Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Blackberry Liqueur

Crème de Mure, or Blackberry Liqueur, is a delicious cocktail ingredient, bursting with fresh berry flavour and essential for making that modern-day classic, gin cocktail, the Bramble. It is however, less ubiquitous than that other berry liqueur, Crème de Cassis, and tends to be found in more specialist liquor stores. As a result, Crème de Cassis is often used in substitution, which is rather like substituting a raspberry with a strawberry - both are tasty, but they are very different.

There are some great brands out there, including Cartron and Briottet, but if you like getting creative in the kitchen, why not try this simple recipe and make your own. You can use frozen blackberries, but do ensure that they are fully defrosted beforehand. Always try to use the best fruit that you can, to ensure the high quality of your liqueur - you get back what you put in. The lemon zest is optional, but it does help to enhance the flavour of the berries, although it is very important that all the white pith is removed as it becomes bitter when steeped in alcohol.

Aside from the listed ingredients below, you will need a large, clean, airtight jar, a sieve, a muslin cheesecloth or coffee filter paper.

Crème de Mure

2 cups blackberries
3cm strip of lemon zest (pith removed)
1 1/4 cup vodka
3/4 cup brandy
1/2 cup simple syrup (2 parts sugar to one part water)

To begin with, make the simple syrup by heating half a cup of water in a pan.
When the water begins to boil, add one cup of sugar and reduce heat to a simmer.
Stir constantly until the sugar is completely dissolved and the liquid is crystal clear.
Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Add the fruit and zest to sealable container such as a large, clean jar, along with the alcohol.
Muddle (squish) the fruit and alcohol, then replace the lid and shake.
Store at room temperature but out of direct sunlight, for a minimum of 3 days.

Strain the contents of the jar through a fine mesh strainer, pressing down with the back of a spoon to extract all the juice.
Filter the remaining liquid through a muslin cheesecloth or coffee filter paper.
Repeat the filtering process again and then add half a cup of simple syrup and stir.

Pour the liqueur into an airtight jar or bottle and shake to combine.
Allow to rest for at least a day before using.

Store in a cool, dark place for up to 3 months.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Rose and Cardamom

Fun With Marshmallows (Part 2)

After the success of cocktail making with Earl Grey marshmallows, those lovely people at Eat Toast Dunk Me were kind enough to send me another, intriguing flavour to try. This time it was a box full of middle eastern promise - delicious Rose and Cardamom. All the flavour of turkish delight but without the stickiness and light as air.

Having explored the potential of infusing alcohol with this superior confectionary in my last post, Fun With Marshmallows, I decided that this time, I would take my inspiration from the delicately exotic and fragrant flavours and mix up some rose and cardamom cocktails. The marshmallows make a fun accompaniment and can really enhance the aroma when used as a garnish or just have them as an indulgent snack, alongside.

This first cocktail takes the classic Gin Rickey (gin, soda and lime) and turns it into a fragrant summer cooler, perfect for balmy nights and hot, sunny afternoons.

Rose and Cardamom Gin Rickey

2 oz Martin Miller Gin
1 oz freshly squeezed lime juice (about 1 lime)
1/2 oz simple syrup
2 cardamom pods
tbsp rosewater

Muddle (squish) the cardamom pods with gin, lime, simple syrup and rosewater in the bottom of a heavy bottomed glass.
Add plenty of ice, top up with soda and stir to mix.
Serve with a rosewater and cardamom marshmallow.

This next cocktail is adapted from one that I found whilst trawling the virtual bars of the internet. I couldn't attest to its origins but whoever thought it up - well done - it's jolly nice. I have used rosewater and simple syrup rather than rose syrup as it's unnecessary to invest in or make your own when the composite parts are those two ingredients anyway. The ruby grapefruit gives a wonderful pale pink tinge and the Peychauds bitters add a depth that is hard to explain, but try one with and one without and you'll see for yourself...

Cardamom Rose Cocktail

1 oz freshly squeezed ruby grapefruit juice
1 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 oz simple syrup
1 tbsp rosewater
2 dashes Peychauds bitters
1 cardamom pod

In the bottom of a shaker, muddle (squish) the cardamom pod with the gin.
Add all of the other ingredients with a handful of ice and shake hard for about 10 seconds.
Strain into a chilled glass with ice.
Serve with a couple of cubes of Eat Toast Dunk Me rose and cardamom marshmallow.

Last but not least is a cocktail in the 'martini' style, featuring Hendricks Gin and Martini Rosato, a rosé vermouth that is sweeter than it's dry counterpart, with flavours of raspberry, lemon, cinnamon and cloves.

Rose Cardamom Martini

2 tsp simple syrup
1tsp lemon juice
2 tsp rosewater
1 cardamom pod

In the bottom of a shaker, muddle the gin and cardamom.
Add the remaining ingredients and shake hard until the outside of the shaker becomes frosty.
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Pop in a rose and cardamom marshmallow.

Thank you to Eat Toast Dunk Me for this week's inspiration and if you'd like to find out other delicious ways to enjoy their marshmallows, then pop along to their website and be inspired by the plethora of delicious and inventive flavours.