Category Archives: Recipes

Triple Chocolate Raspberry Ice Cream Recipe

Organic Chocolate Raspberry Ice Cream

The richness of three chocolates and the textures of berries plus cacao nibs has made this our favorite summer indulgence

The best thing about having a home ice cream maker is not only can you dream up some remarkably imaginative flavors, you can also control every ingredient you use.  A home ice cream maker isn’t about saving money – it’s about unleashing this creative licence and using exotic and top quality  ingredients.  For instance, you can bring into play completely organic ingredients or draw from what’s local and fresh.  Most ingredients I use in this recipe are not particularly exotic, except the cacao nibs.  I’ll tell you where to easily find those.

Now, I’m an extremely busy guy, so I like simplicity.  This recipe is easy, but still results an a decadent, super-rich ice cream that everyone loves.  Many chocolate ice cream recipes ask you to start by making an egg custard – not a complex process, but one that involves standing over a stove and eventually cleaning a pan.  Forget about it.  Eggs will make the ice cream richer, yes, but we’re talking about triple chocolate here!  This is rich enough, trust me.  No eggs required.

Organic Triple Chocolate Raspberry Ice Cream

Mashing Rasberries in a bowl

Mashing the raspberries in a bowl releases more intense flavors into the ice cream

You don’t need to make this organic, but it’s so easy to do, why not?  When I went shopping, the supermarket had organic raspberries for the same price as conventional, a no-brainer.  We also have a local farm where organic raspberries will be ready to pick later in the summer.  Try to take advantage of this healthy option in your area, if you can.

The links below show you where you can get top quality organic chocolate ingredients.  We will use three types of “chocolate” to make this ice cream:

Triple Chocolate Ice Cream Key Ingredients

Three types of chocolate make for intriguing texture and dimension. Clockwise from top: organic cacao nibs, organic cocoa powder (unsweetened) and organic dark chocolate, 82% cacao.

1) Organic cocoa powder.  I used Grenada Chocolate Company organic cocoa.  They grow the cacao on the island of Grenada and use a low pressure cocoa press for the best flavor.

2) Dark chocolate – 70% cacao or higher.  I used 82% dark chocolate from Grenada Chocolate Company.  There is plenty of sugar in the ice cream, so go with at least 70% on the chocolate.  This was plenty sweet even for my four-year old.

3) Organic cacao nibs.  Cacao nibs are ground up bits of roasted cacao beans.  Nibs are the main starting material for a chocolate bar, so you can think of them as a “raw” form of chocolate.  In fact, I used Pacari Organic Chocolate raw nibs for their light nutty flavor and un-roasted flavor profile [2].

What you’ll need:

  • 4 ounce container of fresh organic raspberries.   Frozen is fine – use about 2/3 cup in that case.
  • 1 cup organic half-and-half.
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened organic cocoa powder.
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract.
  • 2/3 cup organic sugar
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 oz. organic dark chocolate 70% cacao or higher.  If you use Grenada Chocolate Company, this is about 1/2 a bar.
  • 2 tablespoons organic cacao nibs.  I recommend Pacari Raw Organic Cacao Nibs.
  • A home ice cream maker.  I used the Cuisinart ICE-21.  If you’re also using this particular model, I’ll give you a few extra tips at the end of the recipe.

Preparation

The final cream mixture

Use the same bowl and whisk to stir in everything but the chopped chocolate and nibs. Cover this bowl and chill.

Chop up the raspberries into quarters and put them in a medium bowl.  You might think that whole raspberries will look more impressive in the ice cream, but it’s better to mash them up to release the juice.  This will result in a much more flavorful treat as the raspberry flavors meld beautifully into the cream.  Mash the raspberries in the bottom of the bowl with a whisk until they are uniformly mashed up.  Remember – keep it simple.  Keep the food processor in the cabinet.  One bowl. One whisk.  Less to clean. Now stir in the half-and-half, sugar, vanilla, and cocoa powder [1].  Once all the cocoa powder looks wet, stir in the cream.

Cover the bowl and put the mixture in the refrigerator for 1 to  1 1/2 hours.  In the mean time, chop the dark chocolate into pieces about the half the size of a pea.  I recommend a heavy, kind-of clunky knife for the job.

