Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Last Minute Xmas Prep: Homemade Irish Cream

It's delightful, it's delicious, it's de-lovely. – Cole Porter 

This was NOT gifted, unless you count gifting to me...
A 750ml bottle of Irish Whiskey will yield 2-3 of these carafes.

Some things bear repeating, much like all those seasonal activities we put ourselves, and our families, through this time of year. This is definitely on the good side of those activities, and can probably help dull the pain/annoyance of those that aren't! I usually make this once a year.

Many moons ago (about +20 years), Eagle had a wee liqueurs recipe fold-out book stuck on top of their sweetened condensed milk can lids. I believe it was for the Christmas season, included to move more product.

My little fold-out is stained, torn and tucked inside one of my cookbooks that are still packed away. Thank goodness I still have it, because I haven’t seen it on their cans for many years. That’s a real shame.

All of the recipes sounded fantastic. I think there was four or five in total. I do remember one more. It was for a chocolate mint liqueur. I couldn’t find it with a Google search so you’ll have to believe me. It was there. This is by far the best homemade Irish Cream I have ever had. It never—I say never—lasts as long as you would hope.

Note, it’s “Irish” Cream. That means buying Irish whisky. Regular whisky will not yield the same result. Nor will scotch.

I never fiddle with this recipe, but I’m torn between the optional ingredients. Last year I used the coconut extract. This year it was vanilla. Each yields a slightly different result. Of course you can choose to use neither.

A 750 ml bottle of Irish whisky will yield 3 batches if using 1 cup, or 2 batches using 1.5 cups. Go for the stronger, although be advised it has a sneaky kick!

Keep your liqueur refrigerated once it's made. The recipe card said it will last for a month, but I doubt it will make it past a few days at most. Great stuff. Amazing taste. I have some in the ‘fridge right now...

So, get thee to a liquor store!

Homemade Irish Cream
Prep: 10 min  |  Yield 5 cups (1.18L)
1 300ml can sweetened condensed milk
1 to 1-1/2 cups Irish Whiskey (depending on how strong you want it)
1 cup 10% cream (cereal cream / table cream)
3 eggs
1 tbsp chocolate syrup (like you get for sundaes)
1/4 tsp coconut OR vanilla extract, optional

 Mix all ingredients together in a blender until smooth. Strain if desired. I do not.

Bottle and let sit for one day before use (yeah, right…). 

Keep refrigerated and shake before pouring. Homemade Irish Cream can be refrigerated for up to one month.

Feel free to comment. They’re always appreciated. I’ll answer quickly and as best I can. Feel free to share this post. All I ask is if you repost, please give me credit and a link back to the original on this site.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Save money, make your own Mascarpone Cheese

Without frugality none would be rich, and with it very few would be poor. – Samuel Johnson 

The end result. Well worth the 2 day wait.

(This is a re-post, but who doesn't want to save money at Xmas!)

The Christmas season is probably for most people the most expensive time of the year. Even not counting gift buying, there's a thousand things to suck up your money. Food is often a big culprit.

This post covers how to make your own mascarpone cheese. It's disgustingly expensive in stores and is often called for in many "fancy" desserts. So if you're entertaining this holiday, you may want to make this. It doesn't take much active time, and very little skill.

This full recipe makes about 3 cups of mascarpone, which would cost you at least $12-$15 at the grocery store. Full cost of the ingredients is about half that amount.

Mascarpone is made by coagulating cream via acid – tantric, citric, or lemon juice. After coagulation the whey is slowly drained out. 

Aside from the 48 hours for the whole process, this cheese is a breeze. It makes much more than you probably need (word to the wise) unless you're making a big dessert, like tiramisu for 12 or so... 

So feel free to halve it. The result will be the same. Go big or go home, I say.

Mascarpone makes the cholesterol police go on red alert. I always remember Julia Child’s admonition: “Everything in moderation, including moderation.” 

This stuff should be treated with some respect. The finished product has about 60%-75% butter fat. We’ll just leave that fact to settle in…

Mascarpone is the colour of cream and is thick like a spread. It has many uses (including in tiramisu). It can be served in savoury dishes or as a fresh fruit topping. It can also be used as a substitute for butter, or for parmesan in pasta sauces or in risotto.

The important fact is that it is wonderfully delicious and addictive. But just like everything else in life, don’t overdo it.

Homemade Mascarpone
Time: 2 days  |  Yield about 3 cups
2 cups 36% whipping cream
2 cups 18% coffee cream
2 tbsp lemon juice
instant read thermometer
double boiler (or similar homemade contraption)

The cream mixture needs to be around 25% butter fat. To do so use the two different creams. The ingredients above make a combination of 27%. Close enough.

Combine the cream in the top part of a double boiler. I do not own a double boiler so I inserted a smaller pot inside another pot partly filled with water. It works just fine.

Raise the temperature of the cream to 185°F. Scalded milk is 180°F so a little beyond that stage. You really need to use a thermometer… (remember yesterday’s post?)

Once the cream reaches 185°F on the thermometer, reduce the heat to hold it at 185°F and stir in the lemon juice. This is barely a low simmer – certainly not a boil.

Mix well. Cover the pot, hold the temperature at low simmer and let cook for 5 minutes.

Remove the pot from the double boiler. You will notice that the cream has thickened slightly. It will thicken more as it cools.

Place the pot with the cream in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

After 24 hours you will see the cream has thickened more (second photo at top). Strain the cream/cheese over a bowl through fine cloth lining a sieve to remove the excess moisture. Let it sit, back in the refrigerator, for another 24 hours.

After 24 hours remove the cheese from the cloth and place in a storage container. The cheese will last refrigerated for about one week.

This is the cheese, plus all the whey that came out. keep that whey! You can
use in in making bread, watering plants, as a treat for your pets...

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