October 21, 2011

Chartreuse: Liquor or Elixir of Life?

Yellow Chartreuse  - 40% alcohol 
For this post and the bit of mystery and occultism in it, I have to thank the charming group of French guys who brought us the French "Chartreuse" liqueur.





This liqueur/elixir is made from over hundreds of herbs and (initially) with 69% distilled alcohol in a monastery Grand Chartreuse near Voiron, Grenoble, France.


Grand Chartreuse Monastery



It was completely unknown to me, yet like a suspense book, as I discovered more about it, I became more fascinated with it's history along with the great and unique taste this drink/elixir has.



Legend says, that it originated in the 16th century as an elixir of long life made by some French alchemist. 








Later, its road leads to the Grand Chartreuse, a monastery where the monastery's pharmacist deciphered and adapted the secret formula and produced the first drink with 69% alcohol, which was intended to be used as a medicine and elixir for long life. 




Alchemy and mystery surround the elixir...



Mybe this is one ot secret plants monk use for Chartreuse?!
Lastly, they made it into a weaker beverage. So they produced the 55% alcohol Green Chartreuse and then a century later, the 40% "mild" Yellow one, which I had a chance to taste. The color is different between the Green and Yellow Chartreuse because it depends on a favorable herb. 
Yellow gets its color from saffron. 
The green gets its color from chlorophyll.



View on Grenoble from surrounding mountain

Nature here is intact and stunning!


I found out from some writings that the rule is that only three monks can know the secret recipe, each only 1/3 rd of it) and are allowed to enter the distillery. 







Chartreuse is still, after almost four hundred years, produced and bottled only on the Chartreuse mountain near Grenoble.









Chartreuse is described and wrote about in many books and songs and had some special appearances and places in movies, but if you are interested more in life of monks in that monastery, there is quite interesting documentary about that made in 2005 - "Into a great silence". 

Story about Chartreuse is really captivating and great inspiration for some exciting mystery book. 
My Yellow Chartreuse is now used in my home as a daily elixir, a medicine and occasionally, put in desserts. It is hard to be moderate with this liqueur because its sweet, fresh and its sophisticated, spicy taste can be very addictive.



I have a few recipes from the Chartreuse web-site, which is so interesting to read as a historical, tourist and culinary guide. Their recipe for a hot chocolate is quite impressive. Inspired by that recipe I created my Chartreuse Mocha coffee recipe and for this time of the year, a healthy version of pumpkin cheesecake.

Over the years, the Green liquor has been mostly used in cooking and I'm happy to learn that that's the only Chartreuse actually available here in Vancouver.

If you have a chance to taste it, I am sure that you will share my opinion that it's not  just an ordinary liquor, but something much much more.





Recipes with Chartreuse



Chartreuse Mocha  coffee




2 shots of espresso
1 tsp of Green Chartreuse
2 tbsp Chartreuse chocolate mousse
(recipe below)
2/3 cup of frothed milk



  
Chartreuse Chocolate Mousse 

½ lb (200 g) semi-sweet chocolate, 

6 large eggs, separated, 
3 tbs. water or coffee,
¼ cup Green Chartreuse, 
2 cups heavy cream, 
6 tbs. sugar,
whipped cream and grated chocolate for garnish.  









Melt chocolate over low heat.
Put yolks in a heavy saucepan and add water.
Place the saucepan over very low heat and beat with a wire whisk. When the yolks start to thicken, add the liqueur, beating constantly. Cook until the sauce achieves the consistency of a hollandaise(mayonnaise). Remove from heat. Fold the melted chocolate into the sauce. Scrape mixture into a bowl. Beat the cream until stiff, adding 2 tablespoons of sugar toward the end of beating. Fold this into the chocolate mixture. Beat the whites until soft peaks start to form. Beat in the remaining sugar and continue beating until stiff. Fold this into the mousse and chill.
Garnish with whipped cream and grated chocolate when ready to serve




White chocolate Pumpkin Yogurt cake
3 eggs
100 g melted white chocolate 
1/2 cup yogurt
2 tbs maple syrup
3 tbs Chartreuse
2 tsp g ginger
2 tsp g cinnamon
2 tsp g nutmeg
1 can pumpkin puree
crust:
300 g cracker crumbs ground
100 g ground almond
1 tsp g ginger
1 tsp g cinnamon
170 g butter(or oil)

  
Combine all the ingredients for the crust. Use your hands to pat the crumbs on the bottom of your round cake pan.
Beat the eggs with maple sugar and add the other ingredients. White chocolate add at the end. Mix just to combine, do not over mix. Bake at 325F (170C) for about half an hour. Test the middle of the cake before taking it out from the oven. Do not over bake because it will be cracked and taste dry.



Chartreuse soufflé (from Chartreuse web-site)

6 egg whites
200 g sugar
4 egg yolks, lightly beaten
15 dl Chartreuse, green
½ cup milk
75 g flour
75 g butter
Zest of 1 lime
Icing sugar



Pre-heat the oven to 250C/ 400F
Butter and sugar 6 creme brulee size dish. Melt the butter, add the milk, bring to the boil.
Stir in the flour and make a dough. Stir in the Chartreuse. Keep stirring until well mixed.
Add the egg yolks, take off the heat and keep stirring until smooth. Set aside.
Whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks, then whisk in the sugar until dissolved. Stir one spoonful of the egg white mixture into the egg yolk mixture, then fold the egg yolk mixture carefully into the egg white mixture and pour into the dish. Fill almost  to the top
Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes.
Dust with icing sugar, sprinkle with lime zest and serve immediately

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