Make Your Own: Irish Cream Liqueur

irishcreamI’m going to save you a lot of time.  The post on making your own Irish Cream on The Modern Proper has some beautiful photos, the recipe itself is solid, but skip the post itself.  It’s long winded and kind of pompous.  I don’t know what else you would expect from something called The Modern Proper so give it a +1 for meeting expectations.

The basic elements here are actually frighteningly similar to the crema limoncello I made for Christmas 2013.

The core of the idea is that milk can be made semi-stable if you add enough sugar to the process.  In the case of Irish cream you can save some time by buying a can of sweetened condensed milk or you can have some control over the sugar/fat content by making your own.  Additionally the fat content of the cream will help to prevent the mixture from curdling.

Condensed milk is really just simple syrup where you have substituted milk for the water. You do want to make sure that you don’t over-heat the milk or it will scorch.  Additionally once you add the sugar you’ll want to keep the heat low or you’ll start to caramelize and again ruin the flavor.

200 g sugar
200 ml 1% milk
1 tsp dutch process cocoa powder
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cold press coffee concentrate (or 1 Tbsp bottled cold press)
1 cup Irish Whisky
1 cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp cream of coconut

This is slightly more complicated than Modern Proper’s version.  For one thing I’m going slightly less off the shelf and with a bit more than just a blender.

Place milk in a small saucepan and bring it up to boil using a medium heat.  Immediately reduce heat and slowly combine sugar and cocoa powder until they are fully dissolved.

Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.  Stir in vanilla and coffee concentrate.  When fully combined move to a mixing bowl (preferably with a pour spout), using stand mixer or hand mixer whip cream and cream of coconut until mixture is frothy.

Lastly, add whisky slowly while whisking or stirring constantly.  This is important.  Whiskey is very acidic compared to milk and the change in Ph is the primary reason that milk curdles.  The fat content of the milk and cream will help to buffer this until the mixture is fully combined but you don’t want to dump the whole cup of whisky in all at the same time.  You can read more about the process here.

Place in air tight bottles and refrigerate.  It doesn’t really need it because of the alcohol content but it will last longer.

If by some miracle the mixture does curdle all is not lost.  Curdles in your product may be texturally undesirable but they do not mean that the milk has spoiled.  Milk curdles on its own because it turns more acid as it ages.  You might have to drink your own failure but it will still be potable.

The result will likely be a bit thinner than you are used to from commercial products unless you either double down on the sugar content or reduce the milk more than you would otherwise.  Using heavy cream won’t really thicken the product much but it will change the texture.

 

Mint Chocolate Syrup in Use: Oregon Grasshopper Shot

IMG_1238The mint chocolate syrup that I produced a couple of days ago has had a chance to cool.  The time has also allowed the flavors a chance to marry, blend and mellow a bit.

Mint and chocolate have a long tradition together and none of the cocktails I can think of so perfectly exemplifies their happy union better than the grasshopper.

Normally a grasshopper is the combination of creme de menthe, creme de cacao and cream.  A simple drink with no strong alcohol, it is also sometimes the standard bearer for fluffy drinks.  Only recently dethroned by the Apple-tini it still has a lot to offer.

Since we’ve already got both the chocolate and the mint covered with the syrup we don’t need to include either of the primary ingredients.  But to keep this as simple as the original we can keep it down to three ingredients.

 

0.5 oz Frangelico Hazelnut Liqueur
0.5 oz Irish Cream Liqueur
0.5 oz Chocolate Mint syrup

pour in order and give the glass a small swirl to mix.

In this case we’re making a shot, which will allow the concentrated flavors to hit all at once.  In a larger glass you could use 1.5 oz of irish cream and 1 oz of the Frangelico.  Keep the chocolate mint the same but put a small amount in your glass to coat the sides before you shake and strain.

I call this an Oregon grasshopper because the Hazelnut is a pretty signature Oregon flavor, but overall this is an excellent shot with a lot of high and low notes.  The menthol sensation at the top of the mouth on the back and the solid umame of hazlenut.

