The Art of Random Willy-Nillyness: Easy & Traditional Holiday Treats! #JuntosconNestlé #ad
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Sunday, November 26, 2017

Easy & Traditional Holiday Treats! #JuntosconNestlé #ad

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post in partnership with Nestlé. All opinions, however, are always 100% my own. 

When I was little, I remember Christmas being my favorite holiday. Besides all the presents and festivities, there was a lot of food. In Costa Rica, the tradition is to make Christmas tamales and sweets to give to the visitors who come by during the holidays. When my parents moved here to the states, they kept those traditions alive and passed them down.

As I got older and moved away, some of those traditions were left by the wayside. It is too difficult to make tamales by myself during Christmas. Tamales take days to make and you really need a lot of people to help make the masa, fill the tamales, wrap the tamales and then cook them.

But there were other recipes that I embraced because they were manageable. I remember every year after the tamales were done and cooking and being stored, my grandmother would make us cajeta de coco (sort of like coconut fudge) and rompope (eggnog).

I always remember watching her take the time to grate fresh coconut. Luckily, you can buy shredded coconut now. She would then add the sweet condensed milk, butter, coconut, sugar and galletas Maria to a pan and cook the cajeta down. The house would be filled with the sweet smell of vanilla and sugar. Then she would roll the cajeta into little balls and roll them in the coconut.

The little balls of cajeta were our treat after two days of helping out with the tamales. We would get a few but the rest were stored for the guests. Of course, my sister and I would always sneak a few before the guests came.

Every Christmas our refrigerator was stuffed with tamales and rompope. Plates of cajeta de coco lined the kitchen and the pantry. That is what I remember.

On Christmas Eve, our friends and family would come over and we would eat tamales, roast pork, mashed potatoes, vegetables and so many other delicious dishes. Then we would have cakes and cajeta de coco and rompope. The adults had their rompope with a little rum and the kids would have it without. Those were good times filled with love, family and traditions.

I try and keep those memories alive during the holidays as well. When I want to think of home, I head over to Walmart and buy the necessary items to create those family recipes because I need to save money. Of course, I have Americanized and simplified my family recipes. But, like my mom and abuela, I always use Nestlé condensed milk in my recipes.

The best thing about the cajeta de coco and rompope is that my guests think I slaved over a hot stove to create these delicious treats but I haven't. These recipes are easy and simple and make the holidays easier. I also love to gift these as well.

I like placing the cajeta into mini cupcake liners. I then buy some festive paper plates or a holiday treat box and place them in there. I wrap them or add a bow. I take a Mason jar and fill it with rompope. I place these all in a little basket, basket or holiday tin and violà, an inexpensive gift that is personal and unique. I love giving these out to my guests as a take home gift. These little gifts are also great if unexpected guests show up!

For me, it's important to keep these family traditions alive. It also makes me feel like my family is still with me although they may be far away. Remember that the holidays should be fun and not stressful. Most of all, the holidays are a time to create memories with your loved ones.

Cajeta de Coco

2 cups Nestlé La Lechera sweet condensed milk
1 cup butter
1/2 cup graham crackers crumbled
1 cup shredded coconut
1/4 teaspoon vanilla (optional)

Put half of the coconut aside. Then add all the ingredients to a pan and cook on low heat until it boils. Put aside to cool. Once cooled, roll the mixture into balls and roll into the coconut you set aside. Place into the mini cupcake cups. You can also place in a shallow pan and add the coconut on top. You can cut into squares.

OPTIONAL: You can spice up the cajeta by adding ground cinnamon or nutmeg. My cousin adds chocolate chips for extra added flavor.

HANDY TIP: To crumb the graham crackers, place in a plastic zip baggy and beat with a wooden spoon.


1 cup Nestlé La Lechera sweet condensed milk
1 cup milk
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
3 cinnamon sticks
3 cloves
Rum (optional)

Place egg yolks and sugar into a bowl and cream. Add the milk and condensed milk and whisk until smooth. Place the mixture in a pan on low heat until it thickens. Take off heat and let cool. You can serve it with rum or without rum. Sprinkle some nutmeg on top and serve.

OPTIONAL: Crumble some peppermint sticks and sprinkle on top of the rompope!


  1. Looks yummy and it is a dish from another country that does not have hot spices in them.

  2. what a great gift, I love homemade things. And great memories of your childhood

  3. Aw, Christmas tamales were a tradition my family had when I was very small, too (before the convenience of US foods took over). :) I love the fact that you use the cajeta de coco to feel close to your own family. Merry Christmas, and thank you for sharing! :)

  4. Que Rico!!!! This is one of the things I like about the holidays! Eating and enjoying all types of desserts! YUM!

  5. These look delicious! I am excited to add them to my Holiday treat list this year and share them with family and friends. Thanks!

  6. Those are yummy recipes. Nice to keep some traditions.

  7. I just love this! The Cajeta de Coco looks so delicious and I could really go for some tamales right now!

  8. These look like a really yummy treat!

  9. I am not a coconut fan but my kids sure are and they would enjoy these.

  10. Love the photos, and thanks for the recipes!

  11. We are always looking for different reats to prepare the grand kids...and me!

  12. These look and sound delicious. I love the way you describe them and you Grandmother. I am geting a kick out of the picture that has the aluminum tree in it- we had one just like it!
    ellen beck

  13. The Cajeta de Coco look so good, and I would love to try them. It is nice to keep some traditions going!