Wednesday, March 28, 2012

RECIPE - Brazilian Eggnog (Licor de Ovos)

Here in the Southern Hemisphere we've just passed the equinox and autumn is upon us. In certain parts of Brazil that doesn't really mean much as the weather is tropical all year round. However, in the more southerly part of the country, especially in high-altitude regions of the interior, during fall and winter temperatures can drop precipitously, and it can be bitterly cold, especially at night.

The interior state of Minas Gerais is one place that has learned well over the years how to lessen the impact of cold weather. In the historic cities of Minas during the cold season people light fires in fireplaces, eat hearty and rich stews and soups and drink hot drinks, all in aid of keeping warm. During the same season, they also drink a home-made spirit called licor de ovos (egg liqueur), the Brazilian version of eggnog.

Eggnog is a cold-weather drink almost everywhere it is known - the combination of milk, eggs, sugar and possibly liquor is just too rich to be enjoyed in hot climes. It becomes cloying and overly-rich when the temperature soars. So this recipe, which comes from the small town of Joaquim Felício, MG, is just starting to be made in these early days of autumn. That will ensure that in a month or two from now, on those chilly mountain evenings, there will be plenty of licor de ovo to warm the cockles of everyone's heart.

The liquor used in Minas Gerais to make licor de ovos is, naturally, Brazil's own cachaça. However, if you can't source cachaça you can substitute rum, although the result will be substantially less Brazilian (and it will also be sweeter).
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RECIPE - Brazilian Eggnog (Licor de Ovos)
Makes about one quart (one liter)

6 fresh egg yolks, preferably free-range
1 lb. (500 gr) granulated white sugar
2 cups (500 ml) whole milk
2 cups (500 ml) cachaça (rum may be substituted)
10 drops pure vanilla essence

In a medium saucepan, bring the milk just to the boil, then remove from heat and cool completely. Reserve.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the egg yolks and the sugar. Beat with a fork or a whisk-type beater until the mixture is consistent and frothy. Pour in the reserved milk, and stir to mix it in completely. Then do the same with the  cachaça. Finally add the vanilla essence and mix once again.

Pour into a sterile bottle or jug. Refrigerate for at least one month prior to serving to let the flavors develop.


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