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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Food Holidays/History/Facts

RECIPE: Pimento Cheese Ball With Pecans

It’s National Cheese Ball Day. Here’s a classic recipe to whip up and serve with wine or cocktails. The cheese ball serves 5-8 people.

The recipe is from Taylor Takes a Taste for EatWisconsinCheese.com.

RECIPE: PIMENTO CHEESE BALL WITH SALTED PECANS

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cups pecans
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 4 ounces pimentos, drained and chopped
  • 3 ounces softened cream cheese
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons grated yellow onion
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
  •  

    Pimento-Cheese-ball-pecans-wmmb-230

    Pimento cheese ball with pecans. Photo courtesy Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.

     

    Preparation

    1. MELT the butter in a non-stick skillet. Add the pecans and toast until fragrant, but not burned. Remove from the heat and toss in the salt. Allow to cool, then chop into medium to small pieces. Set aside.

    2. PLACE the remaining ingredients into a large bowl. With a fork, mix until creamy. Chill for 1 hour.

    3. LAY about 12 inches of plastic wrap on a level surface. Scoop out the chilled pimento cheese and form into a ball on top of plastic wrap. Roll the cheese ball in the chopped pecans, making sure the entire surface of ball is covered.

    4. WRAP the ball tightly in plastic wrap and freeze. Before serving, allow the frozen ball to thaw for half an hour. Serve with your favorite crackers, chips or pretzels.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Cinnamon Crescent Rolls

    cinnamon-crescent-tasteofhome-230-ps

    Make warm and fragrant cinnamon crescents
    for breakfast or brunch. Photo courtesy Taste
    Of Home.

     

    Today is National Cinnamon Crescent Day.

    Crescent is the English word for croissant, the buttery, crescent-shaped laminated dough breakfast roll (there’s more about croissants below). Make your own with this recipe from Taste Of Home.

    RECIPE: CINNAMON CRESCENTS (CROISSANTS)

    Ingredients For 4 Dozen Small Rolls

  • 6-1/2 to 7 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 packages (1/4 ounce each) active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 egg yolks
  •  
    For The Filling

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened, divided
  •  
    For The Glaze

  • 2 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  •  

    Preparation

    1. COMBINE 3 cups flour, yeast, sugar and salt in a large bowl.

    2. HEAT the butter, milk, shortening and water to 120°-130° in a large saucepan. Add to the dry ingredients and beat just until moistened. Add the egg yolks and beat until smooth. Stir in enough of the remaining flour to form a soft dough (the dough will be sticky).

    3. TURN the dough onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

    4. COMBINE the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl; set aside.

    5. PUNCH the risen dough down. Turn it onto a lightly floured surface; knead about six times.

    6. DIVIDE the dough into four portions. Roll out one portion into a 12-inch circle; spread with 2 tablespoons butter and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons cinnamon-sugar. Cut into 12 wedges.

    7. ROLL up each wedge from the wide end and place it point side down, three inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Curve the ends to form crescents. Repeat with remaining dough, butter and cinnamon-sugar. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes. Preheat the oven.

     

    cinnamon-BenFink-SuvirSaran-230

    One of the three different types of cinnamon. Photo by Ben Fink from Indian Home Cooking
    by Suvir Saran.

     

    8. BAKE at 350°F for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to wire racks. Make the glaze: Combine the confectioners’ sugar, milk and vanilla; drizzle over warm rolls. Combine the sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over the rolls.

     
    WHAT IS A CROISSANT?

    Meaning “crescent” and pronounced kwah-SAWN in French, this rich, buttery, crescent-shaped roll is made of puff pastry that layers yeast dough with butter—a technique known as laminating.

    Traditionally a breakfast bread served with jam and butter, two classic variations include the almond croissant, filled with frangipane (almond paste) and topped with sliced almonds, and the “chocolate croissant,” correctly called pain au chocolat, baked with a piece of dark chocolate in the center.

    In the early 1970s, croissants became sandwich substitutes as they evolved from their two traditional fillings, chocolate and almond paste, into many savory variations, from broccoli to ham and cheese, as well as additional sweet varieties.

    There’s also the Bavarian croissant or pretzel croissant, made of a pretzel-like dough that combines bread flour and whole wheat flour with salt sprinkled on the top, like a pretzel. Some are made of puff pastry, others of a soft pretzel-type dough in a triangle wrap, like a croissant.

