Vodka Fest

One of my favorite events of the year is tomorrow night at Cool River near Mopac and Parmer from 7-10 pm.  $20 in advance and $25 at the door gets a tasting passport to sample a few of the more than 30 vodkas on display.  Way too much fun for a weekday.  The different brands usually give out swag which allows me to bribe my boss into letting me come in late on Thursday.  Hope to see you there!

Homemade Chocolate Vodka- in the Crock-pot!

Two great tastes that taste great together!  I was intrigued by several different posts on the web like this one claiming that you could make chocolate vodka with 3 simple ingredients, chocolate, vodka, and a dishwasher.  Basically the concept is you put the chocolate or candy bars into a bottle that is 3/4 full of vodka, cap it, and place it in the dishwasher and run a full cycle, including drying.  Shake it.  Let it cool.  You have a bottle of chocolate vodka!  This method definitely works but I ran into a few problems and came up with a solution of my own.

I started off with grated dark chocolate intended for hot cocoa, not the powdered kind but actual grated chocolate.  You could grate a candy bar or smash up some chocolate chips but the point is to get the chocolate into little bits so it melts easier.  Giant chunks of chocolate in the bottle will melt eventually, so don’t stress over it too much.  Just get the chocolate as fine as you feel like fooling with and put it in a clean, dry bottle.  Now add enough vodka to fill the bottle 3/4 full and cap it.

The reason you leave some room in the bottle is that alcohol boils at 79º and starts to evaporate into a gas.  Chocolate melts between 100-113º.  So when you get the bottle hot enough to melt the chocolate, the alcohol needs room to evaporate.  This led to my first problem with the dishwasher method.  I heard a loud “pop” from my dishwasher and realized the alcohol fumes had pushed the cork out of the bottle.  Definitely use a screw top if you are using this method.  I was lucky to get to it quickly enough to avoid spillage, or worse, soap in the bottle.  But now how to melt the rest of the chocolate???

I ended up placing the corked bottle into my crock-pot and filling it up with warm water from the tap.  Within half an hour, the water was hot enough to melt the chocolate without risk of explosion or soap.  You definitely have to watch the pot with this method.  If the water gets too hot, it could build up too much pressure in the bottle from the alcohol vapors and shatter the bottle.  But it gently heats the water, so the risk is less than trying it on the stove.  Once the chocolate is melted, give it a good shake and let it cool to below 79º before you open the bottle.  Ideally, store it in a cool dark place for a couple of weeks, giving it a good shake every couple of days but really, is chocolate vodka going to last that long?

I used 4 ounces of dark chocolate for 2 cups of vodka.  As a pastry chef, let me tell you the secret to all great chocolate desserts.  USE THE BEST CHOCOLATE YOU CAN FIND.  I have lots of opinions on brands.  Some of my favorites are Valrhona, El Rey, and Ghiradelli.  I cannot always afford Valrhona but when you are only using a few ounces in a recipe, it makes a huge difference on the taste as well as the results.  I found a premium brand of chocolate that was packaged grated to be used to make hot chocolate which worked quite well.  The vodka, on the other hand, you can skimp on.  I would not use a premium bottle of vodka like Grey Goose to make this.  The best bargain vodka that still tastes pretty smooth in my opinion is Monopolwa.  It is a potato vodka originally made in Poland but now made in Austria.  I had a very good Russian friend who drank this exclusively.  That’s good enough recommendation for me.

Do svidaniya!

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