Absinthe Alcohol was invented in 1797 by Dr. Pierre Ordinaire. It is an anise-flavoured spirit derived from herbs, including the flowers and leaves of the herb Artemisia absinthium, commonly referred to as “grande wormwood”, together with green anise and sweet fennel. By the 1800′s it quickly became one of Europe’s most popular alcoholic drinks. It is very bitter (due to the presence of absinthin) and is therefore traditionally poured over a perforated spoonful of sugar into a glass of water. The drink then turns into an opaque white as the essential oils precipitate out of the alcoholic solution.
Although it is sometimes mistakenly called a liqueur, absinthe is not bottled with added sugar and is therefore classified as a spirit. Absinthe has a very high level of alcohol by volume but is normally diluted with water when consumed. Authors and artists such as Van Gogh were proponents for using the alcohol to induce creativity and its popularity soared.
CHOW.com has a fascinating interview with Lance Winters of St. George Spirits discussing this historic drink. Watch:
I was curious to see what kind of non-drink recipes I could find that used absinthe. Not surprisingly they are all sweets, using the sugar to balance the bitterness of the spirit.
For the cake:
1 1/4 teaspoon anise seeds
1 1/4 cup (175g) cake flour
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (65 gr) pistachio or almond meal or (1/2 cup (70g) stoneground yellow cornmeal)
2 teaspoons baking powder (preferably Rumford)
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (105 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/4 cup (60 ml) whole milk
1/4 cup (60 ml) Absinthe
1 orange, preferably unsprayed
For the Absinthe glaze:
1/4 cup (25 g) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (60 ml) Absinthe
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (175 C). Butter a 9-inch loaf pan, then line the bottom with parchment paper.
2. In a mortar and pestle or spice mill, grind the anise seeds until relatively fine. Whisk together the cake flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, and anise seeds. Set aside.
3. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, or by hand, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, until they’re completely incorporated.
4. Mix together the milk and Absinthe with a few swipes of grated orange zest.
5. Stir half of the dry ingredients into the beaten butter, then the milk and Absinthe mixture.
6. By hand, stir in the other half of the dry ingredients until just smooth (do not overmix). Smooth the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for about 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
7. Remove the cake from the oven and let cool 30 minutes.
8. To glaze the cake with Absinthe, use a toothpick and poke 50 holes in the cake. In a small bowl, gently stir together the 1/4 cup (25 g) sugar, and 1/4 cup (60 ml) of Absinthe until just mixed. (You can add a bit of orange zest here if you’d like too.) Be sure not to let the sugar dissolve too much!
9. Remove the cake from the loaf pan, peel off the parchment paper, and set the cake on a cooling rack over a baking sheet.
10. Spoon some of the Absinthe glaze over the top and sides of the cake, allowing it to soak the top and spill down the sides a bit. Continue until all the glaze is used up.
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup absinthe
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cloves, and salt.
3. In a large bowl, beat together sugar and olive oil until combined. Add absinthe and beat until combined. Add flour mixture and beat until a dough forms. Dough may be slightly crumbly, but you should be able to press it together easily in your hands.
4. Roll dough into 24 walnut-sized balls. Place sesame seeds in a shallow bowl. Dip the top of each ball in sesame seeds. Place cookies on prepared baking sheet.
5. Bake cookies until dry and slightly golden, about 20 minutes.
1 cup of stale bread cubes
1 cup chocolate bread (stale cake can be used as a substitute)
1 egg, beaten
2 cups milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons absinthe
1. Preheat oven to 350°F
2. Break or cut stale cake into cubes
3. Mix egg, milk, sugar, vanilla and most important of all Absente and pour over over the bread that’s been cut or broken.
4. Butter an 8 X 8 baking dish, pour in mixture and dot with butter.
5. Bake at 350 in oven for 30 minutes
6. Serve warm or cold with heavy cream or be creative
6 pints fresh strawberries, cleaned and hulled
1 pint fresh blueberries, cleaned and drained
6 cups granulated sugar, superfine if you have it
4 tablespoons of Absynthe
3 whole star anise pods
1 slightly unripe golden delicious apple, peeled and diced to 1/8 inch
1. Cut the strawberries into small pieces and place in large heavy pan
2. Cover the berries with the sugar and toss to mix
3. Add the Pernod and Star Anise, and toss again
4. Let set for about 5 minutes
5. Over medium heat, bring up to a boil, stirring constantly
6. Add the apple cubes and blueberry and continue to cook
7. Use an insta-read or candy thermometer – remove from heat 220 degrees
8. Skim off foam and remove the star anise pods
9. Ladle into hot jars, clean rims carefully, lid up and process in hot water bath for 10 minutes.
10. Cool jars, and place any that don’t seal in refrigerator for immediate use
1 cup (250ml) whole milk
A pinch of salt
2/3 cup (130g) sugar
2 cups (500ml) heavy cream or half-and-half
5 large egg yolks
3-4 tablespoons absinthe
about 1 1/2 cups chopped chocolate truffles, or chocolate chips
1. Heat the milk, salt, and sugar in a saucepan.
2. Set up an ice bath by placing a 2-quart (2l) bowl in a larger bowl partially filled with ice and water. Set a strainer over the top of the smaller bowl and pour the cream or half-and-half into the bowl.
3. In a separate bowl, stir together the egg yolks. Rewarm the milk then gradually pour some of the milk into the yolks, whisking constantly as you pour. Scrape the warmed yolks and milk back into the saucepan.
4. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom with a heat-resistant spatula, until the custard thickens enough to coat the spatula.
5. Strain the custard into the cream or half-and-half. Stir over the ice until cool, then refrigerate to chill thoroughly. Preferably overnight.
6. Stir in 3 tablespoons of absinthe. Taste, and add another one if desired.
7. Freeze the custard in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Once churned, stir in the chopped chocolate bits.
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon zest
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup Absinthe
1. Heat cream, milk, sugar and lemon rind in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook 6 minutes or until little bubbles form around edges (scald)
2. Cover and chill 3 hours or until cold (or place over an ice bath and stir until cold).
3. Gradually whisk lemon juice and Absinthe into cream mixture
4. Freeze in an ice cream freezer according to manufacturer’s directions.
5. Place sherbet in a freezer-safe container. Freeze 8 hours or until firm. Yield: about 4 1/2 cups.
1 cup heavy cream
2/3 cup whole milk
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon unflavored powdered gelatin dissolved in 2 tablespoons of water
1 1/2 tablespoons absinthe
Fresh berries, for serving
1. In a medium saucepan, combine the cream, milk and sugar and bring to a simmer. Off the heat, whisk in the gelatin and absinthe.
2. Strain the mixture into a pitcher and pour into six 4-ounce ramekins or bowls. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the puddings and refrigerate until set, at least 6 hours. Serve with fresh berries.