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Archive for March, 2011

Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix

Posted by Reese On March - 17 - 2011

Knowing I was going to be mixing up a bunch of hot chocolate for this group of drinks I wanted to try my hand at making my own powdered hot chocolate mix.  I had seen a recipe on Good Eats a while back that sounded really tasty, included only ingredients I could actually pronounce and seemed super simple.  So a shopping I went.

Problem was, when I got to the store there were only giant boxes of powdered milk on the shelves.  I’m not sure about you, but my consumption of powdered milk is probably less than 1 tablespoon per year on average.  The giant box was going to last me the rest of my life.  Back on the hunt, I hit another grocery store and totally lucked out.  This store had powdered milk that came pre-measured pouches that will make one quart, which equated to 1 1/3 cups, slightly over half the amount required for Alton’s recipe.  In the words of Gru from Despicable Me, “Light bulb“.  I grabbed the pouches, cut the recipe in half and was on my way.

Here’s the halved recipe for posterity.

Hot Chocolate Mix (Good Eats)
1 cup Powdered Sugar
1/2 cup Cocoa (Dutch-process Preferred)
1 1/4 cups powdered milk (1 quart pouch)
1/2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Cornstarch
1 Pinch Cayenne Pepper (or More to Taste)
1) Combine the dry ingredients in a jar
2) Shake to combine
3) Use 1/2 cup of mix to a mug of hot water or milk

For this go-round I dropped the cayenne; I didn’t want its flavor getting in the way of anything else I’d be adding.  Also, the cornstarch is nice because when you use really hot water (e.g. just off the boil) the mixture thickens a bit giving it a really nice mouth feel.  In fact, I’d be tempted to add a bit more to get a really nice thick hot chocolate.  Hmmmm….might have to experiment with that one.

The biggest thing for me is the fact that this recipe gives me endless tweaking options.  Like any recipe you can add or subtract anything you like to make it truly yours.  Plus, you know where everything is coming from.  Always a plus.  Back to the mixing!

Hot Chocolate Time!

Posted by Reese On March - 14 - 2011

Lake Granby Panorama

Winter may seem to be passing us by for another year, but I’m certain we’re not completely done yet.  There is sure to be more snow to come, at least for me, and I’ll be needing a way to keep warm.  Problem is, I don’t much like hot beverages.  While they are growing on me, I’m not a total convert yet.  However, there is one drink that might just be able to take the convert title, Hot Chocolate.  I love a good mug of hot chocolate on a cold day.  It’s sweet, warming and just down right tasty.

At the gentle prodding of my roommate this seemed like a perfect time to see what I could do to add some spirits to the standard hot chocolate.  So, for the next couple weeks I’m going to be doing just that.  I’ve got some ideas already in the hopper, but I’d love to hear what you all like to do to spike your hot chocolate.

Updated Cocktail Cheat Sheets

Posted by Reese On March - 4 - 2011

I’ve finally updated the cocktail recipe cheat sheets. There are now eight and they include all the cocktails I’ve featured on the site.

I’ve been thinking about creating another page that includes a stripped down recipe for each cocktail and a link to the page.  Another option would be PDFs of the same. I’m thinking alphabetized, one line per cocktail, ingredients only.  Chime in and let me know what you think.

Review – Bourbon: The Evolution of Kentucky Whiskey

Posted by Reese On March - 3 - 2011

I am, no doubt, a fan of America’s most well known spirit, bourbon.  You’ve seen me rave about it here before and I’ve mixed more cocktails than I can remember with it.  So, naturally, when I was sent a review copy of Sam K. Cecil’s Bourbon: The Evolution of Kentucky Whiskey I was immediately interested.  Having just come to a lull in my reading, last week was a perfect time to tackle this tome of American whiskey history.

Cecil starts the book with a high level overview of many topics that others have written entire books about.  For example moon shining, rum running and moon shine running, prohibition and speakeasy culture are only given a passing glance as Cecil moves toward his main focus of the book, bourbon history.  He covers the history of the bourbon makers starting with where they came from (largely Ireland and Scotland), when they came, and why they started distilling in the first place.  While, Cecil devotes more pages to these topics it’s still just an intro to the meat of the book, the history of Kentucky’s bourbon distilleries from inception to present.

Over half of the book is comprised solely of Cecil’s carefully documented history of the distilleries of the area.  This section is broken down by county and district and further broken down by individual registered distillery.  The histories range from a scant paragraph for some to multiple pages for others.  It’s truly an amazing glimpse at the history of this classic American industry.

One thing that made a deep impression on me was what Prohibition did to the distilleries of the area.  I had always known that almost all distilleries closed during the period and most didn’t ever reopen, but it never really sunk in with me how many distilleries this really was until I read Cecil’s accounts.  In the accounts you often run across stories that read something akin to “closed for prohibition, buildings now used for steel mill”.  Further still, some distilleries were lost to Prohibition and knowledge of their whereabouts no longer exists.  The distilleries were truly lost to the sands of time.

If you’re a bourbon aficionado, or even an enthusiastic consumer there of, take a look at this book.  The history presented within is exceedingly well researched by a man who has over 40 years experience in the industry.  The stories that come from his personal experience and research are engaging and give you a real feeling for the depth of history in the bourbon industry.

† The product reviewed here was provided to me as a free sample. If you’re wondering what that means check out my sample policy.