I really enjoy the cola Dr. Pepper. It has rich, complex heavy fruit and aromatic spiciness to it that goes well with pretty much anything. And we have not left it alone as a delicious beverage. We have used it in ways outside its normal soft drink capacity. We use it to brine and braise, glaze, smoke, marinate, even whip to ethereal lightness. Yet, we have not taken the time to make Dr. Pepper or its essence.
The list of the secret 23 ingredients which distinguish Dr. Pepper are closely guarded. However, that does not deter my efforts. In fact, since I cannot get my hands on the real, the original, the secure, and very classified master recipe, I might as well generate my own. I can work with my personal taste memory and build a recipe which is nearly identical in flavor, whose recipe may contain a completely different list of ingredients.
It also dawned on me that I can control the viscosity and sweetness of what I create. I can make a relish of Dr. Pepper, a puree, a BBQ or hot sauce, and if I were as clever as our friend Wylie, we could make Dr. Pepper lentils.
I started with some tequila soaked golden raisins and added the juice from dark rum soaked tart cherries. To this I added more golden raisins, dried cranberries, a few chunks of candied ginger, a healthy dose of blood orange bitters and a healthy glug of D'arbo sour cherry syrup. A pinch of salt, the zest of one aji dulce and a few stirs and I am awfully close to the familiar flavors tastes and aromas of Dr. Pepper.
With this essence on hand, I am now at a crossroads. Do I chop up the fruit and make the relish or do I puree it to have Dr. Pepper puree in our pantry? Imagine finishing a sauce with a spoonful of Dr. Pepper puree. A vinaigrette enriched with this complex flavor base could truly be transcendental. Pork shoulder with North African spices would certainly appreciate a brushing of the Dr. Pepper base as would smoked or Japanese eel.
* after receiving many comments and emails and tasting the fruit again, we added a dash of garam masala, an addition which seems to have elevated and clarified the tastes we are copying, that of Dr. Pepper.