Taking to the same base recipe of 1 NOMNOM stick and 2 teaspoons of Tim Hortons' hot chocolate, I opted to swap out 1 tsp of the latter for a whopping 1.65 oz. of Kahlua, keeping the mixture well below 173 F to ensure no loss of alcohol. The solution was far from my expectations, burning my throat without remorse and emerging utterly unharmonious with the other constituents. Moreover, it yielded a staggering sweetness level preventing addition of mini marshmallows. The original, non-spiked edition was superior: Stay sober.
Amongst the many activities made possible during work-from-home days, I maximized the slow holiday period with a much-needed inventory restock trip to Costco. The day was commenced with an Iced Americano and toast with sweetened Pistachio spread.
My go-to recipe source of Sunday Baking did not feature a Black Forest Cake on her channel. The original idea had been to utilize the dark chocolate cake sponge in her Cherry Mousse Chocolate Cake formula as the base. On the morning of, however, it was swapped for Cho Hanbit's Chocolate Genoise.
- Cherry syrup
- Chocolate Mousse
- Chocolate Curls
- Whipped Cream
Chocolate curls were pressed along the entire circumference and leftover chocolate mousse was piped on top (using the wrong piping tip). The remaining cherries in the jar were arranged on top of the chocolate mousse. Only having been drained lightly though, syrup oozed from all angles, bleeding down on the cake like trails of rust.
The next day, after undertaking several chores and finally grinding my last bag of Smile Tiger, I reached for the $52 bottle of Grey Goose.
Every single DIY vanilla extract tutorial seemed so easy: Obtain vanilla beans, slice them lengthwise to expose seeds, place in bottle, submerge with high-proof alcohol, cover, and leave for six months.
Even after multiple attempts, the tiny corked cap of the vodka bottle would not come off. Again, I chose to soak the top in hot water, hoping the theory of "hot air expands" would help my case. Alas, the cap would detach from the cork top altogether. Frustrated, I stabbed a fork through the cork, then slowly wiggled its fragile prongs until the cork came loose. Huzzah!!
Of course, I would soon realize why many food bloggers had opted for several 8 oz. bottles rather than one 16 oz.: the beans needed to be completely submerged. I ended up consolidating 10 vanilla bean pods into one jar. Vodka spilled out. In another, I removed the beans, folded them in half, and pressed them back in. Splitting 750 ml of Grey Goose between the two bottles was tragic.
Chaotic prepwork complete, I labelled the bottles and inputted a weekly reminder in my calendar for the next six months: Shake vanilla extract.
Comparing against the Costco two-pack, which could be used immediately without a mandatory brewing period of six months:
- Homemade Vanilla: $106 for 750 ml = $0.1413/ml
- Costco: $7.99 for 910 ml = $0.0088/ml
While some may argue that one can continue to use the vanilla beans to brew subsequent batches, it does not provide a rebate on the initial amount invested, and would involve further investment in hefty bottles of high-proof alcohol.
Results will be reported at the six-month mark, at minimum. My stance on time investment remains resolute, though.