Mudder’s Milk Part 5: Big Damn Heroes

To Recap:
Mudders Milk 1 : Where I aim to misbehave
Mudders Milk 2: Mighty fine shindig
Mudders Milk 3: Too Pretty to Die
Mudders Milk 4: Coming to a middle

I think this is going to be our final installment.  With enough experimentation I’ve gotten this to the point where it can be reproduced consistently every time.

Start with 1/3 cup of rolled oatmeal.  Using a food processor blend the oats until you’ve got the whole thing to a flour like consistency.

You can do as much as you want and keep it in a storage container but 1/3 cup is about as much as you need for a single serving.

Put the oat flour into a small resealable container with slightly more than 1/3 cup of water.   Add to the mix about a tablespoon of cinnamon, fresh grated nutmeg, and ground allspice.  Mix the oats well and place the sealed container in the fridge overnight.

While the oats are soaking we prep the apples.  Take a whole apple, peel, core and dice finely.  To the apples add a similar amount of cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice.  Add about a tablespoon of granulated sugar to the mix and then a small amount of water.  Place the whole into a pot and simmer for 20-30 minutes.  Once the apples are good and soft you strain the results and put the apples through a food mill, chinoise or strainer.

I usually do up three apples at a time and keep the results in another container.

Once you have the cold soak and the apples done you can basically do this any time you want.

To the 1/3 cup oats I drain off any excess water and give it a good stir.  Add about two spoonfuls of apple and a good pinch of brown sugar and put it in the microwave for about 15-30 seconds.  Stir the results and spoon it into a glass.  Add 1.5 oz of coole swan irish cream and 1 oz of spiced rum.

For the rum I am currently using Eastside Distilling’s Spiced rum which uses the same kind of spice mix as their holiday spice liqueur and has a wonderful spicy flavor.

Stir up the whole mix to get it good and smooth, then drink to your heart’s content.

What I love about this is that most of the work can be done in advance and can be portioned out into single servings without any problems.  It only takes a minor amount of heat, or none at all if you’re camping hard.  With a small amount of well sealed camping storage you can have breakfast drinking for several days ready to go.

To answer a question from my last post I did make an attempt to do this with with apple butter.

The big difference between the apples I’ve been using and apple butter is about a half cup of sugar.  The consistency is about the same but when you boil the apples down for an extra couple of hours the spices get a lot stronger.  The result is a thicker, much sweeter product.

Two spoonfuls of apple butter was just too much.  The result was cloying and too sweet by far.  Maybe without the brown sugar it would have been ok or with less apple butter but I can say that the effort needed to make apple butter was not worth it for the drink.  The extra hours of stewing and the effort of putting apples through a strainer were more work than really needed.

Using store bought apple butter could be a good alternative but I think cost wise the apples would be cheaper and give a perfectly excellent result.

Mudder’s Milk Part 4: Coming to a Middle

To Recap:  Mudders Milk 1  In which we set our sails to distraction

Mudders Milk 2 In which we fail and learn that having to eat your mistakes can still be damn tasty.

Mudders Milk 3: Where we try Cold Soaking

Welcome back everyone to my attempt to create a drinkable oatmeal cocktail.  In our previous episode we tried cold soaking the oatmeal with some very good results.  Suggestions were made as to how to proceed and we present the results.

premud 1

Using a small blender I took about 3/4 of a cup of rolled oats and powdered them.  I was expecting something a bit more like steel cut oats but instead wound up with something more like oat flour.

premud2

I fouled the next step.  Normally with cold oats you only need a small amount of liquid to get the whole thing going since none of it is going to boil off.  I could have done a half cup to 3/4 cup of milk but being out of milk at the time I instead used water and didn’t bother to check my notes and used 1.5 cups of water.

premud3

The result was thin and after a stir looked pretty smooth.  I placed the container in the fridge overnight and prayed that I wouldn’t have to start over.

