Friday, May 17, 2013

Chocolate Covered Candied Malt

Okay so when I said I'd be out of commission for a week I totally lied. Turns out our boy is really uninterested in cooperating and so Jo's still pregnant. Crazy. Instead of a break, I'll finally talk about the really amazing chocolate covered candied malt that I made for my birthday a couple weeks ago. I originally got this idea from the Brewer's Plate as The Bent Spoon, an ice cream place in Princeton, brought some malt ice cream with this stuff mixed into it. When I was thinking about what to do for my birthday, I decided to remake that except with a white chocolate ice cream base which meant making the chocolate covered malt. The Bent Spoon people were nice enough to respond to a twitter question and suggested some types of malts to use. They also said tuiihat they candied it before covering it in chocolate which I would never have done otherwise so double bonus.

To start, obviously you'll need to buy ingredients. If you aren't a homebrewer, first you'll go to a homebrew store and buy one pound bags of malt. I bought two bags but 2 lbs is quite a bit more than you probably want. Just use your judgment, it's not like they are expensive at $2.50 or whatever a bag. As far as the type of malt, the flavors were muted a bit in the final product so go with one that tastes reasonably good raw but that's about all that matters.
See, there you go. You can almost read the types of malt I used in the picture too but again any malt that tastes good raw will be awesome here. The cooking softens the flavor into something awesome and that's what matters.

Before starting to cook, take a sheet pan and place a piece of parchment on it. The finished candied malt will go here and you want it to be available when the malt is done.

After that, put the 2 cups of malt into a pot that is big enough to hold it plus has about 3 - 4 inches of free room. It'll bubble up and you'll be happy with the extra space, trust me. Next, add enough water that the malt is floating a little but not so much that you can see the water. I know, I know, this is super inexact but it really didn't seem to matter either time I made it. Just don't add too much is all that you need to know. Then add 2 cups of sugar to the pot. You'll end up with something that looks about like this after mixing it all up. Kind of a malt sugar slurry. And, yes, I wrote that last sentence just so I could use the word slurry, so sue me.
Very exciting, I know. Put the pot over about medium heat and let it cook, stirring often so the sugar doesn't burn on the bottom. I stirred almost constantly because I'm a nut but often (as in once every 30 seconds or so) is probably plenty in the beginning. After a bit, it'll take on a brownish color and start to get thicker and foamy.
Keep letting is cook over medium heat and wonder at the transitions sugar goes through as the water evaporates.
Oooooh, amazing. Cook, cook, cook, cook some more, until the water completely evaporates and it turns crazy looking. This took me about 40 minutes with the amount of water and sugar I used. It will vary depending on heat and how much water you use, so keep an eye on it. I varied the heat a little as it cooked, turning it up and down, to keep it from burning as well which could have affected the time. Trust your instincts and stove, it'll be fine. When it's nearly ready, it'll look like this.
There is just a little bit more liquid left that I cooked away. Believe me, you'll know when it's ready as it'll get pretty crumbly and kind of odd looking. Once at this point, pour it out on to the prepared sheet pan and spread it about with a spoon or whatever, I don't care. Use this time to break up any big portions as well since you don't want big clumps. Allow it to cool for a bit or a long time, doesn't really matter. Eat some too, it's delicious. It should look similar to this on the pan.
Next step, grab your chocolate. You want enough chocolate so when it's melted it covers however much malt you want to cover. I'd suggest using any chocolate that you like to eat. I avoid chips but it really doesn't matter. I think the chocolate I used is around 62% but anything that you like will work.
Mmm, chocolate. I didn't actually cover all of my candied malt because I ended up with a ton but you can make as much as your heart desires. Melt the chocolate however you feel like, microwave, double boiler, whatever, and then mix in the candied malt. Get it good and covered and spread it back on a parchment covered pan. Use a fork to spread it around the parchment, trying to get a mostly flat layer. Once it cools, it'll get broken up by hand but the flatter the layer, the less clumps you'll end up having.
Just don't mess with it too much or you'll just end up spreading the chocolate on the parchment instead of keeping it on the malt. Place the tray in the refrigerator so it hardens, it'll take an hour or so probably. Finally, break it up and store it, you're done!

So, next time if you're brewing and end up with a mishmash of leftover malt that tastes good and don't know what to do with it, try this! It's delicious mixed into ice cream or just eaten plain. Even the straight candied malt is delicious so you can stop there if you want and skip the chocolate. I mix it into yogurt sometimes. I'd be interested in trying this with a darker chocolate malt that doesn't taste too burnt at some point, but that will wait for another time.

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