Remember when I told you about the awesome Azorean cookbook we got from our neighbors? Well, I've dabbled in a thing or two beyond the molha. One of the recipes that intrigued me from the beginning was one for a milk liqueur. The name alone is enough to pique one's interest. But lest you think this is a creamy drink like Irish cream, let me disabuse you of that notion.
Rather, the idea here is that milk is combined with liquor and other ingredients, most importantly citrus. The acid from the citrus causes the milk solids to coagulate, and the milk liquids that are left behind give the liqueur a viscosity and weight that you cannot get from alcohol and sugar alone.
Best of all, as with nearly all the recipes in the book, is the grace note:
Around Christmas, it was traditional to make, quite in advance, various homemade liqueurs, destined for the friends who were to come round. These liqueurs, characteristic of the Christmassy period, were tenderly named the "wee of little Jesus" or "o xixi do menino Jesus." This tradition, with the passing of time and the running around for time, is now starting to disappear, although it is continued by inviting friends over for the so-called "xixi" that now, at the best of times, is no more than a gin, a whisky or any other purchased drink.
So, if you, like I, are interested in keeping this treasured tradition alive, read on.
The first time I made this recipe, I followed it to the letter, and found it tooth-achingly sweet, as it called for a kilogram of sugar! This time around, I did the infusion first, and then sweetened to taste. And obviously I had to decant my finished product into a specimen bottle I purchased at a local store. Wouldn't you?
Adapted from Azorean Cuisine by Vasco Pereira Da Costa Zita Lima
1 liter milk
1 liter vodka
1 lemon, sliced
1 vanilla pod
25 g chocolate, shaved or broken in pieces
1 cup sugar, or to taste
Combine the milk, vodka, lemon, vanilla, and chocolate in a sealable glass container. Allow the mixture to steep for at least two weeks, agitating daily.
At first it looks innocent enough, but as the lemon begins to work on the milk solids, it quickly goes a bit gnarly. dpaul says it looks like baby Jesus something else.
After two weeks or so (I left mine in for three), strain the mixture through several layers of cheesecloth to capture the milk solids, chocolate, vanilla and lemon slices. (This decidedly looks like baby Jesus poo.) Then, run the liqueur through a coffee filter to remove all fine solids. The resulting liquid should be clear, and a bright yellow.
Pour the strained infusion into a clean glass container, add the sugar, and agitate until dissolved. Taste, and add more sugar if desired.
Serve as a dessert drink or aperitif.
What to do with the goo you've strained out? The book to the rescue:
With the residues that remain in the filter, one can make a delicious pudding by adding them to a syrup made with 500 grams sugar (boiled to the point of a paste) and which one allows to boil for a little while. When lukewarm, 8 egg yoks and 4 stiffly beaten egg whites are added, placing it into the oven in a well-greased mould.