Take the chilled cream mixture and pour it into the machine and start churning.  After only about 5 minutes of churning or when you see a slight thickening of the mixture, slowly pour in the chopped chocolate and nibs.  Depending upon your machine, you should see the whole thing set up and expand in about 20 minutes or less.  The ice cream will still be relatively soft, but perfectly ready to eat now.  Put the rest into a tight-sealing container in the freezer and you will have hard ice cream in four to six hours.

My wife preferred the softer ice cream right out of the machine with the contrast of textures – soft raspberries, crunchy, but melt-able chocolate and grainy nibs.  I liked the dense-packed version that comes from freezing.  Either way, this stuff didn’t last long in our house.

Tips on Using the Cuisinart ICE-21 Ice Cream Maker

In some of the online reviews for this product, it seems a few people had trouble getting the machine to work well.  I’ve never had any real problems, so I’d like to share some ideas on how to get good results:

  1. Freeze the freezer bowl for at least four hours.  Overnight would be best.
  2. Make sure to place the freezer bowl in the bottom of the freezer so it’s resting against the bottom surface.  Placing it furthest from the door should help too.
  3. Don’t take the freezer bowl out of the freezer until just before you are ready to pour the ingredients in.
  4. Chill the mixed ingredients in the refrigerator for more than an hour before churning.  If you have room, put them in the freezer for an additional 10-15 minutes.  When I did this, the ice cream set up in the machine in only 10 minutes!  Be careful not to leave the mixture in the freezer for too long – you really don’t want it to freeze before churning.
  5. If you’re working in a real hot room, place a small dish over the hole in the top of the machine and put a few ice cubes in the dish as things are churning.
If you take some care to make sure things are really cold, you’ll easily make great ice cream.

Notes:

[1] If your ice cream maker does not allow you to add ingredients as you go, then stir in all the other ingredients now.

[2] Most cacao nibs would come from fermented and then roasted beans.  Pacari ferments their beans, but doesn’t roast them so that they can preserve more of the high antioxidant content and bright flavors of the original bean.

[3] I paid for all the ingredients used to make this recipe.

Whisking Up Some Zotter Bourbon Vanilla Drinking Chocolate

Zotter organic drinking chocolate in cup. The color varies from cream to light tan.

Zotter Bourbon Vanilla Drinking Chocolate is nothing like what your grandma made. Potent floral vanilla aroma rises up from the cup.

Wine drinkers usually fall into one camp or the other – “I usually drink red” or “I usually drink white” and the agnostics, those who happily drink whatever they’re handed are few and far between.  So knowing that I am a deep red kind of guy (think Cabernet, Red Zin, Syrah), I was a little reluctant to try this “blond” drinking chocolate.  Then I remembered this was Zotter – I guy who excels at breaking the rules to create something fun and unexpected from his Austrian chocolate factory.

Organic Drinking Chocolate

Zotter Bourbon Vanilla Drinking Chocolate Bar

The 20g bars use organic fair trade ingredients.

This unusual drinking chocolate is made from a blend of fair-trade certified organic ingredients including:  raw cane sugar, cocoa butter, full cream milk powder, almonds, sweet whey powder, and vanilla.  Now, I know that some of you are worried that there’s some kind of distilled spirit mixed in there somewhere, but you can relax knowing that “bourbon” is just a term given to vanilla from the Indian Ocean islands – such as Madagascar.  Of course if you want to throw some dark rum into your cup of drinking chocolate, it’s not a bad idea, but try it straight first – to get a sense for the subtle flavors and aromas.

The 20g bars use organic fair trade ingredients.

Even if you've never made hot chocolate from a bar, these will melt easily into warmed milk.

Because of the high cocoa butter content, it’s hard to imagine this in anything but bar form – something a bit alien to us Americans when it comes to hot chocolate. Have no fear, this uniquely European approach [1] is no more difficult to prepare than powder if not a bit easier. The bars melt readily into warmed milk and prep time is far less than 10 minutes even if you are fond of ritual and want to stand over the stove whisking gently and drinking up the natural aroma.  I basically followed the instructions on the back of the box that go something like this (edited for clarity):

Melt a bar of Zotter Drinking Chocolate in 100 mL to 200 mL hot frothy milk, then stir it well with a whisk.  Give the drinking chocolate a little bit of time to develop its flavor.  Enjoy it!

