Friday, March 9, 2012

Booze of the Week: Sicilian Coffee Liqueur

Sticks and stones might break your bones, but cement pays homage to tradition. ― Estelle Getty (from The Golden Girls TV show)

Orange and coffee and booze, oh my.
What’s more Sicilian than Blood Oranges? Although able to be grown anywhere that regular oranges are, blood orange origins are distinctly Sicilian. Blood orange origins... say that fast five times.

Photo: Wiki CC
There are three main types of blood oranges: Moro, Tarocco and Sanguinella. Blood oranges are thought to come from a mutation that was discovered in the 1800s in Lentini, Sicily.

If you’ve ever bought a blood orange and found the flesh to be deep purple/black it was probably a Moro. Other varieties are less dark in colour. You can usually tell as well by the bright red blush on the rind.

The flesh is sweet, sometimes with a hint of raspberry. Actually the darker the flesh the more berry-like I find them. They’re quite wonderful.

A few weeks ago I found bags of blood oranges on "mark down" at a local grocery. Half price to be exact. They had to be Moros by the colouration on the rind.

Since I’m not one to pass a bargain as you probably know by now (as long as it’s useful) I picked up a bag and merrily whistled my way home.

But then I had a problem – what to do with them. Since they were on sale I had every confidence they were at their absolute peak of ripeness so needed to be used quickly.

I thought of making a liqueur and I’ve always loved chocolate with orange but my last foray into chocolate liqueur was a fiasco. So my thoughts turned to coffee, Coffee and orange are not an unheard-of combination. In fact it’s somewhat common.

So that’s what I settled on. I changed my regular coffee liqueur recipe (HERE) to accommodate the oranges and started to age the liqueur.

At left, the brewed coffee;
right: the infused liquor.
You may not believe this but I used coffee I bought at a local Dollar Store. Don’t laugh and don't pass it by. Dollar stores have more than acceptable foil packs of coffee for $2/200g. The night I bought it was Columbian. I’ve had it brewed and it’s delicious.

As with all homemade liqueurs this will benefit from a month of bottle ageing. The colour is amazing. It’s dark, but when the light hits it you can see reddish golden hints that unmistakably betray the presence of orange.

Words to the wise: this has a LOT of caffeine so if desired use a good tasting decaf. My first coffee liqueur kept me up all night after only one glass!

This is one to just serve on ice. Can I wait another month? Probably not…

Sicilian Coffee Liqueur
Yield: 2 x 375 ml
375 ml vodka
4 blood oranges
1 cup ground coffee (French Roast, Arabica, Columbian)
1 cup sugar
1-3/4 cups water
2 whole cloves

Grate the rind from 4 blood oranges. Slice the remainder and put all in a 1L Mason jar. Pour 375 ml vodka on top, seal and shake. Let it sit for 1 week.

At the end of the week strain the infusion through a cloth-lined sieve and squeeze out as much liquid as you can. Filter twice to remove as much residue as possible. Keep the orange rinds and pulp. The vodka will be quite red.

Place the pulp and rind in a sauce pan. Add the sugar, water, ground coffee and cloves and bring to a boil. Let simmer for 5 minutes. Then cool slightly and strain twice through fine cotton cloth. Squeeze again as you filter.

Combine with the infused vodka and bottle. Let age for 4 more weeks if you can wait.


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