Cold & Hot
We’re talking about rompope, often called the Mexican eggnog because it uses whipped egg yolks that are whisked with milk into a hot, cinnamon-tinged mix and cooked until it thickens. After cooling, a strong brandy is added to the mix, which is then chilled in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Puerto Ricans have a cute name for rompope: coquito. Cubans call rompope crème de vie while Venezuelans use ponche crema to describe to drink. In Peru, it’s called biblia. All of them use rum to “strengthen” the drink, except for the Hondurans, who prefer to use cognac to add to their cups of guaro.
Rompope is strong to the tongue, so small sipping glasses are best for serving. Once made and refrigerated, it will keep for more than a few days.
On the other hand, there’s nothing like a hot drink to warm you while walking and singing in a posada. A Thermos filled with café con Kahlua (a coffee-flavored Mexican liqueur) is simple to make and will keep you from getting chilled.
There’s also a hot toddy, a traditional drink used to treat cold symptoms. A good cup of tea, sweetened with honey and lemon, is spiked with brandy. Most likely, the drinker will fall to sleep quietly after one of these!
Another traditional hot drink is hot buttered rum. You can make the sugar/butter mixture ahead to keep on hand when guests drop in, leaving the quick addition of hot water and rum to the last. Note: this is not a low-calorie drink.
Lastly we want to point out a Christmas favorite: mulled wine. This recipe recalls its chilled summer cousin, sangria, but with less fruit. Ni modo (mo matter), the ingredients combine for a welcome scent as guests come through your door. Enjoy!
1 quart whole milk (reserve 1 cup)
1 cup suga
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cinnamon stick
¼ cup finely ground almonds or almond meal (optional)
12 egg yolks (save the whites for your holiday cookies)
2 cups light rum or brandy
Combine the milk, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon stick (and ground almonds, if you are using them) in a large saucepan. Over medium heat, bring the mixture just to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring constantly, for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, and cool to room temperature.
In a medium-sized bowl, whisk reserved cup of milk with the egg yolks until thick and lemony. Remove the cinnamon stick from the hot milk mixture. Slowly whisk the egg yolks into the milk mixture. Return to low heat and, stirring constantly, cook until the mixture coats a spoon. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.
Add the rum or brandy to the mixture, stir well. Transfer to a container and cover tightly. Refrigerate for 1 or 2 days before serving.
Makes about 1½ quarts.
Café con Kahlua
2 parts Kahlua (coffee-flavored Mexican liqueuer)
3 parts coffee
Prepare coffee as you normally would. Add 2 parts Kahlua for every 3 parts hot coffee. Stir in cream.
1 tablespoon honey
¾ tall mug of hot tea
2 shots brandy
1 slice lemon
Brew tea and fill a tall glass 3/4 full. Mix in honey. Mix in brandy shots. Add lemon slice and enjoy.
Hot Buttered Rum
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 cups light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
Pinch ground cloves
Bottle of ark rum
In a bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt. Refrigerate until almost firm. Scoop about 2 tablespoons of the butter mixture into a mug. Pour about 3 ounces of rum into each mug (about halfway). Fill remainder of mug with boiling water, stir well, and serve immediately.
Makes enough for about 12 servings.