First off, what the heck is a ratafia? (The short answer is a really, really yummy drink, but that probably doesn’t help much.)
Merriam Webster defines a ratafia as “a liqueur made from an infusion of macerated fruit or fruit juice in a liquor (as brandy) and often flavored with almonds.”
Now, this recipe doesn’t have almonds in it, but the cracked peach kernels give a remarkably almond-y flavor. The kernel is the tiny little nugget inside the peach pit. Oddly enough, it’s kind of almond shaped. Peach-kernel oil is also used as an ingredient in some cosmetics and lotions.
One note about making your own cordials: Always start with a base liquor that you like. Whatever you add to it will change its flavor, but won’t improve the basic quality of the booze you use.
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup water
3 cups sliced, peeled peaches (you’ll need about 1.5-2 lbs. of whole fruit)
peach pits from the peaches you use
1/8 tsp. ground mace or nutmeg
1 quart brandy or vodka
For this recipe, you’ll need a jar big enough to hold both the alcohol and the fruit you add to it. Before you get going, wash your jar out and rinse it with boiling water to sterilize it.
Start by making a sugar syrup with the white sugar, brown sugar, and water. Combine them all, then simmer it on the stove until the sugars are totally dissolved. Set aside to cool.
Next, crack the peach pits open and remove the kernels. This is the only part of the pit you’ll be using, so you can toss the rest. I do this by putting the pits in a zip-top bag one at a time and hitting them with a hammer or rolling pin.
Now it’s time to assemble your Ratafia. Add your fruit to the jar, then pour the cooled sugar syrup over it. Sprinkle in the nutmeg or mace (whichever you like better) and pour in your bottle of brandy or vodka. Swish the container around to combine everything, then cover tightly with plastic wrap.
Let your Ratafia sit for at least a month in a cool, dark place. Swish the container every once in a while to stir things up. I start tasting after about 3 weeks. When you like the flavor, strain and bottle in sterilized bottles or jars.