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The Detroit News

Coconut And Rum Give A Kick To This Puerto Rican Sabayon

By Kate Lawson

21 October 2004
Copyright © 2004 The Detroit News. All rights reserved. 

A recent trip to Puerto Rico had me on a five-day eat-a-thon that included everything from churrasco , a delicious marinated skirt steak, and mofongo , a national dish made with fried, mashed green plantains, little pieces of pork rind and special seasonings, to a variety of tropical fruits.

One of the absolute best things I tasted was in a little town, Arecibo, where we sojourned to view the world's largest radio telescope. The telescope was mighty impressive (the dish is the size of 12 football fields), but what really got my attention was the hot dog stand.

Puerto Ricans like their hot dogs just as much as New Yorkers and Chicagoans, only they take the hearty dog one better. After a sizable squirt of mustard and onions and pickles, they add a topping of potato sticks -- something I haven't had in years. It was a whole new taste sensation for me -- the crunch, the salt -- and it was the perfect combination. I've been raving about it to anyone who can endure my swoons.

Oh yes, and then there was the rum. Puerto Rico is the world's largest producer of the liquor, and it was served to me in punch, mojitos and pina coladas, offered neat as a digestive and added to all manner of desserts.

Here's a relatively easy way to create a coconut and rum-spiced sabayon from executive chef Alaine Gruber of the Ritz-Carlton, San Juan Hotel, Spa & Casino. A sabayon is a light, foamy custard made with egg yolks, wine and sugar, but Gruber's variation uses the beloved rum with some coconut milk to create a lovely dessert that can be served by itself or as a sauce over cake, fruit or ice cream. I love it over slices of banana bread, but fresh, cubed mango is also a perfect vehicle.

Gruber named it the Coquito after the tiny tree frog that sings "co-qui, co-qui" to the islanders all night long. I, too, was singing a happy tune after this treat.


Adapted from "Cuisine of Puerto Rico, Recipes from the Ritz-Carlton San Juan ."


10 minutes to make

15 minutes to cook

1/2 cup water

2 cinnamon sticks

2 large egg yolks

12 ounces evaporated milk

7 ounces coconut milk (do not use cream of coconut)

6 ounces sweetened condensed milk

1/2 cup white rum

1/2 cup coconut, toasted

Bring water and cinnamon sticks to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook until liquid is reduced by half. Remove cinnamon sticks and set liquid aside to cool to room temperature.

In a medium bowl, beat egg yolks and evaporated milk with wire whisk until well mixed. Set bowl over simmering water and cook over low heat, stirring constantly until mixture thickens and coats a spoon. Set aside to cool slightly.

Stir in coconut milk and cinnamon water until well mixed. Stir in sweetened condensed milk and rum. Refrigerate until well chilled.

Serve over cubed tropical fruit or cubed banana bread in individual long-stemmed glasses. Sprinkle with coconut before serving.

Serves 8. Recipe can be halved.

Per serving (without coconut sprinkles): 210 calories; 11 g fat (8 g saturated fat; 47 percent calories from fat); 18 g carbohydrates; 61 mg cholesterol; 74 mg sodium; 5 g protein; 0.5 g fiber.

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