It's the little things

When Alice helped me make the Absinthe Suissesse last holiday season we modified the recipe making our own Orgeat (almond flavored syrup) because a) I didn't have orgeat syrup and b) prepackaged orgeat looks disgusting. I found a big plastic bottle once dusty on a shelf at Sam's Wines filled with high fructose corn syrup and artificial almond flavor. It's like the Tom Collins mix next to it - wtf is in that?

To make the sudo-orgeat we just sweetened some almond milk. I've also used almond extract or skipped it all together using nutmeg - more like a traditional eggnog. Well now I've found an even more creative, fresh recipe that I would love to try from the Chanticleer Society:

Roasted Almond Orgeat Syrup

(Makes one 750ml bottle of orgeat syrup)

  • 250g almonds
  • 400ml water
  • 350g caster sugar
  • 50ml brandy
  • 25ml orange or rose flower water (optional)

Pre-heat oven to 190C/375F/Gas Mark 5. Add almonds to roasting tin, place in middle of oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Do not grease the tin or add any oil.

Remove almonds, and allow too cool. Once cooled, place the almonds in a bowl and cover with cold water. Allow to soak for 30 minutes. Drain and discard the water then use a blender or food processor to chop the almonds to a fine grind. If you need to assist the chopping process, add a little water to the food processor.

Transfer the crushed almonds to a large bowl and mix them with 400ml fresh water and let stand for two hours. Place a damp cloth, cheese cloth or muslin cloth over another bowl, and strain the almond and water mixture. Squeeze the cloth to extract all the liquid. Put the chopped almonds back into the almond water, let stand for another hour and then strain again. Repeat a third time if you wish. This will get all the oils out of the almonds.

Discard the almond pulp, then pour the strained liquid into a saucepan, add the sugar and simmer over a gentle heat, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat when the sugar is completely dissolved. Allow to cool for 15 minutes and then add the brandy and the orange flower or rose water. Once cooled, transfer the orgeat into a clean glass bottle and refrigerate.

Please note: Shake well before use as the syrup may separate

Here's another cool recipe with some history on orgeat to boot: Orgeat at FXcuisine.

Now I need to figure out a use for a whole bottle of the stuff but finding this recipe really got me excited. See, it's the little things that can make the holidays memorable. And hopefully these memories are enough to get us through the big chill after.

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