- Holidays and Celebrations
The Best Christmas Eggnog in the World
Every year, at the beginning of the Christmas shopping season, cardboard cartons filled with something called eggnog start sprouting up in the dairy sections of North American supermarkets. Anyone who has tried this " eggnog" can tell you that it is a thick, cloying, calorie-laden brew that tastes a lot like the cardboard it is presented in.
Too bad, because real, home made eggnog, swimming in cream and laced with rum and ( my favorite) bourbon is a festive American holiday treat that bears no resemblance to its tasteless, cardboard cousin and is worth every calorie which is a lot. A cup of the stuff, depending on how much hooch is involved can carry close to a 500 calorie clout.
Some Eggnog History
Eggnog has been part of the traditional American Christmas for at least two centuries. While it is generally agreed that the drink crossed the Atlantic with English settlers, it is unclear just how and when this happened. Nogs in Europe are not unknown and eggnog is perhaps related to a variety of "possets" and flips which go back to the Middle Ages.
Eggnog was definitely part of the American Christmas celebration-- at least for the upper classes-- by the time of the American Revolution--George Washington served it to his Christmas guests at Mount Vernon. Check out George Washington's Eggnog recipe at this link.
It is pretty clear that by the mid- nineteenth century, for upwardly mobile Americans, a gleaming crystal punch bowl filled with eggnog was as much a part of Christmas as a Christmas tree. What we also know is that this dreamy Yultide drink was freshly made in each home, allowed to cure for several days to permit the flavors of eggs cream and alcohol to properly meld, and served to guests in a chilled cut glass or crystal bowl.
Clearly this was a drink of the afflluent for while rum and whisky were relatively cheap and plentiful in early America, eggs and cream were expensive delicacies and only the rich had money for punchbowls and leisure to drink themselves into a holiday mood at Christmastime.
In the modern day, eggnog has trickled down to the masses, but sadly, most of us have never tasted real home made eggnog and only associate the drink with those cardboard cartons in the supermarket. Making your own holiday eggnog from scratch takes a little more time than opening up one of those supermarket cartons, but not that much more time, and the result is well worth the effort.
How to Make Fabulous Eggnog
First, here are the tricks of the trade that will make your homemade eggnog the best ever.
- chill everything, including the bowls and utensils like whisks and spoons and keep your egg yolk, sugar and alcohol mixture in the refrigerator for at least five hours to let the flavors meld before completing your eggnog. Make sure it doesn't get too warmed up sitting in the punchbowl too-- either serve it cup by cup from pitchers replenished from your fridge or make sure your punchbowl is in a cool place.
- Use really fresh ingredients. Organic eggs from free range chickens really do taste better and I recommend organic milk and cream too.
- Use light not dark rum and decent brands of bourbon and cognac-- no rotgut for Christmas punch OK?
- Warning-- this is an adults only recipe. It contains lots of alcohol and packs quite a wallop. Give the kiddies fruit punch-- better for them anyway::-)
And now here is the recipe. It is an easy, modern adaptation that should give you a perfect eggnog.
You will need:
- 12 large eggs, separated
- 1 1/2 cups superfine sugar
- 1 quart whole milk
- 1 1/2 quarts heavy cream
- 3 cups bourbon
- 1/2 cup light rum
- 1/2 cup cognac
- Freshly grated nutmeg to taste
- Separate the eggs-- set the whites aside in a large metal bowl.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks with a wire whisk until thick and pale yellow. Gradually add sugar to yolks while continuing to whisk.
- Now, beat in the milk and 1 quart of cream.
- Add bourbon, rum, and cognac, stirring constantly. Put the bowl in the refrigerator to chill and to give the booze a chance to meld with the eggs and milk( at least five hours)
- Just before serving, beat egg whites until stiff. Fold into mixture.
- Whip remaining heavy cream until stiff and fold in. Sprinkle
with nutmeg and serve from chilled pitchers or in a beautiful punch bowl. This recipe should serve about two dozen people.
NOTE: It is important that you let the egg yolk ,sugar, and alcohol mixture marinate in the fridge for at least 5 hours. The alcohol kills any harmful bacteria in the raw eggs. As an alternative to this, or to make a non alcoholic version of eggnog, follow the recipe in the video below which shows you how to cook the egg yolk mixture to a custard-like consistency. It is not quite as historically authentic, nor do I like the taste quite as well, but if you are worried about salmonella or prefer an alcohol free eggnog, this is the way to go..
An Eggnog song for the Season
Whatever your holiday celebrations are, if they include eggnog, I'm hoping you will not fall for the cardboard tasting cartons from the supermarket, but will make your own from scratch.
Whether you use my suggested recipe of one of your own, you will find that making eggnog becomes a family tradition and that any eggnog you make yourself definitely is the best in the world. Merry Christmas and happy eggnog.
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