Rompope

If you’re a fan of eggnog, you will love its Mexican cousin rompope.  I first had it while visiting Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico in Spring of 2009, during the early days of Semana Santa. I was walking in the zocalo (the square in the center of most Mexican towns that is the hub of social life) observing the festivities.  There were vendors selling colorful toys and decorations, food items, etc.  One table had a large ceramic vitolero (large container used for aguas frescas), and several piles of ceramic mugs. The vendor would dip in a ladle, draw out a thick milky-looking beverage, hand you a mugful for a few pesos, which you could sip while wandering the square before returning it empty.  Not knowing for certain what this beverage was, I paid for a mug, expecting pulque or horchata.  However, when I lifted it to my lips, it was viscous, and sweet, and had the faint taste of alcohol.  I wanted to like it, but it was so far from what I expected, I couldn’t finish it.  Today, there’s a dead plant in Ajijic that was more surprised by its unexpected drink than I was.

Because I didn’t hate it, however, it stuck with me.  And the more time that’s lapsed, the more I remember liking it, and wishing I had stuck it out.  So when I begun planning a Semana Santa menu for Easter, the first thing to go on my list was rompope.  And for my recipe, I turned once more to the wonderful Fany Gerson, by way of her My Sweet Mexico cookbook.

Source: My Sweet Mexico – Fany Gerson

Ingredients:

  • 1 qt. milk (I used whole milk, but I would imagine 1% or 2% would suit)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • pinch of baking soda
  • 1 3″ cinnamon stick
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup good quality rum, pref. dark
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Steps:

  1. In a large pot, combine the milk, sugar, baking soda and cinnamon stick, and bring to a light boil over medium-high heat.
  2. Once at a boil, lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.  The milk/sugar mixture will reduce to appx. 3 cups.
  3. Place egg yolks in a heatproof bowl, and whisk briefly to combine into a consistent texture.  Slowly pour 1 cup of the milk/sugar mixture into the egg yolk, whisking constantly as you do this.
  4. Pour the egg/milk mixture back into the pot, and cook over low heat until the consistency begins to thicken slightly; appx. 5 to 7 minutes.
  5. While the mixture is cooking over low, in a separate large bowl or sink, prepare a bowl in an ice water bath.  Pour mixture into this bowl to drop the heat, and stop the rompope from cooking further.
  6. Stir in rum and vanilla and chill completely in the refrigerator before serving, over ice or without.

This came out exactly as I remembered in Ajijic; rich and sweet. But also incredibly delicious, with the rum highlighting the cinnamon and egg.  Instead of tossing it in a bush, I served it for dessert, over ice with a bit drizzled over the top of capirotada.

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