During the colonial era, when churches were being constructed all over Mexico, there was an abundance of egg yolks, as the egg whites were being used to bind the gold leaf to the church interiors. The convents came up with creative uses for the yolks, including this alcoholic beverage.
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Drinks similar to rompope predated the conquest of Mexico. Versions of the beverage, such as the Spanish eggnog rompon and the Italian zabaglione, already existed, but the Mexican variety became increasingly popular in the New World. Today, it's still possible to run across nuns setting up a little table outside the church on Sunday morning to sell their rompope. On my last trip to Oaxaca, I picked up a couple of bottles that they had just made the night before. They were delicious.
What is rompope? It's basically gelato that hasn't been frozen, with alcohol added. The beverage is made by cooking whole milk with sugar, allowing it to cool, blending in egg yolks and then returning the mixture to the stove to thicken. The resulting custard is combined with vanilla and rum and served very chilled.
You can find three brands of this liqueur at Spec's for around $10 a bottle. But it's just as easy to make your own with this easy recipe: Take one quart of whole milk and boil together with one cup of sugar. Allow to cool, then blend in ten egg yolks and return to heat until thick. Add one to two cups of rum and a few dashes of vanilla to taste. Chill and serve.
¡Viva Mexico! ¡Viva rompope!