Haitian Christmas, 101: How To Make Cremas

December 24, 2012

Words by Alexandra C. Wood—

How to Make Kremas

This time last year, we had New Yorker of Haitian descent/French Culinary Institute graduate Alexandra C. Wood school us on soupe joumou, the squash-based soup traditionally consumed to celebrate Haitian Independence on New Year’s Day. This holiday season, Alex shows us how to make proper cremas, Haiti’s own spin on the Caribbean-wide phenomenon of rum cream. While cremas is consumed year round, it tends to taste extra sweet around this time of year. Enjoy…

I’ll always pick a good bourbon over a mixed drink but Cremas is the exception.

Also known as Cremasse or Kremas, Cremas is the very boozy Haitian answer to egg nog. A holiday staple, this rich, coconut-infused beverage strikes a balance between sweet and savory and—most importantly—packs a mighty punch. While it’s often made with rum, my grandmother, who immigrated from Les Cayes, Haiti in the early 1970s, insists on using high-proof grain alcohol —specifically Everclear—in her recipe. Growing up, I could always tell when she was making Cremas—one too many “I love you”s always gave away the high-alcohol content in each sip.

So this year, I took my wonderful grandmother’s instructions—which she delivered entirely from memory—and combined them with a healthy dose of my imagination to make my own Cremas. All I can say after a couple of sips is this: Cremas, I love you.

Makes approx. 2 liters


1 L of a neutral, high-proof spirit (e.g. white rum, grain alcohol)

2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
3 cinnamon sticks
14 oz sweet condensed milk
12 oz evaporated milk
15 oz cream of coconut
2 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp almond extract
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp salt
Zest of 2 limes


Combine granulated sugar, cinnamon sticks, and water in a saucepan and place on low heat. Allow sugar to fully dissolve, being careful not to brown. Once simple syrup forms, remove from heat, carefully pour into a large bowl, and cool.

Once syrup cools (you may notice some crystallization), whisk in Everclear (note: this grain alcohol is incredibly flammable, so prepare away from heat). When alcohol and syrup are fully combined, vigorously whisk in sweetened condensed milk in a steady stream (this will avoid the milk curdling). Repeat with evaporated milk and coconut cream. Add lime zest, vanilla and almond extracts, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside for 1-2 hours to allow flavors to meld. Strain through a fine mesh sieve and pour into glasses. Garnish with ground nutmeg and serve. Store any remaining cremas in glass bottles in a dark, cool place.

Joyeux Noël et bonne année!