Frangelico is yet another popular liqueur that I love in theory, but always have trouble with how sweet it is. Hazelnuts are sweet enough on their own thanks. Thankfully, infusology gives us an alternative.
Step 1: Get some hazelnuts
Trader Joes sells them for a very reasonable price. We only need 1 cup for this infusion (unless you double up) but thankfully hazelnuts freeze well in an air-tight container. Look for the freshest hazelnuts you can, and steer clear of pre-chopped varieties. Like spices, the more processed the product is the more essential oils escape–that’s where the flavor is.
Step 2: Smash some hazelnuts
In my almond infusion, I recommended a light chop chop using a food processor or blender. However, hazelnuts are softer and oilier, which makes them mush well. This has two advantages: you squeeze out more of the essential oils, enhancing and accelerating the infusing process, and smashing keeps the pieces larges, which prevents nut-sludge that becomes next to impossible to strain out. My preferred method is to take 5-15 nuts and place them between two cutting boards. A cast iron skillet also works, but mine are never clean enough to even consider such applications.
Step 3: Add smush to jar
This is what 1 cup of smashed hazelnuts look like in a 1 quart jar. You can also add a half a vanilla bean and even an inch or so of cinnamon stick if you want.
Step 4: Infuse it!
For 1 cup of hazelnuts, add 3 cups of vodka. Shake the jar well and store in a cool, dark place for at least a month. Like the almond infusion, more time would be even better. During the process, give it a shake whenever you think about it, at least once a week is great.
Step 5: When ready, strain and en-joy
This is just after 5 weeks–a rich, dark infusion. To strain, follow the same instructions from the almond infusion and you’ll be fine–using the smashing process, this is quite a bit easier. I simply used coffee filters (replacing it twice when the straining slowed down).
I haven’t experimented thoroughly with the results just yet. Any frangelico-based drink should be great with this (though much less sweet so add some simple syrup to your preference). I’ll report on my adventures soon, but feel free to share some ideas!