So, who’s ready to start talking Christmas?
Please don’t throw rocks at me.
By this point in the year, most stores have already put out Christmas decorations and many of them are playing Christmas carols constantly. I love to watch social media go nuts over this every October. It’s not even Halloween yet! Thanksgiving is weeks away! Stop expecting me to be cheerful already! And I admit, the commercialization of the holiday season is disheartening and consumerist-minded, but in a way I have to agree with the stores putting out stockings a few months early. I also like to start preparing for Christmas when it’s still autumn.
(I’ve also been known to listen to Christmas music before Halloween, but that’s another issue entirely and I won’t even begin to try and defend myself on it.)
The thing is, I like to make as many Christmas presents as I can, and making gifts takes time. One of my favorite things to give friends and acquaintances is a nice bottle of homemade kahlua.
Kahlua is a liqueur. It’s coffee and vanilla flavored, and syrupy in consistency. It’s basically a flavored, alcoholic syrup, and it mixes well in a number of wintertime favorites. I wouldn’t say that it’s healthy, but as a rare treat it can be part of an enjoyable evening.
And you might be annoyed with me for going on about Christmas gifts this early in the season, but this is why I’m doing it: Kahlua has to stand for three weeks before it can be strained and given as a gift. I’m giving you a week or two to gather supplies and three weeks to make your kahlúa, so you should have it ready just in time to take it as a host’s gift to the first Christmas party of the year.
- Large pot
- Wooden spoon
- Large pitcher or bowl
- Nice vessel to strain it into (I like this one.)
- 4 cups of organic raw sugar (find it here)
- ⅓ cup of organic instant coffee granules (find them here)
- 2 ⅓ cups filtered water (find the best water filtration systems here)
- 2 whole organic vanilla beans (find them here)
- 2 cups of brandy or vodka (your choice!)
- Bring your water to a boil. When it’s good and hot, add your sugar and coffee granules and remove from heat. Stir until everything is dissolved. It might take a while for them to dissolve, especially since raw sugar is so coarse, but they must dissolve well in order for the kahlua to be full-flavored and smooth.
- Next, remove the mixture from heat. Let it sit until it’s almost to room temperature, then pour it into a large pitcher, jar, or bowl. This is the vessel that the kahlua will be staying in for the next three weeks, so make sure that you’re able to cover it well (and don’t use your favorite pitcher, either, since it will be out of commission for nearly a month). Add the brandy or vodka and the two vanilla beans. Give everything one more good stir, then cover up your kahlua mixture and put it out of your sight.
- Consider marking your calendar or creating an event in your phone to alert you when the three weeks has passed. Don’t worry if it stays in a few extra days; it will be fine.
- After the three weeks have passed, it’s time to strain your concoction and get it into whatever pretty vessel you’ve chosen. That actually works best in two steps: First, strain your kahlua into a jar. Next, get a funnel and pour the final mixture into its final bottle. (Another option: Buy small bottles and split one batch of homemade kahlua into two or three gifts.) Close the lid tightly, and you’re ready to gift it! It should last for several months at least at room temperature.
Of course, you may decide that you just want to keep this homemade kahlua for yourself, but if you do in fact give it away, there are nice touches you can make to be sure that it presents well. Personally, I like to find a simple, sparkly Christmas ornament and hang it around the neck of the bottle. You can always wrap a nice ribbon around it, or add a bow on top. If you’re especially crafty, turn the glass bottle into a keepsake by decorating it yourself. Actually, you should just go check out our post on how to make DIY gifts more beautiful.