Mudder's Milk4-1In the morning the container had separated putting a small quantity of cloudy water on top of the layer of oatmeal.  I poured this off and was left with what you see above in the first photo.  The texture is pretty good, the smell and flavor are about a hundred times better than the baby oatmeal I tried and this looks like it’s going to work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stage 2 is apples.  All previous attempts have resulted in apples with a slightly chunky texture that is not ideal for drinking.

Mudder's Milk4-2Mudder's Milk4-3

We start by peeling and coring.  Then dice them into small mostly uniform pieces.

Mudder's Milk4-4

Add a little baker’s sugar so the apples will sweat and about an ounce of water to get them started.  Next season with ground cinnamon and grated fresh nutmeg.

After a little time I added another ounce of water to help them soften and stir periodically to keep them from sticking.

After a good 10-15 minutes the apples were still not very soft and I’m starting to think that I need a different approach to them.  So I pulled them off the stove and into a solid bowl for a good muddling with my Oxo Steel Muddler.  I like this thing a lot, Wood makes me edgy about flavor carry over and the thing eventually wearing out and putting splinters in my drinks.  I don’t have a good history with wooden kitchen implements so this muddler feels good being both solid metal in the rod and plastic on the head for cleaning.

It made pretty short work of the apples but at the end they were still pretty solid.  Another approach is definitely needed.

Mudder's Milk4-5

 

I added the muddled apples and the oatmeal back into the pot for a little heating and blending.  At this point I made mistake number two which was to forget to season the oatmeal.  This stuff is bland, bland bland when it’s plain and for this drink I need something that is going to help mask the alcohol.  The seasoning on the apples hasn’t been able to carry the day before and this time was no exception.

This part only took about 2-3 minutes and if you’re prepping this stuff for camping or events this is the point at which you can do you run out of pre-prep.  All the previous steps can be done hours in advance and set aside.

Mudder's Milk4-6

 

Once the mixture was warm enough that cold booze wasn’t going to make the effort pointless I spooned the now somewhat more solid oatmeal into a parfait glass.  This is about 4-6 tablespoons.

Mudder's Milk4-7

 

For this attempt we’re going to use some Silver Bacardi Rum and a bottle of dirt cheap Emmet’s Irish Cream.  I would use Coole swan for this in the end but I’m not going to waste the good stuff on an unsure outcome.  You might ask, why rum?  The original effort for this came from a discussion with a lovely pirate girl and so I’m using rum in an effort to keep at least the sousant of piratical flavor.

Mudder's Milk4-8

 

1 oz of Silver Rum
1.5 oz of Irish Cream

Stir well in the glass and you should wind up with something like this:

Mudder's Milk4-9

 

Flavor: Harsh on the alcohol side.  This could be too much rum or just cheap irish cream that is the problem but it does make me think that I haven’t given enough thought to the kinds of alcohol I’m using in this.  The oatmeal is fine and the apples are tasty.

Texture: The oatmeal is perfect.  No clumps until right at the end when I’d let the glass settle a bit and even then it wasn’t big enough to stop drinking.  The apples were still huge and did require chewing.

Problems: Oatmeal was bland.  I need to season on both the apples AND oatmeal and sweeten with some brown sugar before I add the apples.

Apples were still huge: I’m thinking either putting them through a food mill, blender, or stewing them in more liquid rather than sort of poaching them like I have been doing.  Applesauce seems like a good idea for some reason but I have a feeling that it won’t work out as well as what I have been doing.  They need to be softer and mushy but not liquid.

Boozey: With both rum and bad irish cream this was a hit in the mouth every drink.  The irish cream is a for sure but using something like coole swan is going to help.  Less rum, this is an AM drink and doesn’t need that much of a hit.  I’m also thinking of something a bit more flavorful like barenjager, which is a honey liqueur and is very creamy and might help with the need for less sugar.

