Thursday, March 5, 2015

Absinthe Day! Chocolate Absinthe Truffles, Bars & Cocktails!

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). I love absinthe and chocolate!

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  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 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 about Absinthe: La Fee Verte  & The Wormwood Society

Recipe adapted from The Marine Room, San Diego

3/4 heavy cream
3 tablespoons sweet butter
12 ounces chopped dark chocolate
1/4 cup absinthe liquor

Add cream and butter to saucepan over medium heat. Bring to simmer. Turn off heat. Add chocolate. Whisk until smooth. Stir in absinthe.
Transfer to 9 x9-inch baking dish.
Refrigerate 1 hour or until set.
Using melon baller, scoop mixture onto parchment or waxed paper lined baking sheet. Refrigerate 30 minutes.
Form balls in palm of hand. Return to parchment or waxed paper. Cover. Refrigerate 2 hours.

At this point you can just roll in cocoa--- or you can make this easy coating!

1-1/2 pounds finely chopped dark chocolate
1-1/2 cups cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Add chocolate to mixing bowl set over pot of simmering water. Melt, stirring often.
Sift cocoa powder and cayenne pepper into deep baking dish. Set aside.
Quickly dip chocolate balls in melted chocolate one at a time for 3 seconds. Retrieve with fork, tapping stem of fork on side of bowl to remove excess chocolate.
Transfer to cocoa powder. Roll to coat.
Let sit 2 minutes.
No time to make your own? Several chocolatiers make absinthe truffles and bars, so check with your local. Here are a few.

Endorfin Chocolat has a great Absinthe Bar. Crafted according to the original recipes from European historical literature, with Grand Wormwood, Star Anise, Sweet Fennel, Melissa (Lemon Balm), Angelica, Tarragon, Mugwort, Basil, and Hyssop. Love, love, love this bar! (Check out this great new company!)

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!

Vosges also makes an Absinthe Truffle as part of its Exotic Truffle Collection. It contains Chinese star anise, fennel, absinthe, dark chocolate and cocoa powder.

Absinthe Chocolate Cocktails! 
1. Spicy Absinthe Chocolate Martini
1 part habanera-infused reposado tequila
1 part Chocolate Absinthe Liqueur

Combine in shake with ice. Shake. Strain into martini glass rimmed with Mexican chocolate (mixed with a dash of chipotle powder).

2. Absinthe Chocolate Cocktail
1/4 ounce Absinthe
1/4 ounce Creme de Cacao
1/4 ounce Frangelico
1/2 ounce Godiva Liqueur

Mix all ingredients in shake with ice. Strain into Martini glass rimmed with grated dark chocolate.

3. Pillow Talk Cocktail from Emperor Norton Absinthe


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