Last-Minute Gifts: Home Made Coffee Liqueur

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Okay so it’s not THAT last minute, because it takes a week to percolate, but if you do it NOW it will be ready for Christmas. Plus it’s SOOOO easy you can finish it in minutes and then spend the rest of your time procrastinating about your other gift ideas. And for me I could make it with stuff I had on hand, which was nice.

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First, you need 700 ml vodka. It doesn’t have to be super fancy vodka. I have three open bottles here. For the record, none of these were originally mine. I just keep finding new booze in my cupboard. I swear.

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Next, you need 200g whole coffee beans (I doubled the recipe so this is 400g, don’t freak out).

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And some SPICES: 1 vanilla bean, 3 cinnamon sticks, and 15 whole cloves. That’s it.

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Split the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds, and chuck it and the rest of your ingredients into a large sealable container. I didn’t have anything that would fit anything over a litre so I used my camping water container (which holds like 20 litres). It’s a bit of overkill, I know. But you want to be able to give the liquid a good shaking, and then store it in a dark place for a whole week. I figured with the dark sides of the container I could leave it somewhere accessible and that would remind me to shake it every day. Because that’s the other thing you need to do: make sure to shake the container at least once a day.

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After the week is up, find yourself some appropriate bottles or jars. Since I used bottles for the Krupnikas I decided on jars for this, for variety’s sake. Wash them carefully (use Star San or other sanitizer if you can). This recipe makes about 1 litre of liquid, so plan accordingly.

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Strain the vodka through a sieve into a bowl for now (I used my trusty produce bag as a strainer to get all the wee bits that may have come loose in the shaking process). Do what you will with the boozy spices.

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In a large saucepan (that will hold the final amount of your liquid), dump 2 cups granulated sugar and 2 cups water.

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Stir over high heat to dissolve the sugar and bring to a boil.

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Add in your coffee/vodka and give it a good stirring before removing from the heat. And now your liqueur is ready to go!

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Pour the liquid into pretty containers, seal, and store in a cool, dark place for up to a year.  Aside from just drinking it straight or mixing it into the Pie’s favourite White Russians (or Trav’s White North), you could drizzle it on top of cake and ice cream and it would be amazeballs.

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SideBar: White North

by Trav

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The Pie’s favourite cocktail is a White Russian—cream, coffee liqueur, and vodka—so I decided that on his birthday this year, I would ply him with some variations on the original recipe. The Dirty Russian, which uses chocolate milk instead of cream, was really gross, because we picked up a thin, low-sugar chocolate milk that tasted of chalk. I also found a recipe for a White Canadian, which is vaguely offensive and also very strange; it substitutes goat’s milk for cream. How is a goat particularly Canadian? They could’ve at least suggested moose milk.

But anyway, we got to wondering—what substitution would actually make for a Canadian variant? In a booze-soaked fit of genius, I realized there was a perfectly Canadian drink that could replace the Russian vodka: Sortilège, a maple whisky.

I enjoy a bit of Sortilège straight, but I’ve been trying to find a good mixing use for it, and this one turned out even better than I’d hoped.

We hemmed and hawed about the name for a while, since the “White Canadian” is 1) terrible and 2) already taken. I believe Ali came up with the “Great White North,” and I suggested we shorten it to “White North” to make it clear it’s a variation on a White Russian.

I played with the ratios a bit, given the different base spirit, and I think this is the most pleasing recipe:

2 oz cream (use either full-on 35% cream, or 18% table cream)
1.5 oz Sortilège maple whisky
1 oz coffee liqueur (e.g. Kahlua or Tia Maria)

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Put some ice cubes in an old fashioned glass or tumbler, and then pour in the Sortilège and coffee liqueur.

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Then, gently and slowly, pour the cream over the mixture. It should float a bit, especially if you’re using the higher-fat cream. If you really want clear layers, try pouring slowly over the back of a spoon.

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Most people tend to mix it all together, though.

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And that’s it. Very simple, and really tasty. Even people who aren’t whisky drinkers will love it.

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My Husband Has a Thing

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… for White Russians (the drink, not our pink-skinned former Soviet comrades).  Our friend Trav mixes up alcoholic beverages as a hobby, and whenever we go to his house the Pie orders the same thing — a white Russian.  I am not a huge fan of mixing alcohol and milk so I crinkle my nose at these things but he’s a huge fan, so the other night I photographed Trav mixing one up so you could sit with me and either enjoy it with the Pie vicariously or (like me) judge him on his beverage choice.

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The mix is easy, but Trav likes to be perfect so he looks it up, every time.

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Start with 2oz vodka (this one is Newfoundland vodka, made from icebergs, and I’m not even kidding).

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Pour in 1oz Kahlua.

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Add some ice.

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Give that a stir.  Trav likes his bar spoon, which also conveniently doubles as a straw so he can test the drinks before he hands them out without getting his germy face all over the glass.

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Then carefully pour 1oz cream (light or heavy, that’s your choice) over the ice.  Ideally it’s supposed to float on top, but that’s hard to do, and personally I like all the swirly whirlies in there.

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While this was going on, I managed, for the first time ever, and with only a small amount of spillage, to properly create a crown float, which is Guinness Stout floated over a cider (in this case, Foundry).  I was right pleased with myself.

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I hope you enjoy your weekend.  We may steer clear of these beverages this time around, but who knows?

Espresso Brownies

Would you like another life-changing experience?

You should make these brownies.  I mean it.

I made about three hundred.  Every single one of them was eaten.  They’re even good stale.  The recipe for these babies comes with thanks from the folks at my mother’s physiotherapy place.  Not that they need any more caffeine.

Preheat your oven to 350°F and grease a 15″x10″x1″ baking pan (or whatever you can find that will fit the brownie goodness.

In a large saucepan, plop yourself in 1/4 cup water and 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder.

Add to that 1 cup butter (oh yes) and 1 1/2 cups chopped chocolate pieces (your choice).

Melt that pot of loveliness until it’s smooth and then remove from heat. 

Now this next part you are supposed to do in the saucepan but because I tripled the recipe I had to expand to a bowl.

Crack four eggs into a large bowl (I know there are more than four there, but just roll with it) and beat them up.

Add 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla.  Beat it up.

Pour in your lovely chocolate goo and beat until just combined.

Stir in 1/2 cup chopped walnuts.

Stir in 2 cups all-purpose flour.

Spread your batter evenly in the pan.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.  Cool in the pan on a wire rack.

I love that crackly-shiny top on a brownie.

While the brownies are baking and cooling you can whip together 3 cups icing sugar, 1/4 cup softened butter, 2 tablespoons boiling water, 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and, if you wish, 2 tablespoons of a coffee liqueur.

Spread the frosting evenly over the cooled brownies and dust with more espresso powder.

Cut into pieces.

LOVE.