Delaney Mes looks at how you can get creative with liqueurs in the kitchen and add a new flavour dimension to sweet and savoury dishes
There is more to liqueur than drinking them straight, using them in cocktails, or splashing them in your coffee after a dinner party. Invest in a bottle of liqueur and discover the myriad ways it can be put to use in the kitchen. These bottles sometimes feature slightly obscure ingredients, which you may have thought of as one-hit-wonders. But there is often more to them than meets the eye.
We are all familiar with wine in cooking: coq au vin, beef bourguignon and mussels steamed in white wine. And beer batter is a glorious thing whatever the season. Even cider gets a good run in cooking – have you tried doing pulled pork in a crisp apple cider lately? It’s fantastic. But don’t forget about liqueurs as these too can add something really special to a meal. Winter is here and it’s time to get cooking – we have some great ideas to get cooking with liqueurs.
Using a sweet liquor at dessert time is pretty straightforward and a great place to start is in that Italian classic; tiramisu. Strong black coffee is mixed with Tia Maria, before having sponge fingers soaked in the mixture. They are layered with a custard of egg yolks, sugar, mascarpone, and cream, and then dusted with a generous heap of cocoa. While you have the bottle handy and are feeling your sweet tooth, Tia Maria is great in an espresso martini (which is a perfect option for a liquid dessert, if you’re entertaining) and also in that other Italian dessert classic, affogato. Take some good-quality vanilla ice cream and scoop it into glasses, pour over a hot shot of espresso (or use a strong plunger pot of coffee) and then a shot of your favourite liqueur. Tia Maria works well, but so does Frangelico, Galliano, sambuca or amaretto.
Speaking of amaretto, it’s no surprise that this almond-flavoured wonder works well in the kitchen. Try whisking some through a homemade custard to add a glorious almond flavour to serve with cakes. If you fancy serving up cannoli you can buy the pastry shells and fill with a mix of ricotta, icing sugar, amaretto, slivered almonds and chocolate chips. Bellissimo.
For something savoury, grab your bottle of Angostura Bitters. Add a tablespoon to half a cup of honey and the juice of a fresh orange to make a fabulous glaze for ham on the bone. Stud some whole cloves in before baking and you have dinner for a crowd covered.
Keeping things retro, marsala (a fortified wine) makes a wonderful addition to creamy mushrooms. Sauté mushrooms in a frying pan in a decent tablespoon of butter. Add some chopped thyme and a crushed garlic clove, if you like, and then a generous splash of marsala. Add a couple of tablespoons of cream and reduce until the mushrooms are coated but not runny.
Serve over steak for a slightly 1970s feel, or on toast for breakfast if you’re feeling game. It also works well as a sauce for chicken and bacon. Don’t forget to douse it in fresh parsley afterwards and licking the plate is optional.
Ice cream dream
For a easy no-churn ice cream recipe, you can use either limoncello, Chambord, or experiment with something else. Simply beat 4 egg yolks with 125 grams of caster sugar until thick and pale, then beat 600ml cream with 125 grams of caster sugar, being careful not to overbeat. Fold them together and add one third of a cup of your favourite liqueur. Freeze overnight and be careful not to eat it all in one go.
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