Christmas Eve for me this year is a snug night in with my tree and a medium to large jugful of eggnog. Cookies with warming spices and carolling in the Bandra streets really set the mood for the night, but my Christmas Eve would be incomplete without a light pud before I call it a night and dive into my fort of pillows with a movie like Home Alone. Usually I wouldn’t ask of you dear reader to play with classic flavours, but this once I need you to trust me and give your eggnog a facelift.
To start things off, let me introduce you to a Coquito-the Puerto Rican version of an eggnog. What makes it different from a regular eggnog is the use of coconut milk instead of the usual milk and cream. It’s fabulously simple to make and you should make a large batch, because the last two cups of this tropical yet festive nog shall be added to my Coquito Panna Cottas, which I serve with strawberry and gin jam. You could use rum instead of brandy in your coquito, but personally I prefer brandy in mine.
Coquito Panna Cotta & Strawberry and Gin Jam
Yield 6 servings
A coquito is the Puerto Rican version of an eggnog made with coconut milk. A simple sauce of cooked down strawberries will also work very well with this panna cotta if you don't have time to make this jam. The jam is great as an edible gift option too for the future.
For the Coquito
Coconut milk 2 cups
Brandy 2 cups
Condensed milk 1 400g can
Egg yolks 4
Nutmeg 1/2 tsp, freshly grated
Vanilla essence 1 tsp
Cinnamon 1 tsp, plus more for dusting the tops
Cold water 1/2 cup
Powdered gelatin 8g
Dairy cream 1 cup
Caster sugar 1/4 cup
Vanilla essence 1/2 tsp
Coquito 2 cups
Brandy 2 tbsp
Strawberry, Gin and Black Pepper Jam
Black pepper 10g
Blitz all the ingredients for the Coquito in a high powered blender till nice and frothy.
Decant into festive glasses and dust the tops with cinnamon before serving.
For the panna cotta, take the cold water in a microwave safe bowl and sprinkle over the gelatin powder. Let it stand for 5 minutes.
Take another bowl and add in the cream, sugar and vanilla essence. Using an electric hand-mixer blend everything together and bring it up to medium soft peaks. Add the brandy to the two cups of coquito.
Melt the softened gelatin in the microwave-for 30 seconds up to a minute until all the gelatin has dissolved completely. Stir to make sure of this. Add this to the eggnog mixture and whisk to incorporate.
Fold in one third of this batter through the beaten cream and add the remaining in two batches folding it in gently to ensure everything is well incorporated.
Divide the panna cotta into the ramekins or pudding glasses and chill until set for 1 1/2 to 2 hours at least.
For the strawberry sauce, wash the strawberries and cut off their green tops. Crush 3/4 of the strawberries in a saucepan by hand and chop the remaining 1/4th. Add to this the lemon juice, the sugar, gin and black pepper and stir.
Put this saucepan on a medium heat and bring it up to a simmer. Once everything starts to bubble up, turn the heat up to high and boil for 5-7 minutes, doing the plate test to check the compote after 5 minutes on a timer are up. Alternately you can use a thermometer to cook the jam till 105 degrees celsius.
The plate test requires you to put a little saucer in your freezer and keep ready, for at least 15 minutes. Check the jam by putting a little bit of the jam on the plate and pushing your finger to check how well it has set. If the surface wrinkles, your jam is ready. If it’s not done, simply continue simmering the jam for another 5 minutes or until it passes the test.
Spoon some of this jam over the Coquito panna cotta once it has set and serve.