Whisking Zotter Vanilla Drinking Chocolate into Milk

Keep the heat on medium low to avoid burning the milk. You don't need to whisk as enthusiastically as I did, but its nice to create a little froth.

Their recommendation of one bar for 100 or 200mL of milk is pretty loose giving you wide latitude to make it mild or splurge with something more intense. Of course, I did the 2 bars for 200mL to get the full-on experience. Pausing for the flavors to develop was the hardest part, but real or not, I imaging the flavors diffusing and melding throughout the milk while I waited.

Tasting Zotter Hot Chocolate

Despite the light creamy color, the taste was plenty satisfying although unlike anything your grandma called hot cocoa (unless she makes home somewhere near the Austrian Alps). We’re talking about a luscious blend of sweetness, vanilla with notes of rum and toasted nuts.  The potent vanilla aroma rising up from the cup is at once seductive and therapeutic with complexity that you can only get from real vanilla bean.  All in all, I found it smooth and comforting.

I don’t plan to give up my rich dark drinking chocolate anytime soon, but I’m feeling a bit more agnostic than before and that can’t be bad.  Zotter Drinking Chocolate is available online at NewLeaf Chocolates.

Notes:

[1] You also see these drinking chocolate bars in parts of Latin America such as in Mexico.

[2] I paid for all the materials myself.

How to Make a Chocolate Raspberry Cooler

Chocolate Raspberry Cooler

Drinking raspberries and chocolate outside on the patio

Organic chocolate Smoothie

Even though the snow is a distant memory by now, there’s no reason to give up enjoying rich drinking chocolate.   Unlike hot chocolate, with this recipe you don’t need to sweat over the  stove; just pull out the blender and get going.  Chocolate and raspberries are an antioxidant-packed combination that delights the senses with vibrant, full flavors.  If you use the Dagoba unsweetened cocoa, the extra little bits of chocolate in their mix will survive the blender and add a nice texture to an already plush drink.  All the cocoa powders I recommend are organic and non-alkalized, so you can easily use all organic ingredients for something that’s extra good for your body.

 What you’ll need:

  • 1 cup fresh raspberries, gently rinsed (frozen berries are OK) [1].
  • 4 tablespoons unsweetened organic cocoa powder.  I recommend the unsweetened organic cocoas from Grenada Chocolate Company, Dagoba Chocolate, or Rapunzel (these are definitely non-alkalized).
  • 1 ½ cups whole milk  or 2% milk
  • About 1/2 to 3/4 cup of ice cubes
  • 3 teaspoons sugar

Put everything into a blender. Blend first on the lowest setting and then on high for a good long time until all the ice is chopped fine.  Serve in large tumblers.  Makes about 3 servings.

 Garnish:  Just a dollop of whipped cream, then some shaved chocolate followed by a few sprigs of mint.

Variations:

  • Vegan: substitute 1 cup of coconut milk or an equal amount of soy milk for the cow’s milk
  • Sugar free:  since the cocoa powders I recommend don’t have added sugar, you can substitute your favorite sweetener for the sugar.
  • For the kids or whoever:  add 3 scoops of vanilla ice cream and leave out 2 of the 3 teaspoons of sugar.

Notes:

[1] We picked our organic raspberries at Wright-Locke Farm in Winchester, MA, a local non-profit no more than 2 miles from our house.

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Chocolate Cocktails Made with Real Cacao

Hot Chocolate de Caraibe

Hot Chocolate de Caraibe

I’m talking about using cacao-infused vodka to make some unique, if not quirky, cocktails that will delight and mystify your taste buds.  Last winter I showed you a simple recipe to infuse vodka with roasted cacao nibs, the meat of the cocoa bean before it’s turned into chocolate.  You can easily mix that vodka up into a fine organic chocolate martini, but honestly, that drink will probably only appeal to the most die-hard chocolate fans like me – with its dryiness and authentic, raw cacao flavor.  Once you’ve experimented with that one, it’s time to explore these other chocolate libations.

I wanted to give you a few more ideas that blend real cacao-infused vodka with with well-matched ingredients so that the vodka becomes an accent rather than center stage.  The results of this alchemy are drinks that will warm your spirit through the winter.  After that dry chocolate martini, let’s move on to a few sweeter drinks and then finally back to something more crisp.

