When life gives you lemons in the summer of 2021, there’s only one thing to do: slice them, squeeze them and turn them into creamy (or cloudy) lemonade.
This simple riff on Brazilian lemonade calls for only two ingredients: juicy lemons and the product that brings the magic to any party (and does away with the need for preparing a traditional sugar syrup base): sweetened condensed milk.
But is that clever twist enough for the drink to take on Dalgona coffee’s title as the trendiest drink around?
A quick scroll on social media suggests the drink is certainly having a moment. TikTok is awash with the clinking of ice-filled lemonade glasses, with the hashtag #creamylemonade notching up about 21.7 million views and counting.
Over on Instagram, food-and-drink-focused grids are awash with carefully styled images of pitchers brimming with the pastel beverage.
So, having established that the frothy blended lemon drink is trending, is it actually worth the hype? TikToker Layal Takieddine (@geminibakes), from the UAE, says yes.
“I tried the recipe out the day I saw it and really liked how fast it was to make compared to regular lemonade,” says Takieddine, who has previously experimented with other TikTok recipe favourites feta pasta, pesto eggs and pasta chips.
She says that the video has proved particularly popular with her 153,000 followers, garnering some 15,000 views across TikTok and Instagram.
If you’re keen for a taste of the action, the good news is that it couldn’t be quicker or easier to whip up this creamy concoction. You do need to get the balance of citrus and sweetness right, though, which means adding just enough condensed milk to provide a rich, milkshake-like element without overpowering the refreshing tang from the lemon juice.
After a little experimentation, we settled on a ratio of two lemons to three tablespoons of condensed milk per drink. Whisk or blend this mix vigorously to combine, then pour into an ice-filled glass and top up with a dash of sparkling water for a final fizzy flourish.
For best results, and to get maximum juice out of your lemons, begin by selecting fruit that feels soft, yielding and a little on the heavy side. Applying pressure with the palm of your hands and rolling the lemons back and forth on a chopping board will help to loosen the citrus membranes and make them easier to squeeze.
While the addition of lemon juice doesn’t cause the dairy to curdle as we first feared, the drink does have a tendency to separate, so you’ll want to mix it up just before serving. And speaking of serving, the simplicity of the recipe and its short ingredients list calls out for customisation; we can’t help but think that a lime-forward version would be rather lovely and a few muddled strawberries or peach slices would make the drink next-level good.
Our verdict? This is a trend worth trying. Creamy lemonade is tart without being acerbic, rich but not cloying and sipping away on a chilled glass might just be the perfect antidote to the sticky summer heat.
Preparing a glass or two will leave you in possession of an open can of condensed milk, but that’s more bonus than bane. There’s certainly no need for the sweet-sticky stuff to go to waste; simply transfer to a sealable container and it will keep in the fridge for a month.
From there, condensed milk can be used in all manner of different ways: add a splash to your morning coffee in place of semi-skimmed and the day will instantly feel more decadent, or take this as the nudge you need to make creamy, iced Vietnamese coffee (another perfect hot weather drink, if ever there were one).
Alternatively, the simple route to home-made caramel sauce or easy dulce de leche begins with condensed milk; simmer in a small pan over a low heat, stirring every so often, until thick, unctuous and golden brown. Trickle over ice cream and you’ll have zero regrets.