The Art of Darkness

Cooking with Absinthe

April 29th, 2009 by Cobwebs

Absinthe PosterThe ban on absinthe was recently lifted here in the U.S., so many folks drawn to its romantic and checkered reputation have been sampling it. If you get tired of sipping it neat, there are loads of mixed-drink recipes that use it (see here, here, here, here, here, and here). And if you get tired of drinking it, you can cook with it.

Absinthe has a flavor profile similar to Pernod, so you can substitute one for the other in recipes; seafood, in particular, pairs well with either. Try Salmon with Pernod or Scampi Rockefeller, serve mussels (or snails!) in Escargot Butter, or soak just about any shellfish in Marseilles Marinade.

You can make absinthe-tinged dinner rolls, panettone, or these great absinthe cupcakes (with “green fairy” icing). An absinthe jelly (similar to a wine jelly) or an absinthe and pear sorbet are also possibilities.

If those all sound like too much work, there’s also the easy and pretty much entirely foolproof bread pudding:

2 eggs
2 Tbsp butter, melted and cooled
1 Tbsp vanilla
2 1/2 C whole milk
2 C sugar
3 1/2 to 5 C egg bread (such as challah or brioche), cut into 1-inch cubes

Preheat oven to 325 F. Generously butter a 9″ baking dish. Pack bread cubes into dish (pack firmly, but don’t squish them), trying to keep the top layer mostly crust-side up. Whisk together eggs, butter, vanilla, and milk. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. Pour over the bread cubes, making sure all of them get some moisture. Bake for 55 to 70 minutes, or until crust is golden brown all over the top.

While the bread pudding is baking, make the Absinthe Sauce:
1/2 C sugar
1/2 C (1 stick) butter
1/2 C cream
1/4 C absinthe

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Stir constantly over low heat until mixture reaches a simmer. Pour some over the top of each serving of pudding.

Get creative! A dinner party which featured absinthe-tinged dishes in each course might be an interesting entertaining option (although you’d want to make sure not to overwhelm your guests with a single monolithic flavor), and adding a splash or two to any complementary-flavored dish will perk it up a bit.

And if you’re tired of sitting in a gloomy corner, staring moodily into a glass of absinthe, you can stare moodily into a bowl of bread pudding instead. Either way, you win.

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