Chocolate eggs, bunnies, and Girl Scout cookies are hard to escape this season. I have never claimed the chocoholic label, but that may change now that I’ve discovered a new variety: chocolate stout reduction. I’m like a fairy sprinkling chocolate stout reduction around instead of magic dust; it may be brown and sticky but it is enchanting all the same. It rocks in cocktails, milk, ice cream…hell, I’m ready to make it a fondue for fruit and cheese, too. Or, wait, what about on pancakes?!
My first taste of such a reduction was at Lot No. 3 in Bellevue. They offer a selection of “classics with a twist,” and made me a Rocketeer (based on the Twentieth Century Cocktail) that subbed chocolate stout reduction for the crème de cacao liqueur. Their version was so much better than the classic because the reduction is less sweet and has a more complex chocolate flavor. I was hooked and intent on recreating it at home.
It took using some baking recipes for direction and a lot of simmering, but I finally settled on the following delicious recipe:
Chocolate Stout Reduction1 bottle (24 oz) of chocolate stout (so far Southern Tier’s Imperial Choklat is my favorite) 7 oz turbinado sugar 1/8 t of salt
Combine all in a large sauce pan. Bring to boil until the sugar is dissolved, and then simmer on medium while stirring occasionally and watching carefully – it can quickly bubble up and over if left unwatched. As it reduces, the bubbles become thicker and glossy, like bubbling syrup. Simmer 15-20 minutes until the liquid is reduced by half (for drinks, but reduce more for a thicker topping) and remove from heat. Cool, bottle and refrigerate. Hint: if you discover upon cooling that you have over-reduced, simply add a bit of water and gently heat until mixed to your desired consistency.
The end result is rich and chocolate-y, with a slight bitterness. It is scrumptious on caramel ice cream (note to self to stock up at Molly Moon’s) with a bit of sea salt; it makes the perfect adult chocolate milk (4:1 ratio); and, of course, it is fabulous in cocktails! Try these to start:
Chocolate JulepCrushed ice 1 ½ oz bourbon ½ oz chocolate stout reduction 2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
Pour bourbon, reduction and bitters over crushed ice in a low glass and stir vigorously to chill. Or, try spiced rum instead of bourbon for a tasty variation that strangely tastes of Kahlua liqueur.
This “julep” is so easy and tasty that I haven’t ventured away much. But, the tiki Scootini Sling from Portland and classic Twentieth Century Cocktail are also good vehicles for the chocolate stout reduction in place of crème de cacao*.
Scootiki Sling, revised2 oz spiced rum ½ oz orgeat (B.G. Reynolds brand preferably) ½ oz chocolate stout reduction ¼ oz cherry heering ½ oz lemon juice
Shake with ice and serve over crushed ice.
Twentieth Century Cocktail, revised1 ½ oz gin ½ oz chocolate stout reduction ¾ oz Lillet Blanc ¼ oz lemon juice
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Note: I scaled back on the lemon juice from the original recipe to create a better balance; and confirmed at home that this really is improved by subbing out the crème de cacao.
*A caveat: if a recipe calls for white crème de cacao and drink color is important, do not use the reduction as it darkens the drink dramatically.
As always, check out my Glossary of Spirits page for alcohol and mixer definitions and details.