Homemade Amaretto

One of my very favorite liqueurs is amaretto.  I love the fruity, sweet, smooth almond flavor and luscious cherry smell it has.  It’s perfect for mixing or sipping, depending on your mood.  It’s also fantastic for baking – talk about a fantastic almond extract, yeah?  I tend to stick to Disaronno, but I wanted to try making my own.  It takes a month to infuse, and it’s definitely not that much of a money saver for the time you commit, but I’ve found it to be completely worth it.

Most amaretto recipes that aren’t just adding vanilla and almond extract to vodka with sugar syrup will include bitter apricot kernels, which have traces of cyanide in them (this is what Disaronno uses, actually, to make their liqueur).  Because they’re pretty expensive, I decided not to use them, and I was just as pleased with my results.  I did a side-by-side test with Disaronno, and while my amaretto has slightly more bite and it’s not as sweet, the flavors were quite similar.  I can enjoy my amaretto just as I would with Disaronno and I’m not disappointed in the slightest with the flavors, so I consider this a success!  My favorite way to have it is with ginger ale – the perfect sipper!

I was pretty heavy handed with the brandy in my recipe, where most will use mostly vodka, but I think this gives it a much greater depth of flavor.  I quadrupled the recipe and made a little more than a gallon so that I’d be able to share with my family, as we’re all amaretto lovers.  Quadrupling it, I ended up using a handle of each brandy and vodka; you can definitely use the cheap stuff here, as you’re infusing the flavors into it anyway.  My favorite part about this was that I was able to control the sweetness and use less refined sweeteners – I used coconut sugar and stevia, as I do in most of my recipes.  No stevia flavor is there – the alcohol definitely covers that up completely.

This is a great idea for homemade gifts for anyone that loves amaretto.  I figured I’d post it early so there’d be time to make it for Christmas if you’re so inclined!  I originally wanted to give mine away for Christmas, but I’m not sure I can wait that long to share it!  So tasty.

What is your favorite liqueur?  Have you ever tried making your own?

Homemade Amaretto

yields about 4 cups

Homemade Amaretto

    For macerating:
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots, coarsely chopped
  • 3/4 cup purified water
  • 1/2 cup raw almonds, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup dried cherries, coarsely chopped
  • 3/4 tsp fennel seed
  • 1 1/2 cups vodka
  • 1 1/2 cups brandy
  • To finish:
  • 1 cup coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
  • 1/2 cup purified water
  • 1/2 cup brandy
  • 1/2 cup vodka
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp almond extract

In a 2-quart jar, combine the dried apricots and water. Allow to soak for at least 30 minutes (up to 3 hours) to rehydrate.

Once rehydrated, add the almonds, cherries, fennel, vodka, and brandy. Tightly seal the jar, and shake thoroughly. Place in a cool, dark place for a month to macerate. Shake the jar at least once a week.

Once the mixture is done macerating, line a mesh strainer with cheesecloth, and strain out the solids over a large bowl. Wring out the cheesecloth to get as much liquid out as possible.

While the mixture is straining, heat the coconut sugar and water over medium heat, stirring until the sugar has all dissolved. Remove from heat, and allow to cool.

Once the mixture has finished straining through the cheesecloth, add the brandy, vodka, vanilla and almond extracts. Slowly add the sugar syrup until it is to a sweetness that suits your tastes.

Line a mesh strainer with a coffee filter, and filter the mixture once more over a large bowl, to remove any fine particles.

Transfer the liquid to a quart-sized jar (or smaller bottles), and tightly seal. Allow to sit for about 3 days before using. If you notice any sediment forming at the bottom, you can re-filter until it stays clear.

Store in a cool, dry place for up to 6 months.

adapted from Chow and Serious Eats