A toast . . . from Marta’s Cuban American Kitchen

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In the first few years of my family’s exile, we still had high hopes that that whole pesky revolution nonsense would quickly blow over. Every year around the holidays we would make our Cuban egg nog, which we call Crème de Vie (or Crema de Vie – “the cream of life”). Every year we would raise our glasses at our Nochebuena celebration and toast:
“El año que viene estamos en Cuba.”
My family continued hoping and toasting year after year after year.
And time marched forward.
We grew up.
We assimilated.
We married.
We had children.
My parents grew old.
My dad passed away.
Every year during the holidays we make the Crème de Vie.
So much life has happened, and so many years and hopes have come and gone and still we toast:
“Next year we’ll be in Cuba.”
The toast has taken on a life of its own even though it has lost much of its original meaning. But we continue to make the Crème de Vie, and we continue to toast. It’s one of my very favorite Cuban Christmas traditions.
I just made the first batch of Crème de Vie for this holiday season. My daughters helped make and bottle it and, of course, we had to try it. I was about to recite the usual toast, when a new and unexpected hope clutched at my heart and brought tears to my eyes.
I raise my glass to you all with this toast:
Crème de Vie (Cuban Egg Nog)
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 can evaporated milk
6 egg yolks
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1 tsp. vanilla
½ cup white rum
1) Mix the sugar and water together over very low heat, stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves – about 3 minutes. It has to be just low enough so that the sugar doesn’t carmelize, but makes a thick sugary water.
2) Put the egg yolks in a blender and mix with the condensed milk.
3) Slowly add the evaporated milk and mix completely.
4) Flavor with the vanilla.
5) Pour the mixture into the sugar-water and mix together.
6) Finally stir in the rum (as a preservative. =D)
Makes about 5 cups, or two and a half bottles. 😉

13 thoughts on “A toast . . . from Marta’s Cuban American Kitchen”

  1. Yummy! Crema de Vie! This is why I NEVER LIKED EGG NOG! Who would drink egg nog when there’s crema de Vie. Just like Cuban Coffee. Any other coffee is agua chirringa!

  2. Thank you Marta for that wonderful receipt for Cuban Egg Nog. I`m going to add Ron Cañita to make it just right for our “CAMBIO” toast.

  3. thanks for the recipe! Any ideas where I can find nice bottles like the ones in the pix? These would make great gifts instead of stale Christmas cookies.

  4. Calabaza-
    I live in Southern California and get the bottles at Pier One. But I also go to a local wine tasting bar – and they are happy to give me their old bottles. You can buy sealing corks anywhere that sells wine.
    I give these out every year to friends and family.
    You’re right. It’s a much richer gift than cookies.

  5. Dittos to the above. I’ve heard of this drink but have never tried it. Thanks for the (easy) recipe. This sounds delicious.

  6. Marta, this year all of my nochebuena dinner comes from recipes you have posted. Thank you for sharing them with all of us. This year my toast will be CAMBIO! with some creme de vie. For anyone in Miami, you can get some nice bottles at Michael’s as well as Pier 1.

  7. Marta when I read this at work today, I couldn’t stop the tears. My co-workers think I’m crazy. I can’t wait to make this and toast, “Cambio,” and “El año que viene estamos en Cuba.”

  8. Can’t wait for this noche buena–as a matter of fact, I may make some this weekend!
    By the way, Marta, my wife made some of your dates wrapped in bacon for Thanksgiving last week and it was a huge hit. I took a few and stuffed them with blue cheese and they were also incredible. Thanks for all the recipes!

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