     
    The Real History Of Croissants

    Stories of the croissant being made in the shape of the crescent of the Turkish flag, after the defeat of the Turks in the Siege of Vienna in 1683, are a perpetuated myth. Recipes for croissants do not appear in recipe books until the early 1900s, according to the Oxford Companion To Food. The earliest French reference is in 1853.

    The croissant is descendant of the Austrian kipfel, a yeast roll usually filled with chopped walnuts, dried or candied fruit, or other filling, and shaped like a crescent. It arrived in Paris in 1938 or 1939 with August Zang, an Austrian military officer. He opened a bakery, Boulangerie Viennoise, and introduced Viennese techniques which would one day lead to the baguette and the croissant. The crescent-shaped kipfel was ultimately made with puff pastry by French bakers.

    You can read this history in Jim Chevallier’s book, August Zang and the French Croissant: How Viennoisserie* Came To France (Kindle edition).
     
    *Viennoiserie are buttery, flaky breakfast breads and pastries made with laminated dough, a technique of layering and folding a yeast dough to create brioche, croissants, danish, pain au chocolat and other so-called “Viennoiserie.” It is a marriage between traditional bread baking and sweet pastry baking. The technique of lamination produces many buttery layers that can be pulled apart to reveal thin leaves within. You can see the striations, or layers, of pastry when you look at the top of the Viennoiserie or when you cut into them. This technique is time-consuming and expensive (because of the amount of butter needed).

      

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: A Scotch & Chocolate Tasting For National Tartan Day

    It’s National Tartan Day, which recognizes Scottish-Americans’ contributions to America.

    Tartan, familiar in Scottish kilts, is a pattern consisting of criss-crossed horizontal and vertical bands in multiple colors. Originally woven wool, it is now made in many other materials, and can even be found as wallpaper.

    Nineteen of the 56 delegates who signed the Declaration of Independence came to America from Scotland or were Ulster Scots, who had been living in Ireland. Others, like Thomas Jefferson, had Scottish ancestors.

    Today, more than 11 million Americans claim Scottish and Scotch-Irish roots, making them the eighth largest ethnic group in the U.S.

    You don’t have to be of Scottish ancestry to celebrate. Our family celebrated every holiday that involved food), a tip for food-loving families.

    You can celebrate with traditional Scottish foods like haggis, Scottish pie (filled with ground mutton), smoked salmon or tatties (mashed potatoes) and herring.

    Or you can kick back at the end of the day with a glass of Scotch, or a Scotch cocktail.

       

    chocolate-scotch-LaszloRakoskerti IST. 230

    Chocolate with Scotch? Absolutely! Photo by László Rákoskerti | IST.

     
    Among the many options, you can replace the vodka in a Bloody Mary with Scotch, creating a Highland Mary a.k.a. Bloody Scotsman.

    But we suggest a Scotch and chocolate tasting.

     

    kendallbrook-mackenzie-230

    Not into Scotch and chocolate? Celebrate National Tartan Day with an appetizer of Scottish smoked salmon. We like ours with a sprinkling of capers, some snipped fresh dill and a squeeze of lemon or lime. The onions are also welcome. Photo courtesy MackenzieLtd.com.

     

    SCOTCH & CHOCOLATE TASTING PARTY

    Paiing chocolates with wine and spirits is even more enjoyable than drinking the Scotch—or eating the chocolates—by themselves. If you haven’t already seen our wine, spirits and chocolate pairing guide, take a look.

    While we like Scotch from all over Scotland—the flavors vary substantially due to the local water and microclimate—it’s easiest to pair chocolates that have flavor notes similar to the Scotch, for example, smoky, peaty Laphroaig single malt Scotch, paired with single-origin chocolates that have smoky notes.

    Here’s what you need to know to have your own party.

