Dec 17, 2009
Eggnog is one of the flavors that signal the holidays. Every time I have a cup I'm reminded of decorating our tree, making an endless amount of cookies, wrapping presents, waiting for snow... Eggnog practically screams Christmas.
There are 2 main styles of eggnog, uncooked and cooked. I prefer the cooked, not for any health reasons (although that is a plus) but because I find the uncooked version with beaten egg whites too frothy, too much like a Tom and Jerry and too high maintenance. Don't get me wrong, I love my Tom and Jerry's - a lot- but I like my Tom and Jerry's to be frothy and my eggnog to be creamy. (Tom and Jerry recipe coming soon)
When I make Eggnog it is usually for a crowd so I want a drink that I can simply set out. No last minute preparations, no beating and folding, just take out of the refrigerator and serve. That said, I will occasionally fold in softly whipped cream to thicken the eggnog up a bit, but it isn't necessary. Also, I like to serve my eggnog and liquor separately. I like a very stiff eggnog, I've been told some people do not. This way, everyone can make their drinks to their liking and any kids can enjoy it alcohol free.
However, I read somewhere that if you combine the eggnog and alcohol and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight, the alcohol taste will mellow. I'm going to have to give that a try, it might be worth making a "grown-up" batch and a kid batch.
2 cups cream
3 cups milk
3/4 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean -or- 1/2 teaspoon real vanilla extract
10 egg yolks
fresh grated nutmeg
Combine the cream, 2 cups of the milk and 1/2 cup of the sugar in a saucepan. Split the vanilla bean in 1/2 lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Add the vanilla bean seeds to the sauce pan. (If you are using vanilla extract you'll add it later) Bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Turn off the heat.
In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks with 1/4 cup sugar until the mixture thickens and lightens in color a bit. Whisking constantly, slowly add about 1/3 of the cream mixture to the yolks to temper them (this will prevent curdling).
Add the egg yolk mixture to the sauce pan. Over a low heat, stirring constantly, cook until the mixture has thickened enough to coat the back of the spoon (when you drag your finger across the back of the spoon, the line remains) about 10 minutes.
Strain the eggnog into a bowl or pitcher. Stir in the remaining 1 cup of milk, if you are using vanilla extract add that now. If you want to add the alcohol to let it mellow, add it now. Put in the refrigerator to cool, at least 3 hours.
If you would like, you can softly whip 1 cup of heavy cream and fold that in to the eggnog right before you serve it.
Serve with Brandy* to taste and a generous amount of fresh grated nutmeg.
*Some people like a combination of rum and brandy, some people like bourbon or a combination of the three. I like pure Brandy. Play around and see what you like.