Kitchen Stewardship | A Baby Steps Approach to Balanced Nutrition

Whole Foods for the Holidays: Homemade Irish Cream

December 7th, 2010 · 35 Comments · Recipes, Upgraded Nutrition

Homemade Irish Cream :: via Kitchen Stewardship

Even though this has to be the third time this fall I’ve talked about liquor here at KS, please don’t think I’m hitting the bottle all the time after this post! (I only had a shot or two to tsate test befroe stiting down to rwite, I swear…just kidding.) :)

Our hostess today, Michele at Frugal Granola, invites: Whether it’s hot & comforting or chilled & sparkling, link up your favorite drink recipes for the holidays.
whole-foods-for-the-holidays

I think mine fits the bill, as it goes great in a hot chocolate or coffee, surely is comforting, slides down easy “on the rocks”, and if “sparkling” is a nice euphemism for “with alcohol,” well then…keep reading! (Note: You can make a virgin version of this beverage, which tastes quite a bit like melted ice cream – amazing – and was a real treat for my kids to taste test today. Just don’t put the vodka in, taste a bit, and then try to say “virgin version,” at least not where anyone can hear you!)

My husband’s family members cried out in glee, “We didn’t know you guys made your own liquor!” when we presented some of them with homemade Irish Cream a few years ago.

I think they imagined a distillery in the basement or something, but this recipe is much more “mix and drink” than “ferment and distill.” There’s nothing to it.

I did fiddle with the ingredients quite a bit since I last made it. I was already preparing my “it’s okay to compromise” speech for this post and determined to just follow the recipe and use powdered milk…but then I decided to try a real food version.

Guess what? It’s ten times better, at least!

I went from this original recipe:homemade irish cream ingredients To this real food version:real food irish cream recipe ingredients I was already using a homemade sweetened condensed milk even years ago just to be frugal, but now I wanted to avoid the white sugar and especially the dry milk powder in that recipe. (Even though I’m not totally afraid of nonfat dry milk, I don’t have any love for the stuff. I had to pull the box in from the garage where it’s relegated to a tomato blight buster recipe, just to make the control half batch.)

It took some digging to see if I could figure out how to make a homemade, sweetened condensed milk WITHOUT powdered milk, but I found some good jumping off points.

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The Process: Making Homemade Condensed Milk, Real Food Style

homemade sweetened condensed milk
Wikipedia told me that condensed milk really is what it sounds: just milk that has had a great deal of its water content boiled away, just as you might condense chicken stock. Quite a bit of sugar is also added, which helps to preserve the final product. I also learned that evaporated milk is very similar to condensed milk in that it is milk condensed down to about half its original volume.

Because evaporated milk has no sweetener added, it is not as shelf stable and requires more processing than condensed milk. However, if you’re not trying to avoid the BPA in canned goods and simply wish to use your own less refined sweetener and perhaps less of it, you could always just add about 1/2-2/3 cup sugar to a can of evaporated milk, and voila! Sweetened condensed milk.

Although tempting, I chose to go real food all the way.

My goal was to reduce the volume of the milk by about half, although after two hours of a gentle simmer, I decided 1/3 was good enough. I started with 1 1/2 cups of whole milk, added 1/2 cup of organic cane sugar from Wholesome Sweeteners, and stirred to combine every 10 minutes or so. I kept the fire going very, very low (very low!) because I have a tendency to forget things on the stove, especially over such a long time, and I didn’t want to take a chance of scalding the stuff.

After two hours, I got the mixture down to about a cup total, which was good enough for me. It was noticeably thicker, although not nearly the consistency of a can of sweetened condensed milk. If I had followed the proper ratio of ingredients, I should have used 2/3 cup sugar, but I chose to cut it down a little.

While still warm, I whisked in 3 Tbs. butter and 1 tsp. vanilla.

If you happen to totally forget and it boils off too much, just keep going. Get it down to a fourth of its original volume, and you’ve got dulce de leche!

Here’s a printable version of the Healthy Homemade Sweetened Condensed Milk.

