Chocolate and Beer Confections!
We had a great time last week introducing our Chocolate and Beer Confections for our July Peculiar Pairings. Evan Benn of the Post-Dispatch was our guest pourer, and gave us all an in-depth look at each of the beers used in the confections. And the proceeds of the night went to Operation Food Search!
Without further ado, here are the confections, in the words of the confectioner who created them!
Gummy Beers – Brian
In thinking about fruit-flavored candy, I thought of something that never make but refer to all the time at Kakao: we often describe our pate de fruit candies as “distant cousins of the gummy bear.”
I wondered what would happen if we made gummy candy with beer, and the answer was obvious: gummy beers!
I used two different fruity beers, so you can taste the difference between a Great Divide Wile Raspberry Ale and the much darker Cherry Stout from Bells.
Beer Marshmallows with Delirium Tremens – Shannon
Earlier this summer, I took a trip to Europe and spent a few days in Belgium. When I first got to Brussels, I thought, “Wow, what a coincidence, here we are walking right down the street with all the chocolate shops.” Then I realized that every street in Brussels is lined with chocolate shops. And if they’re not lined with chocolate shops, they’re lined with pubs. Brussels is pretty much beer and chocolate heaven.
So I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to use a Belgian beer in my confection tonight. One of the challenging aspects of this Peculiar Pairing is getting the taste of beer into the confection, without sacrificing the integrity of either, and I think I achieved that goal with these. I’ve made these marshmallows before, for an event we did last spring with Schlafly at the St. Louis Art Museum. Here I used Delirium Tremens, a Belgian strong ale. I coated them with a little cocoa powder, to add just a touch of chocolate flavor.
Beer Brittle with Schlafly APA and AIPA – Margaret
For this peculiar pairing, I cheated a bit. I decided to try a beer brittle, which doesn’t actually contain any chocolate, but I thought it could be an interesting new confection, seeing as how Kakao had already dabbled in beer and chocolate combinations in the past.
First, I used pepitas (pumpkin seeds) in place of other nuts because I was looking for a flavor that wouldn’t compete too much with the beer, and I liked the idea of a nut-free brittle for those with allergies.
I tried several types of beer, trying to find one that would stand out in the brittle. First I used a stout, which didn’t result in much flavor, so I tried the Schlafly APA. This worked well, but I was looking for a more pronounced hop flavor in the brittle. After speaking with the experts at Schlafly, I made a batch using their new A IPA, and also added a drop of orange oil, which they said would help bring out the hop flavor in the end.
I am presenting both versions, for the tasters to decide just which one they like best!
Cinder Toffee with Stone Smoke Porter and Semisweet Chocolate – Jess
When I was thinking about the Beer and Chocolate pairing, I originally had no idea what to do, but I finally decided to experiment with a cinder toffee. It is, after all, one of my favorite things to make in the shop. It’s a tricky confection that only works when it wants to; usually it works best on a day with zero humidity. So of course I decided to make it in the middle of summer in St. Louis! This is one of the most gratifying things to make, in my opinion, because the end result is so far from the initial ingredients. What starts as sugar and baking soda, ends as a puffy, molten, golden crag.
The next decision was which beer to use. I knew most porters went well with chocolate, and that I’d either be dipping my confection in semisweet or bittersweet chocolate. I really wanted to use a beer from Stone Brewery, since I visited the brewery outside of San Diego in 2006, and loved the philosophy of the company. They have similar attitudes towards their product as we do at Kakao, using all-natural ingredients, and they are proud to make a phenomenal product even if it’s unique to what’s out there. I decided on the Stone Smoke Porter, even though it’s tough to get around here. It replaces over half of the sugar in the recipe, and adds to the deep molasses-y flavor. Normally this confection is sweeter and is dipped in 72% chocolate. Since I removed a lot of the sugar, I dipped the cinder toffee in 61% chocolate to maintain some sweetness.
Chocolate and Caramel Candy Bar with Schlafly Imperial Stout – Kate
When I formulated the recipe for this peculiar pairing I knew I wanted to include peanuts in my confection- I am no beer connoisseur but I do know that my favorite snack with beer is definitely roasted peanuts. Initially I did a gianduja, but the water content in the beer loosens up the mixture too much without adding enough flavor.
I decided to do a butter ganache, which allowed for more beer flavor. I paired the ganache with caramel, freshly roasted peanuts, and salted pretzel. The beer that I chose is very rich and pairs nicely with caramel and chocolate.
Lambic Strawberries – Jenny
As the mid-summer heat begins to test one’s sanity, I am immediately refreshed by the thought of sipping an ice-cold brew, and all the better if it incorporates a fruit that is in season. For this reason, lambics are an easy fix for me in July. They are sweet, tart, crisp, and light-bodied with just a touch of malt backbone—a perfect brew for any summer evening. With its deep burgundy color and fluffy pink head, a framboise lambic looks more like champagne or cider than beer. I get a little giddy at the sight when waiting for a glass. It’s no surprise that lambics make a fantastic aperitif and pair well with chocolate and fruit desserts of all varieties.
Lambics are also only brewed in the winter in a region just southwest of Brussels where a specific wild yeast is found, so there is something very distinctive and special about this beer. In praise of this tasty Belgian brew and in the hopes of creating a refreshing, seasonal chocolate, I made a dark chocolate butter ganache with framboise lambic (Lindemans) reduction and piped it into the inner core of fresh raspberries. To accentuate the sweet and sour qualities characteristic of a lambic, I half enrobed the raspberries in bittersweet, exposing the fushia fruit. For those who want to savor the tart ganache on its own, truffles topped with freeze-dried raspberry powder are also available. If you forget about the hellish warm weather for even a brief moment while eating either, I feel like I have succeeded in this challenge.