The Mexican Christmas trifecta of my youth was my Abuelo’s rompope––a traditional Mexican spiced custard drink which is chilled and spiked with rum––and my Abuela’s tamales and buñuelos.
I would help abuela in the kitchen, but my grandfather took complete charge of the rompope. After he passed away my father, el gringo, took on that role.
Today, Mexican and American traditions blend together in my version of this traditional holiday drink.
The American version is eggnog, but the Mexican version I grew up drinking is rompope.
The booze is not optional in my family, but the drink is just as delicious without it. It is served over ice, but I love it hot too.
The spices add a definite Mexican holiday vibe and if served in a punch bowl you can put the egg whites to good use as a frothy, cloud like topping.
This is the first Christmas that I am across the country from my family and making it myself, channeling all those memories into the preparation of a festive and memorable holiday beverage.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Preparing and Cooking: 1 hour 5 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes + cooling time
Yields: 4-6 servings (recipe can be doubled)
Creating the milk base with spices.
Creating the yolk mixture.
Combining and cooking the milk, yolks, and rum.
Letting the rompompe cool before serving.
Ingredients for Milk Base
4 cups whole milk
½ cup sweetened condensed milk
2 sticks cinnamon
6 whole cloves
1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons piloncillo grated
½ a large orange zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1 vanilla pod
Ingredients for Egg Component
- 6 egg yolks (save egg whites for future use)
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- Pinch of salt
- A large bowl with ice and cold water
About the Rum
½ cup to 1 cup rum. The traditional recipe is 1 cup, but I only use ½ cup, and I like it with dark rum.
*Note: Since I normally don’t drink rum, I find it convenient to purchase the little 2 ounce sample bottles, in lieu of buying a large bottle. I would use two, which is ½ cup, in this recipe, but if you like it boozy, add more. If you prefer another booze, brandy and bourbon work very well.
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The Milk Base
- Add all the milk base ingredients into a saucepan over medium heat until the milk starts to simmer vigorously (don’t boil) for 15 minutes so that all the spices infuse and flavor the milk base. This is where all the flavor comes from, so be patient with this process.
- Stir the milk mixture constantly to avoid any milk sticking to the bottom of the pan. For best results, use a rubber spatula.
*Note: If you did this process correctly there won’t be any milk sticking to the pot (you get an A+). If there is, clean it out, otherwise this will become a magnet for the rompope mixture when it’s cooking in the same pot.
Straining The Milk
Strain the milk into a pitcher or a bowl with a pour spout to cool, using a mesh sieve to capture all the spices, this will give you a smooth milk base. Set aside while preparing the yolks.
To avoid getting a film on the milk, put a piece of plastic wrap over the top of the milk.
The Egg Yolk Mixture
Whisk the egg yolks until they become pale and frothy, this can be done with an electric mixer, but not necessary.
Temper the Yolks
- Slowly add the warm milk, just a little bit at a time, to the yolks.
- Continue mixing by hand to keep the temperature dropping. You don’t want to cook the eggs or have them curdle.
- Once all the milk is added to the eggs, sprinkle in the baking soda and a pinch of salt while continuing to stir.
- Return to the pot to cook and thicken the mixture on medium heat.
*Note: The higher the heat, the faster the process will go, but you risk burning the rompope.
Heating the Mixture
Continue heating and stirring until the mixture is thick enough to cover the back of a spoon, about 15 minutes.
Remove from the heat immediately.
Cool the mixture by placing the pot in the ice bath, or by pouring it into a pitcher or bowl which is set over ice water. It will thicken a little more as it cools to room temperature.
*Note: You could also keep stirring until the mixture cools to room temperature. That would take an extra 10 to 15 minutes.
Once it's cooled, add the rum and/or brandy/bourbon and stir to incorporate.
*Note: the booze is optional, and can be added when served.
Refrigerate the entire mixture in a container which you can pour from.
- Serve chilled. Pour over a glass of ice, with a sprinkling of fresh grated nutmeg.
*Note: The rompope will last 5 to 7 days refrigerated, longer with booze added.
Bonus Gift Idea
Pour rompope into small bottles to give away at the holidays as a delicious edible gift.
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