Sunday, December 20, 2009

Irish Cream for the dairy-free soul

This gluten-free dairy-free thing isn't so bad. I eat pretty well, and most of the time, I don't miss a thing. There are a few creamy, glutenous delights, though, that every so often give me a moment's pause.

Bailey's Irish Cream is one of those things.

I'd found a recipe last year and made homemade "Bailey's", using heavy cream and sweetened condensed milk. I'd given some as gifts and had requests to make it again, but I can't make a recipe I can't taste. I also didn't want to make it with soy creamer - largely because I didn't think meat-and-potatoes folk would respond very enthusiastically to a gift of processed soy product, no matter how good it tasted.

Then, this fall, I fell in love with coconut milk. In custards, in pumpkin pie, it's a wonderful sub for cream or evaporated milk. For gift-giving purposes, coconut milk sounds a lot more enticing an ingredient than soy.

This recipe may get some tweaks down the line, but the first batch is tasting pretty awesome.

Coconut Milk Irish Cream
Vegan, gluten-free, casein-free, soy-free, yummy
Yield: Approx. 1 quart

13.5-fluid oz. can of coconut milk (not light)*
1 cup Almond Breeze, chocolate flavor
1 tsp instant coffee (or a shot of espresso)
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
dash almond extract (optional)
1/3 cup brown sugar (scant)
1/3 cup white sugar (scant)
1/4 tsp kosher salt (for table salt, use less)
1 cup whiskey

Whisk everything but whiskey in a large mixing bowl (or blender, if you prefer). Adjust flavor to taste, then add whiskey. (If you trust me implicitly, go ahead and mix it all at once, but after the first couple of whiskey-infused "samples", your judgment may become impaired.)


*My coconut milk comes in 13.5 ounce cans. If you have a larger can, go ahead and use it without adjustments. Also, the creaminess of coconut milk varies from brand to brand. The Chaokoh I bought at an Asian market (under $1 a can!) and Whole Foods brands are both pretty rich. Avoid "light" coconut milks, which are simply watered down. If you want extra decadent Irish Cream, you can open a second can of coconut milk without shaking it first, and skim off some of the coconut cream that has risen from the top.

*It may seem strange to use chocolate milk, but yes, chocolate is a traditional ingredient. You can substitute another brand, or make your own with dairy-free chocolate syrup and the milk of your choice.

*The mixture may taste strong at first, but let it mellow in the fridge for at least a day before you make any drastic adjustments. It should smooth out with time, and very possibly improve - the dairy version is said to be even better after a month, and I see no reason why coconut milk would make that any different.