Christmas as a kid is mind-blowing. It’s out-of-this-world magical. Then you get older, find out the kind old magical man (read: Santa Claus) you thought you knew turns out to be your kind, old, less-than-magical dad and it’s just not the same. Fast forward a decade and you’re in your twenties, just as excited for the festive period, but for totally different reasons. Now it’s about giving the presents instead of getting them, gathering on the sofa, watching classic Disney films or Christmas kids’ shows and eating so much food till you fall asleep like an old man. Undoubtedly though, the best bit of celebrating Christmas as a full-fledged adult has to be constantly being a little bit sloshed. There’s no better reason to drink, and it’s almost an expectation for everyone to leave the party in high spirits (quite literally). So, let’s forget the classy wine and food pairing for now, and try soaking up some warm, fuzzy rum to brighten the mood!
Rum & Cheese
If you’re into adulting the right way, as a host, you’re sure to remember to include a charcuterie board at your Christmas party. Everyone will expect you to pop open a couple bottles of different wines to suit everyone’s palate, but this year, impress your clan with your knowledge of pairing rum with the cheese spread you’re serving.
From our own research, we’ve learnt that washing the rind of an otherwise creamy cheese brings out the cheese’s pungency and spiciness. In addition, washing the rind also adds a depth of earthiness and tobacco to its creamy texture. That makes a washed rind cheese aromatic enough to stand up to the warmth and spiciness of fine rum.
With that in mind, a Zacapa XO rum – neat – with Little Colonel washed rind cheese and Sharpham Goat Brie will melt into one another perfectly. This washed rind cow cheese enhanced Zacapa XO’s sweetness and managed to highlight other dimensions of the spirit. Both the cheese and the rum became nuttier and sharper, with deeper spice notes. The flavour notes of the cheese are quite apart from the notes in Zacapa XO, however they managed to bring out the coffee and cacao dimensions of the rum quite nicely. The cheese’s dryness balances the sweetness well.
Hot Buttered Rum
Since we’re on the drinking train, here’s another way to sweeten the deal for your guests. For those who aren’t too keen on consuming rum neat or over knocking back a rum-based cocktail, shake things up with this warm rum beverage.
Grab a pot filled with 4.5 litres of water and add in 250g of brown sugar, 10 whole cloves and a quarter of an orange peel, grated. Then grate half a nutmeg over the simmering pot, followed by pinches of cinnamon, till you get the taste just right. Stew your mixture until hot by simmering it on a low heat. In your favourite mug, pop a shot of rum and a decent knob of butter before pouring in your cinnamon-y Christmas concoction over. Add some whipped cream and an extra sprinkling of cinnamon powder for that professional touch. At this point, you’ll be wishing Singapore really had snow and you could show off your fancy fireplace.
Sweet Potato Rum Pie
Let’s keep this festive season modern and current. That means throwing out the expected Christmas desserts like log cake or rum cake. Instead, let’s make use of sweet potato and rum to make hell of a pie that’ll make the night truly unforgettable. The prep time takes only 20 minutes, so you won’t have to worry about spending half the evening in the kitchen! Take the shortcut and buy a shortcrust pastry from the store and use it to line a pie dish, keeping it refrigerated till needed.
In the meantime, prepare the pie filling by beating 2 cups of sweet potato (peeled, cooked, pureed and cooled), 100g granulated sugar and 100g dark brown sugar, 55g butter (melted), 2 eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 45ml dark rum, a pinch of salt, ¼ teaspoon cinnamon and ¼ teaspoon ginger (grated), until well combined. Add 250ml coconut milk and mix well. Pour the filling into the prepared pie crust and bake for 35 to 45 minutes at 180°C, or until a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean. Place the pie on a wire rack till it’s cool.
Doesn’t that sound simple, enough? If you’re up to it, you can also create a whipped cream to serve as a side for the pie by placing 250ml thick whipping cream in a bowl large enough to allow you to whisk it. Add 3 tablespoons sugar, ¼ teaspoon orange zest and 1 tablespoon dark rum and continue to whisk it altogether till stiff peaks form. Your guests are sure to ask you for the recipe once they polish their plates clean!
On a parting note, it’s wise to consider that since we’re in Singapore some Christmas parties might end up having an Asian dish or two as part of the deal. No worries, we say! Rum works especially well with mild curries. Rum, unlike a lot of other spirits, is one that you’ll have a whole spectrum within itself; all sorts of different flavours can be found in one type of spirit. So, don’t ruminate (pun totally intended) too much over the pairings, feast and drink away and have yourself a very Merry Christmas!
Wani’s writing has always spoken on her behalf far more than the spoken word. Her emotional relationship with food is almost as intense as her crazy love for HIIT workouts. Having written all things lifestyle, Wani now embarks on her freelance journey, journalling her epicurean trails and sweaty gym sessions with relentless fervor.