Hot Chocolate de Caraibe

 

  • 1 oz cacao infused vodka (see basic recipe or short version at bottom of page)
  • 1 oz dark rum
  • 6oz hot chocolate. Use a high quality cocoa such as Dagoba, Grenada Chocolate Company’s or Rapunzel (all are certified organic.  None are alkalized [2]).  Use sweetened cocoa or sweeten to taste.
  • 1 tbs chocolate shavings (we like to use Grenada Chocolate Chocolate Company’s 60% cacao bar).
  • Whipped Cream

Stir ingredients in a clear mug.  Top with a blast of whipped cream then garnish with chocolate shavings. Sit back, sip and dream of a warm Caribbean breeze blowing through cacao trees.

Kir Cacao
Kir Cacao

Kir Cacao

A Blend of Champagne, Chocolate and Cherry

Use this drink as an aperitif or “surprise beginning” to any festivity that goes beyond predictable.
  • 1/2 oz cacao-infused vodka (see basic recipe or short version at bottom of page)
  • 1 oz cherry liqueur. We used Heering Cherry Liqueur since it’s made completely from all natural ingredients.
  • Champagne
  • Ice

Pour the  vodka and cherry liqueur into a cocktail shaker with ice and shake until the outside of the shaker is very cold.   Pour into a champagne flute without the ice, of course.  Fill the rest of the glass with champagne up to 1-2″ from the top of the rim.  Add one more inch or so  by pouring the champagne over the back of spoon and into the glass to make some foam.  This drink will grow on you…trust me.

MEXICAN MOCHACHINO

This one is a slightly less potent twist on the mochachino martini I made last time.   Stir together over ice in a tumber:

  • 1  oz. organic cacao-infused vodka (see basic recipe or short version at bottom of page)
  • 1/2 oz. Kahlua
  • 1 1/2 oz. Bailey’s

TOFFEE EGG NOG

Traditional rum egg nog is great, but when you’re tired of the same old same old then move onto this smooth concoction.  Sipping egg nog is sort of like drinking ice cream, so it’s not such a stretch to top it off with a bit of coffee and chocolate. Yum!

  • 1/2  oz. organic cacao-infused vodka (see basic recipe or short version at bottom of page)
  • 1 oz. Coffee Liqueur such as Kahlua
  • 4 oz. egg nog
  • Nutmeg

Mix together with ice and garnish with freshly ground nutmeg.

TAN WHISKEY ORANGE

If you want something a little drier, but not completely arid, try this:

  • 1/2  oz. organic cacao-infused vodka (see basic recipe or short version at bottom of page)
  • 1 1/2 oz. Scotch Whiskey
  • 1 oz. orange juice
  • Orange peel

Mix liquids in a tumbler over ice.  Rub the orange peel all around the rim of the glass to give fragrant orange aroma.  Sip slowly.

BASIC RECIPE FOR CACAO-INFUSED VODKA

(SHORT VERSION)

Here’s the short verisoin of the basic recipe:  Combine 1 cup  roasted cacao nibs with 1 liter of vodka (remove enough vodka to fit the nibs into the bottle.  Let it infuse for 2-4 days, then strain.  For the details, see this post.

Please drink responsibly and in moderation so you can always enjoy fine drinks.  Cheers!

Notes:

[1] I paid for all the materials used for this post myself.

[2] Alkalized or dutched cocoa has been chemically converted to make it easier to mix and more mild in flavor.  Besides my general aversion to unnecessary chemicals, we don’t want mild flavor, we want to taste the chocolate!

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Summer Drinking Chocolate Recipe: The Mega Omega-3 “Raw” Chocolate Shake

Health Benefits of Flaxseed and Cacao

Blueberries, cocoa nibs and flaxseed combine forces to make this Mega Omega-3 Chocolate Shake

Blueberries, cocoa nibs and flaxseed combine forces to make this Mega Omega-3 Chocolate Shake

There has been an overwhelming amount of information published on the health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, such as those in flaxseed – everything from cancer prevention to improved cardiovascular health and improved vision.  On the other hand, the health benefits of “Raw” chocolate (that which is minimally-processed and kept at low temperatures), are less well publicized, but no less important.  Cacao (the plant from which chocolate is made) is loaded with antioxidants, and cacao nibs – the roasted and cracked “beans” from the cacao pod – contain more than ten times the antioxidant content of blueberries [1].  Cocoa nibs (A.K.A. cacao nibs) are roasted as an essential step in developing the flavor of chocolate, but since all the downstream steps to make chocolate are skipped, nibs can be considered a minimally-processed food.  Put these two antioxidant superpowers together and you’ve got a satisfying and healthy treat.

