Sunday, June 24, 2007

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.

Thank you Lolo, for taking this picture

We had a nice big stock of good grade B maple syrup (gift from afar) to flavor the vin de noix last year, but this year we didn't have any. I began to think about alternatives. We went to pick up the vodka and saw that maple syrup of dodgy origins in an imitation Aunt Jemima bottle was nearly 6 euros for a little bottle. Seeing this detail, and doing a quick calculation about what that would cost us, my decision was made instantly to make a caramel syrup instead for this years batch. Loic was there in the store still clutching to the bottle of maple syrup, he loves that it is my secret ingredient in vin de noix, and I said - "Just forget the maple syrup! Forget the whole idea this time!"

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.

This years addition to go with the caramel theme, roasted coca beans

So this year the proportions were as follows:

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
2 cloves
a piece of dried orange peel
1/2 cup or 125 ml caramel syrup as prepared here
50cl vodka
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.

On va voir ce que cela donne.

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Blogger Katie Zeller said...

I have read about using green walnuts but I don't think I could bear to pick ours so young.
That said, your recipe doesn't use a lot....and does sound really, really good (caramel, chocolate - what's not to like?)

9:40 PM, June 24, 2007  
Blogger L Vanel said...

Well as you know, Katie, even though this is an experiment in progress (the chocolate feves), people have been making vin maisons with green walnuts for a long time now. It's also very big in Italy where it is called Nocino!

9:22 AM, June 25, 2007  
Blogger Tace said...

Cross your fingers for me. I am gonna try ordering some green walnuts online...hope it works out because your posts about vin de noix has woven sweet dreams of making our own version. I never knew I'd be this excited about green walnuts.....

1:24 PM, June 25, 2007  
Blogger L Vanel said...

Fingers crosses, Tace!

3:17 PM, June 25, 2007  
Blogger Tace said...

A HA! The power of multiple fingers crossing, I have my very own green walnuts being shipped to me this week...sweeeeet! Thanks for the inspiration, your photos and words have inspired my husband and I greatly and we're eagerly awaiting those green walnuts!

12:49 AM, June 26, 2007  
Blogger Unknown said...

I am so happy to have stumbled upon your site! I live in Portland, Oregon, and there are several walnut trees in my neighbourhood. In fact, I usually consider them pests, because the squirrels bury the nuts all over, meaning lots of tree-lets to pull up in the spring.

But I think I will try this! Could you possibly recommend an American white wine varietal I could use in place of the Bourgogne? I am not very familiar with French wines.

3:10 AM, June 26, 2007  
Blogger L Vanel said...

Why don't you try "Chablis". American versions of this wine were at the source styled after the Burgundy original.

8:40 AM, June 26, 2007  
Blogger Tace said...

I was wondering if you considered honey as a sweetener ?

9:30 PM, June 26, 2007  
Blogger L Vanel said...

Tace, if given the choice between honey and sugar I would choose sugar - mainly because sugar is a dependable sweetener and honey can add way too much sweet taste. Be careful with honey. It is really sometimes way too sweet.

There is a possibility that it could also go bad, depending on the provenance and conditions that it was gathered. Maple syrup is cooked and therefore stable. Honey might not be a good idea.

10:06 PM, June 26, 2007  
Blogger Unknown said...

Thanks Lucy - I will try chablis and report back in a few months.

2:18 AM, June 27, 2007  
Blogger Robbie O said...

After reading about your vin de noix last year and recalling that we have walnut trees in our area I was determined to make it this year too.

Well - job done - I have just finished my first batch of vin de noix thanks to your generosity for sharing of the recipe. The new theme sounds awesome - and lucky for me it wasnt too difficult to locate whole shelled and roasted coco beans on short notice over here in Zurich! There were a number of options but I settled on one type from Madagascar and another from Ecuador ;-). The one from madagascar has an especially deep flavor. I also made half the batch using a local white Swiss wine and the other half using a white Burgundy.

One question I have though - is there any need for light to make this process work? I have stowed my jars away in the cellar where it stays relatively cool and dark.

My plan is that we will be pouring this fabulous elixer and raising a toast with our family and friends later this fall to celebrate the birth of our first child. Thank you so much for the inspiration to make this vin de noix.

5:58 PM, June 27, 2007  
Blogger L Vanel said...

Dear Rob, so glad to have inspired you! Now for both our sakes I hope the cocoa beans are a nice addition! I have found that the vin de noix is rather forgiving if you don't push things too far. But you never know what might come from the cocoa beans... We'll know in a few months!

7:52 PM, June 27, 2007  
Blogger Tace said...

wooohooo, our 5 bottles of vin de noix are now sitting on the kitchen counter, silently taunting us......MONTHS? we have to wait months? This is not only an excellent exercise in stretching the culinary muscles but patience as well.....
Thank-you again for the inspiration! My husband and I had a lot of fun with this and are looking forward to tasting the results!

11:34 PM, June 28, 2007  
Blogger L Vanel said...

Congratulations, Tace! We will gather again in a few months when it is time to strain and bottle the wine.

Rob, to answer your question about the light, I have always placed my jars in a cool dark place. I do, however, leave the gasket out of the jar to allow some air to circulate, and don't seal it completely until it is time to bottle.

11:35 PM, July 02, 2007  
Anonymous Christine said...

Hi Lucy,
I've been looking for vin de noix recipes online and happened across this one. I had already read and printed your previous recipe but now am very curious how this one turned out for you.
I'll be ordering my first green walnuts for an early June delivery here in California. Would love to know if you have any suggestions about this particular recipe which intriques me more than any other I've read. Thanks!

6:13 PM, March 19, 2012  
Blogger L Vanel said...

Hi Christine, I was very pleased with this batch, but loved the maple version more. The main question is what do we like best, in the end. I think, after all, that although it was quite good with the cocoa beans, they ended up going a bit too far, you know, corrupting the walnut flavor. The maple syrup added a whole lot while at the same time keeping a good distance from actually changing the product. The caramel didn't come through as much as the cocoa beans, which were slightly aggressive to the delicate flavor that the walnuts impart. In the end, you want it to be about the walnuts. The chocolate flavor, while seductive and interesting, turned it into something else.

7:17 PM, March 19, 2012  
Anonymous Christine said...

Thanks so much, Lucy. I'm very excited about doing this and am glad that the maple version is your favorite; as a recipe, it's mine also. Wish me luck. If it turns out as I hope, I'll post a link to you.
Best wishes,

6:27 PM, March 20, 2012  

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