Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Grand Marnier® What is it? Why is it so good & can I please get a copy of that recipe...?

My love affair with Grand Marnier is totally my mom's fault. As a kid, every Easter I waited for her Grand Marnier Sauce, to pour over the sliced strawberries after dinner. That was my yearly chance to have some Grand Marnier. So good is it, and so simple to make, I just have to share it with all of you so I've included the recipe here for you to make for yourself and decide. I guarantee once you pour this heavenly concoction over any type fruit, your world will be transformed as you know it. Ok, well that may be a bit melodramatic, but you will really enjoy this recipe, I promise. That said, let's explore Grand Marnier.

Curaçao oranges
So what is it?
Grand Marnier is a triple sec liqueur invented in 1880 and still produced by the same family in France, the Marnier-Lapostolles. To define triple sec liqueurs: Triple sec is a liqueur made from the dried peels of Curaçao oranges. The term “triple sec” is used to describe any generic beverage made from Curaçao oranges, and technically, specialty beverages like Cointreau, Curaçao and Grand Marnier.

Without a doubt, the most popular of these is Grand Marnier, created by Louis Alexandre Marnier-Lapostolle. Oranges at the time were a rare and exotic fruit, and by blending them with high-quality brandies, Marnier-Lapostolle was able to create an enduring legacy.

Louis-Alexandre Marnier
The History
The Grand Marnier story began in 1827 when Jean-Baptiste Lapostolle founded a distillery in Neauphle-le-Château, France that produced fruit liqueurs. It was in 1876, when his granddaughter married Louis-Alexandre Marnier,  the son of a wine-making family from the Sancerre region that the Marnier Lapostolle family was born. Louis, who had learned the basics of distilling spirits from his father, a wine and spirit merchant, soon took a major role in the distillery.
Chateau de Bourg

After receiving a blended orange cognac from the Cognac region of France, Louis fell in love with the product and decided to produce a similar liqueur of his own. He then moved to the Chateau de Bourg, (below) a 17th century castle in the Cognac region. He used the Citrus Bigaradia oranges from the West Indies and to enhance the aroma, he separated the orange peels and macerated them in neutral alcohol, before subjecting them to a steam distillation process. Grand Marnier still uses the Citrus Bigaradia bitter oranges selected from plantations around tropical regions of the world. The reason for this specific sort is so when the peel is dried, it will still retain a very strong perfume that gives the unique aroma and character to the liqueur.

César Ritz
In 1880, Alexandre's creation, Grand Marnier was introduced in the stylish bottle with the famous red ribbon and seal on the label and just 4 years after the launch, it won the first official prize, the Grand Prix at the international Exposition of Nice. The liqueur was originally named “Curaçao Marnier”, but when Louis had his friend César Ritz (yes, that Ritz) taste his creation, the famed hotelier was so taken with it that he suggested a new name. He is reputed to have said, “Grand Marnier, a grand name for a grand liqueur.

Crêpe Suzette
In the 1900s, the chef, Escoffier, father of modern French cuisine, made the Crêpe Suzette and the Grand Marnier soufflé famous throughout the world. Both desserts were enjoyed by the Prince of Wales, a great fan of the liqueur, and are still considered masterpieces of French cuisine.

In 1927, the Marnier-Lapostelle family released a special cuvée , the Cuvée du Centenair to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the company and its founder Jean-Baptiste Lapostolle in limited quantities. Fifty years later in 1997, Grand Marnier launched the limited edition of 150th anniversary bottle. In 1975 Jacques Marnier-Lapostolle, grandson of Alexandra established a new bottling plant to meet the market demand and today the brand is marketed in over 150 countries. The company boasts that it is the most exported liqueur in France, as well as being France's first exported liqueur as well. It is sold in over 150 countries and used in a wide range of drinks and desserts.

The House of Grand Marnier celebrated the wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana on July, 29, 1981, with a special cuvée and a special liqueur was offered as a gift to Queen Elizabeth II in April 2006, on the occasion of her 80th birthday. This unique cuvée, resulting from a blend of very old, rare cognacs and a special twice-distilled orange essence, was presented to Her Royal Highness in a purple bottle, one of her favorite colors.

Grades of Grand Marnier:
The quality of cognac used in Grand Marnier depends on the type of Grand Marnier, and ranges from lower-end cognacs to extremely high-grade 50-year-old cognac.

Cordon Jaune
Cordon Jaune or "Yellow Ribbon" Grand Marnier is scarce in North America. It is only sold in some European countries and at some major international airports. Yellow Label Grand Marnier is generally regarded as being the lowest quality. It is made with neutral grain spirit rather than cognac. It is used for mixed drinks and cooking purposes, such as Crêpes Suzette. It comes from the region of Cognac.

Cordon Rouge
The most common grade of Grand Marnier, and that which most people are acquainted with, is known as Red Label, or Cordon Rouge. Cordon Rouge Grand Marnier is made from cognac, using essentially the same technique as the original Grand Marnier in 1880. Cordon Rouge is often used in cooking, but may also be enjoyed in various mixed drinks or by itself.

Cuvée du Centenair
The next level of Grand Marnier is the Centennial Edition, or Cuvée du Centenaire, which is made using the same technique as the Red Label, but substituting 25-year-old Cognac for the normal Cognac used. Cuvée du Centenaire was first released in limited quantities in 1927 to commemorate the 100th anniversary. It is made with 25-year-old fine cognacs and is consumed neat. It is more expensive, at about $145 USD per bottle.
Cuvée Speciale Cent Cinquantenaire
Grand Marnier 150, technically called Cuvée Speciale Cent Cinquantenaire ("Special Sesquicentennial Edition"), is made with 50-year-old cognacs sealed within hand-finished frosted glass bottles featuring hand-painted Art Nouveau decorations. At approximately $220 USD per bottle, it was previously marketed under the slogan "Hard to find, impossible to pronounce, and prohibitively expensive."

Cuvée Louis-Alexandre Marnier-Lapostoll
Cuvée Louis-Alexandre Marnier-Lapostolle is a special selection of cognacs taken from the best known districts (Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne, Borderies, Fins Bois and Bons Bois) and aged at length in oak casks. It is only available in duty-free shops in Canada, Holland and France and liquor stores in Quebec.

Grand Marnier Sauce

5 egg yolks, beaten well
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup Grand Marnier
1 cup whipping cream (whipped, but not too stiff)

Mix egg yolks and sugar together in a sauce pan. Whip this mixture over low heat until it becomes thick and creamy. Remove the sauce from the heat and pour into a to a large chilled, bowl, (I have a large bowl ready, sitting in ice water) Add the liqueur slowly and blend. Begin folding the whipped cream to the mixture very slowly and gently until it is completely incorporated. Chill well before serving.

Bon Appetit!



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