The flaxseeds also act as a kind of binder and thickener so that you can create a thick shake that will keep all those beautiful cocoa nibs suspended.

Now, flaxseeds are shelf stable in whole form, but due to their oil content, will eventually go rancid after they are ground open.  So I recommend that you only grind as much as you need for a week or so and then keep what you don’t use in a tightly-closed container in the refrigerator.  The cacao nibs should be finely ground just before use in order to release the  natural fruity flavor and aroma of cacao.

The Mega Omega-3 “Raw” Chocolate Shake

What you’ll need:

  • 2 Tablespoons organic flaxseed (unroasted). Roasted seeds can be used instead to give a more nutty taste, but I prefer the lighter, more natural flavor of the unroasted seeds.
  • 3 Tablespoons finely ground cacao nibs.
  • 1 cup organic low-fat vanilla yogurt
  • 1 ½ cups frozen organic blueberries (if you use fresh blueberries, then add an extra ½ cup of ice).
  • 1 cup organic soy milk (you may substitute regular low fat milk or almond milk)
  • 1 cup ice cubes
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • A blender

 

Preparation

Grind the flaxseed in a coffee mill for about 10 seconds.  Press your finger into the seeds after grinding – you should not feel any hard shells. Grind the cacao nibs in a coffee grinder for 15 – 20 seconds.  Some people claim success grinding nibs in the blender before any other wet ingredients are added, but my opinion is that this is not good for your blender.  Add everything to the blender and blend until the blueberries are no longer whole.

Kai likes it!

Kai likes it!

Serving

Fill tall glasses and float some nibs (virgin, not finely ground) and a few blueberries on top.  Enjoy and ask yourself: “do I feel healthy yet?”

Variations

•  Use 8 pitted dates instead of the blueberries.  They complement the chocolate well with an understated sweetness.
•  Use frozen pitted dark cherries instead of blueberries. They taste just as yummy (but can be difficult to find organic).
•  Vegan version: leave out the yogurt and replace it with ½ cup coconut milk.  For this version, use blueberries; not dates.

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Notes:

[1] The reported antioxidant capacity of foods varies by the method used for chemical analysis, so you may see different results reported here and there.  What’s clear is the antioxidant content of cacao nibs is among the highest of any food on an equivalent weight basis.  I will try to research the specifics for a future post, but I think you guys are more interested in other things for now.

[2] Kai likes everything.

[3] I paid for all the materials used to make this recipe.

Chocolate – The Breakfast of Champions

Legend has it that the Aztec emperor Montezuma drank 50 small cups of cocoa a day as an aphrodisiac and to boost his energy.  I figure at least some of this had to be consumed at breakfast.  Of course, that was 500 years ago and cocoa was so expensive that only kings could afford this excess.  When chocolate was first introduced to Europe it was mainly consumed in the evening as a decadent after-dinner drink.  Still, there were eventually signs of more creative use of chocolate like this:

“When you have breakfasted well and fully, if you will drink a big cup of chocolate at the end you will have digested the whole perfectly three hours later, and you will still be able to dine..Because of my scientific enthusiasm and the sheer force of my eloquence I have persuaded a number of ladies to try this, although they were convinced it would kill them; they have always found themselves in fine shape indeed, and have not forgotten to give the Professor his rightful due.”
Jean-Antheleme Brillat-Savarin (1755-1826)
The Physiology of Taste (1825)

We’ve come a long way since then and today chocolate is relatively inexpensive and accessable to all.  So the time has come to enjoy organic chocolate at breakfast and I’m not just talking about hot chocolate.

Organic cocoa nibs on granola

Organic cocoa nibs on granola

Here are some ideas for the creative use of cocoa nibs at breakfast.  If you recall, cocoa nibs are the coarsely - ground bits of roasted cacao beans that are bitter, nutty and full of true minimally processed cocoa flavor.  I tasted some organic chocolate covered nibs from Pacari earlier this year and loved them, but you don’t want to use coated nibs [1].  You want to use uncoated nibs like the Taza organic cocoa nibs I used to make an organic chocolate martini.

