Ponche de Crème
Assistant Provost for Inclusive Faculty Excellence;
Associate Professor of Apparel Design and Merchandising
CHRISTMAS IS A MAJOR HOLIDAY in Trinidad, marked by warm winds and abundant flowers. Christmas caroling groups, called parranderos, go house to house with guitars, wooden blocks called toc-toc, maracas, and other instruments, serenading their neighbors with parang — an upbeat music derived from the island’s Spanish roots.
Trinidadians prepare and eat traditional Christmas foods throughout December and into the new year — turkey and ham, rice, homemade bread, black cake soaked in rum, and pastelles. Every household enjoys the Trinidad version of eggnog, called ponche de crème. Following Christmas, the Carnival season begins, marked by dancing, music, and street festivities.
RAEDENE: We always opened our gifts at midnight on Christmas Eve. On Christmas morning, we’d go to church early, eat breakfast, and start cooking. There’s a lot of visiting during the holidays, going back and forth between houses to drop off presents. We call it “liming,” or hanging out.
At every house we eat the traditional black molasses cake and drink ponche de crème, made with eggs, condensed milk, rum, and cinnamon.
Another feature of the holidays in Trinidad is renovation. Because the island is small and properties are limited, people tend to live in the same houses for many years, and Christmas is a time to upgrade! People change the paint color of the house, add rooms, get new appliances, and purchase new sheets and curtains. And we can always count on family and friends to make the rounds and see what’s new.
Ponche de Crème
6 eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons grated lime zest
3 (14-ounce) cans sweetened condensed milk
¾ cup (6 ounces) canned evaporated milk
½ (12 ounces) rum (White rum is a good option)
1 tablespoon aromatic bitters
1 pinch freshly grated nutmeg
In a large bowl, beat eggs and lime zest using an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually pour in the condensed milk while continuing to mix, and then pour in the evaporated milk.
Stir in the rum and bitters, and sprinkle with nutmeg. Transfer to a bottle or pitcher and chill for at least one hour before serving. Stir before serving and serve over crushed ice.
Consuming raw eggs may increase the risk of foodborne illness; pasteurized eggs may be substituted.