Chamomile Cordial

This morning I am a guest on Terri Trespicio’s show on Martha Stewart Radio – Whole Living. I love coming on the show. Terri is a firecracker and I always have fun. Today we are talking about homemade holiday food gifts and cordials are one of my absolute favorites to make and give.

Cordials are essentially sweetened syrups infused with herbs, spice or plants. They are simple to make and offer a wide range of flavors and essences to anyone willing to experiment. Cordials offer a perfect solution for a non-alcoholic ‘cocktail’ that is nothing short of grown up. For this syrup, you can use either fresh or dried chamomile flower heads. Chamomile is a dainty little white flower that has a tendency to prosper and spread amongst garden beds, cracks in the sidewalk and anywhere else it can take hold. Known for its medicinal properties (and ability to soothe), the sweet flavor from the flower heads also makes for a gentle summer drink. Add some syrup to some fizzy water and serve over crushed ice. If you want to go for gold, add a splash of cognac – its gentle flavor won’t overpower the floral note. This syrup is also delicious brushed onto a simple yellow or buttermilk cake.

CHAMOMILE CORDIAL

by Amy Pennington
Makes about 2 cups | start to finish: 30 minutes

2 tablespoons dried chamomile flowers (or 1 tablespoon fresh chamomile flower heads)
2 cups boiled water
1/4 cup honey

Add chamomile flowers to muslin steeping bag or fine mesh tea strainer. (Chamomile seeds are quite small and thin, so be sure to use fine mesh so they don’t escape and float in your syrup.) Steep in boiled water until liquid is stained yellow and perfumed, about 20 minutes. Press any reserved liquid out from the muslin bag and discard the solids. Add the honey, and stir until dissolved. Keep in the refrigerator until cool.

Once cooled, completely, add crushed ice to a glass. Pour in about 1/2 cup of the chamomile cordial and top with equal parts seltzer water. Garnish with a thin slice of cucumber to fancy it up. If you like, add a float of cognac and serve immediately.

Store cordial in a clean jar or bottle, covered, in the fridge where it will last for several weeks.