Recipe: Homemade Irish Cream

homemade irish cream

Now that you know how I finagled some real food ingredients into a liquor recipe, here’s how to make the Irish Cream itself (the pictorial of the method follows this printable):

Homemade Irish Cream
 
Recipe type: beverage
Ingredients
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 c. homemade sweetened condensed milk (double the recipe above)
  • 1 tsp. instant coffee
  • 2 tsp. chocolate syrup
  • 2 c. vodka or Irish whiskey (any brand)
  • 2 c. heavy cream (mine was raw)
Instructions
  1. Beat eggs until thick and lemon colored. This is achieved fairly easily with a whisk, but a hand blender or whisk attachment to a stand mixer does the trick nicely as well.
  2. Slowly add the other ingredients, beating well after each addition.
  3. Pour into sterilized dark glass bottles. I recommend a funnel.
  4. Allow to rest at room temperature for one week before drinking.
Notes
Store cold for up to 3 months, on the shelf for one month. Be sure to label your bottles with these expiration dates, especially if you’re giving gifts. (It might be possible to drink the Irish Cream even 6 months later in cold storage. I might have tried it. Don’t take my word for it, though, my insurance-salesman father-in-law would say that’s a bad idea.) If you want a virgin version for children, pregnant women, or just for a special coffee creamer delight, simply leave the alcohol out. The preserving properties of alcohol will not occur, so be sure to refrigerate. The life of the drink will be equal to the life of the milk and cream you use.

*I know, Hershey’s syrup isn’t exactly real food. It’s only a few teaspoons, right? I’m sure there are lots of real food chocolate syrup recipes, but for two teaspoons, I’m calling compromise. You can simply omit it and hardly miss it.

Also, the eggs are listed in the original as optional, but (1) even if you’re afraid of raw eggs, the rest time with the alcohol will kill any germs, and (2) aren’t real foodies supposed to embrace raw eggs? I leave them in.

Method:

Beat eggs until thick and lemon colored. This is achieved fairy easily with a whisk, but a hand blender or whisk attachment to a stand mixer does the trick nicely as well.

beaten eggs Slowly add the other ingredients, beating well after each addition.

Pour into sterilized dark glass bottles. I recommend a funnel. Allow to rest at room temperature for one week before drinking.

Store cold for up to 3 months, on the shelf for one month. Be sure to label your bottles with these expiration dates, especially if you’re giving gifts. (It might be possible to drink the Irish Cream even 6 months later in cold storage. I might have tried it. Don’t take my word for it, though, my insurance-salesman father-in-law would say that’s a bad idea.)

If you want a virgin version for children, pregnant women, or just for a special coffee creamer delight, simply leave the alcohol out. The preserving properties of alcohol will not occur, so be sure to refrigerate. The life of the drink will be equal to the life of the milk and cream you use.

How to Choose and Sterilize the Bottles

DSC00137 I have used all sorts of bottles in the past, always repurposed. Although you can buy new dark glass bottles at a beer and wine making store or online somewhere like this (no affiliation), I have found these work just as well:

  1. Irish Cream or other brown liquor bottles
  2. wine bottles
  3. beer bottles
  4. large vanilla bottles

Like that touch of class with the wax paper and rubber band on top? That’s an example of one you don’t give as a gift!

You will likely want to get the labels off any bottles you’re going to repurpose. I generally find that a good soak in hot dish water and my scraper for stoneware or cast iron does the trick nicely. A vinegar-soaked dishrag resting on the bottle might help get stubborn labels off.

You have a couple options to sterilize as well. Always wash and rinse the bottles thoroughly first.

  1. Run them through the dishwasher on the sanitizing cycle.
  2. Boil the bottles in a large pot of water for at least 10 minutes. I’d recommend putting a washcloth at the bottom to prevent rattling and breakage. Make sure the water is inside the bottles as well.
  3. Bake the bottles in a 200F oven for at least 20 minutes. Make sure there aren’t any plastic caps, rings, or labels left on.
Homemade Sweetened Condensed Milk Recipe (Standard)

powdered dry milk In case you’re curious, this is the recipe that I used to use and the one found most easily on the web:

Ingredients:

1/3 c. boiling water
2/3 c. sugar
1 c. nonfat dry milk
3 Tbs butter
1 tsp vanilla

Method:

Either mix together in a blender on high speed until dissolved, or microwave on high power for 60 seconds, whisk, then microwave at medium-high power for intervals of 30 seconds, stirring in between, until completely dissolved (usually 3-4 times). You could achieve the same results in a saucepan with constant stirring.

The recipe is very thick! I actually added a bit more hot water today just to thin it up and bring the total volume up to one cup. homemade sweetened condensed milk

Be sure to visit the Beverages course of the Whole Foods for the Holidays progressive dinner, our last course!

