Per verenaerin's request, here are the recipes I am using for my Christmas gifts:Cranberry-Apple
(this recipe does not give yields, so I had to guess. I made a triple batch.):
1 cup sugar
½ cup water
2 cups coarsely chopped fresh cranberries
2 cups coarsely chopped tart green apples, pared and cored
1 cup brandy
1 cup vodka
1 vanilla bean, split
6 whole cloves
1 2-inch cinnamon stick, broken in pieces
Combine sugar and water in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer until sugar has completely dissolved, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
Combine cranberries, apples, brandy, sugar syrup, vodka, brandy, vanilla bean, cloves and cinnamon stick in a large jar. Cap tightly and let steep for 3 weeks in a cool, dark place. Shake jar daily.
When steeping period is complete, strain and filter the liquid. Pour into bottles and cap tightly. Let age at least 1 month before serving.
Here's what it looks like so far, along with the bottles I will be using:
Here is the Irish Cream Liqueur Recipe
that I'll be using:
1 (750 milliliter) bottle Irish whiskey
8 3/4 ounces milk chocolate
2 (14 ounce) cans sweetened condensed milk
2 (12 fluid ounce) cans evaporated milk
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon instant coffee granules*
1. Pour a small amount of whiskey into a large bowl. In the top of a double boiler, melt chocolate, stirring constantly until smooth. Mix the melted chocolate with the whiskey in the bowl. Gradually stir in the sweetened condensed milk and the evaporated milk. Stir in the cream, instant coffee granules, and the remaining whiskey.
2. Pour mixture into 3 (750 ml) bottles, seal and store in refrigerator. Best if kept at least 1 month before using. To serve: shake bottle well, serve in small glasses over crushed ice.
I will not be using instant coffee. I plan to go to my local coffee shop to buy a shot of espresso.