Chocolate+Vodka+Mint=Heaven

Choctrio

            Where to start? Alice Medrich’s new book, Pure Dessert is full of delightful and unique sweet temptations. However, none of them seem to be too sugar-sweet in flavor as the premise of her book was to bring out the natural essence of the main ingredient. In her latest venture, she seeks to explore unusual combinations, or introduce nuances of other components that may enhance the overall taste of the end product.  Her inspiration for the book came from this experience: “Faced with an overly sweet, complicated dessert or one made with mundane ingredients, I sometimes long instead for a bowl of plain yogurt drizzled with honey and sprinkled with walnuts or pistachios, a piece of bittersweet chocolate, or some ripe figs.” Her objective was to create simple desserts from just a few of the best ingredients. High quality ingredients are available now:  organic yogurts, milk, cheeses, the best chocolates and cocoas – all these can “…elevate simple desserts…”

            I decided to start with the Iced Citron Vodka chocolates, as I was fortunate to have tasted these particular nugget of decadence in her recent demo class. It was funny because I was the least interested in this particular recipe at the beginning (for one thing I hate mint chocolate), but after that initial bite that led to the crackling of its crisp chocolate covering, my tongue encountered the creamy ganache that was nestled so enticingly inside. The gustatory perception of an unknown but infinitely refreshing flavor brought me great pleasure. What was it? The mint? The citron vodka?  Or was it the clever combination of both? Whatever it was it made me want to replicate these as soon as possible in my own kitchen.

            And so I did.

Iced Citron Vodka chocolates with Fresh Mint

From "Pure Dessert" by Alice Medrich

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint
  • 1 cup plus 2 to 3 extra tbsp. of heavy cream
  • 9 oz. standard semisweet or bittersweet chocolate without a percentage on the label, or any marked 55% through 60%. (To use higher percentage chocolate, consult Chocolate Notes below)
  • 2 tbs. Citron Vodka such as Hangar One Buddha’s Hand (or rum)
  • 12-16 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, for dipping 

Chocolate Notes: Make adjustments for high percentage chocolates as follows: For Choclate marked 60% to 64%: use 7 oz (with or without liquer).For Choclate marked 70% to 72%: use 5 ½ oz (or 6 if using the rum) of chocolate and stir 2 tbsp. of sugar into the cream before heating it. Pour only half of the hot cream and sugar over the chocolate and stir until the chocolate is melted, then add the remaining cream and stir to blend thoroughly.

Special Equipment:

  • Fine strainer
  • 8-inch square baking pan, bottom and sides lined with foil
  • Instant read thermometer

To make the mint infusion: In a small container, combine the mint and 1 cup of the cream. Cover and refrigerate over night. Pour the mixture into a strainer set over a glass-measuring cup, pressing on the min leaves to extract the cream. Discard the mint and add additional cream to make one cup.

To make the ganache: Chop the 9 oz. of chocolate into pieces no bigger than pieces of almonds and place it in a medium bowl. Set aside. In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a low boil. Pour over the chocolate. Stir gently with a rubber spatula until chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth; do not whisk or splash the mixture by stirring too briskly or the texture of the ganache will be cakey and granular instead of smooth and creamy. Stir in the liquor and mix only enough to blend. Strain the ganache (to refine the texture) into the lined pan, tilting it to level. Cover and freeze until hard.

Have ready a baking pan lined with waxed paper. Lift the sheet of ganache out of its pan, using the edges of the foil. Flip it over onto another sheet of foil set on a cutting board and peel of the bottom foil. Cut square centers: Using your longest knife blade dipped in hot water and wiped dry before each cut, cut the sheet of ganache into 6 or 7 equal strips, slightly wider than one inch. Cut across the strips to make squares. Work quickly to prevent thawing. Transfer the centers to the lined pan. Cover the pan with foil or plastic wrap and place it in the freezer until centers are rock hard. Keep them frozen until the moment you are ready to dip. (Centers may be sealed in an airtight container, and kept frozen up to 2 months.)

