Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Homemade Limoncello - Part One

Have you ever had limoncello? If not, it's a must try. It's a delicious Italian lemon liqueur that is usually served as an after dinner digestivo, but you do not have to drink it straight up. You can add it to martinis to make a limontini. You can add it to champagne to give it a little lemony kick, and you can even use it in cooking. I used limoncello for the first time baking back in June while I was experimenting with cupcake recipes for Ryan's graudation party. The cupcake was a lemon limoncello cupcake with a homemade lemon curd filling and a limoncello cream cheese frosting. At first, I thought the lemon flavor would be over powering, but it really wasn't. And, you could really taste the limoncello come through. I'm sure I'll be making these again (they were a bigger hit then I thought they would be), but here is a picture of the finished cupcakes to make you drool a little! This recipe come from one of my all time favorite blogs, brown eyed baker. Check out her blog here,
Once you do, there's no going back. You be hooked like me!

This recipe got me thinking - how easy would it be to make limoncello instead of buying it? It's a little on the expensive side (well worth it though), but how hard could it be to make? I started researching online and there were tons of recipes! Who knew. All called for some type of alcohol (vodka, grain alcohol, etc), lemon and simple syrup. Even though they all sounded the same, none of them seemed right. After searching through a stack of old Cooking Light magazines, I came across a recipe for homemade limoncello! Not sure that is really part of "cooking light", but hey, I'll take it. This recipe seemed easy and simple - you just have to have patience to let everything blend and meld and get all lemony delicious. Plus, it was the perfect opportunity to use up the huge Costco size bottle of vodka I've had in my freezer for months.

I would have liked to use my microplane to grate the lemon, but some of the plastic has broken off and it's not as efficient as it used to be (note to self - buy a new microplane!). Instead, I used a regular 'ol veggie peeler. Which shockingly worked quite well to get nice strips of lemon peel. In fact, I would recommend this technique instead of lemon zest. Just be careful to not get too much pith (the bitter white part of the peel). No one wants bitter limoncello. 

Here's how you do it:

vodka and lemon peels. plus, I picked up this cute container at the dollar store. I love that place - so many random useful things for cheap! Same goes for goodwill. Love that place.

swimming lemon peels.

vodka and lemon after one week. you can see it's already turning yellow. it also smells less vodka-y and more lemony!

for good measure - now you can really see the yellow. if you have an iphone check this app out - ColorSplash. It rocks! I'm already addicted.

Limoncello - Part One (slightly altered from Cooking Light)

1/2 cup lemon peels (about 5-6 large lemons)
4 cups vodka 

Peel lemons and place into a clean container with vodka. Cover and let sit at room temperature for two weeks.

That's it. Piece of cake, right? Ooh cake. I could totally go for a piece of cake.

I'll be back in one week to show you how to complete this delicious liqueur. Stay tuned. You won't want to miss it!

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