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Toasted Coconut & Hazelnut Coquito For the 12 Days of Christmas

Cuban Coquito

The angel herald spoke of joy
God’s gift to humankind
And humble shepherds quickly came,
Incarnate joy to find. 

The wise men, guided by the star,
Rejoiced with purest joy;
Their journey led them where they found
The Mother and Her Boy! 

And now this blessed Christmas joy
Is known throughout the earth,
As joyful people everywhere
Observe the Christ Child’s birth. 

And still the joy of Christmas comes
To fill our hearts with cheer;
This joy of which the angels sang
Grows sweeter every year. 

This Christmas joy within our hearts
Is deep and full and free;
It is the spirit of our Lord,
The Man of Galilee.

– J. Harold Gynn

It’s Christmas Day all over the world! We are joyfully celebrating Jesus’ birth — a time to give thanks and spread love and good cheer! It’s the one season of the year where our hearts are softened and our intentions are sharp. We set out to share good tidings in hopes of offering our loved ones — and even strangers — a reason to be bright. This year feels a bit different, though. It seems the world is yearning for a unified resolve to be a better place. And that’s a beautiful thing in the midst of all that’s happening. And if only for a season, at least during this lovely time, families gather, break bread and create another chapter of memories to pass on.

Our house is always replete with extended family and friends. We have an open door policy. But this year’s been different, too. Growing kids, my insanely amazing travel schedule, crazy weather — lending to doing other things — and ever-evolving tastes, all shape how our Christmas has been shaping up. One thing remains constant, though, and that’s our dinner feast! We all celebrated nochebuena yesterday, no matter where in the world you are. Christmas Eve is a time for all out dining delight. If you were over, you’d find the usual suspects: carne asada, black beans, yuca with decadent garlic and citrus mojo, a caramelized ham, a truffled green bean salad, and for dessert, a myriad of flans, pastelitos and turron or nougat. I’ve shared all of those classics with you at some point in the lists 8 years of blogging, but what I’ve not ever spent any time on are the drinks and beverages we enjoy during Navidad.

And that’s mostly because the Cuban culture is a bit deficient when it comes to a diverse seasonal drinking menu. So I go to my island brother and sisters in Puerto Rico when I need some good sips. I’ve not divulged much into their specific cuisine because it’s quite similar to ours, but they do have some amazing options only they boast.

Like coquito, the best milky-thick drink you’ll ever have. It’s the Latin version of eggnog with all kinds of spices and ron. I mean, could this not sound any better?! It’s like liquified flan! A liquid custard of sorts. It’s ubiquitous this time of year and served up in every cocina, backyard fiesta, breakfast or whenever the taste buds want. I love eggnog as much as the next festive foodie, but making this delicious drink takes some creativity and time.

Coquito Winter Collage

I took on the task of treating my family to a few gallons-worth this, but put my own twist to it, mostly inspired by flavors and ingredients I’ve been cooking with all year. Mostly notably coconut and hazelnut.

Raw Hazelnuts

Divine deliciousness! Hints of toasted coconut and hazelnut infused with a spiced rum and laced with spiced pumpkin seasoning, make this the “I love you, friend!” drink of the year. It’s perfect for casual sedating and keeping everyone in the jovial spirit! My purpose was to invoke happy feelings while sipping something so classically popular. It’s different yet familiar. It’s thick and creamy but heart-warming. It’s mature for the adults but simple and yummy for the kids; well, you know, minus the rum.

It’s the drink of the season!

Cuban Coquito Tall Glasses FE

Navidad is here!  It’s a lovely and blessed opportunity to give thanks for all the wonderful things are lucky to enjoy! The first day of Christmas is today. We have 11 more to spread all the good your heart has the capacity to share!  When those around us are quite and not indicative of being in a happy place, share some food! Some home-cooked food. Bake a cake. A pot of black beans. Some butternut squash soup. A gallon coquito! There’s no time like the present time. A gift of love through food and sweets is timeless. The gesture is regarded for ever and ever. And the feelings of gratitude will extend beyond a ‘thank you.’ Let’s be merry and bright this year. And when the season’s over, may we remember to always share goodness!

 

CHRISTMAS, FELIZ NAVIDAD, HAPPY HANUKKAH, AND HAPPY KWANZAA.

Eat well, love unapologetically, pray with true intention, and take care of yourself.

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Enjoy

COCONUT AND HAZELNUT INFUSED COQUITO

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz evaporated milk
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2- 1/4 cups coconut milk or coconut cream
  • 14 oz sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • handful toasted hazelnuts, chopped
  • 1.5 cup 9 spice rum
  • 1/4 tsp. allspice
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • spice pumpkin seasoning and white sugar for glass rim/garnish
  • pinch of salt

Method:

In small skillet, toast hazelnuts. Stir in coconut and toast until brown but not burned. Set aside. In medium bowl, beat evaporated milk and egg yolks. Strain into a pot, add vanilla extract and simmer mixture until a bit thick, approximately 5-7 minutes. Remove and allow to cool. Transfer egg yolk-milk mixture and toasted coconut and hazelnut to high power processor or blender. If it all doesn’t fit, blend in batches. Add all other ingredients and blend on high speed until hazelnut is well-incorporated not crunchy. If still too gritty for your taste, strain eggnog through a sieve and press down using a spoon. Pour into a sealed pitcher. Chill until ready to serve.

Moisten rim of each glass. Flip over and cover rim with sugar and spice pumpkin seasoning blend. Garnish with dust of spice pumpkin.

Chef’s notes: you can substitute spice pumpkin for cinnamon.

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