Saturday, March 5, 2011

Chocolate Absinthe

Today is National Absinthe Day. Absinthe is a strong herbal liqueur distilled with a large number of herbs like anise, licorice, hyssop, veronica, fennel, lemon balm, angelica and wormwood (the flavor of anise and/or licorice, at least in contemporary forms of the liquor, tends to predominate).  

Wormwood, the one that's gained the most notoriety, is Artemisia absinthum, an herb that grows wild in Europe and has been cultivated in the United States as well. Much of the liquor's legendary effect is due to its extremely high alcohol content, ranging from 50% to 75% (usually around 60%), plus the contribution of the various herbs. It has been assumed by many that the so-called "active ingredient" in absinthe is wormwood, although that is apparently not really the case.

The drink was referred to in France as "La Fée Verte", or The Green Fairy, which is a reference to its dazzling green color (depending on the brand). The color usually came from the chlorophyll content of the herbs used in the distillation process; however, some disreputable manufacturers added toxic chemicals to produce both the green color and the louche (or clouding) effect that in reputable brands was caused by the precipitation of the essential oils of the herbs. It is quite probable that the bad reputation absinthe developed was due to these low-grade and perhaps quite poisonous version of the real thing.

Absinthe was very popular in fin-de-siècle Paris, with Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Verlaine, Alfred Jarry and Oscar Wilde among its most famous imbibers. 

Two good websites for Absinthe: La Fee Verte  & The Wormwood Society

Artemisia Collection makes a Chocolate Absinthe which is cocoa mixed with the aroma of Sicilian oranges and red hot peppers from Calabria blended with Wormwood. This Hot Spicy Chocolate Artemisia Absinthe gives the drinker a sweet and unique sensation.

Nunu Chocolates' Absinthe Delight is one of the most popular flavors from Nunu Chocolates. The anise flavor holds its own with the dark chocolate! A very 'addictive' treat!  Want to make your own absinthe truffles? Food Curated has a great post with the recipe for Nunu Chocolates' Absinthe Liquor Ganache. Yum!

CutoutandKeep has a fabulous recipe for Flaming Chocolate Absinthe Cake. You might need to convert the ingredients, but that's easy enough. Great step by step instructions! Absinthe Cakes are traditional Birthday Cakes in New Orleans and France...well, for some people! Why not make it Chocolate.

Absinthe Cake Photo: CutoutandKeep

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