    Here’s some tartan trivia from Laphroaig & Wikipedia to share at your festivity:

  • Tartan is often called plaid in North America, but in Scotland, a plaid is a tartan cloth slung over the shoulder as a kilt accessory, or a plain ordinary blanket such as one would have on a bed.
  • The best-known tartan patterns are the Black Watch and Royal Stewart.
  • Until the mid-19th century, tartan designs were associated with regions or districts, rather than any specific Scottish clan.
  • Tartan became popular throughout the English-speaking world after Queen Victoria expressed her fondness for all things Scottish.
  • The world’s first color photograph was of a tartan ribbon.
  • The English word tartan derives from the French tiretain, from the verb tirer which references woven cloth, as opposed to knitted cloth.
  • The word plaid derives from the Scottish Gaelic plaide, meaning blanket. The word was first used to describe any rectangular garment, including tartan. In time, plaid was used to describe blankets themselves.
  • A belted plaid is a blanket-like piece of fabric that is wrapped around the body with the material loosely gathered and secured at the waist by a belt. A portion of the fabric is wrapped up around the upper body and a portion hangs down to the knees (see it here).
  • The belted plaid was a standard item of men’s Highland dress from the late 16th century until the middle of the 18th century, when it began to evolve into the modern tailored kilt.
  •   

    Comments

    TIP: Easy, Last Minute Easter Cake

    carrot-cake-blackjetbakingco-goodeggsSF-230

    Our inspiration was this Easter cake from
    Black Jet Baking Co., a small San Francisco
    baking company committed to making
    nostalgic treats and baked goods. Photo
    courtesy Good Eggs | SF.

     

    No dessert inspiration for Easter? Here’s an easy last-minute fix:

    SHOPPING LIST

  • Store-bought plain cake -or-
  • 1 box of cake mix (for a two-layer cake)
  • Decorations: jelly beans, multicolored sprinkles
  •  
    For The Cake Mix

  • Eggs and other ingredients specified on package directions
  • 1 pint whipping cream plus any flavorings
  •  
    Preparation For Cake Mix

    1. BAKE the cake mix in two layers, per package directions. While the cake cools…

    2. MAKE freshly whipped cream—classic, flavored with vanilla; lavender whipped cream, rum-accented, salted caramel whipped cream or other favorite flavor (recipes).

    3. DECORATE decorate with jelly beans and sprinkles.
     
    Not enough chocolate in your Easter basket? Try chocolate whipped cream (recipe below).

     

    RECIPE: STABILIZED CHOCOLATE WHIPPED CREAM

    If you’re going to fill and frost a cake, you need whipped cream that’s been stabilized with gelatin to keep its shape. If you want vanilla whipped cream, substitute 1 teaspoon vanilla extract for the chocolate and skip Steps 1-3 and add the gelatin to both cups of cream in Step 5.

    Ingredients

  • 4 ounces milk or 60% cacao dark chocolate, coarsely chopped (use a good chocolate bar)
  • 3 tablespoons sifted confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream, divided
  • 2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
  • 8 teaspoons cold water
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the chocolate in a medium bowl; set aside.

    2. COMBINE the sugar and 1 cup of the cream in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved.

     

    3. POUR the hot cream mixture over the chopped chocolate and stir until chocolate has melted. Transfer to the bowl an electric mixer and let cool.

    4. COMBINE the gelatin and cold water in a small pan and let stand until thick. Then place over low heat, stirring constantly, until the gelatin dissolves. Remove from the heat and cool, but do not allow the gelatin to set.

    5. ADD the second cup of cream and whip on medium speed (ideally with whisk beaters). While slowly beating, add the gelatin to the whipping cream mixture. Whip at high speed until stiff.
     
    RECIPE: REGULAR CHOCOLATE WHIPPED CREAM

    Ingredients

  • 4 ounces milk or 60% cacao dark chocolate, coarsely chopped (use a good chocolate bar)
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
  •  

    chocolate-whipped-cream-cookiemadness.net-230

    For a cake filling, make a stabilized whipped cream with gelatin. Photo courtesy CookieMadness.net.

     
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the chocolate in a medium bowl; set aside.

    2. COMBINE the sugar and 1 cup of the cream in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved.

    3. POUR the hot cream mixture over the chopped chocolate and stir until chocolate has melted. Transfer to the bowl an electric mixer and let cool.

    4. ADD the second cup of cream and whip on medium speed (ideally with whisk beaters) until thick.

      

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: National Sourdough Bread Day

    April 1st is National Sourdough Bread Day. Sourdough is an ancient bread made by a long fermentation of dough, using naturally occurring lactobacilli bacteria and wild yeasts (other types of breads use cultivated yeasts, which became available only in the 19th century).

