While eggnog generally steals the spotlight for holiday drinks, there are some other worthy, and in my opinion, tastier, contenders. Some may be familiar with Puerto Rican coquito, but there's another island holiday beverage—kremas!
Kremas, like coquito, is a sweetened coconut and rum based drink served cold around the holidays in Haiti. It's also a mainstay during celebrations like weddings and communions. I aspire to be like kremas: confidently thick and rich.
Traditionally, the spirit used for kremas is kleren, or clairin. Kleren is the ancestral mother of rum. It's hard to come by in the U.S., so most people go with Rhum Barbancourt. And if you really know, the 15-year Rhum Barbancourt.
Eggnog is pretty standard for Gulf Coast Creole families to serve around the holidays, but I always wondered why we don't reach for kremas. Being me, I often think about how history influences the things we see on the dining table. Post-Haitian Revolution, roughly 10,000 Haitians arrived to New Orleans and changed the culture forever. The Haitian people helped reinforce the African influence in the region. I have no doubt, by this time period, kremas and other Haitian staples were on the table. I can't prove it yet, but I have a hunch that a lot of Haitian influence in Creole cuisine got pushed out with Jim Crow and tourism efforts in the 1980s.
Keeping with the rebellious spirit of the holidays in 2020, I'm breaking tradition and not leaning on the flavor of eggnog. I'm reaching for kremas and I'm turning it into a pie! I think all the beautiful flavor that exists in kremas translates into a delicious custard cream pie. So, I broke out the 15-year Rhum Barbancourt that I save for altar offerings and made a dessert that is out of this world.
If you're a fan of coconut and want a knockout dessert for the holidays, I think this pie might be your ticket!
Kremas Cream Pie
1 (9-inch) deep dish pie crust, store bought or homemade
1 (13.5 ounce) can full-fat coconut milk
1 cup half-and-half
5 tbsp. cream of coconut (see notes)
1 tsp. lime zest
¾ tsp. ground nutmeg
¾ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground star anise (optional; see notes)
2 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
⅔ cup granulated sugar
⅓ cup cornstarch
¼ tsp. salt
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
3-4 tbsp. dark rum
1 tsp. vanilla extract
¼ tsp. almond extract
Rum Whipped Cream
1 cup cold heavy cream
2 tbsp. powdered or granulated sugar
1 tbsp. dark rum
Optional: Toasted Coconuts
¼ cup flaked sweetened or unsweetened coconut
Cream of coconut is different from coconut cream. Cream of coconut is usually found in the liquor aisle or "Latin foods" section at the grocery store. You can also find it at liquor stores.
The star anise is very optional, but it's a traditional flavor. If you have a star anise pod, feel free to add it in while simmering the milk mixture and remove before continuing with the additional steps.
It's best to let this pie chill overnight. It'll last 2-3 days in the refrigerator.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 5 hours, including chilling time
Yield: 8 servings
Special Equipment: Baking sheet, pie tin or dish, medium sauce pan, medium bowl and whisk or handheld mixer.
Prepare pie crust according to blind-baking instructions of recipe.
Combine the coconut milk, half-and-half, cream of coconut, lime zest, nutmeg, cinnamon and anise together in a medium saucepan. Bring this mixture to a simmer over medium heat.
Meanwhile in a medium heat-proof bowl, whisk the eggs and egg yolks together until smooth and runny in a medium bowl. Sift sugar, cornstarch and salt into egg mixture. Stir this mixture together until smooth.
Once the milk comes to a simmer, slowly drizzle a cup of the hot milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly as you pour the hot milk into the eggs. Continue whisking by the cupful until about half of the milk mixture is added. Once half of the hot milk has been whisked into the eggs, slowly whisk this mixture back into the pot of hot milk.
Cook the custard over medium-low heat until it thickens, about 4-5 minutes. Once fully thickened, the custard coats the surface of a rubber spatula or spoon and should hold its shape when your finger is dragged through it. To avoid having the custard filling spread when sliced, I like to cook it to a consistency just shy of creamy mashed potatoes.
Remove the pot from the stove and stir in the unsalted butter, rum, vanilla and almond extracts.
Once the custard has cooled significantly, pour the warm custard into your baked pie shell and smooth the top. Cover the pie with plastic wrap directly on custard so a skin doesn’t form. Refrigerate the pie for 4-8 hours, or until completely chilled.
While the pie is cooling, prepare the toppings. Spread coconut evenly on a rimmed baking sheet. Place into 350ºF oven for 8-10 minutes, or until coconut has just begun to turn brown. Set aside to cool.
When ready to serve, whip the heavy cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. When it starts to thicken, add the sugar and rum. Continue to whip until it forms stiff peaks. Spread or decoratively pipe whipped cream over chilled custard pie and sprinkle with toasted coconut. Enjoy!