To dip the centers: Chop and melt the 16 oz of chocolate in a thoroughly dry heat proof medium bowl set in a pan of barely simmering water. Be sure that all your utensils are dry so that moisture does not come in contact with the chocolate. Stir frequently to hasten melting.

When the chocolate is almost completely melted, remove the bowl from the skillet and wipe the bottom dry. Stir until the chocolate is entirely smooth and melted. Cool to 100 to 105 F. Place the bowl in front of you. Set a cookie sheet lined with parchment or wax paper to the right of the chocolate if you are right handed (or to the left if you are left handed).

Remove one half of the frozen centers from the freezer and place them on a plate to the left of the chocolate (if you are right handed).

Place a center in the bowl of chocolate and use the dipping fork to flip it over and push it under the surface of the chocolate. Slip the fork under the center and lift it out of the chocolate. Tap the fork on the sides of the bowl to drain excess chocolate back into the bowl. Wipe the tines of fork against the edge of the bowl before setting the chocolate onto the lined pan. Repeat with the remaining centers on the plate. Use the dipping fork to drizzle chocolate randomly over the chocolates.

Work quickly to prevent the centers from thawing before they are dipped and to prevent them from melting in the warm chocolate. Don’t let the dipped center rest on the fork any longer than necessary or the center will stick on the fork. Remove the remaining centers from the freezer and dip them as before. Refrigerate the dipped chocolates at least long enough to harden the coating before removing them from the paper. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, or freeze for 3 months. Serve cold, preferably on a tray set in ice.

Chocvod

Cooking Notes:

            I did not have much trouble with the recipe until it came time for dipping the chocolates. Alice made it look so easy in class. No matter what I did the chocolate centers kept on sticking to the dipping fork. Finally I used a salad fork and it was easier to slide the centers off to the waiting pan. You definitely need to work quickly since the ganache thaws really fast specially with the hot weather we are having right now. Instead of drizzling additional chocolate for decoration, I drew a curvy line on the chocolate.

           One thing you must remember, especially with heating plain chocolate is to keep water droplets away from it. A drop of water can cause your chocolate to seize and be grainy. Alice always stressed this point whenever she melts chocolate over simmering water in the pan. She always had a towel to wipe the bottom once she takes it out.

            The taste of my dipped chocolates was less intense than what Alice had made. She did say that the inspiration for these chocolates came from the Hangar One Buddha’s Hand citron vodka. I could not find the same label in my locale. It is available on-line and I might just cave-in and order it. Also my mint infusion tasted a bit weak. I just cut my mint into strips, I shall chop them up some more next time to heighten the flavor of the mint. She advises against heating the cream with the mint in it to get the infusion. The refreshing flavor of the mint gets muddled up when you do this.

           Still, I am very happy with my first attempt. I do get that flavor that spurred me to create this immediately, albeit a bit lighter. This only makes me want to make this again, this time with the necessary adjustments and probably with a purchase of Hangar One Buddha’s Hand citron vodka!

32 thoughts on “Chocolate+Vodka+Mint=Heaven

  1. This looks delicious, and I love mint chocolate. One question, though, about the ingredients: for the mint, you have 1/cup listed. Is that one cup (with an extra "/", 1/2 cup (lost the 2?) or something else?

  2. Veron, I just got your comment. LOL, you are too funny. I just made a pot of BKT over the weekend, it was my last pack and I was panicked (oh no, no more BKT!). Anyway, yes, I will bring back a bag load of BKT this time and who knows I can make a fortune just selling them on my blog…wahahahahaha.

    Do me a favor, remind me again when it's Oct, I should be go back in mid Oct. :)

  3. Like you I don't know if I would be initially drawn to the combination of flavors…but you sure have made it sound super good! They look and sound absolutely enticing! :)

  4. Veronica, you knew that Hangar One is from the Bay Area right? I should have gotten you a bottle!:) Beautiful first take on Alice's book – I need to get cracking on it!