    In comparison with breads made with cultivated yeast, sourdough usually has a mildly sour taste and aroma, the result of the lactic acid produced by the lactobacilli.

    The preparation of sourdough begins with pre-fermenting, using a “starter” made from flour and water (the starter is also known as levain, the chief, chef or head). It can be a fluid batter or a stiff dough, as the ratio of water to flour varies by baker.

    The starter helps to develop the uniquely tart flavor of sourdough bread. Starters are maintained for years, even generations. The colony of bacteria and yeast inside the dough is kept alive by the baker, who needs only a piece of it to bake a new batch of bread.

    If you bake bread in a bread machine, note that the rise time of most sourdough starters is longer than that of breads made with baker’s yeasts. Thus, sourdough typically doesn’t work in a bread machine; you need to use conventional baking techniques.

       

    sourdough-basket-lafayetteNY-230

    Sourdough bread baked at Lafayette Restaurant | NYC.

    ANCIENT BREAD

    One of the oldest sourdough breads was found in a Swiss excavation; the site dates to 3700 B.C.E. But the origin of sourdough fermentation is likely thousands of years older than that, originating in the Fertile Crescent of Mesopotamia.

    Bread production has relied on the use of sourdough as a leavening agent for most of human history (the alternative to leavened bread was flatbread, such as lavosch and tortillas). The development and use of [cultivated] baker’s yeast as a leavening agent dates back only 150 years.

    Sourdough starter from a prior batch is used to create the new batch. Sourdough remained the usual form of leavening in European into the Middle Ages. Then, it was replaced by barm, the yeast-laden foam that forms in the process of brewing alcohol (for bread, the barm typically came from beer brewing). Centuries later, scientists learned to culture yeast, so bakers no longer had to rely on barm.

     

    sourdough-starter-foodformyfamily-230

    Sourdough starter. You can also purchase ready-made starter. Photo courtesy FoodForMyFamily.com.

     

    SOURDOUGH COMES TO AMERICA

    French bakers brought sourdough techniques to Northern California during the Gold Rush (1848–1855), and the bread remains part of the culture of San Francisco, where it has been in continuous production there since 1849. Some bakeries can trace their starters back to those days!

    In English-speaking countries, where wheat-based breads predominate, sourdough is no longer the standard method for bread leavening. It was gradually replaced, first by the use of barm from beer making and then by cultured yeasts.

    Thanks to the artisan food movement in the late 20th century in the U.S., it has undergone a revival [Source]. Now, most of us can enjoy it whenever we like—for toast, sandwiches and in the bread basket.

    If you haven’t had sourdough bread recently, today’s the day!

     

    Check out the different types of breads in our Bread Glossary.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Grilled Cheese Benedict

    grilled-cheese-benedict-230

    A yummy mash-up of Eggs Benedict and grilled cheese. Photo courtesy Wisconsin Milk
    Marketing Board.

     

    April is National Grilled Cheese Month. There are got lots of grilled cheese recipes on TheNibble.com, but here’s something new: a mash-up of a grilled cheese sandwich with Eggs Benedict.

    The recipe is from the Grilled Cheese Academy, which has dozens of amazing grilled cheese sandwich recipes made with Wisconsin cheese.

    RECIPE: GRILLED CHEESE BENEDICT

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 4 eggs
  • Salt and pepper
  • 8 slices Canadian bacon
  • 4 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 4 English muffins, split
  • 4 tablespoons Sharp Cheddar cheese spread, at room
    temperature
  • 4 slices Gouda cheese
  • 4 ounces fresh spinach leaves
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • Optional garnish: minced chives
  • Preparation

    1. HEAT 3-4 quarts water to just below the boiling point. Add the vinegar and a pinch of salt. Gently stir the water and lower the heat so water is simmering.

    2. CRACK the eggs into the water one at a time and poach gently for 4-5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and season with salt and pepper to taste. As the eggs cook…

    3. HEAT a griddle or skillet over medium heat and fry the Canadian bacon until lightly browned. Remove from the griddle and set the bacon aside.

