Robert Steinberg and John Scharffenberger approved of chocolate liqueur in theory but could never find a crème de cacao in the United States quite rich enough for their liking. So they came up with their own.
In The Essence of Chocolate, this week's Cook the Book selection, they give instructions for serving the potent liqueur on its own, topped with whipped cream and cacao nibs. But you can use it in place of the store-bought stuff in any chocolate or coffee "martini," or even use it to spike a mug of hot chocolate.
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- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup vodka
- Heavy cream for topping
- Cacao nibs for garnish
In a medium bowl, combine the cocoa powder and boiling water, stirring to dissolve the cocoa. Set aside.
In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Stir the sugar syrup into the cocoa mixture and add the vodka. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a container with a lid.
Refrigerate overnight. The liqueur will keep for several weeks, but the flavor of the vodka will weaken as time goes on.
To serve, stir the liqueur well, then strain it again through a fine-mesh strainer. Fill each shot glass two-thirds full with liqueur. Top with whipped cream or "float" unwhipped heavy cream on the liqueur. Hold a spoon over the glass, just above the liqueur with the bowl of the spoon facing down. The spoon will diffuse the cream. Slowly pour until a 1/8- to 1/4-inch layer of cream rests on top of the liqueur. Sprinkle with 3 to 4 cacao nibs.