I read an amazing quote on Life & Thyme the other day regarding hosting for the holidays. It was a statement from hospitality consultant, Tyler J Wells, and it read: “Guests aren’t expecting a 24-course tasting menu, they just want to have a good time and feel welcome, which is exponentially harder with each foam or fluid gel on the menu…focus on using great ingredients and cooking simple but tasty fare.” True. Words. I’m a believer in keeping my recipes simple, yet tasteful. This Vanilla Limoncello recipe is just that.
Limoncello is an Italian lemon liqueur originally served as an after dinner digestif (an alcoholic drink served after dinner to aid in digestion…aka just a little something to help the food go down).
For this recipe, I decided to add some authentic vanilla flavor to the mix to make it seasonably appropriate. Now, you can buy limoncello from the store but I highly suggest making it at home because it’s actually quite easy to make and it’ll taste 10x better. It just takes a little bit of time and patience like all good things. However, the time required to make this is minimal.
Just picture you as that happy host serving up a small chilled glass of vanilla limoncello for everyone as they sit back, and think on how good of a time their having thanks to you. Yeah, I’m thinking that’s how it’s going to be.
- 10 organic lemons
- 1 bottle of overproof vodka (I used Smirnoff 100 proof)
- 1.5 Vanilla Bean Pod
- 1.5 cup of water
- 1.5 cup of sugar
- Using a Y-Peeler, peel all of the lemons. Try to peel the lemons so there is no pith on the peels, as it will increase the bitterness of the limoncello.
- Combine all of the peels into a jar, and pour in the bottle of overproof vodka. Let the lemon peels steep for 4-5 days or as long as 3-4 weeks, gently shaking the jar daily (leave it out on the counter at room temperature). I let my peels steep for 3 weeks for more intense lemon flavor but 4-5 days is a good amount of time.
- After 4-5 days (or weeks) strain the vodka through a fine mesh strainer or coffee filter to remove the lemon peels and any little pieces. Set the lemon infused vodka aside.
- In a medium saucepan, combine 1.5 cups of water and 1.5 cup of sugar. Heat on low to dissolve the sugar. Once the sugar is dissolved, take the vanilla bean pod and slice it vertically. Scrape out all of the seeds and put the split vanilla bean pod and the seeds into the syrup. Do the same with another half of a vanilla bean pod. Let the pods steep in the syrup for 30 minutes to an hour (also to let the syrup cool).
- Once the vanilla syrup cools, strain out the vanilla pod and little seeds through a coffee filter.
- In a large jar or glass container, combine the lemon peel infused vodka and the vanilla syrup. I initially added in only 1 cup of vanilla syrup and tasted from there. You can keep it at 1 cup of vanilla syrup if you prefer a limoncello that is not as sweet. I ended up using the entire 1.5 cup of vanilla syrup because it added a nice sweet consistency on the front, with a little bitterness on the finish due to the lemon peels. For me this was the perfect ratio, but you can back the syrup off a bit if you prefer.
- Keep the vanilla limoncello in the refrigerator. Always serve chilled, with or without ice.