Monthly Archives: October 2012

Do You Heer What I Heer?

A new thing I am getting into is making cocktail ingredients at home. Don’t worry, I’m not distilling anything – that would be both illegal and crazy.  I am, however, a fan of taking things that other, reputable people have distilled and making them better.
The process is known as infusion, and it’s a great way to make your own unique cocktail ingredients, as my friend Tiny Doom does here. It’s also a fun technique for duplicating or even tweaking the flavor profiles of known liqueurs.  I decided to try a recipe for Cherry Heering. Cherry Heering is a, you guessed it, cherry flavored liqueur manufactured in Denmark. I’m a big fan because it is a component of one of my favorite tiki-style cocktails, the Singapore Sling. However, it can be a little expensive and until recently was hard to find (Thanks, cocktail resurgence, for making many ingredients easier to procure!). So when I found this recipe I decided to give it  shot.

First, I washed and pitted about one million cherries.

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Life is a bowl of cherries.

It is messy work, this. Ask Tiny Doom about the time we made a cherry tart. I think her hands might still have a reddish tinge.

Next I parted the cherries from their sweet, sweet blood. I mean juice. This exsanguination was performed with a muddler, one of my favorite cocktail tools/words. I put the juice in the freezer because I wasn’t going to need it for about a week.

Separated

The juice and the cherries are separated for their own good.

Then all the cherry corpses went into a jar with some vodka, brandy, and a cinnamon stick. This all got to just hang out for the aforementioned week, getting to know each other and get comfortable.

Infusin'

Just doing its thing, infusing.

I needed a bigger jar, because the fit was a wee bit tight, so I got the biggest jar I could get my hands on at local cocktailing emporium, the Boston Shaker. Otherwise the juice would not be able to rejoin the party!

So I boiled the juice with some sugar:

Juice cookin'

Boiling juice.

and brought it together with its friends in my new, larger jar.

The final infusion

Together again!

That sat for a few more days, and then I strained it, leaving a gorgeous, deep red liquid behind.

Finished Cherry Heering

It’s ALIVE! Okay, not really. But it *is* done!

So how does it stack up to the original? Mr. Menace and I did a little taste test.

Taste Test

Mine on the left, original on the right.

As you can see, the actual Cherry Heering is way thicker. In a surprising twist, it was also quite a bit more fiery – my homemade liqueur was much thinner but also more delicate and less alcohol-tasting. We actually preferred it, overall,  so I completely recommend this experiment. And hey, even if you decide against, that’s no reason not to buy some Heering and whip up some Singapore Slings! My preferred recipe is the Singapore Sling #2 from Gary Regan’s The Joy of Mixology:

2 oz gin
.5 oz Cherry Heering (or your own!)
.25 oz Benedictine
.5 oz triple sec (I am fancy and like to use Cointreau)
2 oz pineapple juice (less fancily, I generally use canned)
.75 oz fresh lime juice
Angostura bitters to taste
club soda

Shake everything except the club soda, because that would explode and your drink and your shirt would be ruined. Strain into an ice-filled Collins glass. Top with the club soda and enjoy! Feel free to throw in a cherry if you’re into that, or a paper umbrella for whimsy.

Magic

I recently purchased the most magical kitchen tool. Actually, to be fair, I purchased several magical kitchen tools, thanks to my parents, who generously gave me a gift certificate to Kitchen Outfitters, a wonderland located in Acton, MA, where all of your dreams come true, if your dreams involve extremely fancy knives and potholders made of silicone. (Full disclosure: said gift certificate was my birthday present two years ago. Sometimes it takes me a long time to get on with things.)

In any case, I bought many wonderful tools, but the one that’s captured my heart is my immersion blender. Also known as a stick blender, this nifty little machine lets you blend, chop, or whip liquids right in the container they’re already in. What’s the big deal about that, you might ask?

Well, it means that with no need to pour things from container to container, it’s considerably easier to make things like pureed soups without pouring boiling chicken stock down your legs. I’d consider that a win.

It’s particularly timely because this year I’ve gotten really into making squash soup. I’ve always liked it, but until recently had never found a recipe I really, really loved for home use. One, with apples, was a bit too sweet. Another, thickened with yogurt, was too tangy. They were all pretty good, but they weren’t that Platonic squash soup of my dreams.

And then I discovered this.

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Squash, en route to being soup.

It’s six ingredients, if you even count salt and pepper, which I barely do. It’s basically extra-mashed cooked squash. How could this be the ultimate squash soup?

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Golden and delicious.

I don’t know, but it manages. It might be the homemade chicken stock. It might be the freshly grated nutmeg. It might be that the squash we have right now is really, really excellent.

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So rich!

Whatever it is, this soup is GOOD. Rich and creamy, sweet and savory, it is everything a squash soup should be. I gussied it up with some bacon and homemade croutons, but it was starting with near perfection, so that was practically gilding the lily.

And I owe it all to my magical immersion blender, without which I’d never have gotten the right texture. So easy, and no mess – thanks mom, dad, and Kitchen Outfitters!