I've recently made coffee liqueur, walnut liqueur, cranberry liqueur, and a few others. And I've been brainstorming about what else I might make. I've looked in the spice cabinet and in the refrigerator, and it's something I think about when I'm at the grocery store.
When I was shopping for some cookie supplies, I grabbed some hazelnuts, and the liqueur lightbulb lit. I've bought hazelnut liqueur. Why not make my own?
I was really happy with this one.
It's nice on its own, or next to a cup of coffee (or in the coffee).
Toasted Hazelnut Liqueur
1/2 cup hazelnuts
3 vanilla beans
2 cups vodka
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
Toast the hazelnuts lightly in a skillet or on a baking sheet in the oven at 325 degrees, watching them carefully and stirring them as needed. You want them just lightly browned - if they burn, they'll become bitter.
Chop the hazelnuts into small pieces - about the size of grains of rice. You can do this by hand, or in a food processor, but if you use a food processor, make sure you don't turn them into a nut butter.
Put the chopped hazelnuts into a quart jar with a tight-fitting lid. A canning jar is perfect.
Split the vanilla beans lengthwise and add them to the jar.
When you're ready to bottle your drink first strain it though a fine-mesh strainer. Next play a paper towel in the strainer, and strain again to remove fine bits. If you want a clear liquid, strain again, this time through a coffee filter. Don't be tempted to go directly to the coffee filter after straining out the larger bits - the fine bits will gum up the coffee filter and it will take a loooong time to strain.
Use your home-made liqueur in any cocktail where you'd use a commercial hazelnut liqueur.