Monday, July 18, 2011

Milk Licker

I ran across a recipe for milk liqueur* several months ago, in the dreary winter months when cabin fever wants to become spring fever and I get a little crazy. It intrigued me, first because it sounded disgusting. Combine vodka, milk, sugar, chocolate and lemon, shake the concoction, and then let it sit in a dark place for several weeks? Can that be anything but nasty? Who would do that? Truly crazy, right? Damn Europeans.

And second, as it turns out, nobody I know had ever heard of it, and I run with some culinary giants who have Italian last names. It's hard to come up with anything edible somebody in my group of friends hasn't already made: cheese, yogurt, pickles, marshmallows, chocolates, bacon, limoncello....but nobody had made milk liqueur. I could be the first on my block! How do you like me now? It was very disappointing then, that when I described it, nobody wanted to try it even if I did make it.

Me: C'mon. It's got vodka in it. How bad can it be?
All friends: Spoiled milk. No. Just no.
Me: It's got chocolate in it too. How bad can it be?
All friends: No. Stop.
Me, channeling my inner Little Red Hen: That's fine. If it's really good, I'll just drink it all, bitches.

My threat went unchallenged.

It's a start.
Undeterred, I gathered the ingredients: cheap vodka (you didn't think I'd waste the good stuff, did you?), whole milk (from the store, not the raw milk I usually drink), Ghirardelli dark chocolate (what, I should have used Hershey's? C'mon.), sugar and lemons. I grated the chocolate and chopped up the lemons, then dumped it all into my sun tea jug and shook it up. The milk curdled immediately. It looked like vomit this.

The recipe calls for the fledgling milk liqueur to be shaken daily for ten days. I shook it every three or four days if I remembered almost daily for ... ummm ... about three months. Maybe four. Yes, probably four....ish.....months.

OK, in my defense, the first straining is supposed to go through cheesecloth. But when I moved into this house last summer, I didn't unpack everything, so I couldn't find my cheesecloth, and the grocery store doesn't carry it and I forgot about  my dark little secret hiding there in the pantry when I went to any of the places that might have it. I really did shake it when I noticed it. My daughter would come over and open the pantry to get chips and make rude gagging sounds complain dramatically about the disgusting jar of curdled zombie vomit she had to reach past to get her healthy snack. Probably just to encourage me to get the shit out of my kitchen, The Diplomat offered to try it with me if I'd just do something with it besides shake it once a week every day. Finally a couple of weeks ago I bought some straining towels for making farmers cheese and realized I could use them to finish my milk liqueur. Time to taste the fruits of my labor.

Milk liqueur sludge
I gave the jar one last shake and dumped the stuff into the towel, which was resting in a colander. "Don't you want to put a bowl under that?" The Diplomat asked diplomatically. Duh. I grabbed a stainless steel bowl and caught the colander underneath it. I was lucky the chunks sank down and prevented most of the liquid from going down the drain. I let it drip overnight. After the first straining, the towel looked like a dirty baby diaper and the resulting liquid looked like adult diarrhea. But it smelled good, like vodka and chocolate!

I continued to strain the liquid throughout the next day, progressing from a doubled towel to coffee filters. At some point that day, I found my cheesecloth in the kitchen towel drawer, stuck up against the side, just where you'd expect it to be. I try not to obsess about things like that.

This could be yummy.
With every straining the liquid got clearer and the particles I was straining out smaller. Finally I got down to doubled coffee filters, and after the second time through, the liquid was as clear as I was going to get it. The milk liqueur was ready to drink.

I notified The Diplomat and he expressed his continued willingness to try it. My son's girlfriend also said she'd jump off the roof give it a chance. The problem was this: when would we taste it the first time? What if it made us sick? Did I mention it started out as vodka-infused milk that sat in a dark, warm pantry for several months? We didn't want to drink it the first time before, say, a party or a night at the theater or church. So it sat in the fridge for a few days chilling and waiting for just the right time to cause us to die a horrible, puking, shitting death amaze us with its deliciousness.

Coming up in the next post: a pre-birthday dinner and the drinking of the milk liqueur.

* Milk Liqueur or licor de leite (from The New Portuguese Table by David Leite)
  • 2 1/2 cups grappa (or unflavored vodka)
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, grated
  • 1/2 lemon, seeded and chopped, with rind


  1. what a place to stop. I'm waiting to find out if I should give it a try.

  2. Why would you have to question whether you should give it a try? Doesn't it look yummy?

  3. Since you wrote this piece, and you mentioned pre-birthday, and since you posted this a mere 8 hours ago, I'm presuming you're still with us. I'm definitely curious as to how it went down -- both literally and figuratively.

  4. It DOES look yummy and I don't drink! And yes, I am guessing it didn't make you die a horrible death OR turn you into a zombie, seeing as it started out as zombie vomit! But let's hear more!!! Also, I like the pictures! And you are totally right about the "licker". I bet the word "dildo" in the prior post had a similar effect! LOL!

  5. Do your friends like yogurt? Also could be defined as spoiled milk. What about cheese?
    Keep making spoiled milk products people - mama works in the industry, needs to keep food on the table, and can't retire just yet....LOL!

  6. LOL! I'm on that. I make my own yogurt and I just made some cheese the other day. My friends did come around. We couldn't believe how delicious it was.

  7. Thank you for making the good work we do at Widow Badass Industries possible. ;-)

    1. I live to serve. I confess I didn't use the raw milk I usually drink. I bought some grocery store homogenized milk.

  8. Is raw milk legal where you live? It’s illegal here. That much alcohol would kill any bad microbes in the raw milk regardless.

    1. It is if you own a herd share. Also I work for the farmer I own my herd share with. I've been getting milk from her for years.