Confession time... I'm a total Kickstarter addict. I buy tons of crap I don't need, whether it's a new microcontroller (I'm also an Internet of Things junkie), yet another pair of headphones (did I mention I'm an audiophile?) or food (we know I like food). It's borderline compulsive behavior.
The good news is I occasionally come across cool stuff, like chocolate made by Chocolita.
Chocolita's Pine Pollen & Lemon chocolate is one of the most fascinating things I've tasted in a while. It's like creamy, cocoa-y, salty-crunchy liquid sunlight you can put in the palm of your hand. Or if you're raw food chef Joy Love Light, whom Chocolita proudly quotes on the product details page, "Pine Pollen Lemon Sexxx in my mouth!!!"
But seriously – pollen! Like the stuff bees go around and collect on their quest to produce delicious honey! How could that be bad? (Um, actually. Some people have anaphylactic reactions to pollen, so feel free to omit that ingredient.)
Three other things that are relevant before we get to the drink part:
- I've been pursuing my new relationship with bitters, and in checking out a sampler pack of Scrappy's, I was particularly intrigued by the chocolate bitters. Because... chocolate.
- I've also been known to make limoncello. I haven't done this as much lately because it's easy to overindulge, but I do have a small cache squirreled away that I've been itching to use.
- I'm also obsessed with Koval's Oat Whiskey aged in toasted barrels. It doesn't overwhelm like bourbon or rye (or even Koval's Oat in charred barrels), but it still has a nice whiskey presence and offers a mellow, creamy richness you're not going to get elsewhere.
You can see where I'm going with this.
- My first attempt wasn't great. I poured the oat whiskey and limoncello over ice and stirred, then strained it over ice in a pollen-rimmed glass and added a shit-ton of chocolate bitters. Whoa, was it bad.
- First, the limoncello was too overpowering, but I still needed the lemon flavor, so I cut it with actual lemon juice. Much better, but missing... creaminess.
- Adding actual cream at this point would curdle with the lemon juice (gross), so I shook it up with an egg white (and later decided to just do a whole egg) to make more of a flip. Much better, but not chocolatey enough.
- Now, because I apparently like my life to be overly complicated, I decided that nothing less than homemade white creme de cacao would do, so I rocked this recipe for white creme de cacao from The Drink Blog and hung it up for two weeks while I waited for magic to happen.
- Meanwhile, the pollen was interesting but bland. Since I already had cocoa nibs on hand (because why wouldn't you make dark creme de cacao while you're at it), I ground the pollen with some cocoa nibs, a teeny tiny bit of granulated sugar, and the slightest bit of salt. This still wasn't chocolatey enough, so you can chop up some actual chocolate, or just chuck the whole idea and get some of Chocolita's deliciousness, chop it up and rim the glass with that.
Here's where I'm at, which is actually pretty delicious:
- you could just chop up a small bar of Chocolita's Pine Pollen & Lemon, or you could go like this:
- 1 tsp pine pollen (Chocolita uses Surthrival)
- 1/2 tsp white granulated sugar
- 1/2 oz
cocoa nibsmilk chocolate, finely chopped
- pinch of salt
- lemon wedge or honey to get things to stick
- 1 1/2 oz Koval oat whiskey (toasted if you can find it)
- 1 oz white creme de cacao
- 1/2 oz limoncello
- 1/2 lemon
- 1 egg
- chocolate bitters
Prep your glass – chill a coupe glass or tumbler.
Use a mortar and pestle to grind up the dry ingredients for the rim. Transfer to a flat plate wide enough to accommodate the rim of your glass. Rim the glass with honey or a lemon wedge, then press the rim into the powder to coat.
In a cocktail shaker, squeeze in the lemon half and add whiskey, liqueurs and egg white. Dry shake (no ice yet!) vigorously for a minute or two (the longer you go, the more emulsified the egg gets), then add ice and shake again for another minute. Pour into your glass and freely dash in some chocolate bitters before serving.
What's next (with updates):
- Florals. I'm considering dispensing with the limoncello and using some flowery liqueur instead, like elderflower or Koval's Chrysanthemum and Honey Liqueur. (5/21/17: tried elderflower liqueur. This is very delicious, but much too flowery to be in the spirit of the original concept. Feel free to try it anyway, although I'd use more like .25 oz.)
- Because "that's too chocolate-y," said no one, ever. The pollen is also a really nice touch, but the cocoa nibs aren't enough to flavor it up. I'm considering grinding up chocolate with the pollen and salt, then plastering it on the rim. (5/21/17: that was a delicious idea, if I do say so myself. Recipe updated accordingly.)
- Who you callin' a cocoa nut?? I'd like to try making the creme de cacao with coconut sugar since that's truer to the Pine Pollen & Lemon chocolate bar flavor. For this batch, I used granulated sugar – given I was going to have to wait two weeks as it was, I wasn't willing to risk altering the recipe. (5/21/17: um, i'm still working on the last batch. I guess we'll see someday.)
I'll keep you posted.