Hot Milk and Rum Beverage

Martha swears by this as the curative remedy of choice if you have a cold or feel one coming on. We enjoyed our candil with the most typical of Colombian sweets – two figs in syrup per person, served with a slice of St. John’s cheese and a dollop of arequipe – cow’s milk dulce de leche. Muy, muy bueno!

To make this, Martha uses an olleta, a metal pitcher used for making hot drinks like candil or hot chocolate. If you don’t have one, use a high-rimmed saucepan, but make sure it is tall because when the milk starts to froth and “grow,” you don’t want it spilling all over your stove and floor. To blend the mixture as it cooks, Martha uses a molinillo, a wooden stirrer/beater that you rub back and forth between the palms of your hands. If you don’t own a molinillo and don’t wish to buy one (they’re available at Latin grocery stores), you can use an immersion blender or hand-held electric beater at very low speed.

Note: Use sugar sparingly in this recipe; the drink is meant to be only slightly sweet. We used coconut sugar (a very healthful sweetener with a low glycemic index), which Martha had never tried before but loved.

– Mary Luz Mejia
Makes 6 to 8 servings

2 cups whole milk
1 tbsp coconut sugar, brown sugar or panela (unrefined Colombian cane sugar, found in Latin grocery stores), plus more if needed (see Note, above)
2 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
2 small cinnamon sticks
Shot of rum or brandy, preferably Colombian, optional

In an olleta or saucepan, add the milk. Cook over medium heat until the milk is warm (do not let it come to a boil). Add the sugar. Blend using a molinillo or blender of your choice. Slowly drizzle the eggs into the warmed (not scalding hot) milk mixture. (Enlisting someone to help you at this stage is advised, since you must continue beating the mixture while adding in the eggs.) Add the cinnamon sticks and continue beating until the mixture is creamy, hot and smooth, about 10 to15 minutes. Taste and adjust sweetness as required. Once it’s ready, add your shot of rum, if using, pour into cups and enjoy!