Organic Cocoa Nibs on Granola

This is real simple:

Toss the nibs around with the granola, add milk or soy milk and enjoy.  Most pre-boxed granolas have enough sugar in them to balance out the astringent bitterness of the nibs, and you will enjoy a real lively contrast to the run of the mill granola (I think that was a pun).  I found the nutty texture and the cocoa aroma that came up from the bowl rather pleasing.  Of course you can get decent granola at any good market or mix your own to avoid the added sugar.  The website MixMyGranola.com lets you design your own mixtures or order premixed cereals.

Oatmeal with Organic Cocoa Nibs

Organic cocoa nibs on oatmeal

The breakfast of champions - Organic cocoa nibs on oatmeal

Another civilized and healthy way to get your organic chocolate in the morning is to mix it  with oatmeal.  I stopped adding dark chocolate chips to my oatmeal (a tradition introduced by my own mother, no less) when my wife insisted that I was setting a bad example for the kids, but in my mind this discussion is not over.  At any rate, if you put a small cocoa nib into a child’s mouth, they will soon spit it out, so there is no worry that they will be begging for nibs every morning.   This will make two servings:

  • 1 cup organic oats
  • 2 cups water
  • 2-4 tablespoons organic cocoa nibs
  • Butter to taste (optional)
  • Brown sugar to taste (recommended)

Mix in the nibs after the oatmeal is cooked.  I like the granola, but I liked this even better.  The nibs are subdued and coated by the oatmeal and the contrast between the soft oatmeal and the nibs is much more dramatic than with oatmeal.  Something about the warmth of the oatmeal and the aromatic nuttiness of the organic nibs makes this an exotic comfort food.

So break out of your morning routine and add some excitement with chocolate - the breakfast of champions.

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Notes: [1] Actually, you can try it if you want.  I haven’t tried it with coated nibs, but the coating would certainly melt away in oatmeal, so it seems like a waste, right? [2] I paid for all of the ingredients myself.

How to Make a Fine Organic Chocolate Martini

The 100% Organic Chocolate Martini

The 100% Organic Chocolate Martini. Cheers!

As we get ready for New Years, I decided to prepare a unique concoction - a chocolate martini.  Well, not just a chocolate martini, but one made from 100% organic ingredients.  There are plenty of chocolate martini’s out there, but most are made with some sweet liqueur such as Creme de Cacao or Godiva Chocolate Liqueur.  I have nothing against these drinks, but they are really more of a cocktail than a martini.  A martini is inherently dry (and technically made from Gin, but we’re in the vodka camp here).  So, how do you to make a chocolate martini that’s essentially void of sugar?  It’s not hard, but will take a little preparation.  Start about 3 days or more before New Years.  Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A bottle of high-quality organic vodka
  • 1/2 cup organic cacao nibs
  • A large clean bowl
  • A funnel (not pictured)
  • A cocktail shaker
  • A cocktail strainer
  • Some cheesecloth (not pictured)
  • A sieve
  • Organic cocoa powder for rimming (optional)
  • Organic chocolate to shave as a garnish (recommended)
What you'll need

What you'll need to make an organic vodka martini. (L to R): cocktail strainer, cocktain shaker, organic vodka, jigger, metal sieve, large clean bowl, and organic cacao nibs

I used Crop Organic Artisanal Vodka simply because it was on sale ($25 before discount for 750mL). By itself it tastes clean up front with a smooth, round buttered-corn note on the finish.  I’m not an expert on vodka, but this one seemed well above average.   Other organic vodkas include Rain Vodka, Vodka 14Organic Nation ON Vodka and TRU Vodka.  Some might dispute the value of organic vodka[1], but many of these companies are also employing green business practices and organic farming is generally better for the earth.  That’s enough to sway me.

Cacao nibs

Organic Cocoa Nibs Ready to Add to Vodka

For cacao nibs, I used Taza organic roasted nibs.   Taza Chocolate roasts their nibs “low and slow” to preserve the natural fruity flavor of the bean.  After using them for this recipe, I was delighted to find plenty left over in the can to mix into oatmeal or over ice cream.  By the way, don’t use chocolate-coated nibs.  They are great as a snack, but won’t work for this recipe.

Thirty hours into the extraction the organic vodka is turning a reddish amber.

Thirty hours into the extraction the organic vodka is turning a reddish amber.

