Growing up in Dominica, having homemade eggnog, affectionately known by its creole name, chaudeau, was one of the most significant traditions in my family on Christmas morning. Additionally, it was one of the most sacred rituals in my entire little village of Thibaud. We had folks who were known for their incredible chaudeau making skills, like my two grand aunts, Nen Titi (Finera Francois) and Dada Fel (Ethelyn Letang). These women stood tall on the shoulders of those who came before them, carrying the chaudeau torch proudly.
Since chaudeau was embedded in my village’s culture, folks were steadfast in preserving the practice, so the unwritten recipe was widely circulated. Everyone seems to follow the same general rule with slight variations – using whole eggs, lots of spices like nutmeg, anise, or fennel (they both have similar taste), cinnamon, vanilla essence, lime rind etc.
My mother inherited her chaudeau recipe from her aunts and helped influenced our chaudeau making experience. I remember looking in awe as my mom whisked the chaudeau mixture, and I’d pray that the egg- being added to the hot milk, wouldn’t curdle or coagulated. It never did, and once that stage in the process was achieved, we knew that soon, we’d be enjoying this Christmas morning treat.
Waking up to the beautiful taste of chaudeau in a fancy teacup, often accompanied by coconut cake or fruit cake, was epic. Here’s my coconut cake recipe. It signaled the start of Christmas morning and set the tone for the entire day. It was a tradition that, to this day, brings back so many incredible feelings that I can’t articulate. There’s nothing revolutionary about the chaudeau, it isn’t fancy, or very thick like those of other countries, or extra creamy or too sweet; it’s just authentically Dominican.
Dominica chaudeau recipe
- 3 cups of water
- 2 cans of Carnation Evaporated Milk or any other brand of evaporated milk
- 6 whole eggs membrane removed and eggs beaten
- 1 whole lime rind peeled
- 4 drops bitters
- 2 cinnamon sticks or powder (1 tablespoon)
- 1 tbsp nutmeg
- Sugar based on your taste
- 1 tbsp vanilla essence
- alcohol (brandy or rum) optional
- Crack your eggs one at a time in a saucer or plate and remove the membrane. Then add eggs to a bowl.
- Beat eggs with a whisk or a fork until it's has a very smooth consistency and the yolk and white is commingled
- In a saucepan, add the water
- Then add the spices (lime rind, cinnamon sticks, anise or fennel, grated nutmeg) and bring it to a boil.
- When the mixture is boiled, and the color of the water has changed, add milk and whisk the mixture
- Let milk boil, paying close attention so that it doesn't boil over.
- Continue to whisk
- Then turn stove off and let the mixture cool down just a little
- Add eggs gradually while whisking the mixture
- continue to whisk after eggs mixture has been added
- Then strain the mixture into a teapot
- Add bitters, vanilla essence, sugar to your liking, and if you’d like, a little rum or brandy
- Enjoy with you favorite holiday treat