I recently returned from Mexico where I attended my abuelita’s funeral. She was buried on diez y seis de Septiembre surrounded by all her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Mariachis played all her favorite songs as we laid her to rest. The service was beautiful.
A few days after the funeral I found myself thinking of her and how she used to sip tiny glasses of cordial during the holidays. It’s nowhere near the holidays but, next month is Day of the Dead where we celebrate our loved ones we have lost and rejoice in the sweet memories we have of them. I couldn’t think of a better way to honor, celebrate and feel her presence than to make a batch of homemade cordial.
I had bookmarked this Rachael Ray recipe a few weeks prior to her passing, funny how that happens. Life always seems to present you with exactly what your heart needs. I was drawn to the simplicity of the recipe and imagined how dreamy the house would smell. I did want to add a little twist to the recipe, a slight tang from hibiscus I thought would pair nicely with the blackberries and brandy. And it does.
I’m made a double batch using all the juicy blackberries I froze in the summer. The recipe states the cordial can be refrigerated for up to one month which I thought was perfect since I plan to pour this vibrant elixir into tiny bottles to give out to family members.
I’ll be sipping this blackberry-cordial all throughout the holiday season as I think of my abuelita.
- 6 cups blackberries, frozen, thawed
- 1 cup dried hibiscus
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 lemon, zested in strips
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1 1/4 cups brandy
- In large bowl, crush berries, hibiscus and sugar with potato masher. Add to lined slow cooker and stir in 1 qt. water, bay leaf and lemon zest. Cover and cook over low heat for 2 1/2 hours. Stir, increase heat to high and cook for 1 1/2 hours. Strain through fine-mesh sieve without pressing on berries. Stir in honey into blackberry-hibiscus juice and let cool. Stir in brandy. Refrigerate up to 1 month.