Jeff Epler's blog

16 January 2016, 22:15 UTC

Ancho Reyes Hot Chocolate

Here's a winter-time drink that will warm you up in three ways—but it's not for kids. It is the best use I've found so far for a recent addition to my liquor cabinet, the Ancho Reyes chili liqueur. This stuff isn't killer hot like the jalapeno beers I've had (and hated), and it turns out to make an excellent addition to hot chocolate.


  • 2TBSP cocoa powder
  • 1TBSP granulated sugar (or more, to taste)
  • 1/2 cup whole milk, cold
  • 1/2 cup water, boiling
  • 2floz Ancho Reyes chili liqueur (to taste)
First, combine the cocoa powder, granulated sugar, and 2TBSP of the milk in a microwaveable mug. Whisk until the cocoa combines with the milk to form a paste. (this works best with "just the right amount" of cold milk. You'll know it when you see it. If you get too much milk, it just takes a bit more effort). Add the rest of the milk and microwave until warm. Add the Ancho Reyes and the hot water to fill your mug. Give one last whisk to combine everything, and enjoy while hot.

If you don't have a hot water kettle, you can combine the milk and water before microwaving. Don't add the liquor until after microwaving, though.

You may need to fine tune the sugar and liqueur to your own tastes, I like a less sweet and more spicy drink. Double the sugar or cut the chili liqueur in half according to your own preferences.


28 February 2015, 21:32 UTC

Hazelnut Coffee and Hazelnut-Sunflower-Chocolate Butter

This weekend I made good on my threats to try my hand at a homemade hazelnut butter and hazelnut coffee. I've only had one cup of coffee and a few spoonfuls of the butter, but I like how both turned out.

Toast 1½ cups hazelnuts in a cast iron skillet. Roll in a pillowcase or dishtowel to remove most of the dark skin (if the skin is stubborn, you didn't roast enough—return to the skillet). Place in food processor.

Process until hazelnut pieces are coffee-ground sized but still powdery. Remove ½ cup or so for hazelnut coffee; store in airtight container in refrigerator.

Add 1½ cups toasted sunflower seeds, 1 cup dark chocolate chips and ½ tsp salt to food processor. Process until it forms into a ball. Store in airtight container. I expect this to keep as long as any other preservative-free nut butter. Originally I stored my nut butter in the fridge, but the next morning it was too stiff to spread well. It's clearly much better to store it at room temperature, as long as it's used up quickly.

This butter is not as smooth, oily, or sweet as the commercial product you may be thinking of; it's more like Justin's Chocolate Hazelnut Butter.

Hazelnut coffee

Combine 1 part hazelnut powder with 5 parts coffee grounds and then follow normal coffee-making process (I use an aeropress and then add a liberal splash of heavy cream). I assume that it will work to store this combined with ground coffee for at least a few days depending how picky you are about the freshness of your coffee beans.

Both recipes will benefit from some tweaking to your own personal preference, but as a proof of concept both of these ideas are obvious winners.


25 November 2013, 17:53 UTC

Butternut Squash Casserole (a Kirst Family Recipe)

  • 1 lb squash, cubed
  • 2 apples, cubed
  • 4T butter, melted
  • 4T brown sugar
  • 1/4t nutmeg
  • 1/3c chopped pecans

Mix squash and apple in baking dish.

Mix together melted butter, brown sugar, nutmeg, pecans.

Pour butter mixture over squash mixture. Stir.

Bake 1 hour at 375F or until tender.


16 July 2012, 23:30 UTC

Salsa-Poached Huevos Rancheros

Somewhere I had seen a recipe for eggs poached in tomato sauce. I only had salsa handy, so I came up with this recipe.

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25 October 2011, 14:23 UTC

Cheeseball Barley Wine

(adapted from the Horn Dog Barley Wine recipe in Clone Brews; Clone Brews offers mini-mash and all-grain versions of this recipe)

My half-batch came out very dark and not at all hoppy. The original recipe calls for 9 months of bottle conditioning, but I found it to be very pleasant after just 2 months. I prefer to split a (12oz) bottle with a friend. This is quite enough to lend a pleasant feeling of warmth. It's said to keep at cellar temperatures for 2 years, but I doubt this has ever been experimentally proven.

Pairs well with left-over ginger triple-chocolate wedding cake.

Style: English Barley Wine
OG: 1.103-1.104
FG: 1.023-1.024
Est ABV: 10.2%

Recipe for 5 gallons:

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11 June 2006, 17:32 UTC

Recipe: Farmers' Market

First, go to the Farmers' Market, and buy:
  • 2 Weir-Keuhl baguettes
  • 6 medium tomatoes
  • 4-ounces of locally made quark (soft cheese spread)
  • 6 nectarines, even though they come from California
With the help of your significant other, immediately eat one of the baguettes, two of the tomatoes, and two of the nectarines.

When you get home, cut a 4" piece off the remaining baguette. Split the piece lengthwise. Spread quark on one piece.

Now, core and begin slicing a tomato. Eat the first slice, because it's not flat and won't work on a sandwich anyway. Put the next two slices on the other piece of bread. Eat the last third of the tomato, because there's no room left on the bread.

On top of the tomato slices, put a generous amount of fresh-ground pepper and a dash of salt. Go out to the garden and grab a few basil leaves. Add them to the sandwich too.

Eat it while listening to Garrison Keillor talk about the Lives of the Cowboys.

When that's gone, it's time to eat the next nectarine. It may be a good idea to do this at the kitchen sink, not at the table.

If that's not quite enough lunch, slice off another 2" of baguette and put nutella on it.


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