Originating in the Piedmont region of northern Italy, where nuts, such as almonds, walnuts and pignoli are commonly grown, this exceptional liqueur has graced tables for over 300 years. Reputedly the concoction of a liqueur-making monk, this recipe has been and remains a favorite around the world.
It is used in a wide variety of cocktails and in cooking many foods, particularly desserts. A soft warmth comes from sipping it, straight up or on the rocks.
Italians often use it in coffee, where its warming nature enhances the coffee, while sweetening and offering a mellowing influence.
- 1/2 pound roasted hazelnuts, finely chopped
- 1 1/2 Cups vodka
- 1/3 Cup sugar
- 3 Tablespoons water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- In a glass bottle or jar, steep the chopped hazelnuts in the vodka for about 2 weeks in a cool, dark place, gently shaking the bottle every day.
- Gently pour the contents through a strainer or sieve, pressing hard on the nuts to release all the flavor. Follow this by 2 strainings through slightly dampened cheesecloth or large coffee filter; loosely cover the contents with plastic wrap, since the process may take several hours.
- In a very small saucepan, combine the sugar and water. Bring to a boil over moderate-high heat. Simmer, uncovered for 5 minutes. Let cool to room temperature. Stir in the vanilla.
- Funnel into a glass bottle, the funnel in the sugar syrup.
- Cover tightly; shake to blend. Let mature at room temperature, or slightly cooler, for at least 3 weeks.