This coquito recipe is from my sister, who is our family-famous maker of this festive Christmas season concoction. Here is the story she sent when she emailed me her recipe. Gracias, Hillary.
“It was 1991. I had just moved to New York City from Washington, D.C. It was cold, gray and miserable. Christmas for me meant hot sunshine everywhere and running around outside barefoot—neither of which are possible in NYC in December.
“I was working and wasn’t going to be able to go home to D.C. that Christmas and be with the family. Feeling homesick,I decided to make some Puerto Rican food—or, at least read about it and imagine the flavors.
“I started with the bible of Puerto Rican cooking: Cocina Criolla by Carmen Aboy Valledejuli, a staple of every household when I was growing up on the island.
“I came upon a recipe for coquito, and thought it seemed simple and easy enough. The perfect thing to take the edge off the cold and homesickness all at once. It was, and it did. First, here is Valldejuli’s classic recipe”:
Comida Criolla‘s Classic Coquito
2 dried coconuts, large
4 egg yolks
2 cups white rum
1 can condensed milk, undiluted
Dash of nutmeg or cinnamon
I went to the grocery store, and of course I wasn’t able to find two large, dried coconuts. And even if I could have, I really didn’t want go through the effort of breaking open the coconuts and scraping out the meat and the juice. Right there is when I started improvising and altering the recipe.
I have made coquito every Christmas since. Every year I try something new in the name of making it better.
This is one of the reason I love this recipe. Valldejuli’s classic is the base on which we can all build. Plus, our palates have evolved and gotten more sophisticated since the 1950s.
This is my 2019 version of the recipe. Not yet sure what 2020 version will be. Maybe (much) more rum to erase the memory of this year? No matter what happens or how you make it, the best thing about this recipe is you can’t mess it up. Have fun with it.
Check out Hillary’s coquito, below. Familia Kitchen also has these coquito recipes. And if you want to make your coquito vegan, we got your back. Happy holidays!
Ready to Make Hillary’s Puerto Rican Coquito?
As the Grand Combo sings in their festive “Fiesta de Pillito”:
“Y cuando se está
Es fecha pa vacilar.
Y tu no olvides
Época de vacilar.
Vamos pa aquí
Vamos pa’ ya
Todo Puerto Rico
A comer pastel
A comer lechón
Arroz con gandules
Y a beber ron.”