Homemade Irish Cream Liqueur

Bailey’s Irish CreamHomemade Irish Cream Liqueur is a back bar staple. It’s a liqueur with Irish Whiskey and cream, with a touch of cocoa, vanilla and now, many other flavor variations (Vanilla Cinnamon, Chocolate Cherry, Salted Caramel, Espresso Creme and the list goes on).  With this recipe, I wanted to make my own Homemade Irish Cream Liqueur.

When I thought about making my own Irish Cream Liqueur, I wanted to not recreate what I could already buy in most grocery | liquor stores, but enhance the flavors, improve on the the building block elements and make a better version of this classic mixer.  Looking online, there are thousands of recipes for this beverage, recreating the original.  As I keep seeing the same basic recipe, copied over and over, I soon realized that I needed to create my own recipe and version to get my desired results.

Using my culinary knowledge, I wanted to first increase the depth of flavor.  To get a good texture and improve the creamy undertones in an Irish Cream, many other recipes use a sweetened condensed milk. This dairy product is made with cow’s milk, that has had some of its water removed and sweetened with sugar.  A trick I learned years ago, after spending time in Argentina, where they have Dulce de Leche, is to place the sealed can, usually 14 ounces, into a water bath, and cook it for hours.  The cane sugar and lactose (milk sugar) caramelize over time (and heat) with the Maillard reaction, increasing the caramel complexity, making a thick milk caramel.  They use Dulce de Leche on toast in the mornings, as a filling in many pastries, and several different desserts.  Instead of taking the caramel to a deeper color, I cook the sweetened condensed milk only a fraction of the time, still caramelizing the it, but to a lighter flavor and intensity.  To build off these flavors further, I added a dairy flavor booster, malted milk powder to the list of ingredients.  It adds that rich intense milk flavor, bringing that little pinch of nostalgia, the malted milk shake component to this cream liqueur.  To take it even further, I add an umami rich element, white miso paste, to add that slight salty, funky note, similar to a salted caramel, when mixed with the Dulce de Leche and the malted milk powder.  These variations really bring this Homemade Irish Cream Liqueur recipe to new flavor territory, while making the finished product unique, better and more intense than the average on the shelf version.

Another element I wanted to play with was the cream and dairy element.  Most cream, heavy or whipping, is ultra pasteurized and homogenized.  The equipment and technical process,  essentially cooking the cream to become more stable and ultimately last longer on the refrigerator section of most grocery stores has one major effect; the cream loses a lot of its flavor.  As cream is so pure, so simple, yet complex with its simplicity, I am a huge fan of not processing the dairy with these taste killing technologies.  I live in Sonoma, CA.  My local dairy option is Straus Family Creamery.  They are all organic, with the cows grazing on the grass covered hills of Marin and Sonoma counties.  Albert Straus, CEO | founder is never sitting idle.  He continues to push the environmental envelope, using technology to make better products that aren’t over processed resulting in a higher quality dairy product.  Between using glass milk bottles, conserving water, capturing methane gas to create energy, to EV vehicles and so much more (read here), it’s hard not to use their products.  Besides all of the innovation and future thought about their business, their cream, milk and other dairy products are top notch.  Their cream is tastes what I think of, if i was to had my own personal cow in my backyard.  Their whole milk, has cream floating at the top of every container.  It tastes better.  So, this is the cream element in this Irish Cream Liqueur.

The ratio of cream, milk and Irish Whiskey is also important.  Too much Whiskey leaves the liqueur too hot, too strong and in my option, not as good to drink by itself.  If too much milk or half & half is used, the resulting liqueur is thin, not having  the right consistency.  I went with a dairy ratio of 1 part Irish Whiskey to 1 part cream and 1/4 part milk.  I found this 1:1:1/4 ratio to yield the best viscosity of the cream liqueur.

Now, you can used a wide range of Whiskey, but it seems sacrilegious to not use an Irish Whiskey for this recipe.  I went with the classic standard, Jameson’s Irish WhiskeyBushmill’s would also work.  I wanted to get that nice smooth Whiskey, that has just enough of that vanilla, toast, oak, almost almond flavor. I did recently see Jameson’s has a another flavor, a Jameson Caskmate Stout Edition.  This might be used in my next version.  To bring out more of those flavonoids, I used a homemade Bourbon infused vanilla extract, along with some almond extract.  I tried a different version of this recipe using a hazelnut extract, which worked very nicely too.  If you like that flavor better over almond, by all means, use it.  Or one can leave the almond | hazelnut extract out completely.  Your choice!

