Since celebrating her heritage with Philadelphia by serving as the Grand Marshal of the Puerto Rican Day Parade this fall, it seems only natural for Food Network star and cookbook author Daisy Martinez to keep sharing with us the secrets—and the cuisine—of that little Caribbean island. For the holidays, Martinez is stirring up her beloved coquito, a festive, rum-laced Puerto Rican beverage similar to eggnog that she creates for every holiday party.
“I don’t remember a Christmas without coquito,” Martinez says. “When I was a little girl, spending Christmas in Puerto Rico, my grandmother would send us to the palm tree outside to collect coconuts.” Nowadays you can buy canned cream of coconut at your local grocer, but that CHEERS! Chippendale tray in sterling silver, Tiffany & Co. “O” tumblers, Riedel will not detract from the drink’s authenticity: It still tastes as delicious as when Martinez and her family would offer it to carolers during asalto navideño, a Puerto Rican tradition that literally translates to “Christmas assault.” On Christmas Eve, caravans of jovial musicians travel around with instruments, bang on doors, and “assault” families with loud choruses of holiday songs. In good cheer, the carolers are invited inside for a traditional Christmas meal of roast pork, rice with pigeon peas, meat-stuffed pasteles, and, as Martinez says, “lots and lots of coquito.”
“Because it is Puerto Rico, there is lots of rum involved,” she jokes of her homeland’s holiday traditions. We think Puerto Rico shows the right kind of holiday spirit.
Daisy Martinez’s Coquito
2 jumbo eggs
3 jumbo egg yolks
1 (14-oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (15-oz.) can cream of coconut
1 (12-oz.) can evaporated milk
1 cup heavy cream
11⁄2 cups Brugal Ron Blanco Especial or Añejo dark rum
Ground cinnamon, for serving
Put the eggs and yolks in a blender jar. Blend at high speed until pale yellow and very light. With the motor running, add in, one at a time, the condensed milk, cream of coconut, and evaporated milk in a very thin stream. Blend for a minute or so, then add the heavy cream in a slow steady stream. Blend just until incorporated. Pour into the punch bowl, and stir in the rum. Chill for two to six hours. Sprinkle with cinnamon before serving.
Recipe adapted from Daisy’s Holiday Cooking: Delicious Latin Recipes for Effortless Entertaining