Blogger Scheduler didn't work for me last night...so this is a bit late today!
I know some of you were expecting this week's post to see the wine kit 'in action', but last week was 'one of those weeks' and I didn't get a chance to get that started. But since Hovering Hubby is home today for the holiday, he's planning to keep the Princess Nagger occupied so I can get the Blackberry Merlot bottled today finally...for those of you who have been waiting patiently for that event to occur.
One of the reasons for the delay in bottling that wine (aside from life getting hectic) was that hubby really wanted me to wait until he was home so he could see the motorized filter in action... yes, he's easily amused, why do you ask? Once that wine is bottled, my carboys will be empty and available for the kit wine - I wanted to make sure I had some available before I started, in case the fermentation process goes faster than I anticipate. Next week you'll get to see 'the action' in pictures. Meanwhile, since I decided on a whim to brew another batch of Kahlua this weekend, I thought I'd share that process with you, too.
I make several quadruple batches of Kahlua every year to include in Christmas gift baskets, since it's one of the main requests (and fastest sellers) through Savannah*Haven. Over the past several years I've honed the process to make sure that every batch turns out much better than store-bought. Every. Single. Time. Although it was hit-and-miss at first, because I could never find a recipe online that I really, really liked. So combining about 10 different ones, I finally created 'the one' that works each time I do it. One of these days I'm going to find an excellent decaf coffee to make a decaf version, too. If anyone has any recommendations, let me know - whole beans or ground work for me!
Here's what I start out with:The Recipe:
cups fresh brewed coffee
cups vodka and brandy (I use a 1.75 liter bottle of vodka, then top off the rest with brandy*).
teaspoons vanilla extract (or 6-9 vanilla beans split)
*Note: 1.75 Liters = 7.396817473844285 Cups - Top off remainder of 1.75L Vodka with Brandy to equal final 3 cups for recipe. Hit40 probably knew that conversion/equation from the top of her head! ;)
Most of the recipes you find call for freeze-dried instant coffee. I don't know about you, but I don't particularly care of the taste of instant coffee, so I finally created a recipe that incorporates good coffee to enhance the taste. Since I need a lot of coffee, and making multiple cups in our Keurig coffee maker is not conducive to sanity or the budget, I use this beauty:
Isn't it great? An eBay find from a few years ago when I realized that having 15 people over on Thanksgiving and making coffee in a coffee press was redundant and time-consuming work...so I found this antique-ish percolator coffee maker and it's been a life saver for parties and for making humongous batches of Kahlua. :)
I read somewhere that one of the 'secrets' to making the best Kahlua is to use 100% Arabica coffee, so there ya go. Plus the extra flavors of nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamom and allspice really give the Kahlua a 'festive' flavor. It's not overpowering, so if you're not a fan of those particular spices, it doesn't annoy your taste buds.
Let cool to room temperature (you may add vanilla beans now if you like extra vanilla taste in your Kahlua – if you don’t have vanilla beans and are using vanilla extract, don’t add that yet). For the Vanilla Beans, I buy Madagascar Vanilla Beans, which are highly recommended for things like this:
Carefully split them down the middle:
Any 'seeds' that cling to the knife or get on the cutting board make sure you add that to the coffee/sugar mixture, too:
Gently stir into the coffee/sugar mixture:
And let cool completely to room temperature. I've added the vanilla beans while the mixture was still warm, so the vanilla infuses a little stronger/faster.
Once completely cooled to room temperature, carefully stir vodka and brandy into the mix. You don’t want to add the liquor when the coffee/sugar mixture is hot, it will ‘cook off’ the alcohol from the vodka and brandy…you want to keep that alcohol content!
Since I'm Swedish, I generally lean towards the Swedish Vodka, but our local liquor store had some Russian Vodka on special, and since it has the preferred alcohol content, that's what I got. I've tried various brands of Brandy in the Kahlua, but for some reason the 'cheap' version, E&J Brandy, seems to be the perfect flavor that doesn't overpower the Kahlua as a whole:
If you haven’t already added the vanilla beans, do so now. If you don’t have vanilla beans, use real vanilla extract and stir in with the vodka and brandy. I cannot stress enough that you do not want to use 'imitation' vanilla extract. Why? Imitation vanilla is highly inferior to pure vanilla.
Did you know that it isn't even made from real vanilla? It's completely composed of artificial flavors which are mostly by-products of the paper industry. They can be made from a substance called glycoside which is actually found in the sap of certain conifers. Sometimes, it is even made from coal extracts. This explains why the flavor of imitation does not even resemble the pure vanilla flavor. It can leave a very bitter aftertaste on the tongue. You don't want your Kahlua to have a bitter aftertaste, right? *stepping off soapbox*
You can make your own vanilla extract, too - yes, I have a mason jar in my cupboard with my own homemade vanilla extract...bet you're not surprised, are you (Casey)? I use it for all my baking, but I still prefer to use whole vanilla beans for the Kahlua. Let me know if you'd like me to post the recipe for that...it's really easy! OK, back to the actual topic...sorry for the tangent!
If you’ve added vanilla beans after the brew has cooled, let sit for 24-48 hours to let the vanilla infuse. I'll let the mix sit overnight so the vanilla beans can infuse with the added liquor, too. Taste test it along the way until you like how it tastes.
Once you’ve achieved the excellent taste, remove the vanilla beans and transfer your Kahlua to wine or liqueur bottles and cork - you can also add vegetable glycerin to the concoction if you want the consistency to be a bit 'thicker' like the store bought. I happen to have some on hand, so I added a few glugs to 'finish' it. I've let the concoction sit with the vanilla beans in them overnight, so I'll be bottling it today, then finishing the bottles with shrink caps and custom labels.
Instead of regular corks, I use T-corks (aka tasting corks) so people won't have to use a wine opener to open the bottle, and can re-cork the bottle easily. Once I get them bottled today, I'll revise the recipe list to add how many empty bottles are needed to bottle this particular amount. Since I usually do multiple batches at once, I can never remember exactly how many bottles are needed until I'm ready to bottle.
The Kahlua is drinkable immediately, or let sit for a month (or more) to let the flavors really become enhanced. The longer it sits in a cool, dark place, the better the final taste will be.
Tomorrow is my 1 Year Blogoversary - be sure to stop by and see what cool giveaway I'm brewing... ;)
I just thought of something! Since this is Monday, and I haven't had the pleasure of participating in A Southern Fairy Tale's Mouthwatering Mondays, from Mom2my9 at 11th Heaven's fun weekly Homemaker Mondays, or Felicia at Go Graham Go's Make Something Monday, since this is an independent post (vs. a continuation of my Homemade Wine Series), I thought I'd join in the fun again today! Be sure to check out other yumalicious posts here: