I love my neighbors. The other night I was home alone while my husband was out at a dinner with colleagues. It was super cold outside so I was snuggled up with our 40 kilo labrador, who really thinks he is a 5 kilo lap dog, reading a book. When I got up to make a cup of tea, I noticed that there was no heat coming out of the radiators. Lovely! Just what I wanted to deal with on a super cold night. After spending a half an hour trying to figure what the problem problem was, including trying to decipher the manual which is hard enough when it’s in your mother tongue and next to impossible when it’s in your second language, I gave up. Happy days! Thankfully, I have a dog that likes to lounge on me like a blanket so at least I could stay warm.
I refused to send my husband a text….at least not yet. I started making the rounds talking to my neighbors and asking their advice. All different, but unfortunately none seemed to work. My next door neighbour, bless her heart, invited me over to “warm up” with some homemade crema di limoncello or cream of limoncello she had made. So, I finally sent a text to my husband…”heat not working, no idea why…off to our neighbors to have a drink. Come by when you are home.” At least a little alcohol would keep me toasty warm.
My next door neighbour who had so graciously invited me over the evening before knocked on my door the next morning. She said she was not the milk delivery but the crema di limoncello delivery…how lovely! I proudly told her I solved the heating problem….I guess the alcohol brought some clarity to my mind as I had a Eureka moment on how to fix the heating problem. Go figure!
So, of course my neighbor’s gift inspired me to learn how to make my own cream of limoncello. While lemons are typically associated with the Amalfi coast, actually 90 % of lemons in Italy are actually cultivated in Sicily. Given the warmer climate on this island, there are 3 annual lemon seasons; with the first being the late autumn harvest or “primo fiore”, the second in the spring between March and April or “bianchetti and the third between June and July or “Verdelli.” Since the markets are currently full of “primo fiore” lemons I thought now would be the perfect time to master the art of making this creamy sweet yet tart nectar.When making cream of limoncello, it is very important that you use a glass container with a good sealing top. This will ensure that the alcohol does not evaporate when you are steeping the lemon peels. It is also quite important that when you are peeling the lemons to take only the yellow part of the peel and not the white part or pith as it is quite bitter and will also end up turning your liquor that you make bitter.
While I adore limoncello, I find that cream of limoncello is a little more versatile and can be used for more than just an after dinner drink. Given its velvety creaminess, it lends itself beautifully drizzled over a little gelato.
I also like to take a slice of store bought pound cake and jazz it up with healthy drizzle of cream of limoncello, a generous dollop of freshly whipped cream and a smattering of berries. Not only is it scrumptiously satisfying, but it is a super quick and beautiful dessert for the fanciest of dinner parties. The possibilities are endless!
Cin cin! Cheers!
- 10 lemons (organic – untreated since this recipe uses the peel of the lemon)
- 500 mL (2 ¼ cups or 16.9 fl. ounces) pure alcohol (95 %)
- 500 mL (2 ¼ cups or 16.9 fl. ounces) whole milk
- 600 mL (2 ½ cups or 20 fl. ounces) heavy cream
- 850 grams (3 ¾ cups) granulated sugar
- Wash and dry the lemons. With a vegetable peeler, peel the lemons into medium size strips making sure to remove only the yellow part as the white part or pith is very bitter.
- Pour the alcohol into a large airtight glass container. It is important that you use a glass container so the alcohol does not evaporate. Add the lemon peels to the container and let them soak in the alcohol for a month in a cool, dark place.
- Once the month is up, pour the milk and heavy cream into a heavy bottom pan and over low-medium heat bring the mixture to a boil. Once the mixture reached the boiling point, turn off the burner and add the sugar, whisking until it dissolves completely. Allow to fully cool.
- With a fine mesh sieve, filter the alcohol mixture to remove the lemon peels. Add the alcohol to the cooled cream mixture and mix with a wire whisk until well combined.
- Put in the refrigerator for a minimum of 10 days before consuming although it is perfectly okay and tasty if you want to try a sip the next day. Allowing it to “rest” for ten days allows the flavor to develop more fully.