05 December, 2008

Home Made Gifts For Christmas - "Bailey's" Irish Cream

Usually I am too lazy to make anything myself. But this is something I've actually made, and it's fantastic! I took a small bottle along last Christmas just to give everyone a taste and see what they thought. My aunt said that next year all she wants is a big bottle of this! ;)

It's cheap to make and you can flavour it in a few different ways. Read the whole post before you attempt this, ok?

2 cups thickened cream (some countries call this pouring cream - it has gelatin added to thicken it)
1 cup sweetened condensed milk (some countries don't have this! see my note below)
1 cup Irish or Scotch Whiskey
few drops vanilla essence (optional)

Mix all these together to make about 1 litre of the cream base. Then flavour:

* for general Irish Cream flavour use about 2 teaspoons of instant coffee and about 2-3 tablespoons of chocolate drink powder or chocolate syrup. Taste and add more if you need to.

* for chocolate flavour double the chocolate and leave out the coffee

* a few websites said people like to use almond essence. I tried it and can't stand that version! But it might be your kinda flavour.

* any ideas that work well with milk drinks can work. Try different flavours in a small amount of the mix to see how it tastes. Choc-mint, vanilla, strawberry, malt, choc-orange, try a few. (Make sure you use either milk-flavouring syrups, powders or essence, and not any kind of fresh "juicy" type fruit or fruit juice, or it will curdle!)

Taste testing is important ;)

I tend to use a bit less than a cup of scotch. It can be a strong flavour and the mix tastes fantastic even if you make it with a very low alcohol content. We have ours served in a glass of milk. YUM! A lot of people drink it straight over ice. Or you can add it to coffee (mmmmmmm). You could even mix it into softened ice cream and then re-freeze it.

If you can't get thickened cream - it would taste fine with ordinary cream. Just not as thick.

About sweetened condensed milk - I went nuts trying to find this in Helsinki and even people who adored cooking adventurous things had never seen it in Finland. My mother-in-law only remembered it as a treat her own parents brought home from Russia when she was a child. But it does apparently exist in a few ethnic food shops including Vii Voan, which is in Sörnäinen on Hämeentie. If you can't get sweetened condensed milk, an approximate substitute is to simmer half a cup of evaporated milk with half a cup of sugar until it dissolves. If you can't even get evaporated milk, it takes a fair bit longer. You'll need to simmer 1 cup of plain milk on a very, very low heat, until it is half the volume, and then dissolve your half cup of sugar. With all that effort, I would recommend you first check your local ethnic food shops.

Awesome as a gift in a nice bottle - I have seen these at the local dollar shops for about two bucks. OR, you can use any old glass bottle and just pretty up the bottle by glueing wrapping paper over the old label.

Keep mixture in the fridge. Check the expiry date on the cream - this is the expiry date for your Irish Cream so buy the cream right before you make it and get the freshest container you can. Make sure everything you use to make this (bottles, cups, spoons) has been scalded in boiling water. Glass bottles need to be filled with warm water for 5 minutes before you empty and then fill them with the boiling water - if you pour boiling water into cold glass it will crack.

Enjoy! (...and then enjoy it again...)

~ Elisa