Creating Believers: Beer & Chocolate Tastings

“I used to be a beer racist, but you changed me.” – April A

Ninkasi’s Believer Red has long been a beer that makes me smile. Yes, it’s delicious. More importantly I really like the philosophy around the name: Believer.

We all want to believe in something and last night I made believers of new beer & chocolate tasters. April’s quote, my host of last nights event, nails it: remove your prejudice and simply fall into the possibilities.

Beer: Just Add Chocolate to pair.

Beer: Just Add Chocolate to pair.

As part of the annual Oregon Chocolate Festival, I deliver lively & tasty “Beer & ____” sessions each year. This year – my 5th year doing so – I also introduced what I dubbed the ClassPort. Everyone who attended all three of my tasting sessions over the course of the Friday – Sunday weekend event was eligible to win a complimentary private beer & chocolate tasting; they got their ClassPort stamped at each class.

Three people dedicated themselves to the task (!) and I ended up giving away 3 sessions. Why not!? They made the time and participated, I love engaged guests, and it’s fun all the way around.

Last night I delivered the first of the three private tastings to 8 game and mostly unfamiliar-to-this-concept folks. Suffice to say minds were changed!

Here’s what I find are 3 of the consistent surprises when people put beer and chocolate together.

  1. Most people have never even thought of putting beer and chocolate together, never mind attended an actual planned tasting event. The element of Surprise & Delight is on my side!
  2. The tasting first of the beer alone, then the chocolate alone, then the two together is a good pattern for the S & D factor. “Wow! Who Knew? Really??” are all rallying exclamations from guests.
  3. Since beer is so incredibly diverse, it’s easy to blow minds multiple times with however many courses you choose to feature. I planned 3 last night (menu below).

The next time you think of beer, think of chocolate.

The next time you think of chocolate, think of beer.

Then invite some friends over and make some new believers out of them.

Oh – and Ninkasi beers, by the way, make great choices. I’ve featured them many a’time with success. Choose the beers and chocolates you like, mix and match, and simply have fun exploring.

Discovery awaits!

Menu:

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Oregon Chocolate Festival 2016: Workshop Recipes

Welcome back!

Thanks to those who are seeking this out do to your attending one of my sessions at the 12th annual Oregon Chocolate Festival. As a returning presenter, I’m very glad to share the menu + recipes (or links therein) so you can do this at home.

OCF 2016 Workshop signage

OCF 2016 Workshop signage

Of course, if you liked the presentation – if you like lively engaging entertainment period – call me for your own events. Business and home, private and public events are all fair (and fare) game.

Friday

Chocolate Gingerbread cookies, courtesy Martha Stewart

Fast Fondue, courtesy Williams-Sonoma Kitchen Library, Chocolate cookbook

  • 1.25 c brown sugar
  • .25 cup stout/robust deep roasted flavored beer
  • .5 heavy / whipping cream
  • 9 oz semisweet chocolate chips/chopped
  • In a medium saucepan, stir together the stout and browns sugar, then add cream and bring to a steady boil. Remove pan from heat, stir in chocolate till all melted. Keep warm to serve. Fresh fruit, biscuits, and cookies are all good dippers.
  • Dip, drizzle, have fun!

No-Fail Fudge, courtesy Williams-Sonoma Kitchen Library, Chocolate cookbook

  • Grease an 8 x 8 pan with butter.
  • Combine: 1.5 c unrefined sugar, 2 T unsalted butter, .5 t salt, .5 c evaporated milk in a roomy saucepan over medium heat. Stir continually until boiling, lower heat slightly, and simmer & keep stirring for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in chocolate until smooth. Add 2 t vanilla extract and stir again. Quickly pour into the pan, smoothing the surface as desired. Place in fridge for 1 – 2hours until firm. Cut & serve. Store in airtight container at room temp for up to 1 week.
  • (I used Scharffen Berger’s Coconut Macadamia Nut in one batch, their Sea Salt Pistachio in another. Both delish!)

Saturday

  • Fast Fonue (see above) – I used Dagoba’s Xocolatl in one batch, their Milk chocolate in another
All that remained after one of the workshop tasting sessions...

All that remained after one of the workshop tasting sessions…

Barley wine Poached Pears

  • Peel, quarter and core as many Bosc pears as desired. Chunk if desired (hint: more surface area = quicker cooking) Make sure they are just ripe, not overripe. Place them in a pot and add roughly 4 cups of barley wine + water so they are gently floating. Add mulling spices for extra flavor. Simmer until pierceable with a fork. Remove from heat, letting them cool down in the liquid. Place pear pieces in serving dishes, drizzle with Fast Fondue (above), garnish with fresh mint if desired. Serve.
  • Tip: Keep the liquid to keep cooking with.

Citrus Cookies

I adapted the Gingerbread cookie recipe above, replacing fresh lemon & orange zest for the savory spices and cocoa. These cookies will cook best if the dough is chilled for .5 – 1 hour before scooping & cooking. I rolled the dough into fat logs to cut into coins for baking.

Sunday

Both the Sour Cherry Jam & the Apricot Lemon Marmalade are from the excellent book, The Canning Kitchen, Amy Bronee. I highly recommend you buy it for the recipes.

Cheers & keep nibbling ~

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