    4. ADD 1 tablespoon of butter to skillet. Spread the cut side of each English muffin’s bottom half with 1 tablespoon Sharp Cheddar cheese spread. Place in the heated skillet and top each half with 1 slice Gouda, about 1 ounce spinach, 2 slices Canadian bacon and 1 slice tomato.

    5. COOK over medium heat until the cheese is melted. Remove to a plate and top each with a poached egg. Serve open-faced with remaining muffin halves, toasted and buttered, on the side.

     
      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Modern Black Forest Cake

    National Black Forest Cake Day is March 28th, but we’re far from cherry season in the U.S.

    While you may still be able to find some fresh cherries, shipped from some far-away orchard overseas, consider this modern approach to Black Forest Cake by one of our favorite bloggers, Vicky of Stasty.com.

    It includes a garnish of cherries dipped in white chocolate and coated with popping candy. Call it modern Black Forest Cake.

    If you’re up for making it, here’s the recipe.

    Otherwise, head for our classic Black Forest Cake recipe. If it’s for an audience of adults only, use lots of Kirschwasser (clear cherry brandy—you can substitute regular brandy).

    The Black Forest region of southern Germany is known for its sour Morello cherries and for the Kirschwassermade from them. Hence, the inspiration for this old-fashioned classic:

    Yummy chocolate cake with cherries and whipped cream.

     

    black-fores-nouvelle-stasty-230

    A modern take on Black Forest Cake. Photo courtesy Stasty.com.

     

      

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: National Spinach Day

    Popeye may have enjoyed his spinach straight from the can, but for today, National Spinach Day, we can come up with 20 better suggestions.

    BREAKFAST

  • Spinach omelet or fritatta (recipe)
  • Eggs Benedict With Spinach (recipe)
  •  
    DIPS & SPREADS

  • Green Mayonnaise (Julia Child’s recipe)
  • Spinach Dip With Walnuts (recipe)
  • Spinach Pesto (substitute spinach for the basil in this recipe)
  • Warm Crab & Spinach Dip (recipe)
  • Warm Spinach & Mascarpone Dip (recipe)
  • 13 Ways To Use Spinach Dip Or Spread
  •  
    LUNCH & FIRST COURSES

  • Curried Spinach Tart (recipe)
  • Grilled Cheese With Spinach (recipes)
  • Mac & Cheese With Spinach (recipe)
  • Spanakopita (Greek spinach pie—recipe)
  •    

    spinach-mascarpone-dip-vermontcreamery-230

    A warm spinach dip, creamy with mascarpone cheese. Photo courtesy Vermont Creamery.

     

    beet-spinach-apple-salad-butterball230

    Beet, spinach and apple salad. Photo courtesy Butterball.

     

    MAINS

  • Pasta With Spinach: penne pasta with a garnish of fresh spinach leaves and cherry tomatoes (recipe), bow tie pasta with chicken and spinach (recipe) or cheese tortellini with spinach (recipe)
  • Spinach Stuffed Pork Roast (recipe)
  •  
    PIZZA

  • Feta & Spinach Pizza (recipe)
  • Spinach & Grilled Shrimp Pizza (recipe)
  •  
    SIDES

  • Wilted Spinach With Tzatziki (Greek yogurt dip—recipe)
  •  
    SALADS

  • Beet, Spinach & Apple Salad (recipe)
  • Spinach & Grapefruit Salad (recipe)
  •  

      

    Comments

    TIP: Dip Sweet Chips On National Chip & Dip Day

    sweet-potato-chips-strawberry-dip-tablespoon.com-230

    Cinnamon sweet potato chips with
    strawberry yogurt dip. Photo courtesy
    Tablespoon.com.

     

    March 23rd is National Chip and Dip Day. When we think of chips and dip, salty chips pop into mind, with creamy dips, guacamole or salsa.

    But today’s tip is: For snacking or a fun dessert, go sweet with cinnamon-sugar flavored chips and a sweet dip.

    Just a quick glance of some of the better brands on store shelves:

  • Bare Cinnamon Apple Chips (a NIBBLE favorite, and gluten-free)
  • Cabo Chips Churro Tortilla Chips
  • Glenny’s Apple Cinnamon Low Fat Soy Crisps
  • Glutino Cinnamon and Sugar Gluten Free Bagel Chips
  • Kay’s Naturals Cinnamon Toast Protein Pretzel Sticks
  • Popchips Cinnamon Twist Sweet Potato Chips
  • Popcorners Whole Grain Chips
  • Stacy’s Cinnamon Sugar Pita Chips
  • Terra Cinnamon Spice Sweet Potato Chips
  •  

    WHAT DIP SHOULD YOU USE?

