Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Juniper Berries, a taste of the forest.

I enjoy the flavor of these gingerbread cookies with juniper berry glaze and their festive winter look. I use a recipe from Epicurious for the cookies and glaze but if you have a favorite gingerbread recipe you could use that and just add this glaze. 

For the glaze:
3/4 cup half and half
1/3 cup juniper berries
1 pound powdered sugar

* If you want to color the glaze, you'll need food coloring and if you want to decorate your cookies then you'll also need whatever colored sugar or candies etc. you want to use to decorate, since the juniper flavor lends itself well to gingerbread trees I chose to add green food coloring and use green decorating sugar. 

Lightly crush the berries and add to half and half in a pot on the stove, bring to a simmer, remove from heat and chill for 5 hours. Strain. Add the flavored half and half to the powdered sugar a bit at a time and whisk until the glaze is smooth and spreadable. Frost and decorate cookies then allow to sit out until glaze sets before storing. 

If you're looking for a festive mocktail try making virgin gin. I found a recipe for it from the Seattle Times that I tried.  

4 cups of water
1 Tablespoon juniper berries
zest from 1 orange
zest from 1 lemon (you'll also use the juice)
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
12 cardamom pods
1 teaspoon coriander seeds

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

Put the water in a pan, cover and bring to a boil. Add all the ingredients except the sugar and lemon juice. Simmer for 10 minutes. Strain. 
Whisk in sugar and lemon juice. When sugar is dissolved, you can put the "gin" in a jar and keep refrigerated. 

If you prefer some alcohol with your juniper you can try out a tincture or the recipe I tried can also be used to make a simple syrup.

3/4 ounce crushed juniper berries
1 teaspoon lavender flowers
1/2 cup neutral grain spirit, I had schoharie shine on hand which I wasn't a huge fan of on it's own so I used it for this tincture

Put all 3 ingredients in a mason jar, screw the lid on tightly and shake. Store in a dark place in your kitchen and shake daily for a week. Then strain. Add tincture by the drop to your drinks for added flavor.

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