We both absolutely detest egg nog. What sounds less appetizing than a cold glass of creamy eggs and milk, with an utterly sad and misplaced bit of alcohol thrown in? Not…good…at…all. But when Christmas rolls around, everyone seems to want something a little bit more exciting than your normal everyday cocktail – people crave things with holiday spices and festive flavors. Well, thanks to Frank’s Puerto Rican heritage, we found the most amazingly delicious holiday substitute to that cringe-worthy other beverage, egg nog. Puerto Rican Coquito is a perfectly balanced, deliciously flavored beverage made with coconut milk, spices, and rum. Does that already have you itching to get to the store to pick up the ingredients and make a huge batch?
From what I understand, coquito is normally made as a holiday beverage, and because the recipe below makes such a huge amount of it (way too much to safely keep in your own refrigerator, I can assure you of that), people generally bottle it themselves and give it away as Christmas presents, much like my mom used to give out Zucchini Bread. After making our first batch, we can definitely understand how fabulous a present this would be to hand out to friends. First of all, we were able to fill up about 5 large wine bottles, with some left over. It’s a ton of a highly-caloric, heavily alcohol-laden, delicious beverage to keep at home within easy reach, if you know what I mean. On the other hand, it’s so amazingly awesome, you just want to spontaneously share it with people. For serving, it’s traditionally given as a tall shot, not only because it’s quite strong due to the amount of rum, but because it’s very sweet and maybe not something that you’d enjoy sipping on continually. Feel free to serve any way you like it, but the colder the better, and you should definitely stir up the mixture before pouring to break up anything that’s settled on the bottom. Happy holidays!
1 ½ cups water
4 star anise clusters (These can be found in most grocery stores; our local store had it in the ethnic section for some reason. It came in a small plastic bag in the Mexican spice area, but it’s occasionally grouped in the larger spice aisle in a plastic container. If you can’t find it, you can substitute half as much “anise seed,” or you can add allspice to taste, although you won’t end up with the yummy licorice flavor.)
2 whole cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon whole cloves
3-inch long piece of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
84 ounces (6 14-ounce cans) coconut milk [3700 calories]
42 ounces (3 14-ounce cans) cream of coconut [4700 calories]
14 ounces sweetened condensed milk [1300 calories]
12 ounces evaporated milk [480 calories]
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Ground cinnamon, to taste
Ground cloves, to taste
Ground ginger, to taste
3 ½ cups white rum [1820 calories] (Because this is a Puerto Rican treat, it only seems right to use Bacardi if you can get it.)
Makes 24 cups (192 ounces)
Calories per ounce: 63
In a small saucepan, bring the 1 ½ cups of water to a low boil, over about medium to medium-high heat; you want slowly simmering bubbles, not a rolling boil. Add the star anise, cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, and the ginger pieces once the water is at a low boil. Allow mixture to remaining boiling for about 8 – 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the water takes on a caramel color, much like tea. You should end up with ~ 1 cup of liquid after the boiling process.
In a large pot, combine coconut milk, cream of coconut, condensed milk, evaporated milk, and vanilla extract, then raise the heat to medium. Using a small sieve, strain the spice tea directly into the liquid ingredients and discard the used whole spices. Stir constantly for the first 5 minutes to help break up the thickness of some of the liquid ingredients. Once the mixture becomes smooth, taste, and then add the ground spices (cinnamon, cloves, and ginger) as desired. Allow mixture to warm over medium heat for 15 – 20 minutes, tasting and stirring occasionally, then adjusting the spice seasoning. If an oily residue forms on top of the liquid mixture (a result of the cream of coconut separating over heat), feel free to remove it with a spoon, much like you would degrease a braising liquid.
Once you’re satisfied with the flavor, remove the mixture from heat and allow to cool. When mixture is cool, add the rum and stir well to combine.
* Feel free to decrease/increase the amount of rum for your particular tastes. The 3 ½ cups of rum results in quite a strong cocktail. *
Store the coquito in the refrigerator in an airtight container, or fill up old wine or beer bottles that you can seal again (twist-off caps, corks intact, etc.). Serve cold garnished with ground cinnamon or nutmeg.
This recipe was lovingly provided to us by Frank’s Titi Sonia. She’s been making this for years, and she’s obviously an absolute expert at it due to the amazing result of following her instructions to the tee.