Now that the hazelnuts are dropping off the trees, it’s the time to make that lovely hazelnut liqueur called Frangelico.
According to some, the name of the liqueur is based on a legend of a hermit named Fra Angelico who created unique recipes for liqueurs.
Why make it yourself?
While hazelnut liqueur isn't that hard to find, it's still worth it to make your own, because the flavour is so much better. Homemade hazelnut liqueur has a clean nutty flavour that's stronger and more natural-tasting than its commercial counterparts.
Also, the potential for experimentation in small batches makes it as entertaining as it is delicious. This recipe is a simple mix of flavours but you could really have some fun adding a few herbs and even a little fruit to the mix. Cherries, apricots, mint, cinnamon, or some coffee beans could make for a whole new hazelnut experience.
The recipe calls for 1 or 2 kg of fresh hazelnuts, lightly crushed.
The first year I made this, I spent literally hours cracking open the nuts, and discarding the shells. The second year I was in a hurry, so I put the whole hazelnuts (still in their shell) into a thick cotton bag, took them outside, and bashed them with a hammer for 5 minutes. I spent another few minutes picking out the big bits of shell, and then I used the rest as it was – shells and all. The difference in the result was barely perceptible, so this is the method I use now for my cheat’s Frangelico.
You can use ‘alcohol pour fruits’ which you can easily buy in the supermarket, but I prefer to use a decent bottle of vodka for this recipe.
- 1 kg hazelnuts
- 1 bottle of vodka
- 300 g sugar (you can adjust this according to your taste)
- 1 vanilla pod, split
- You can either follow my cheat’s method for breaking up the hazelnuts, or if you have lots of time, you can carefully shell them all, and break up the nuts.
- Clean and sterilize a large kilner jar. It’s worth investing in a 6 pack of 2 litre jars – they are really useful for this sort of project.
- Combine the nuts, vodka, vanilla pod and sugar into the jar. Depending on how many nuts you’ve used, you may need to put the mixture into two jars.
- (Some purists say add the sugar after it’s steeped for 3 weeks, but I add it at the beginning to no detrimental effect.)
- Shake well, and put the jar somewhere cool and dark. For the next three weeks, lightly shake the mixture every day.
- After three weeks, have a little taste, and adjust the sugar if you want to.
- It should taste really nutty at this stage, but if you want it a bit more nutty, leave it for another couple of weeks. Don’t forget to shake the jar regularly though.
When it’s ready
Once it’s ready, make sure you’ve got plenty of time for this stage, because you shouldn’t rush it. I normally do this job while I’m pottering around the kitchen for an evening.
First of all, sieve the mixture, and discard the nuts and shells. If you don’t have any shells in your mixture, you could do worse than to mix the nuts with some soft honey, and save them for a rainy day.
The liquid you have left after sieving will look cloudy and rather unappealing. You now need to spend some time straining it either through muslin, or with coffee filters. Keep cleaning the muslin / filters, because they get blocked quite quickly.
To get a perfectly clear liquid, you may have to filter the liquid twice. Be patient, it’s really worth it.
Once the liquid is filtered, bottle it and enjoy it! I often put a whole hazelnut in the presentation bottle. It keeps on adding flavour, and it looks nice!
It makes a superb after dinner drink with coffee and / or dessert. My favourite is to have it with a small square of very rich chocolate and praline gateau.
We will be publishing some cocktail recipes for Frangelico soon.
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