If you’d rather get balanced than use alcohol to de-stress during December, you’ll want to take a look at Lisa Byrne’s Roadmap to a Healthy, Happy, and Meaningful Holiday Season. It’s not too late to start! (And you know I’m kidding about using alcohol to unwind, right? That’s not a very good habit…)

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If you missed the last Monday Mission, click here.

Kitchen Stewardship is dedicated to balancing God’s gifts of time, health, earth and money.  If you feel called to such a mission, read more at Mission, Method, and Mary and Martha Moments.

Disclosure: Wholesome Sweeteners sent samples of sugar to my house. Someday they’ll sponsor a giveaway here too, but I’m waiting until Sweeteners in the Spring! See my full disclosure statement here.

Both recipes, for Irish Cream and Sweetened Condensed Milk, are originally from Cheaper and Better.

Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays over at Simply Sugar and Gluten Free is also a must-read!

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35 Comments so far ↓

  • kara

    Thanks, looks delicious! I’m going to give the version without powdered milk a try.

  • 'Becca

    Instant coffee is a Real Food?? It’s always seemed so weird to me, like the coffee I would find provided if I were placed in a zoo habitat stocked by well-meaning aliens.

    I think it’s funny that you referred to this as a “mix and drink” recipe just above the photo of Mix ‘n Drink brand powdered milk!

    Another way to remove labels is by scrubbing with baking soda on a damp cloth. It works like a charm on some adhesives, though not all.

    Katie Reply:

    Becca,
    Hmm, good point. I guess I was worried much more about the ingredients that covered the majority of the recipe…I don’t know if vodka is real food exactly, either, you know! ;) I bet some strongly brewed coffee or even some boiled down a bit to concentrate the flavor would do just perfectly, too. I mean – how much flavor can a lousy teaspoon of instant coffee impart to 6 cups of liquid, anyway? I like to have some ice cubes of frozen coffee on hand for recipes. :) Katie

    Bebe Reply:

    I would be wary of boiling coffee down… tastewise. Maybe mixing it with some milk and cooking them down together?

  • Jill

    Wow! Lots of good info in this post! Yum!
    Will have to come back and read it more thoroughly, after I get done milking the goats! ;)

  • Robin

    So, on the chocolate syrup…:-)

    I actually was looking for a sub for Hershey’s syrup recently and tried this version and it worked great! Just like Hershey’s: http://smallnotebook.org/2009/07/10/homemade-chocolate-syrup/
    I only used one cup organic sugar though (half the amount called for) and thought it was plenty sweet, but it really was super easy and awesome over ice cream and for making chocolate milk, if you are so inclined…:-)

  • Jill

    What I would really, really like is to find a real food mix recipe for Chocolate Milk powdered mix so I can make my fav hot chocolate recipe. I know there are recipes around that just have cocoa powder, but I’d like to try for one so I could make THIS recipe.

    Melissa Z Reply:

    I just saw a recipe for hot chocolate mix over at heartland renaissance (Nov 22, 2010) that is very simple & sounds yummy

    Link: http://heartlandrenaissance.com/2010/11/homemade-dark-hot-chocolate/

  • Carolyn

    I used to make this years ago, but quit when I found out I have coffee allergies. I really miss it too. Have you or anyone out there tried it without coffee?

    k Reply:

    I think you could use Teeccino which tastes an awful lot like real coffee to me. I have used it as a substitute for instant coffee granules in brownies before and it was great! I buy mine on Amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/Teeccino-Caffeine-Free-Mediterranean-Original-11-Ounce/dp/B001F1YUAO/ref=sr_1_9?ie=UTF8&qid=1291777230&sr=8-9

    But I also wonder if coffee liqueur would work, like Kahlua? I have seen brownie recipes call for coffee liqueur and instant coffee granules alternately, so I think it would work.

  • Lisa

    I never knew what went into Irish Cream! Huh. This looks like it’d be fun to make and I think my in-laws would love it. Thanks so much for posting it. :)

  • Jenn AKA The Leftover Queen

    What a great idea! I have only made limoncello before, but this is another really fun idea! I think for the holidays next year! Thanks for the recipe!

  • Jenn AKA The Leftover Queen

    Question – how much does one batch make?

