Got a minute? Like, literally, one minute because that’s about how long it takes to make a batch of homemade Bailey’s-style Irish Cream liqueur. Why, you might ask, would one choose to make this iconic liqueur instead of buying it off the shelf in a store? Because 1) it’s incredibly easy 2) it’s cheaper, and 3) once you try it, you’ll never go back to store-bought. A plus is that you can control the ingredients: ease up on the almond or vanilla extract; go heavy on the chocolate syrup, or lighten the sugar and/or fat content if you’re watching calories.
After scouring the internet for recipes, I found most recipes called for Irish whiskey as the base liquor but some used vodka, and most recipes used sweetened condensed milk versus evaporated milk + sugar as the sweet/thickening agent. I riffed on a recipe by Manuela Zangara who, like me I’m sure, surfed for recipe and found one she liked. Manuela is more ambitious than I am – she makes her own chocolate syrup. This being my first attempt, I purchased all of my ingredients from a grocery store. Once you have the ingredients, making the liqueur is as fast as pouring them all in a blender and whirring for 30 seconds.
In a blender, combine:
- 1 cup fresh cream (the one for whipping cream)
- 14 oz. sweetened condensed milk
- 1⅔ (400 ml) cups Irish whiskey
- 1 tsp espresso or instant coffee
- 2 tbsp chocolate syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp almond extract
Blend for 30 seconds on high speed, pour into sealable bottles, store in fridge. Will keep for up to 2 months.
You can get creative in choosing your base liquor.
I made four types of liqueur: one using Jameson Irish whiskey, one using Irish Mist liqueur, one using Amrut Indian Single Malt whisky, and a skinny “Bailey’s” using Jameson whiskey but with low-fat, sweetened condensed milk (1.5 g fat per 2 tbsp) instead of regular (3 g fat per 2 tbsp) along with half and half cream (10% butter fat) instead of full whipping cream (33%). I was curious to see the difference not only in flavour profiles by using different whiskeys, but in mouthfeel and richness with the calorie-reduced dairy products.
The verdict: Texture – Using calorie-reduced ingredients results in a thinner product. No surprise there, but taste wise? Hardly any difference at all. In fact, the high-test liqueur I made (full fat/regular sweetened condensed milk) gets a little thick in your throat after a two or three (or four) servings, so the ‘light’ recipe was a welcomed relief. Especially at 11 o’clock this morning when I was doing my research. Flavour – hardly any difference to note between the Jameson Irish whiskey and the Amrut Indian whiskey, but the Irish Mist lent an overall sweeter content, because of the sugar already present in the liqueur.
Overall: making homemade Irish Cream liqeuer is the way to go. I like controlling the ingredients I use, and I like the fact that you can whip it up in a minute providing you have the ingredients on hand. And as far as cost goes: four 500 ml bottles (2 litres) cost me less than $20.00 to make.
Cheers! I need a nap.