Vin de Noix, thème Caramel et Chocolat 2007
Last year's vin de noix ended up exceeding my expectations. I found that by not making a liqueur and making more of an aperitif drink, and using a local white wine in the mix along with the alcohol, the result was actually much better than a thick and highly alcoholic liqueur. It is just fantastic on ice as an early summer drink this time of year. Light enough to be pleasant and airy, the taste of the nuts having come through nicely, and still packs a nice punch.
But he wouldn't let go of the idea and he pestered me about it for a while. "Are you sure? Are you sure?" he kept asking me, and I said - "Loic, when was the last time you had something with both nuts and caramel, and you didn't like it?" He thought about it for a few minutes and decided that he did finally agree. So we went ahead with the caramel syrup, which I made just before we began cutting the nuts. The caramel syrup for putting up fortified wines and liqueurs is easy and is outlined in my recipe for Punch Mirabelle façon Ile de la Réunion.
We went to get the nuts this morning, and the lady went back to her car, came back with a sack full of freshly picked green nuts which she presented to me as a gift, one which I accepted gladly. She said that she and her husband already drank the whole bottle of the vin de noix I gave her last week and although I know she was probably greatly exaggerating, I thought it was a nice gesture when she told me that they think mine was better than hers. I seriously doubt it! I shared my recipe with her and she raised her eyes with a cryptic little smile when I got to the part about the Burgundy white wine being added, and she raised her finger as if to say 'aha!' when I told her it contained no cane sugar, but was sweetened with maple syrup.
Since I was moving in another direction with the caramel this year, I also decided to do away with the Szechuan pepper corns. I can always go back to them next year. Nuts, caramel, what's missing? Chocolate! I had a little stash of simply roasted raw cocoa beans which I picked up at Michel Chaudun last time I was through Paris for a quick visit, so I brought them out and divied them up among the jars.
I put up six 1.5 liter jars, and put in each jar:
10 quartered green nuts per jar (up from 8 since they're good karma and all)
9 roasted cocoa beans
1/2 of a vanilla bean
a piece of dried orange peel
1/2 cup or 125 ml caramel syrup as prepared here
After all of the above are in the jars top them off with this years choice of a local dry Macon instead of a full bodied white Burgundy.
In some of the jars, I crushed the cocoa beans, and in some of the jars I left them whole. I'll let you know which turns out better. The jars are in the safe and in three months I'll be posting about it again when the wine is ready to strain and bottle.