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Benjamin Franklin’s Milk Punch

By: Steven Rodia

In 1763, after returning from his diplomat duties in Europe, Benjamin Franklin penned a letter to his friend, James Bowdoin, and enclosed a recipe for milk punch.  The recipe called for brandy, citrus juice, water, and sugar combined with boiling milk, then strained of the milk’s curd.  The milk washing clarifies the alcohol mixture and yields a much smoother and clear drink.  It may sound strange, but it is quite a refreshing concoction.

 

Milk Punch Recipe:

As with many cooking tasks, there is more than one way to reach the same goal.  I will include two recipe methods below.  The first utilizes the Nomiku immersion circulator device.  The second part is a room temperature process that will yield the same results, but take more time.

  • 3 cups of brandy – medium grade (VS, VO, or VSOP) are fine
  • 5 lemons, peeled avoiding the bitter white pith.  Reserve the skins
  • 1 cup lemon juice
  •  2 cups of water
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 cups of whole milk

 

Sous Vide Milk Punch Recipe

1.) Wash and prepare your lemons. Peel the skins of the lemons, being careful to avoid the bitter white pith.  Place the lemon peels and the brandy into a  plastic bag and seal using the displacement method (video here) or by using a vacuum sealer.  Submerge in the water bath with your Nomiku device set for 50°C / 122°F and cook sous vide for 2 hours.

2.) Remove the bag and allow to cool.

3.) Strain out lemon peels so that you are only left with the infused brandy.

4.) Add lemon juice, water, and sugar to the brandy and mix well.

5.) Heat the milk in a pot over medium heat until it is just about to boil.  Stir frequently to avoid any chance of scorching.  Just before it begins to boil, remove the milk from the heat and add in the infused brandy mixture.  Curds will form immediately.  Stir to combine and then allow to rest for 5-10 minutes.  Stir again and then allow the mixture to cool for 1.5 hours, undisturbed.

6.) Using a coffee filter or cheese cloth, strain out the milk solids.  You may have to filter several times to remove all of the solids.  What you will be left with is a clear (slightly yellow), smooth liquid.

7.) Refrigerate punch until ready to serve. Punch should be served chilled (but not over ice, as it has already been diluted with water).

Standard Milk Punch Recipe

1.) Wash and prepare your lemons. Peel the skins of the lemons, being careful to avoid the bitter white pith.

2.) Place the lemon peels and the brandy into a mason jar or other food-safe container.  Allow to steep for 24-36 hours.

3.) Strain out lemon peels so that you are only left with the infused brandy.

4.) Add lemon juice, water, and sugar to the brandy and mix well.

5.) Heat the milk in a pot over medium heat until it is just about to boil.  Stir frequently to avoid any chance of scorching.  Just before it begins to boil, remove the milk from the heat and add in the infused brandy mixture.  Curds will form immediately.  Stir to combine and then allow to rest for 5-10 minutes.  Stir again and then allow the mixture to cool for 1.5 hours, undisturbed.

6.) Using a coffee filter or cheese cloth, strain out the milk solids.  What you will be left with is a clear (slightly yellow), smooth liquid.

7.) Refrigerate punch until ready to serve. Punch should be served chilled (but not over ice, as it has already been diluted with water).

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Cheers!

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