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Love of Nutella is one of the things that connects us as a species. And while chocolate is fantastic, it's the humble hazelnut that elevates Nutella from delicious to life-changing. That's why I'm surprised that hazelnut liqueur (also called noisette) flies a bit under the radar compared to its nutty cousin amaretto. Hazelnut liqueur has a layered and complex flavor that makes it a treat to sip on its own after dinner or shake up in a cocktail.
What's Available to Buy
Frangelico is the most well-known hazelnut liqueur, and it's easy to find at liquor stores for about $20 a bottle. Hiram Walker, Gaetano, and DeKuyper also make hazelnut liqueurs—they're closer to $10. If you think coffee and hazelnut would make good friends, you'd be right. Kahlua makes an hazelnut version of its liqueur.
While hazelnut liqueur isn't that hard to find, it's still worth it to make your own because the flavor is better. Homemade hazelnut liqueur has a clean nutty flavor that's stronger and more natural-tasting than in its commercial counterparts. And the potential for experimentation in small batches makes it as entertaining as it is delicious. This recipe is a simple mix of flavors but you could really have some fun adding a few herbs and even a little fruit to the mix. Cherries, apricots, mint, or some cacao nibs could make for a whole new hazelnut experience.
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Aside from sipping it straight as an after-dinner treat, a splash or three of homemade hazelnut liqueur makes coffee and hot chocolate more fun. (You can take that idea to the next level with Bacon, Bourbon, and Hazelnut Hot Chocolate or an Alps Coffee.)
Your homemade liqueur is also essential for treats like the Homemade Oreo Blizzard and Spiked Do-si-do Milkshake. And to honor my Nutella inspiration, mix hazelnut liqueur with chocolate liqueur and sparkling wine for a Nutella Champagne Shooter. Your liqueur is also handy in the kitchen, making a great addition to cakes, biscotti, and ice cream.
If you're not craving something quite so sweet, add a touch of hazelnut along with some bitters to Irish whiskey.
About the Author: Marcia Simmons is the co-author of DIY Cocktails: A Simple Guide to Creating Your Own Signature Drinks. She also shares cocktail recipes and tips on the DIY Cocktails blog and on Twitter @DIYCocktails.