Better than store-bought, this liqueur boasts a caramel flavor that is embellished with toasted spices, almonds and apricots. Not for immediate gratification, this process takes a month to complete but the outcome is well worth it. Toasting the spices and caramelizing the sugar make for a sweet, rich flavor that can’t be beat. Enjoy it in your favorite cocktails and toddies for over the top flavor. Whether you make a bottle to stock your bar or divvy it up for gifting, it is a fun liqueur to make.
Soak the chopped apricots in 1 cup warm water for about 30 minutes to rehydrate.
While the apricots are soaking, toast and grind the spices. Preheat a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the spices and shake gently until they just begin to color but before they begin to smoke. Remove to a mortar & pestle. Allow the spices to cool, it will only take a couple of minutes, and grind them coarsely.
Drain any excess water from the apricots.
In a large jar with a good sealing lid, combine the apricots, toasted spices, apricot kernels, almonds, 1 cup of vodka and all the brandy.
Wait....Let the mixture steep for 25 days.
Strain and squeeze liquid from the mixture first through a sieve lined with cheesecloth and then filter through a paper coffee filter. This is the most labor intensive part of the process but effort here will give you the greatest yield on your liqueur. Press or squeeze the liquid through the cheesecloth first in two or three smaller portions to get the best yield. The strained liquid will be murky and thats okay, you'll get the remaining sediment out on the second round of filtering.
Once the liquid is filtered, make a simple syrup with 1/2 cup turbinado sugar and 1/2 cup water. Bring to a boil and simmer until the sugar is dissolved, 2-3 minutes. Keep warm on low heat.
Next, caramelize the white sugar. Cook the sugar in a heavy sauce pot over medium heat, stirring frequently. The sugar will liquefy into a thick brown liquid. When it is uniformly dissolved, thick and brown like caramel, reduce the heat to low and slowly pour in the warm simple syrup, stirring often to prevent hardening. You may get some small hard buts, but they will dissolve as you continue warming and stirring. Just don't let it harden!
Once the caramel is thick and all the crystals dissolved, pour it into a glass jar or large measuring cup. Add the remaining half cup vodka and allow to cool completely.
Combine the sugar mixture and strained spice/apricot/almond mixture and allow to rest for a few days. The amaretto can be stored at room temperature for about 6 months. It is sol delicious we've never seen it last that long!
We have Marcia Simmons at Serious Eats to thank for this inspired recipe. We modified her method only slightly by toasting the spices and bumping up a couple of the secondary spice flavors. Thanks, Marcia! It’s a winner.
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