Spring Infusions 2014: Chocolate Delights

I’ve been a bit busy these past few weeks and haven’t had time to update my blog. Now that the semester has ended I finally have more time to devote to creating infusions. This blog will cover the progress of my chocolate experiments whereas the others in this series will serve to document other Spring-only infusions such as culinary-herb liqueurs and a variety of fruit infusions. For those people more interested in the latter styles, stay tuned!

 

Single-source chocolate shells. They smell incredible!

 

Last weekend I had the pleasure of visiting Olive and Sinclair, a local Nashville chocolatier where, after talking with one of the sales staff, I managed to get 2 lbs of single-source chocolate shells, with an open-door policy to get more as needed! I’m excited for two reasons: 1) I can now use the shells to impart a chocolate character to my 10 month old Cherry Schnapps and 2) I can can now make a variety of chocolate liqueurs!

Chocolate Cherry Schnapps (PGA):

Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures for this infusion process but, don’t fret, its very, very easy! In fact, all you’ll need is the following:

  • 1x 1.75L bottle of Everclear or your preferred PGA
  • 1x large jar (I use a large pickle jar)
  • 1-3 lbs of Bing cherries, washed and de-stemmed
  • 1/2 cup of high quality chocolate shells
  • 1 cup filtered water
  • 1 cup simple syrup

Fill the jar 2/3 of the way full with the cherries, fill with Everclear and infuse for 3 months in a cool, dark location such as a closet. After 3 months, strain the infusion, then add the chocolate shells and infuse for 24 hours (or until desired chocolate flavor is reached).  Strain and filter the infusion then add the filtered water and simple syrup. Let the infusion sit for 1 week before sampling. This process should give you a roughly 35-40% ABV infusion and each additional cup of filtered water or simple syrup will drop the ABV by 3.5%. This infusion will throw sediment and if you would prefer a clear product, I would recommend using a small auto-siphon to prevent the transfer of sediment into the end container.

NOTE: Everclear and other PGA products tend to be very harsh tasting even when infused due to lack of filtering during distillation. This may differ from brand to brand but if you can look past the “heat” of the PGA the flavor is quite nice. This is likely tempered with additional simple syrup/filtered water. If you would prefer a less “hot” product, I would recommend the following recipe below.

Chocolate Cherry Schnapps (Vodka):

  • 1x 1.75L bottle of Skyy vodka
  • 1x large jar (I use a large pickle jar)
  • 1-3 lbs of Bing cherries, washed and de-stemmed
  • 1/2 cup of high quality chocolate shells
  • 1 cup simple syrup or filtered water (optional)

Fill the jar 2/3 of the way full with the cherries, fill with vodka and infuse for 1-3 month in a cool, dark location such as a closet. After 1-3 months, strain the infusion, then add the chocolate shells and infuse for 24 hours (or until desired chocolate flavor is reached).  Strain and filter the infusion then add the simple syrup/filtered water. Let the infusion sit for 1 week before sampling. This process should give you a roughly 20-25% ABV infusion, depending on whether you add simple syrup or water, and each additional cup of syrup/water will drop the ABV by 2.4%. This infusion will throw sediment and if you would prefer a clear product, I would recommend using a small auto-siphon to prevent the transfer of sediment into the end container.

NOTE: I prefer this recipe since it tends to produce quite clean flavors of both the chocolate and cherries without any burn from the alcohol.

Chocolate Schnapps:

  • 1x 750ml bottle of Skyy vodka
  • 1x 32oz ball jar
  • 1/3 cup of chocolate shells
  • 1 cup simple syrup (optional)

Fill the jar with vodka, add the chocolate shells and infuse for 1-5 days in a cool, dark location such as a closet. Strain and filter the infusion then add the simple syrup. Let the infusion sit for 1 week before sampling. This process should give you a roughly 30-40% ABV infusion, depending on whether you add simple syrup. This infusion will throw sediment and if you would prefer a clear product, I would recommend using a small auto-siphon to prevent the transfer of sediment into the end container.

NOTE: This recipe is a work in progress and is subject to change in the coming days/weeks as I make tasting notes. Additions like nutmeg, clove, vanilla and other spices, will intensify the chocolate flavor and add complexity to the flavor profile. Orange zest would also make a great addition.

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