Raisins: You either loved them or hated them when growing up, but everyone can agree that they're fodder for children. You'd never catch a self-respecting adult snacking on a shriveled grape, even one covered in chocolate or yogurt, right? Not so fast, because there's a trick to putting a little plump back into raisins that is decidedly not kid-friendly. For a bit of kick, give them a bath in whiskey.
Sure, raisins can be rehydrated in almost any liquid, but whiskey proves an apt accompaniment to their deep, aged, almost-caramelized sweetness. Whiskey itself, and especially bourbon, is full of caramel and vanilla notes with a smooth sweetness, and the end product is a firm, yet yielding raisin that is still intensely-sugary, but pleasantly balanced with a bit of burn and layers of warm flavors. Simply combine dark raisins with whiskey in a clean jar and store them in a cupboard for a few days to macerate, shaking the jar every so often.
Whiskey-soaked raisins can be employed in a number of ways; perhaps most obviously as an additive to fruitcake. The notorious, spiced dessert is about as divisive as raisins are, but that's mainly due to the poor, mass-produced varieties that cropped up in the last century. Done properly, this cake, redolent with baking spices, dried fruits, and itself soaked in alcohol, is a perfect winter warmer, and whiskey-soaked raisins find a happy home therein.
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The Wide World Of Whiskey... And Other Spirits
Whiskey is, of course, no monolith. Varieties abound across the states and overseas, each with its own unique makeup, aging process, and flavor profile. Choosing the right whiskey in which to soak your raisins is dependent on what you want the final outcome to be and how you intend to use them. Rye whiskey, for example, known for its sharp, spiced, grassy nature, imparts a distinct character. Where bourbon is round and creamy in its flavor profile, rye offers more edges, making it a favorite for mixologists. A skewered rye-soaked raisin or three would make an ideal garnish for a wintery rye-based old fashioned.
With Scotch whisky, complexity reigns supreme. The peaty and smoky nuances of Scotch whisky infuse the raisins with a robust, earthy character. The result is a sophisticated treat that appeals to the connoisseur's palate, and would work well paired with bold cheeses and candied nuts.
Venturing beyond the realm of whiskey opens up new possibilities for flavor exploration. Rum introduces a tropical, molasses flair, brandy adds a smooth fruitiness, and Cognac brings an elegant warmth. In addition to spirits, cloves, cinnamon sticks, citrus peels, and other flavoring agents can be used to add even more flavor to raisins. Find the right combination of flavors, whiskey, and raisins that works for you, and enjoy an adult take on a childhood classic.
Read the original article on Tasting Table.