    Katie Reply:

    Jenn,
    It makes about 6 cups or so. I had just the right amount of space in the bottles I had ready, thank goodness! :) Katie

  • melanie

    I also found a substitute for sweetened condensed milk that uses eggs instead of dairy.

    http://www.cooks.com/rec/view/0,183,151170-244199,00.html

    I used it in my Seven Layer cookies and it worked like a charm.

  • lisa

    I just have to say I was starting to freak when I saw the first picture. I was thinking, “WHA…?? Powdered milk & refined sugar??” –scroll back up to the top of the email, yup, it’s Kitchen Stewardship, and yup, it’s says “real food” right there, has KS lost her mind??? ;) but…. then I scrolled down a little further & saw the second picture :)

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  • Tara

    I made the sweetened condensed milk yesterday and it turned out great! I want to make the irish cream, but am wondering why vodka and not irish whiskey? All the other recipes I looked up had whiskey and not vodka. Do you just prefer that or is there another reason?

    Katie Reply:

    Tara,
    Now there’s a good question. I think the answer is simply ignorance! I was totally following a recipe, the only one I’ve ever looked at, so I’m a lemming on this one. Betcha you could just use Irish whiskey…and that makes me want to make another batch to compare! I’m geeked that the condensed milk turned out well – it’s a “patience” recipe to be sure! ;) Katie

  • K @ Prudent and Practical

    Hi Katie!
    Just stopping by to say I made the recipe in time for New Year’s Eve. I did the homemade s.c. milk and also had some homemade chocolate syrup laying around to use. I ended up using Jameson’s whisky, which was expensive, but the finished recipe was still a lot cheaper than buying Bailey’s.

    It was a hit! My dad thought it was a little too strong, but the four others thought it was really good and were amazed that it was homemade :-) Thanks!

  • Jen

    Do you think this could be done with honey instead of sugar?

    Katie Reply:

    Jen,
    That’s a good question – I might use sucanat for starters. Honey would be sweeter and maybe need less, if the conversion would be anything like a baking recipe. Tough to say! :) Katie

  • aTTom

    I’m pretty sure it is not real Irish cream unless it is made with Irish whiskey. It might cost a little more, but is more authentic. And more importantly, dairy goes much better with whiskey than with vodka. (Don’t get sour mash like Jack Daniels, it will make your Irish cream taste like it was mixed in gym shoes. Good bourbon is ok, scotch is better, but Jameson is the best choice)

  • Chjo

    You do NOT make *IRISH* Cream with vodka. That is sick. You make it with IRISH whiskey. PLEASE DO NOT MAKE THIS WITH VODKA. It is not a Russian drink. I’m not even Irish and this offends me!!!

    Katie Reply:

    You know, I never even thought of that when I read the recipe (I didn’t make this up or anything). I bet it’s really, REALLY good with Irish whiskey! ;) Katie

    Astheart Reply:

    I think that Irish whiskey is the only right solution!

  • Micki McNie

    Thanks for posting this! I was at the liquor store and kept seeing “coloring” on the irish cream bottles so I decided to make my own, then kept seeing “powdered milk” in the recipes. This is exactly what I was looking for!!

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  • Alanna

    This is fantastic! I’ve been wanting to make my own Irish Cream liqueur because the store-bought stuff scares me, but I so love the taste. But I also avoid using canned milk products, so I’m extra-excited to try making my own sweetened condensed milk. Thank you so much for posting this recipe! Ps. This Irish Cream recipe from Design sponge uses cocoa powder in place of Hershey’s syrup: http://www.designsponge.com/2012/12/small-measures-homemade-irish-cream.html

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  • lexee

    just wondering if you still make this :) I used to make chocolate milk by combining cocoa powder in a little warm water to dissolve and add honey to sweeten, but I’m not sure this would be good with honey-sweetened “chocolate syrup” ;)

    love your blog!

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Lexee,
    I haven’t in a couple years…but it’s so little chocolate syrup, I bet I’d just use cocoa powder now – I’m sure your honey syrup wouldn’t be bad at all!
    :) Katie

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Welcome!  Meet Katie.

I embrace butter. I make homemade yogurt. I eat traditional real food – plants and animals that God created, not products of plants where food scientists work. Here at Kitchen Stewardship, I share how I strive to be a good steward of my family's nutrition, the environment, and our budget, all without spending every second in the kitchen. Learn more about the mission of KS here.

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