 

Mudder’s Milk Part 3

To Recap:  Mudders Milk 1  In which we set our sails to distraction

Mudders Milk 2 In which we fail and learn that having to eat your mistakes can still be damn tasty.

 

Chapter 3: A dish best served cold…

A suggestion was made by my mother, who is a dietitian (and married to a very nice executive chef), that I should first cold soak the oats before attempting any shenanigans with the recipe.

So the basic cup and a half of rolled oats goes into a tupperware and to which is added a quantity of milk not to exceed 1.5 cups.  Addition of cinnamon and nutmeg in an attempt to get the flavor to impart over a longer time and then the whole boat goes into the fridge overnight.

IMG_20130423_095250
Post-Fridge Results

 

At First blush the results are not appealing, it looks watery and has no apparent change in texture.  As you can see it looks about the same overall.

IMG_20130423_095312
Oats removed from liquid for reference.

The next part is to heat the oats up, add apples and liquor.  This part went about as expected, they didn’t reduce as much as previous attempts which is good as a slightly watery texture will make them easier to drink.  But as the final photos show this is still a bit lumpy compared to what we’re shooting for.

IMG_20130423_100020 IMG_20130423_100040

 

Lessons learned: As a prep method cold soak would allow someone in the field to put this entire mess into a large sealed container and then simply break out and heat to desired portion.  Apples can be prepared separately and added without issue.

Problems:  Still not thin enough, needs blending but will that release starch and turn into a mess.

Next attempt: Put rolled oats into food processor to get desired texture, then cold soak.

Mudder’s Milk Part 2

Tapback: Mudder’s Milk

So, I’ve set my sails and I have a goal in sight.  The idea to make either a late night drink that will sub out a meal while you’re drinking or a breakfast drink you can whip up in a hurry without having to slave over a hot stove.

The idea of choice was oatmeal.  It’s already a pretty close friend with milk, swapping out a measure of the cream for Irish Cream isn’t beyond thinkable.  But a number of hurdles stand in the way.

For starters I haven’t really cooked oatmeal much before so the nuance there is going to escape me.  Second, we’re looking for something drinkable.  Having to chew is a distant desire on the list of things we would like to have.

So I came up with a couple of possibilities.

Test #1: No pictures because I was dumb and forgot.  It was a late night experiment.  For starters I stewed some apples.  I did far too much for a test batch.  Two whole apples to 1 cup oats was not doing it.  I spiced the apples with quite a few things looking for a taste that would finish out the batch.  Allspice, cloves, cinnamon, possibly coriander, definitely nutmeg.  I didn’t taste most of them in the finished product.   Could be the balance of spice is off could be that I didn’t give the spices time in the oats.  I’m going to try simpler settings, start with sugar/cinnamon add items from there.  No irish cream in the house at the time I was doing this, I used a somewhat crappy chocolate cream liqueur that had been doggedly hanging on like an unwanted party guest.  Next time coole swan or something better for sure.  Need heavy cream for testing.
2 apples cubed and stewed with a small amount of lemon juice until soft.  Added nutmeg, cinnamon, ground cloves, allspice, ground ginger, turmeric.
add 1 cup water, 3/4 cup whole milk, bring to boil.
add 1 cup oats, cook 5 minutes.  Add cream liqueur to top and loosen.

Verdict, good first pass.  Now I know what not to do next time.  Taste was ok but consistency was way off.

Test #2:

In an effort to cut down on the lumpiness of the previous experiment this batch was going to see the business end of a stick blender before I was done.

1 Apple, peeled cubed and sweated with agave nectar.
Spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg.
1 1/2 cup of Heavy Whipping cream, brought to a slight boil
1 cup quaker oats

Once the cooking process was done and the oats looked soft enough I applied the stick blender.  Now at this point the entire mess was a bit off.  Owing to the fats in the cream it had become a sticky blob in the pot and was not loose at all.  The application of the blender, I was later to find, was to release all of the starches bound up in the oats at once which made the previously sticky blob into a bona fide glue.

