Thursday, February 24, 2011

Creamy Limoncello - When Life Hands You Lemons Make Limoncello!

Creamy Limoncello Lemon Drop Martini
Limoncello is a traditional Italian drink and it is incredible. Store bought is good. I have had some homemade limoncello that is incredible. I told Steven I wanted to make limoncello and he immediately suggested creamy limoncello. We had a creamy limoncello once and it was wondrous. I did some research and found out that limoncello is easy to make. So we started the two week process of making limoncello.
Limoncello is comprised of alcohol with lemon zest and simple syrup. With creamy limoncello you substitute milk for water when making the simple syrup.  We decided to give the creamy limoncello a try.

I did not have access to Everclear (which is the preferred base) so we used vodka. All of the recipes I reviewed recommended a vodka that was at least 100 proof. This is to prevent the mixture from freezing (remember you add a lot of simple syrup to the vodka). We had 80 proof vodka so we used that.  Some limoncello makers recommended filtering the vodka several times through a Brita filter. I did not filter the vodka. 
I used Skyy vodka
The most difficult part was carefully zesting 12 lemons. Even with a microzester it took awhile and unfortunately, I was the only one zesting the lemons.

The lemons after the were zested.

A bowl full of zest
I tried to avoid the white pith which could make the limoncello bitter. Once all of the zesting was done, amazingly, my family showed up and we  put the zest in the vodka. We let the vodka  infuse for a week shaking the bottle daily.

After a week, we tried the lemon vodka and it wasn't lemony enough so we waited another week. After two weeks, we decided to go forward.

To make the creamy simple syrup we combined 1 quart of cream with one quart of whole milk and added two cups of sugar. This mixture was simmered over medium-low heat until it reduced to 4 cups (about 25-30 minutes). We set it aside and allowed it to cool.

While the milk sugar mixture was cooling, we strained the vodka.

The zest lost a lot of its yellow

The vodka is now yellow and tastes like lemon flavored vodka
Once the mixture cooled, we strained the milk sugar syrup and added it to the vodka. We ended up with two bottles of limoncello. We allowed the limoncello to chill for several hours. Because we used 80 proof vodka, we put the limoncello in the refrigerator instead of the freezer.

I loved the limoncello and the people who have tried it have loved it. We drink limoncello from small glasses  sometimes as an aperitif and sometimes as a digestif. (It is supposed to be drunk from cordial glasses - I would love some of the ceramic limoncello glasses made in Italy. Other suggestions are drinking it from a shot glass).

Creamy limoncello
It is also excellent as a martini. Here is the recipe:

Lemon Drop Limoncello Martini

1.25 oz (40 ml) Vodka
.75 oz (25 ml) Limoncello (Creamy or Regular)
.25 oz (10 ml) Simple Syrup*
.25 oz (10 ml) Lemon Juice

Put the above ingredients in a martini shaker filled with ice and shake. Then pour into a martini glass. I like to wet the edge of the glass and dip it in sugar. I also drop a lemon drop candy into the martini.

The finished martini
Simple Syrup

1 Cup (150 ml) of Water
1 Cup (225 g) of Sugar

Place in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil (stirring constantly) until sugar is dissolved. Cool before using in a drink recipe. Store unused syrup in the refrigerator.
Limoncello martini with regular limoncello
Bottom line: will we make this again? Yes it is delicious! I plan to make some changes and will blog it with the changes. Next time, I am going to make regular limoncello and I will use Everclear. Next time I make creamy limoncello, I will use whole milk instead of a mixture of cream and milk.

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