Posted on January 11, 2014
Creme de Cacao features in our recent cocktail recipe, The Gaviota. We’ve been experimenting with a homemade honey version of this chocolaty yet surprisingly subtle liqueur and are especially excited to share it. The Creme de Cacao you can buy in most liquor stores is so terrible, you may as well ignore it, but when made the slow way, using raw cacao nibs and a variety of aromatics, and of course raw Massey Honey instead of processed sugar, it becomes magical. In fact, the final product here is so delicious and complex (sweet, floral, even a bit tart) that one need only add it to a good quality base spirit, and you’re in the money with a drink costing $18 at any snobby-ass Hollywood bar.
Like all homemade infusions, this recipe will vary for everyone, contingent on how strong your nibs are, how zesty your citrus peels, how fresh your spices, etc. In essence, we recommend infusing with the cacao nibs for a week, then adding the honey syrup, tasting, maybe adding more honey syrup, more vanilla, more booze, whatever, until it tastes like something you would really enjoy even on its own. The predominant flavor should be chocolate, but our additions of complex raw honey, vanilla, orange peel (even grapefruit peel, if you want),
rhubarb, and spices should protrude the chocolate to a significant extent. One note: when you do taste it for seasoning and sweetness, it’s a good idea to taste it with ice in a glass, as the temperature changes the flavor balance. This recipe can be cut in half.
• One 750ml bottle of high-proof grain alcohol (we used Everclear)
• 24 oz. raw organic cacao nibs (we used the brand, Navitas Naturals)
• 2 long and wide swaths of orange peel (with the white pith removed)
• 6 or 7 one-inch segments of fresh rhubarb (use frozen if it’s out of season)
• 4 whole cloves
• 3 whole allspice
• 2 teaspoons of high quality vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean
• 1 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg (worth grinding yourself with a microplane)
• 16 oz. Massey Honey (wildflower, orange blossom, and almond blossom all work well)
• 12 oz. water
Put the cacao nibs and grain alcohol in a jar or several jars (you’ll be adding lots to these, so you need room); seal and let sit for a week. After a week, taste it for strength: the cacao should be strong, bitter, and somewhat fruity. Combine honey and warmed water into a syrup (slightly higher honey ratio than 1-to-1),
with vanilla, orange peel, rhubarb, and spices. Let sit for three more days, give or take. Taste it. You’ll probably either want to add more honey syrup or more booze, depending on what you’re going for. When it’s good, put it all through a fine sieve and then through something even finer — coffee filters or really fine layered cheese cloth. Bottle and chill. Enjoy.