Now, simply pour out about a half cup of vodka from the bottle and replace it with a half cup of nibs.  If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll realize quickly that the half cup of vodka that you poured out of the bottle now has no home.  I sat and thought about this for a while until I started sipping away at it, still trying to find a solution to this storage problem, but coming up dry.  Oh well, if you all have some ideas, please post it in the comments section.  Now, back to the recipe.  Let the mixture steep for 2-4 days shaking the bottle lightly once per day.  I extracted the nibs for three days, but I believe two days should be adequate and after four days, you are probably reachng the point of diminishing returns.  I tasted the nibs that came out of the bottle on Day 3, and they were almost tasteless with little left to give.

After three days, the vodka is a deeper red and ready to filter.

After three days, the vodka is a deeper red and ready to filter.

After three days, filter out the nibs by pouring the contents of the bottle through some cheese cloth placed inside a metal sieve.  Collect the vodka in a very clean bowl.  After rinsing out the bottle, return the contents to the bottle using a funnel.  Now you will have some 100% organic chocolate vodka ready to mix.  Mine turned out a nice amber-red color, but it will depend upon the nibs you use and how long they are extracted.

The 100% Organic Chocolate Martini

OK, here’s the easy part.  Lightly wet the rim of a chilled martini glass with water and run it through a pile of organic cocoa.  I found it hard to get a nice uniform cocoa line on the rim, but decided I didn’t care.  Shake the organic chocolate vodka in a cocktail shaker filled with ice until the outside feels super-cold.  Strain into the glass and take a sip.  Wait! Get any thoughts of sweetness out of your head before you raise the glass to your lips!  This is a real dry martini and the chocolate flavor, really be more accurately described as a cocoa flavor, is an aquired taste.  Unique, aromatic, somewhat pungent. Give it a few slow sips before passing judgement.  If you still crave some sweetness, try this variation:

Orange Chocolate Martini:

The orange chocolate martini garnished with shaved organic chocolate

The orange chocolate martini garnished with shaved organic chocolate

  • 2 oz. organic chocolate vodka (follow recipe above)
  • 1/2 oz orange liqueur such as Cointreau.  No more than 1/2 and ounce or you will overwhelm the cocoa.

I don’t know of any organic orange liquers, but if you do, let us know.  Shake with ice in a cocktail shaker until the outside of the shaker is super-cold.  Garnish with shavings of organic chocolate.  I recommend going to the extreme of 100% raw chocolate from Pacari.  A sweeter option would be Grenada Chocolate company’s 71% cacao bar.  You can use a cheese grater to create the shavings, but don’t use a micro-zester.

From here let your creativity run away.  If you want to go sweeter with the orange, OK, but keep in mind the chocolate flavor will start to get lost.  What’s nice is the contrast of chocolate shavings agaist white, so you can try:

Mochachino Martini

  • 1 1/2 oz. organic chocolate vodka
  • 1/2 oz. Kahlua
  • 1 oz. Bailey’s

Mocha Martini

  • Same as above, but with no Bailey’s

Where to buy the ingredients:

  • Organic vodka – Rain and Crop are available nationally.  The others maybe too, but I have not seen them as abundantly in my area.
  • Taza organic roasted cacao nibs at NewLeaf Chocolates. – click here.

Cheers and happy holidays!

For more drink recipes using cacao-infused vodka, see this new post.

Notes:  [1]Some people doubt the value of “organic” when it comes to vodka since producers are simply starting with organic grain and, in the end, it might just be a marketing ploy.  I have to admit that I have not researched this technically at all, but my simple assessment is that if there are residual pesticides in the grain or potatoes and they are volatile enough, then there is no reason why traces can’t make it through the whole process all the way past distillation and into the bottle.  Arguably, distillation is a purification process and other steps are taken to purify vodka, but it doesn’t mean that all the bad stuff is gone. You might consider vodka to be bad stuff too, so let’s put it all in context.  After all, if you drink too much vodka, too often, then you will have bigger problems than potential traces of pesticides.

Furthermore, if you focus only on the health issues for the consumer, you’re missing the full picture.  Pesticides and other chemicals can be harmful for the environment and for the farm workers who apply them to the fields.  For me, this is the strongest case for organic vodka.   I made an organic vodka martini because I thought it would be fun, but I don’t know if it’s any better for my health than good old fashioned vodka.  Either way, please drink responsibly.

[2] I paid for all ingredients myself.