First off, let me say that the websites which say that blanching almonds is as easy as…
Place almonds in a bowl.
Pour boiling water to barely cover almonds.
Let the almonds sit for 1 minute and no longer.
Drain, rinse under cold water, and drain again.
Pat dry and slip the skins off.
…are lying. Sure, maybe the skins of 1 in 10 almonds will “slip off,” but based on the last hour I have spent taking the skins off of 1/2 pound of almonds, painstakingly, with my fingernails, this is optimistic at best.
1/2 pound raw almonds, preferably blanched
(1/2 oz Apricot Kernels, optional, blanched)
1/4 Cup Cognac or Brandy
1 tsp. Orange Flower Water
To make the cocktail ingredient called “Orgeat” you first make almond milk, and then use that almond milk to make syrup. You add sugar, about equal parts by volume, and boil until it reaches “syrup” stage or around 235 degrees Fahrenheit.
Almond milk is made in a similar way to coconut milk. I can’t quite decide if cracking a coconut, separating it from the brown skin, and grating it is less or more work than peeling almonds. It’s kind of a half a dozen of one, six of another kind of thing. Less coconuts, but difficult to find shelled coconut meat. I can say with a large degree of certainty, that you do not want to start with almonds in the shell, unless you are truly a masochist.
So you have a half pound of raw almonds which you have blanched and peeled or, if you were smart, you bought blanched and peeled. Then you put them in a blender or food processor and turn them into crushed almonds. Careful not to make butter here. Add 1 1/2 cups water, and continue processing. Let this sit for about an hour. Then you put them in a cheesecloth or nylon preserves straining bag and squeeze as much liquid as you can possibly get out of them. If you’re particular, you will then put the squeezed almonds back in the liquid, soak for another hour and repeat. Maybe even do this one more time.
Then measure the almond milk and put it on the stove. Add about an equal amount of sugar by volume, and heat until it reaches 235 degrees.
Mine looked like this when I pulled it off the stove. I didn’t really seem to have enough volume to get an accurate read from the candy thermometer, so I think I have something between almond syrup and almond fudge. Oops. Hey you can always add water back in. Damn, is it tasty though. Cool the almond syrup, add a quarter cup cognac (or brandy) and a teaspoon of orange flower water and you’re done. Stored in the fridge a syrup like this should keep fairly well for a month or so, as long as you don’t double dip.
It really is a fair amount of work, probably 2 hours minimum, but in the end you’ll have something so far exceeding the so-called orgeat from Fee’s, Monin, or Torani that you’ll kind of wonder why you had been paying money for them.
Acknowledgments: This is based on recipes published in this topic on eGullet, Orgeat. Special thanks to Jennifer Colliau at the Slanted Door for giving me a taste of her version of Orgeat, enlightening me to how much better the house made stuff could be.