In a heavy saucepan over medium-low heat, warm the milk, sugar, canela and salt until the sugar is dissolved. Set the mixture aside to steep.
In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks for several minutes, until the mixture forms thick ribbons. Remove the canela from the milk and pour the milk slowly into the yolks, continuing to beat. Return the mixture to the saucepan and place it over medium-low heat. Stir the mixture continuously as it thickens. Do not let it boil or you will find yourself with scrambled eggs. The rompope base is ready when it coats a spoon thinly. (It will thicken further when chilled.)
Stir in the vanilla and the brandy. Strain the mixture into a pitcher or bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight. Pour into small glasses or cups, top with generous sprinklings of canela and serve immediately.
Editor’s note: The Jamisons reference a regional variation of rompope from Sonoran cooking authority Alfonso C. Pain, author of Western Mexican Cookbook (Post Litho Printing, 1981), to add ¼ cup ground almonds to the custard base, an idea we like. We also enjoy substituting rum for the brandy, adding a Caribbean touch to the recipe.
This recipe is from the Jamisons’ classic Border Cookbook: Authentic Home Cooking of the American Southwest and Northern Mexico (Harvard Common Press, 1995).