I know it’s first thing in the morning. But I want to talk about booze. No, not vodka, not tequila, and not gin. Something sweeter and nuttier. Maybe more like breakfast? Or really, dessert. It’s Frangelico, a hazelnut-flavored liquor that’s about to take my chocolate mousse to the next level.
But first, let’s go way back.
Years ago, I interned in the test kitchen of a famous food personality. As the only non-professional chef in the kitchen, I spent my days feeling like Amelia Bedelia, pouring salt in the sugar jar and spilling sugar on the floor.
Now, there is a lot of know-how involved in being a home cook, like understanding how to improvise meals from an empty pantry or what it means to stretch dinner to feed double the number of guests intended (hint: add potatoes), but not knowing how to handle a hazelnut is one of the downfalls of never having earned a culinary degree.
One quiet afternoon in the test kitchen, we were testing recipes and a chef handed me some extra pie dough to play with. With the freedom to fill my pie crust with any of the kitchen’s gourmet wonders, I kicked around ideas, finally deciding on a chocolate mousse filling with hazelnuts. The crust baked up fine, and the mousse set. Feeling good, I toasted the hazelnuts, failed to remove their papery skins, scattered them across my tart, offered slices around the kitchen, and drooped home after the entire test kitchen staff declined to taste my tart.
“You know you have to remove the skins before you serve them?” the head chef finally said.
Obviously I hadn’t known. Right then I knew, though. Lesson learned.
So when I got the chance to work with Frangelico, a hazelnut-flavored liquor, I knew my recipe was going to be the story not just of hazelnut liqueur but of redemption. Make that crustless redemption.