Sunday, December 2, 2018

The Cream of Life

Crème de Vie for the Holidays!
Crème de Vie or "Crema de Vie" (as many Cubans typically say it), is a traditional Cuban holiday cordial -- a type of Cuban eggnog -- that is made specifically for the Christmas Season.  It is a creamy, white, dreamy concoction that, even if they were teetotalers the rest of the year, our Moms and Aunts would whip up and keep a bottle of it onhand in the refrigerator for guests during the Holidays.

It was considered such a special part of the Holidays that our Moms would even permit us kids a tiny sip (or two) of the heavenly alcoholic stuff on Christmas Eve ... it was tradition, after all!

(Little did we know it also helped put us all to sleep on that most exciting night!)

My cousin, Marta, made the best Crème de Vie than anybody else I knew.  Whenever we'd go to her house during the holidays, I couldn't wait for the Crème de Vie to be brought out and offered to all around.  I begged her one year for her recipe, and she was kind enough to share it with me.  While it varies only very slightly from the ones found online, I dare not reveal her secret!  Some confidences must be kept!

A big vat of Crème de Vie, ready for bottling!
Crème de Vie is made with egg yolks, condensed milk and rum -- the distilled spirit-of-choice in the Caribbean, made from the sugarcane harvested on those islands.  Rum drinks are a must for beach cocktails, of course, but it is absolutely exquisite in this creamy alcoholic beverage.

Other Latin American populations have their own version of creamy holiday punches, such as the Rompope in Mexico and the Coquito in Puerto Rico (which I adore), but the Crème de Vie will always hold special meaning and significance to me.  It is one of the Cuban traditions we hold dear to our hearts, and an exceptionally delicious one at that!

Sometimes I will receive a special request from my nieces asking that I make it for Christmas, in which case I am always happy to oblige.  I don't make it every year (drat those cursed calories!), but when I do, that alone is cause for celebration!

And when I do, I often make a big enough batch so that I can gift it in pretty bottles to friends and family.  It makes a most excellent hostess gift, as well!

Crème de Vie in pretty bottles, ready for gifting and drinking!
We love to sip it while we're cooking and baking up a storm during the Holidays, while we're decorating the Christmas tree, when friends drop by to visit, as a celebration "toast" on Noche Buena (Christmas Eve) or on New Year's Eve, or simply when we want to indulge in a little Holiday treat.

It's an after-dinner drink, it's a cordial, it's a cocktail, it's dessert ... it's life!  The cream of life!

We entertained the idea of making and selling bottles of it at Afternoon Tea, but even though it is a tradition for us personally, selling alcoholic beverages was not something we thought matched the image of Afternoon Tea.  Nevertheless, the idea definitely played around in our heads.  It's so sweet and delicious, you just naturally want to share it with family and friends.  I suppose we could have tried to come up with a non-alcoholic version, but it just would not have been the same.

However, it is sooooo very easy to make, you might as well whip up a batch in your own kitchen.  You will find some recipes vary a bit, but here is the traditional recipe from one of my favorite blogs by a kindred Cuban spirit.

¡Salud!  And Merry Christmas!!!


Enjoy previous seasonal blog posts:

National Cookie Day
December 4th is National Cookie Day!  Let's bake cookies!
Cookie Trays!

Our most popular gift and party tray, it's the perfect way to spread the Holiday cheer!
Black Friday

It's not just about shopping.  If you do it right, it can be about connecting, too.
Christmas Notes

There's always time to bake Christmas cookies!
Donate if you can!
Healing Warriors Program,
my sister's nonprofit, does very important work for our vets' and soldiers' wellbeing.
Congrats, HWP!
Healing Warriors Program received a huge honor, and we were invited to the Pentagon to see it!
Brandied Fruit 

Adding some pizzazz to our Holiday baking
Taking Care of Holiday Guests

Breakfast burritos can make you a winning host!
It's Baking Season!

On your marks,
get set ...
A Cabin in the Woods

Getting away from it all is a tradition worth keeping.
Top Chef - Colorado

A celebrity in the family!
A 2-Page Spread for Thanksgiving

Some of our sweetest moments ...

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