Valentine’s Day is hands down the ultimate in romantic occasions. And what better way to demonstrate and enhance an atmosphere of romance than with a gift from a lover’s own heart and hands?
From childhood we make colorful hand crafted hearts, lavished with symbols of love and words of devotion. As adult Valentines we may wish to imbue our gifts with deeper symbolism and thoughts of a more intimate nature. A typical celebratory Valentine’s evening might involve a lavish dinner in a romantic setting, replete with flowers, cocktails and perhaps a liberal measure of not so subtle titillation.
Surprise and delight your Cherished One this year with a before or after dinner liqueur personally and lovingly created in all its heartfelt essence by you.
Homemade Irish Cream Liqueur
~~~You might know this liqueur more commonly in its official retail incarnation of Bailey’s Irish Cream or other delicious brand of Irish Cream.
1-3/4 cups good Irish Whiskey
1 regular size can (14 ounce) sweetened condensed milk
8 ounces cream (light or heavy) or half-n-half for a lighter version
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 teaspoons instant coffee
4 eggs (lightly beaten)
Blend all ingredients on low speed in a blender or with an electric mixer. *Beating the eggs slightly beforehand makes less blending required.
Continue blending until the mixture is smooth and slightly frothy.
For a simple yet pretty Valentine’s cocktail add a measure of Grenadine to chilled Irish Cream in a fluted glass. Garnish with a sprig of mint and a stemmed cherry.
For another attractive option blend crushed strawberries into your homemade Irish Cream and serve in a pretty glass.
Homemade Version of Kahlua
The coffee rich flavor of Kahlua is a long time favorite straight up or blended with other ingredients for luscious cocktails.
Make your own creative version of coffee liqueur for year-long indulgence.
4 cups granulated sugar
2 ounces instant coffee
3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
One “fifth” or one quart good Vodka
32 ounces (1 quart) water
In a heavy saucepan over medium heat bring to a boil four cups sugar in one quart water.
Reduce heat to low. Add two ounces instant coffee and simmer an additional thirty minutes to thoroughly blend and enrich the sweet coffee flavor.
Remove from heat and add three teaspoons pure vanilla extract. Depending on your preference for alcohol content, add the contents of a fifth or quart of vodka.
Blend well and allow the mixture to cool.
Your homemade “Kahlua” can be served at once, but is best when allowed to mature for a week or more. Store in dark glass containers for longest shelf life.
This simple recipe uses instant coffee; but if you prefer the richness of fresh roasted coffee beans, soak whole beans in vodka for a couple of weeks, straining off the coffee-rich liquid for use in your recipe.
You can also use whole vanilla beans by adding a split bean to the simmering water/coffee mixture. Strain before use.
This rich liqueur can be used in many recipes suitable for a Valentine’s tribute. As an ending for a romantic Valentine’s meal consider drizzling your liqueur over vanilla ice cream for a simple yet elegant dessert with a bit of kick and a definite “Wow!” factor.