In the early 1990’s, my recipe for mulled wine, quickly dubbed ‘moldy wine’ by my brother, became a Christmas Eve tradition. This was soon followed by a recipe in 1992 for hot butter rum, nicknamed hot bubba, made with a vanilla ice cream base. For the next 20 years, tradition necessitated a mug of moldy wine before appetizers followed by hot bubba after dinner with the cookie tray.
Last year, the firm where I work produced a “Holiday Cheer Guide” of employee family recipes. After hastily skimming the guide, it was headed for the trash – no need for for Aunt Edna’s fudge recipe or Mom’s secret ambrosia salad – when I happened upon a coworker’s recipe for Cremasse, a traditional celebratory beverage from Haiti. This was something I wanted to taste!
Within one evening, Cremasse (a.k.a. The Happy Maker) has usurped both hot bubba and moldy wine as our festive holiday cocktail of choice. At first sip, I knew this was no sissy’s drink and must be consumed slowly and judiciously, but surprisingly (or maybe not so surprising), the carafe was entirely drained within a few hours.
Cremasse – The Happy Maker
1 L. dark or spiced rum**
2 c. sugar
¼ c. water
3 cinnamon sticks
14 oz. sweetened condensed milk
12 oz. evaporated milk
15 oz. cream of coconut
2 T. vanilla extract
1 T. almond extract
1 t. ground nutmeg
1 t. ground cinnamon
1 t. salt
Zest of two limes
Combine sugar, cinnamon sticks and water in a saucepan and place on low heat. Allow sugar to fully dissolve and make a simple syrup. Remove from heat and cool.
Whisk rum into cooled syrup. Combine condensed milk, evaporated milk and coconut cream. Vigorously whisk milk mixture into rum in a steady stream to avoid curdling. Add extracts, spices, and zest. Set aside of two hours to allow flavors to meld. Strain through a fine mesh sieve. Pour into glasses, garnish with nutmeg and serve. Cremasse can be served cold or room temperature – I prefer it cold.
**dark rum allowed the almond to come through while spiced complimented the cinnamon and nutmeg