There are flavors that always remind me of spending time with my family during the winter season. Some of these flavors are: hot chocolate with marshmallows, pumpkin pie, chili, chocolate chip cookies, and eggnog. Of course there are more festive flavors out there, but these are a few that come to mind. Somehow, through our early planning process for our December Limited Edition bar release, we landed on the concept of Eggnog. It’s not like any of us are particularly obsessed with eggnog, I mean, who could be, it’s so rich that more than one glass would probably cause immediate cardiac arrest—but that one glass sure is good, especially with a splash of rum.
For almost a full year now, Anna and I have been eating almost an entirely plant-based diet. So for the eggnog bar, we wanted to find a way to make it creamy, like eggnog, but without the egg yolks and heavy cream. Of course, we’re talking about a chocolate bar here, not a drink, so at the end of the day there’s no way to truly replicate a drink in a solid bar of chocolate, but we can try!
We started the R & D phase by first trying to come up with a unique and possibly innovative plant-based milk chocolate. We tried adding coconut flour, coconut oil and even tapioca, just to see what worked and what didn’t. Finally we tried making a test batch of “milk” chocolate using oat flour. The flavor was good and the consistency was good, and the “creaminess” factor was just about where we wanted it. So the main base of the Eggnog bar is our Peruvian cacao with organic cane sugar and oat flour.
Next, we had to nail down the right combination and ratio of spices. Traditional eggnog usually just calls for nutmeg. Sometimes other things like cinnamon and clove are added too. We decided we’d stick to nutmeg as the main spice and cinnamon as the secondary spice. For the first test batch, I don’t think I added enough nutmeg. For the second test batch, I think I added too much. And we finally nailed the ratios on the third test batch.
For the official full batch, which we were targeting to be around 250 lbs, we still had the issue of adding rum flavor. After doing some research we did find that it was possible to buy rum flavor, rather than pure rum. However, as we are purists, we decided to stick to the real thing. Imparting liquid flavors into chocolate is no easy task. As all of us chocolatiers know, liquids and chocolate are opposites and they don’t get along. Fortunately, this is something we have experimented heavily with in the past, so we had a good idea for what to do. For the full batch, we ended up soaking all of the nibs in 12 liters of golden rum overnight. And then in order to concentrate the flavors and remove moisture, we dehydrated the nibs, along with all of the rum, in the oven until the nibs were mostly dry.
The rest of the process was a simple matter of doing what we regularly do best: grinding, mixing, refining, conching, tempering, molding and wrapping. Not everything was as straightforward as usual though. The chocolate viscosity was very high, probably due to the oats and the moisture from the rum. This didn’t exactly create any major problems, but I had to work a bit more slowly. Due to the size of one of the pre-grinds, and the unusual viscosity, I did have one minor/major accident (depending on if you’re a glass half full, or half empty kind of person). For some reason the blob of chocolate on top of the roll mill got into a wavy rhythm and eventually lurched forward onto the exit roller, which meant it all got flung directly at our viewing window and all over the wall and floor. I think we lost about 5-10lbs in this spill and I had to send the chocolate through the roll mill 3 times because some unrefined chocolate landed in my refined chocolate bucket.
Other than the roll mill flinging chocolate at our viewing window, which was embarrassing, the chocolate was pretty fun to make. The smell of rum, nutmeg and cinnamon filled the air and smelled a lot like the holidays. Of course, it was also fun and delicious to try the chocolate regularly during every stage of the process. It’s not often that we stray from pure chocolate and work with other flavors, so it felt pretty refreshing.
At this point, this is our second “official” Limited Edition bar. I put official in quotes because we’ve actually done three, but only two were fully made available to all of our customers. The first Limited Edition bar was our collaboration bar with Cacao Review, and that bar was amazing, but even more limited than our regular Limited line.
From everyone here at Ritual Chocolate, we hope you enjoy our Chocolate Eggnog bar and have a wonderful winter season!
- Robbie Stout, Chocolate Maker