The problem with red wine syllabub, as opposed to the more stealthy white wine syllabub, was always the visual impact. Most modern people are not open to drinking dark red or pink milk. Also, it is more difficult for milk or even eggnog to balance the strong taste of red wine.
So I fully support the addition of cocoa powder and sugar to the classic taste of syllabub.* (Which is warming your milk or eggnog to cow temperature, adding it to wine, and watching the nifty bubbles appear in the mixture as it clabbers quickly, rather than curdling. Syllabub is cool to watch!)
Here’s what Hannah Glasse said about it, in The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy (1758):
“Make your Syllabub of either Cyder or Wine, sweeten it pretty sweet, and grate Nutmeg in, then milk the Milk into the Liquor.. You may make this Syllabub at home, only have new Milk; make it as hot as Milk from the Cow, and out of a Tea-pot, or any such thing, pour it in holding your Hand very high….”
Of course, she then advocates adding a bunch of cream on top, so apparently she was into adding a little bit of extra stuff.
But using condensed milk in any kind of hot chocolate or syllabub is definitely overkill. Also, you can make hot chocolate or classic syllabub in your microwave without nearly as much danger of scalding the milk, so I don’t get the idea of putting it in a pot on your stove.
Also I never got the point of whipped syllabub or cold syllabub (the later stage of the dessert, which English people never dropped and contemporary US chefs are reviving), but I guess some people really like overkill in their desserts and drinks.
(Of course, if somebody else wants to whip the egg whites and steep the thing overnight with various flavorsome substances, I’d be fine with eating it. Feed me, English people!)
I should mention that, since it’s the acidic qualities of wine that make the bubble clabbering happen, you can make non-alcoholic syllabubs of all kinds by using acidic juices. Here’s a pretty example if you would like to try it.
* Actually, the “classic syllabub” is also known as a posset, if you heat up the wine and the whole thing ends up hotter than the cow. Not so much on the bubble-clabbering, but tasty. So actually, I should have said that red wine hot chocolate = chocolate wine posset. But chocolate/wine bubbles would be so cool….
Beer/ale possets are not terribly popular outside of Eastern Europe, but you can do them too. Ditto sherry, hard cider, whisky, rum, etc. But that’s where you start to run into toddy and White Russian territory.
Anyway, possets do make you feel good when you are sick. And hot milky chai tea with whisky is technically a posset, too!
UPDATE: Post backdated to Wednesday, to keep The Sculpted Ship up top.