The following recipe is from the August 11 edition of our weekly recipe newsletter.
Lately infusing my own spirits has become something of an obsession, and I have a big enough collection of bottles filled with fruits, herbs, and spices sitting under my sink to prove it. So when I came across this somewhat strange recipe for Milk Liqueur from the Azores in David Leite's The New Portuguese Table there was no way that I wasn't going to try it.
Let me start by saying that mixing whole chopped lemon, rind and all, bittersweet chocolate, sugar, vodka, and whole milk is not a pretty sight. Plenty of curdling is going to happen and the mix itself is not all that nice to look at when it's in its beginning stages. But once the concoction has sat for 10 days (stirred once a day) and is strained to remove all of the milk solids you're left with a clear, golden liqueur that tastes creamy and chocolatey with a sharp hit of lemon. It's much cleaner and less cloying than say, a Baileys or a Frangelico, and the flavors are much more complex. It's one of those liqueurs rich enough to sit in for dessert, or even better, when paired with it.
- 2 1/2 cups grappa or unflavored vodka
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate (preferably 70%), grated
- 1/2 lemon, seeded and chopped, with rind
Pour the grappa and milk into an impeccably clean half-gallon glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. Scoop in the sugar, chocolate, and lemon. Cover the jar tightly and shake well to help the sugar begin to dissolve. It will look curdled; that's as it should be, and perfectly safe. Set aside in a cool, dark place and shake or stir with a clean spoon every day for 10 days.
Set a cheesecloth-lined colander over a bowl and pour in the mixture. When the mixture has finished draining, squeeze the cloth to release as much of the liquid as possible, and discard the solids.
Line a sieve with a paper coffee filter. Pour in the liqueur and let the mixture drip through the clean bowl—this can take up to 24 hours. Change the filter when it becomes clogged with the residue from the liqueur. I repeat this step once or twice more after all of the liqueur has passed through to clarify it as much as possible.
Pour the liqueur into a decanter with a tight-fitting top. It will keep at room temperature for up to six months.