    Here are some suggestions from Cabo Chips and THE NIBBLE:

  • Caramel Sauce: Cinnamon and caramel are a delicious combination. Simply warm a bowl of caramel sauce in the microwave.
  • Chocolate Sauce: Melt chocolate chips or a chopped chocolate bar in the microwave for 45 seconds. You can dip chps in the warm chocolate, or dip the chips and place on wax paper until the chocolate sets.
  • Dulce de Leche Sauce: As with caramel sauce, simply warm a bowl of dulce de leche in the microwave.
  • Mexican Fried Ice Cream: Warm the chips in a toaster oven for 5 minutes on low heat. Place in individual bowls and top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Garnish with chocolate or caramel sauce a drizzle of honey. You can also add fresh berries.
  • Nutella: Place a few spoonfuls in the microwave for 30 seconds, then drizzle over the chips or simply dip them.
  • Sweet “Nachos”: Warm the chips, drizzle with warmed sauce, and garnish with butterscotch or chocolate chips or mini marshmallows.
  • Yogurt Dip: Use fruit or vanilla yogurt straight, or augment it with mini chocolate chips or other inclusions.
  • Your own recipe for a sweet dip. Cheesecake dip, anyone?
  •  

    apple-chips-salted-caramel-dip-dizzybusyandhungry-230

    Apple chips with a salted caramel dip. Photo © DizzyBusyAndHungry.com. Here’s the recipe.

     

      

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: National Bock Beer Day

    sam-adams-double-bock-juliatomases-230ps

    A double bock beer from Samuel Adams, shown with a scattering of the hops used to brew it. Photo by Julia Tomases | THE NIBBLE.

     

    Bock is the German word for strong, referring to a strong beer brewed from barley malt. It’s a dark, heavy, rich, sweet, complex beer, similar to Münchener* beers, but stronger. A true bock-style beer has a foam collar “thick enough to steady a pencil.”

    Bock is a style that originated in Saxony (capital Dresden), on the eastern border of central Germany, adjacent to Poland and the Czech Republic.

    Originally used to celebrate the end of the brewing season† (May), bock beer (Bockbier in German) was brewed in the winter for consumption in the spring.

    It was originally brewed by top fermentation in the Hanseatic League‡ town of Einbeck (beck bier became bock bier) in Lower Saxony, where it is still brewed and known as Ur-Bock, the original bock.

    But the style has evolved. Initially brewed with top fermenting yeast (“ale yeast”), German bock beers are now brewed by bottom fermentation (with “lager yeast,” which weren’t discovered until the 15th century). and are usually dark brown.

    A modern bock can range from light copper to brown in color. There are varieties that can be very different in style:

     

  • Doppelbock (double bock), a stronger and maltier recipe.
  • Eisbock (ice bock), a much stronger variety made by partially freezing the beer and removing the ice, thus concentrating the flavor.
  • Maibock (pronounced MY-bock), also called helles bock or heller bock, a paler, more hopped version generally made for consumption at spring festivals (hence Mai, the German word for May).
  •  
    Pale bocks are increasing in popularity, and a distinction is sometimes made between light bock beer and dark bock beer. Because the word bock also means billy goat in German, a goat is often found on the labels of bock beer brands.

     
    *Munich is the capital of Bavaria, in southeast Germany; the German name is München. A Münchener is a beer from Munich; for example, Münchener Dunkel, a full-bodied, malty and sweet-style dark lager beer that is a model for other Bavarian-style beers.

    †Modern refrigeration enabled brewers to make a uniform product year round. Previously, brewers had to work with the natural temperature of caves to provide an environment cold enough for the yeast to ferment. As a result, styles evolved to work with seasonal temperatures (lighter beers in the summer, for example).

    ‡The Hanseatic League was an economic alliance of trading cities and their merchant guilds in Northern Europe. Created to protect commercial interests and privileges, it existed from the 13th through 17th centuries.

      

    Comments

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