It tastes so delicious, even by itself on a spoon. It’s the taste of almond and orange, all at one time. It goes well in cocktails, makes delicious coffee drinks, and enriches the flavor of desserts. Praise be to God for the modern version, for the original version of this most delectable orgeat syrup, made from barley, was hardly gluten-free. The name of the syrup, orgeat (pronounced ohrzhat), harkens to its grain-based origin. Orgeat derives from the French word for barley, orge, from Latin hordeum, for barley. During the Middle-Ages, when milk was in short supply and didn’t keep well in the absence of refrigeration, people used sweetened barley to make a milk substitute. Over time, almonds were added to the barley milk to improve the taste of the beverage; eventually almonds replaced the barley altogether and orange or rose waters were added. Now commercially produced orgeat syrup is widely available and although some brands of orgeat syrup contain almonds or almond extract only, most brands of orgeat contain orange blossom or rose water as well. Orgeat can be made easily at home as well. Many recipes for home-made orgeat can be found online.
The most popular use for orgeat is for crafting cocktails. It’s an absolute necessity as an ingredient for cocktails such as the original Trader Vic’s Mai Tai and the Japanese Cocktail. I’m not much into cocktails, but I do love the flavor of orgeat. I love to put it in coffee, and I love to use it for desserts. The lovely combination of almond and orange flavors wed beautifully with chocolate, of course, so I love to use orgeat in desserts, such as this incredibly simple, amazing orgeat chocolate meringue torte. Meringue has a reputation for being finicky, but it’s actually pretty easy to make and pretty hearty. A general rule of thumb for stabilizing meringue is to add a little acid in the form of cream of tartar, lemon juice, or vinegar. Another general rule is to add sugar gradually after the egg whites become foamy, about a tablespoon at a time, as the egg whites are beaten into stiff peaks. The acid and any flavoring added to the meringue should be added before the whites are beaten.