Monday, 26 November 2012

Homemade B52s!

Well I'm not just all work and no play you know. I've always got a fun little trick or two up my sleeve! So let's put our knives down and have a little bit of fun. I first got introduced to the B52 back in the early 1980's at a bar in Calgary, Alberta, and I truly thought I had died and gone to heaven! How absolutely delicious and who thought up such a wonderful thing? A shooter (which meant that you knock it all back down your throat at once) made of 3 layers - Kahlua, Bailey's Irish Cream and Grand Marnier, all sitting perfectly separated. A truly beautiful thing to behold! Back then, only lonely old cowboys with the lovesick blues drank shots. Usually a shot of Jack Daniel's Tennessee whiskey. Ew! I could never be that lonely. B52's are pretty retro now, but back then, they were very avant-garde, and they were the concoction that brought shooters into the main stream of bar life. They required skill, and as a former bartender, to make hundreds of them in a night was quite a challenge. I adored them alright, but they were such a very rare treat to have at home because of the cost of buying all that liquor was quite out of reach back then. And it still is if you love them as much as I do. Plus it's way sexier to make your own liqueurs!

So I learnt to make my own. Back then, computers were not invented and certainly not the internet, so you had to ask around and get recipes by word of mouth. There were no cell phones, or even microwave ovens. Haha and this wasn't 50 years ago. Just 30 years have gone by! But by my great, good fortune, I got hold of a Grand Marnier recipe that is virtually indistinguishable from the real thing. I've shared it here earlier on my Grand Marnier cheesecake recipe, but we'll go over it again. You'll want to make this one first because it takes a week to ten days. Make your Kahlua a few days before your grand marnier is due to be ready and make your Bailey's the day before you want to start partying. Here's what they look like just before you knock one back:

So we'll start with the Grand Marnier. You'll need a bottle of brandy. Don't bother with the expensive ones because we're not sipping on fine cognac here. 1 beautiful orange and 3/4 to 1 cup of sugar. Slice the top quarter off the orange and set in pulp side down in a glass bowl. Add the sugar and the brandy and cover it with plastic wrap for a week to 10 days. Don't stir it or disturb it the whole time. Just leave it on the counter and forget about it. After the time is up, remove the orange, give it a stir (the sugar will have all dissolved by now) and using a funnel, pour it back into the original brandy bottle. There will be extra, so you can put that in a mason jar. I use 3/4 cup of sugar because I like it a bit less sweet, but use the full cup if you don't like the taste of brandy as much as I do.

Now for the Kahlua:
In a medium sized saucepan, boil 4 cups of water, 2 1/2 cups of sugar and 3 tablespoons of instant coffee. When it comes up the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Stir once in a while. Now I veer off the path a little bit at this stage ever since Bailey went to Cuba and was so sweet as to bring me back some star anise. I put a piece of that into the pot and let it simmer around for about an hour and pull it out. It gives a very subtle back note of licorice which I love. You can skip this, but I like to feel a connection to my lovely Ladygirls in all things I do, so the star anise makes it quite magical to me!
After about 2 1/2 hours of simmering, you'll have quite a thick molasses type of brew going. If it doesn't seem to be thick like tar, let it go the full 3 hours. Pull it off the heat and stir in 1 tablespoon of vanilla and 2 1/2 cups of vodka. Again, don't use your Grey Goose here. It's the alcohol we're after. Let it cool down and put it into a clean bottle using a funnel. Again, you'll have extra, so put that into another mason jar.

Now for the Bailey's and this is fast and easy. Just use your blender for this one and you'll need:
1 tablespoon of instant coffee
1 tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 cup of Half and Half cream
1 can of sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon of honey
1 tablespoon of vanilla
1 1/2 cups of whiskey. I use Irish whiskey since it is Bailey's Irish Cream, but Canadian whiskey would be amazing too!
Blend it all up and put it into a large mason jar and store it in the fridge. It will keep for about 6-8 weeks, but I'm sure it will be long gone before then. Give it a good shake before you use it.

So now you have 3 amazing liqueurs at a fraction of the cost of the real thing. But here's where the fun part comes in. Assembling the shot! Start with your Kahlua and fill up a shot glass 1/3 of the way. The secret to these is the density and you go from densest to least dense. Next comes the Bailey's layer and a little bit of finesse is required to make them perfect. If you have those bartender bottle spouts, that's the best way to do it so you can keep the flow slow. If not, put a little bit of Bailey's into another small shot glass and hold a spoon over the glass, bottom side up and slowly pour the Bailey's over the back of the spoon and it will sit perfectly on top of the Kahlua. Repeat the same process for the Grand Marnier. And Ta Da!!! A perfectly layered shot of pure bliss! Lots of fun to make and more fun for parties or to give as a hostess gift when you go visiting. Put them in 3 separate pretty bottles with festive ribbons on each and a couple of shot glasses makes a beautiful gift.

Now not to be a Debbie Downer, but as a mother and a good citizen, I must insist that you do not drive if you're drinking. Not Ever because it will ruin your life when you get arrested, and not to mention you could kill innocent people. Drinking is fun if you do it responsibly and never get behind the wheel. And don't drink too many of these even if you're staying home because you'll curse the day I was born when you wake up with a pounding head the next morning. And I want to stay in your good books. So Cheers! And may the wind always be at your back and moderation be your guide!

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