Make Your Own Homemade Hazelnut Extract
Hazelnut extract is a versatile and flavorful cooking ingredient popularly used in desserts but it also makes a great addition to salad dressings or sauces. This extract is derived from the nut of the hazel tree and can provide health benefits in addition to a warm, comforting essence. Hazelnuts can be quite costly, not to mention difficult to find out of season. The good news is that you can still capture that smooth, toasted nutty flavor in your cooking without spending a small fortune on pure extract. This can be done by creating your own hazelnut extract at home.
Making Hazelnut Extract at Home
Don’t let the idea of creating your own extract scare you. The process is really easy and the amount of extract you can produce in one session will be worth much more than the cost of ingredients! The ingredients you need to make a simple extract are a half cup of hazelnuts (without the shell), a cup of brandy, and a bottle with a lid. You may find that hazelnuts are readily available—and much cheaper—to purchase during the Christmas season. If you want to make several bottles of extract to last throughout the year, consider buying the hazelnuts in bulk during this time and making a large batch.
Simple Hazelnut Extract
Start by pouring the hazelnuts into a skillet set to a medium-low heat. Allow the hazelnuts to toast for five or six minutes, or until they are browned but not blackened. Blackened hazelnuts will add a burned flavor to the extract, so discard any that burn during the toasting process. Move the hazelnuts to a plate or paper towel and allow them to cool. Once the hazelnuts have cooled, chop them into medium-sized pieces and put them into the bottle. Pour the brandy over the nuts and seal the bottle with the lid. This concoction should be allowed to sit for at least four weeks before the lid is removed. This allows the brandy time to absorb the essence of the nuts. When using homemade hazelnut extract, be sure to strain the fluid as you pour to prevent the pieces of hazelnuts from ending up in your food.
Creamy Vanilla Hazelnut Extract
The traditional extract is nice for varied and savory uses as well as cookies, cakes, and ice cream, but if you really want a creamy, sweet extract then this is the recipe to use! You will need half a cup of hazelnuts (without the shells), three quarters cup of vodka, one vanilla bean, half a cup of granulated sugar, a quarter cup of water, and a jar with a lid.
Start by toasting the hazelnuts. You can do this using the skillet method mentioned above or by baking them in a 350 degree oven for about ten minutes (or until brown). Next, chop the hazelnuts into medium-sized pieces and pour them into the jar. Pour the vodka over the hazelnuts, then scrape the inside of the vanilla bean out. Add the scrapings as well as the “case” of the vanilla bean into the jar. Replace the lid and store the mixture for about four weeks. After this time, strain the extract liquid from the bottle using a sieve to remove the hazelnuts. Next, mix the water and sugar together in a pot and bring it to a boil. This will thicken to produce a syrup, so take care to stir the mixture frequently. When the syrup is boiling, pour it back into the bottle, along with the extract liquid. Mix well and replace the cap. Store the mixture either at room temperature or in the refrigerator.