As a child growing up in Brooklyn, there were always six to eight people in our home at one time. It was an apartment full of people and overflowing with love. It would take me years to realize that during those years, we were poor. The atmosphere was ripe with so much unbridled, actionable love and family that we — the children — had no idea. Furthermore, there was no greater time to be there than at Christmas time. There was always music playing, the smells of Christmas — black cake, ham, spiked sorrel, ponche de creme — wafting through the air. My cousin and uncle would sit, drink and play dominoes. Old talk was the order of the day and we’d all get sips of whatever they were drinking. The food was always enough to coat your stomach properly and the sips were just enough to “keep anybody from drunkening you when yuh get older!” They’d fall asleep in the living room wherever they sat. Sometimes, we’d be there right along side them trying to sus out where our Santas — Granny and Mom — had hidden all of the presents. I suppose those days back in that one bedroom apartment in Brooklyn are why holidays and celebrations — for me, at least — are synonymous with a little bit of boozy cheer.
Full disclosure: I’m not much of a fan of milky drinks — I’m allergic to cow’s milk. Therefore, I never really developed a taste for drinking milk of any kind. However, I wanted to give you all something special for the holiday season and I am nothing if not willing to take one for the team. Especially, when it doesn’t involve me actual having to ingest cow’s milk LOL.
I found a ton of traditional ponche de creme recipes online and a few not-so-traditional ones. I came up with an amalgamation of a few that worked for me. In fact, this vegan ponche de creme recipe, might’ve converted me. Made with a quick homemade vegan condensed (coconut) milk, almond milk, a lil’ pumpkin puree and whole lotta love, this drink took me back to sitting on the living room floor listening to my cousin and uncle old talk as Mom and Granny baked black cake. This drink will transport you — if you let it!
1/4 large piece of boiled and pureed pumpkin or squash (this is your egg substitute-you can use canned as well)
1/4 cup of almond or any plant-based milk (optional)
1/4 -1/2 cup of Johnnie Walker Whiskey Double Black (or liquor of your choice)
1/2 tbsp of lime zest
1–2 tbsp of Angostura Bitters (to taste)
2 cans/ small cartons of coconut milk
3 tbsp of creamy peanut butter (optional)
Nutmeg (grate/ shake until the ancestors whisper “enough child” or as much or as little as you like)
In a small pot, reduce down 1 1/2 cups for coconut milk with two to three pot spoons of brown sugar on low heat. Let it cook down to half of the original amount while stirring constantly. Boom! you’ve got your vegan condensed milk.
You want to peel and puree your boiled pumpkin. Make sure to drain any excess water so the puree is nice and thick.
In a bowl, you are going combine your condensed milk and your remaining coconut milk with your pumpkin puree, nutmeg, whiskey. Coconut milk can be very thick, use a 1/2 cup of your favorite plant-based milk to thin out the mixture, if needed. I like to incorporate everything well by hand and then give it a quick wiz in the blender to ensure that it is smooth.
I did two versions; the first one was a classic ponche de creme, so I stopped here with that one. For my peanut ponche de creme, I blended the classic mix with a tablespoon and a half of creamy peanut butter.
Remember, you can add as little or as much alcohol as you’d like, but make sure if you add plenty that you’ll be drinking at home.
I used peanut butter for my flavor — some people use fresh roasted peanuts, I’m TOO lazy for this! However, to each is own; you can oven roast your peanuts, blend them up with a plant-based milk of your choosing and strain for that more authentic peanut flavor. Then, mix it into your base. However, I’m all about easy and the less steps the better. Nevertheless, the flavor options are only as limited as your imagination. You can add a little more pumpkin for a pumpkin-flavored version. You can try peppermint, chocolate, vanilla…anything you can think of really.
Pour over ice and Voila!
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- At some point in your life, you’ve probably been told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day — and maybe you