Christmas cordials are fast and easy presents to make

October 03, 1990

This year we're starting Christmas Countdown withwith homemade cordials. This was probably our most popular collection of recipes in last year's homemade holiday collection.

Cordials will last indefinitely but need to mellow for at least one week and in some cases longer before drinking.

Dona Meilach, who wrote "Homemade Liqueurs" with her husband Mel, says liqueurs, also known as cordials, almost always make a welcome gift. "They can be used for cooking, to dress-up a plain dessert or enjoyed straight after dinner," she says.

"Homemade Liqueurs" is available for $10.95 plus $2.50 postage and handling. Send your check or money order to Contemporary Books, 180 North Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Ill. 60601.

"A homemade gift is a very personal gift for the recipient but there's also an incredible feeling of satisfaction to know that you can combine ingredients from your kitchen and make something this good," Meilach says.

Also, homemade cordials are much, much cheaper than storebought.

Age cordials in clean glass containers with tight-fitting lids. Package cordials for gift-giving by using new or old bottles. All containers and bottles must be washed with hot soapy water and rinsed thoroughly. Meilach recommends running lids and bottles through the high-heat cycle on your dishwasher. Cap securely with screw-top lids or corks. Corks must be new and can be dipped in melted paraffin before inserting into bottles.

Cordials can be strained through cheesecloth or a finely-meshed sieve and filtered through coffee filters.

` Tart Apple Cordial

1 pound slightly tart eating apples (about 3 average size)

2 cups sugar

2 cloves

Pinch of nutmeg

Sliced and scraped peel of one lime or lemon (be sure the white pith is removed)

2 cups vodka or brandy

Cut ripe apples into eight pieces and remove the cores but do not peel. Place all the ingredients in a tightly-closed jar and set in the sun for several days or until all the sugar has dissolved and been absorbed. Strain and filter. Mature for two to three months.

Recipe will make about three cups.

& -- "Homemade Liqueurs"

Orange Liqueur

3 whole sweet oranges, cut into wedges

1/2 lemon

2 whole cloves

3 cups vodka

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

Place the oranges, lemon, cloves and vodka in a jar. Make sure vodka covers the fruit. Steep ten days, turning and shaking jar gently every few days. Strain and filter.

Boil the water and sugar together until sugar dissolves. Set aside and let cool. Add sugar syrup to orange mixture. Mature for three to four weeks. Makes four cups.

-- "Homemade Liqueurs"

Chocolate Liqueur

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

2 teaspoons pure chocolate extract

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups vodka

Boil water and sugar together until sugar dissolves. Let cool. Mix all ingredients together and let mature for several days.

-- "Homemade Liqueurs"

Frozen Berry Liqueur

1 10-ounce package frozen berries, any kind

1 1/2 cups vodka (or 1 cup vodka and 1/2 cup brandy)

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

Add juice and berries to alcohol. Stir and steep one week. Strain. Crush berries and filter. Taste. Make sugar syrup by boiling water and sugar together until sugar is dissolved. Add to liqueur as needed.

-- "Homemade Liqueurs"

Coffee Liqueur

2 cups water

4 1/2 cups sugar

4 teaspoons instant coffee, ground into a powder (use either a mortar and pestle or pour the coffee into a sturdy saucer and grind down with the back of a spoon)

A few drops of vanilla extract

1 cup brandy

1 cup rum

In a saucepan, combine water, sugar, instant coffee and vanilla. Heat gently, stirring until sugar and coffee have dissolved. Cool. Stir brandy and rum into syrup.

Into a large decanter, pour coffee liqueur. Seal. Store in a cool, dark place -- allow to mellow two to three weeks before using.

' Makes about two quarts.

-- "Gifts from the Pantry" by Annette Grimsdale; HP Books, a division of Price Stern Sloan Inc. -- 1986, $9.95.

Peppermint Liqueur

1 cup water

2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon peppermint extract

1 1/2 cups brandy

About 1/2 teaspoon green food coloring

In a saucepan, combine water and sugar, gently stirring. Heat until sugar dissolves. Cool.

Stir in peppermint extract, brandy and enough food coloring to make the syrup the color of creme de menthe. Pour into a decanter or bottle.

Seal and shake. Store in a cool, dark place -- allow to mellow seven days before using.

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