There is a touch of chocolate in the mix of this beverage, giving some color along with increasing the decadence and a touch of bitterness.  Chocolate syrup does seem right on any level.  Why not go straight to the bean, that has been fermented, roasted and ground into cocoa powder.  One of my favorite cocoa powders is TCHO Chocolate out of Berkeley, CA.  They have a wide range of delicious chocolates, and their powdered chocolate is a staple in my kitchen.

The last element is coffee.  Instead of using a instant coffee powder, I used instant espresso powder, giving that extra bit of roast, intensity and with the caramel sweetness to balance out the astringency.  The result is just what I was looking for, a Irish Cream Liqueur that has a rich creamy texture and flavor, with just a touch of caramel, a hint of salty, a bit of vanilla, a slight almond nuttiness, with a alcohol warmth, that can be poured over the rocks and consumed by itself, used in many cocktails or poured into the weekend coffee..  Plus, this Homemade Irish Cream Liqueur is perfect to cook with, using in my Irish Car Bomb Pie, a Irish Cream Pastry Cream that can be layered to make an Irish Trifle or used in an Chocolate Irish Stout Cake as a delicious filling.

While this recipe only makes 1 quart, using the scale-ability of recipe software, one can make a larger volume, making this Irish Cream Liqueur for gifts, stocking your back bar, or as many cocktails as you can muster.

 

Makes: 1 Quart

Homemade Irish Cream Liqueur
Homemade Irish Cream Liqueur
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Homemade Irish Cream Liqueur, using culinary knowledge, increasing the flavors, improving on the texture and ultimate enjoyment of this liqueur.
Servings Prep Time
1 quart 10 minute
Cook Time Passive Time
2 hour 2 hour
Servings Prep Time
1 quart 10 minute
Cook Time Passive Time
2 hour 2 hour
Homemade Irish Cream Liqueur
Homemade Irish Cream Liqueur
Votes: 0
Rating: 0
You:
Rate this recipe!
Print Recipe
Homemade Irish Cream Liqueur, using culinary knowledge, increasing the flavors, improving on the texture and ultimate enjoyment of this liqueur.
Servings Prep Time
1 quart 10 minute
Cook Time Passive Time
2 hour 2 hour
Servings Prep Time
1 quart 10 minute
Cook Time Passive Time
2 hour 2 hour
Ingredients
Servings: quart
Units:
Instructions
Caramelized Sweetened Condensed Milk Directions:
  • Stove Top Directions: Place the can of sweetened condensed milk, with the wrapper removed, into a small sauce pan. Pour enough water to cover the can. Place the pan over low heat and set a timer for 2 hours. Once the timer goes off, remove the can from the water bath and let cool before opening.
  • Sous Vide Directions: Set your water bath to 190°F | 88°C. lace the can of sweetened condensed milk, with the wrapper removed, into the water bath and set a timer for 2 1/2 hours. Once the timer goes off, remove the can from the water bath and let cool before opening.
Homemade Irish Cream Liqueur Directions:
  • In the pitcher of a blender, add the Irish Whiskey, malted milk powder, white miso, cocoa powder, espresso powder, Bourbon based vanilla extract and almond | hazelnut extract (if using). Turn the blender on low, allowing these ingredients to mix together.
  • Once the caramelized sweetened condensed milk has cooled to just above room temperature, open the can (as it isn't safe to open the hot can, as the heat has increased the pressure of the con tense, making it dangerous, that could result in it exploding if | when the can is punctured). Pour the can into the pitcher and blend well.
  • Finally, add the cream and milk, mixing for 30 seconds on low, incorporating all the ingredients together. Pour the Irish Cream Liqueur into a quart size mason jar, or other container and seal with it's lid. Label and date the jar, placing it into the refrigerator.
  • This Homemade Irish Cream Liqueur will last at least 6 months in the refrigerator. Shake before using.
Recipe Notes

Recipes That Use This Homemade Irish Cream Liqueur:

 

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Sean Paxton

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