Eggnog is the drink of the season. The thick, sweet and rich blend of milk and eggs has been around in some form since the 14th century, but it became a seasonal standard in colonial America, where eggs and dairy were plentiful and alcohol went with pretty much anything. Whether you take yours spiked with Christmas spirits or as pure as the driven snow, there’s a decent chance you will enjoy a cup or two before the season is over (with apologies to the lactose intolerant).
Store-bought eggnog is generally pretty good stuff and I’ve enjoyed my fair share, but a few years ago my relationship with eggs changed when I began to raise chickens in my backyard. With a newfound appreciation for truly fresh eggs and a surplus often at hand, homemade eggnog seemed inevitable. I’ll still drink the store bought stuff, but man, there’s nothing like homemade.
Many recipes call for the use of raw egg yolks. Some express concerns with salmonella with the use of raw egg, but knowing my chickens personally, this has never been a concern for me. So while I wouldn’t balk at raw egg eggnog, I still prefer a cooked version. Prepared in much the same way as homemade ice cream, tempering the eggs in hot milk gives the ‘nog a beautiful color, rich flavor and silky texture. And for those using grocery store eggs, it will assuage any health concerns associated with the consumption of uncooked eggs.
This recipe can be made with or without alcohol. You can also choose to add the spirits as you go (a couple of tablespoons per cup is a good starting point). I usually do it that way, mostly because I tend to start dipping into the ‘nog before noon as a substitute for cream in my morning coffee. ‘Tis the season to be decadent.
- 6 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3 cups whole milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 cups heavy cream, cold
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 3/4 – 1 cup rum, bourbon, or brandy (optional)
In a large bowl, whisk together egg yolks and ¼ cup sugar until frothy and set aside.
In a heavy pot, combine milk and vanilla and cook over medium heat to 170 degrees. Do not allow to boil.
Remove milk from heat and add a little to the eggs to temper.
Slowly add the rest of the hot milk to eggs.
Transfer the egg/milk blend to pot and return to 170 degrees.
Remove from heat and whisk in heavy cream and nutmeg.
Stir in bourbon, rum or brandy (if desired).
Refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving.
Garnish with nutmeg or whipped cream.