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Alternatives for Liqueurs in Desserts

Asked by newbornangel. Answered on 19th June 2011

Full question

i wondered if there is an alternate substance to use instead of liquer in desserts like tiramisu and certain ice creams as I don't use alcohol at all. I don't want to miss out on the opportunity of making delicious desserts just because i dont have an alternative. Please help with suggestions.

Hi! I'm from Pakistan and don't have access to liquor or any alcoholic drink really, but Nigella's Chestnut Chocopots from the Christmas book (p98) that I've bought look so scrumptious I was wondering if they would turn out fine if I didn't add the rum or if there was any substitute I could use instead. Thank you! Shezatiq.

Our answer

For desserts with liqueurs it is usually possible to omit the liqueur without massively changing the final dessert, as the liqueur usually just adds an extra subtle flavour. The main exception is in frozen desserts, such as ice cream and sorbets, where the alcohol affects the way the dessert freezes. As alcohol freezes at a significantly lower temperature than water-based liquids they care added to things like ice cream to help them stay slightly soft after they are frozen. You can omit the alcohol but you may find that the ice cream without liqueur is slightly more solid and icy than one with. For jellies (gelatins) made with wines, or with added alcohol, we would not recommend substitutions as the alcohol also affects the setting quality of the jelly. Taking out the alcohol could lead to the resulting dessert being unpalatably firm.

For tiramisu you can just make up the lost liquid with extra coffee and if you are making something like a trifle, then try sprinkling a similarly flavoured fruit juice over the sponge base instead - for example for orange liqueurs use orange juice, for kirsch use cherry juice or syrup from a tin of cherries, for amaretto use apricot juice. For rum you could try using a few drops of rum flavouring and for amaretto (where it is mixed in as an ingredient) or Frangelico you can use a few drops of almond flavouring.

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