I have a strong association between hazelnuts and Thanksgiving dinner; specifically, I think of those long, sprawling centerpieces we constructed with flowers, candles, colorful gourds, and assorted nuts (including hazelnuts) in their shells scattered around the table. At each place setting, of course, was a silver nutcracker for snacking on those centerpiece edibles in between the main meal and arrival of dessert.
Perhaps those memories are what drew me to this recipe from Homemade Liqueurs and Infused Spirits by Andrew Schloss. Or, perhaps it’s the warming combination of brandy and bourbon just right for colder, darker days, mixed with the brightness of citrus and the sweetness of honey in the Mother Superior.
|Mother Superior, made with Toasted Hazelnut Liqueur
Photo © Leigh Beisch Photography
Handmade gift idea: Need something special to bring to your host on the day of the big feast? This liqueur, like all of the recipes in Homemade Liqueurs and Infused Spirits, makes use of simple ingredients and comes together easily. Reuse a lovely bottle (or find one online), and voilà
: a unique and delicious gift.
Hazelnuts (a.k.a. filberts) are undistinguished when raw, a bit starchy and bitter, making their popularity seem unfounded. But when you taste them toasted, their fame pops into focus. The main aromatic compound in hazelnuts, heptanone, increases 700-fold when the nuts are toasted. The flavor of toasted hazelnuts is so vibrant that no augmentation is necessary.
Makes about 1 quart
1 pound blanched hazelnuts
1½ cups brandy (80 proof)
1½ cups bourbon (80 proof)
1 cup Brown Simple Syrup (recipe below)
- Heat a heavy skillet, preferably cast iron, over high heat for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add the hazelnuts and stir until the nuts are aromatic and lightly toasted, about 2 minutes. Dump onto a baking sheet and let cool until just warm to the touch, about 10 minutes. Rub the skins off with a clean dishtowel.
- Chop the nuts finely; it’s easiest to use a food processor. Put the nuts into the work bowl of the processor, and chop using 3-second pulses until uniformly finely chopped, like coarse sand.
- Combine brandy, bourbon, and hazelnuts in a half-gallon jar. Stir to moisten everything.
- Seal the jar and put it in a cool, dark cabinet until the liquid smells and tastes strongly of hazelnuts, 7 to 10 days.
- Strain the mixture with a mesh strainer into a clean quart jar. Do not push on the solids to extract more liquid. You should have about 2 ½ cups.
- Stir in the simple syrup.
- Seal and store in a cool, dark cabinet. Use within 1 year.
Brown Simple Syrup
Use this dark, malty simple syrup when making whiskey- and brandy-based liqueurs.
Makes 3 cups
2¼ cups water
2¼ cups dark brown sugar
Mix the water and sugar in a small saucepan until the sugar is all moistened. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir to make sure the sugar is completely dissolved, then remove from the heat and let cool. Refrigerate and use within 3 months.
Brandy Snifter, Swizzle Stick
1½ oz Toasted Hazelnut
1 tsp honey
2 whole cloves
1 twist of lemon peel
Combine the Toasted Hazelnut, honey, cloves, and lemon peel in the snifter; stir to dissolve the honey. Add hot water to taste.
Recipes excerpted from Homemade Liqueurs and Infused Spirits © 2013 by Andrew Schloss. Photo © Leigh Beisch Photography
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