Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Booze of the week: Cinnamon Liqueur

I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes and cinnamon. – Proverbs 7:17

Golden yellow cinnamon-y goodness...
Cinnamon sweetness – that’s what this liqueur is. Not nearly as hot as cinnamon hearts but a tasty substitute, especially with the vodka. This liqueur is totally naturally coloured. After 2 weeks the vodka turns a very mellow gold colour from the cinnamon.


True cinnamon is at left. Photo: Wiki CC
Cinnamon versus Cassia
Cinnamon is the dried inner bark of several members of the family Cinnamonium, an evergreen tree. Wild cinnamons can grow about 60 feet (20 m) tall but commercially they are stunted to produce more of the bark-yielding growth called "tillering."

There are several different “cinnamons.” Cinnamomum verum ("true cinnamon", Sri Lanka or Ceylon cinnamon) is the highest grade harvested. It is distinctly different in taste than what we purchase at the store and is more difficult to find.

Why, you may ask? Because of the massive commercial use of cinnamon the bark of other close relatives is also harvested. These relations are the usual ground cinnamon we find in our grocery stores. C. aromaticum (Chinese cinnamon or Cassia) from Southeast Asia is the most common.


Why is cinnamon hot?
From Wikipedia
[Cinnamon's] flavour is due to an aromatic essential oil that makes up 0.5% to 1% of its composition. The pungent taste and scent come from cinnamic aldehyde or cinnamaldehyde (about 60 % of the bark oil) and, by the absorption of oxygen as it ages, it darkens in colour and develops resinous compounds.


True cinnamon is less harsh than cassia and has a noticeably different taste. If anyone has ever been tricked into trying to swallow a teaspoon of ground cinnamon (cassia) you will know what I mean by harsh. But don't be fooled; cinnamon is still hot, just less so than its more common cousin.

Cassia has a greater “hot” taste that can take one’s breath away (by the spoonful) as easily as wasabi. Think of cinnamon hearts – they're pretty spicy. They use cassia distilled oil.

If you purchase cinnamon sticks you are almost certainly buying cassia. That’s OK, because in this liqueur you want strong cinnamon flavour. Don’t worry, the syrup moderates it in a wonderful way.


Health effects
Cinnamon has many documented and folkloric health benefits. Among them are the possibility of assisting to regulate blood sugar in diabetics, various uses in cancer treatments and significant antibacterial properties.

Studies have shown that 1/2 tsp per day can lower LDL cholesterol levels and is also a great source of manganese, iron and calcium. Interestingly one study found that smelling cinnamon actually boosted cognitive function and memory.


For the first week or so of steeping I thought this would be a completely white infusion. As the second week got underway it miraculously started to take the colour from the bark. The Calvados (apple brandy) adds some colour as well. Other brandy can be substituted, but always remember: "garbage in, garbage out."

I would hazard a guess that if you steeped the bark for a month you would achieve an even stronger infusion. You could also double up the cinnamon used to hurry it along.

One final word. By my calculation (3 cups 40% alc. vol. + 1 cup syrup) this liqueur is about 30%. I felt the one little glass you see in the picture. So handle this with respect.


Cinnamon Liqueur
Makes 4 cups  |  about 30% alc. vol
2 cinnamon stick, about 4-5” long each
4 cloves
2 cup vodka
1/2 cup Calvados (or other brandy)
3/4 cup water
1 cup sugar

Don’t substitute ground cinnamon in this recipe. You’ll never get it all filtered out.

Steep the sticks and cloves in the vodka and calvados for 2 weeks in a Mason jar. After infusing strain and filter through cloth until clear. This may take several times.

Boil the sugar and water together for 5-7 minutes. Let cool slightly and then add the sugar syrup to the infused vodka. Stir well.

Decant into bottles. This will fill 2 x 375 ml, plus a good sized glass for you.

The liqueur can be used right away, but will be better after 1 week.

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2 comments:

  1. When do I add the Calvados?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Good question! The same time as the vodka! Whoops...

    ReplyDelete