  5. And now you know I love molded chocolates instead of dipped ones! Lemon vodka is my favorite to use for filled centers and I am dreaming of that Hangar one! You did a great job!

  6. Chocolate+Vodka+Mint+Nora=Heaven :-)

    Veron, this is a fantastic attempt. I don't think that I would have had any succes, esp since I don't have some of the equipment or ingredients. I love the first photo.

  7. veron! these look so incredibly decadent. i wonder if i too could make such a delicacy. i don't know. i just might give this one ago though i am far from a daring baker…

  8. Veron,

    I sometimes make small chocolates with mint for my husband, he loves to have them with strong black coffee.
    I'm gonna mark this recipe, these would make him so happy! :)

  9. OMG! I just got a litre bottle of citron vodka last saturday…. I also got plenty of chocolat…. hmmm….. so tempting and so irresistable….you so bad…..lol

  10. Oh, please Veron, I hope you don't have too many like this up your sleeve. I am one who will not even try mint and chocolate anymore – it always just seems wrong to me. Now, however, this I really want to try. I'm not sure if it's DB or blogging or what but I am coming to understand quality ingredients, sometimes brands, really can turn the world upside down.

  11. Hi Mandy – I am really tempted to get that Hangar One citron vodka, it is made in San francisco and is made with real fruit which make it really jammy.
    Hi Alice – I dunno about crushing the mint, but when you strain the cream you do press on the mint.
    Thanks T.W. -Alice Medrich really is very passionate about keeping desserts simple…it's her new philosophy.
    You got it right, Peabody. Open mind and stomach…that's what i keep saying to the hubby.
    Thanks Judith! I'm sure you'll have no problem tackling this.
    Thanks caitlyn!
    Thanks Lydia – I do want to apply the lessons straight away so I don't forget them.
    Wait till you try them, anh! They taste really sinful.
    Hi Meeta – I was doubtful about the ingredients too, but one bite and I was floored!

  12. Oh my, I agree, the ingredients sound strange and not something I would be drawn to…but half the time those are the things I end up loving! Always keep an open mind…and stomach! :)

  13. Veron – how enticing! I might never have thought about citron vodka with chocolate, but it sure makes sense when you read it. I really like Alice's philosophy about just a few of the best ingredients. Your dipped chocolates look gorgeous, and my mouth is watering as a type this!

  14. ooh – that looks enticing. I wonder – would =crusing or muddling the mint allow for more of it to seep out into the cream, or would that be overkill? (These are the kinds of questions that are useful, though, in that they may spur me to get into the kitchen!)

  15. I guess I have to add Hangar One Buddha’s Hand citron vodka on my wishlist! Thanks for the recipe. I am excited to see the "sneak preview" here of Alice's latest book! :)

  16. My knees are buckling and I am on the floor. Veron you are a tease and I wish I could grab one of these. The ingredients are unusual but looking at the results I still can imagine that they were incredible!

  17. ————————————————————————————————————————————————-have a plant and do have the beginnings of the Buddia's fruit already growing. will make my own Buddia's Vodka.
    The chocolates look delish.

  18. I don't know Tanna. There seems to be more recipes like this one :).
    What are you waiting for , big boys oven, that citron vodka is just waiting for chocolate ganache!
    Hi Patricia- if your hubby likes mint chocolate then he'll surely love these…although the mint flavor is more refreshing.
    Linda- you should give it a try…be daring!
    Nora – you can use other infusions maybe –give it a try!
    Thanks Amy – I did like how the curvy lines turned out.
    Thanks Helen! That Hangar One citron was the bomb!
    Thanks Anita! I just found out that it was from San Fran when I googled it. Can't wait what you'll make from Alice's book!
    Thanks Joey! I guess if I have not tried it in Alice class I surely wouldn't think of making it.

  19. Pingback: The dog days of summer are here | Kitchen Musings

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