker filled with ice. Shake, strain into a cocktail glass, garish with mint sprig.
I know it's called a grasshopper because it's green, but I don't care for the artificially colored liqueurs. It's just not necessary . . . but it does add a dramatic flare. Use your own judgment.
1/2 oz cacao liqueur
1 tsp sugar*
Sparkling wine (not a sweet one! Use brut, extra dry, prosecco, or cava).
1/2 oz other liqueurs such as Cointreaux, Frangelico, or whatever sounds good.
Mix the sugar and liqueur(s) in the bottom of a champagne flute (don't worry, not all of it will dissolve; if you're OCD you could shake them in a cocktail shaker and it might). Top off with sparkling wine. Serve with a good chocolate bar.
* For the love of all things sacred, make your own powdered bar sugar. Take a cup or two of sugar for a spin in a blender and keep it in the sealed jar behind your bar. NEVER USE POWDERED SUGAR FROM THE STORE. Cornstarch in a drink is for the birds, no matter how little there is of it.
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