Which is not to say that the day was without victory.  The resulting glue was even, smooth and had a very nice feel in the mouth.  The apples were not obvious in either flavor or shape.  I’m betting that was my other mistake.  Agave nectar is not as hygroscopic as baker’s sugar and it didn’t draw out the moisture of the apples enough to soften them.

So three steps backwards, one forwards.  But we learn more from our mistakes than our successes.

AM Drinking: Business Time

If you’re ever having one of those mornings where you stayed up way too late, slept way too little and still have to get up and do things that aren’t “work” or operating heavy and dangerous machinery you know the wonders of not having drunk enough the night before.

I create this category for the people who are perpetually at 5 o’clock and see no issue with the thought of making a lovely drink before the sun has rubbed the sleep from his eyes.

business time

This morning we showcase a lovely little beverage that rolls up a number of morning flavors.  It isn’t much to look at, but it helps to get through the sunday doldrums when it’s not warm enough for mojitos but not cold enough for hot cider.

6 oz Milk (2%)
4 oz Coole Swan (irish cream)
1.5 oz Below Deck Coffee Rum
1 oz 360 Double Chocolate Vodka
1 oz Bols Creme de Cacao

I used a good sized Working Glass Tumbler for this one as there was no way my old fashioned was going to hold this much and it would make my collins look a bit weak.  These things will get a full post at some point as a quick and dirty shaker but that’s for another day.

The alcohol presented here isn’t strong enough to curdle the milk so you don’t get the chewy nasty sensation you might otherwise.  This is a strong drink for taking long lovely pulls on over eggs and toast.  I’m not a coffee drinker so the double chocolate and Cacao are pulling double duty tamping down the very very strong coffee flavors from the below deck.  The rum is my favorite base for anything, with brandy a close second, and here you have both caffeine and alcohol in one shot which is really the best of both worlds.

This lives in the same category as the buttery nipple, the white russian and many other cream or milk based drinks.  Entirely opposite of the fruit based drinks one normally sees, this is not a sipping beverage and carries very little in the way of subtlety.  Just watch out because the Coole swan sneaks up on you.

Review: Coole Swan

cooleswanListed as a Superior Cream Liqueur this thick milky beverage comes straight from Dublin Ireland. At about $34 for a 750ml this is certainly the top shelf for irish cream. As a comparison I was seeing Bailey’s the shelf below at $18-20 and some of the knockoff brands as low as 6-8. So for a four times markup this had better be fantastic.

This was first recommended to me by Derrick Schommer of Common man Cocktails. He swears by the stuff enough in his video reviews that it made me wonder.

Color on this is very nice, none of the tans or browns of most other creme liqueurs. A very bright white. Smell is pretty similar to most other creams I’ve had, no real scent of alcohol but those hints of whisky at the nose that ensure you’re talking about the real thing.

First taste is light on the tongue, second taste is much harder giving me the impression that once the cream gives you a tongue coating that the rest is getting a bit further back on the palate

I could sip this very easily, but I think that I would enjoy it more if I were an actual whisky drinker.cooleshot

I like the feel of the bottle, it has a nice even sided construction as opposed to the bulbous long necked baily’s bottles.

Mixes: I elected to do some of the more common things one might do with Irish Cream.

Hot Chocolate: As an additive and not a replacement this is an excellent addition. Full flavored without being a harsh kick it gives a smooth heavy cream sensation.

Kahlua or Coffee: I’m not a straight coffee drinker but I did mix this with the Below deck coffee rum. They don’t blend well being of very different weights but they do combine nicely in the mouth.

Buttershots: The slippery nipple is a pretty classic shot and I have to say that the addition of coole swan while not amazing was a good choice here as well.

Update: Sorry to say that likely due to the $35 price tag the OLCC stopped carrying this.  Sad Face.