Eggnog scares people. I guess I’m lucky: it doesn’t have a bad reputation with me because I’d never had the stuff (store bought or otherwise) until this weekend. I’m sure years of consumption-out-of-politeness can be scarring: it’s the subpar fruitcake phenomenon! I wanted to a) try the stuff properly and b) see what the fuss was all about – I didn’t understand how anyone could dislike anything that is simply a liquidly custard.
Friends came over for a night of festivities in party dresses and suits. Of course, there was plenty of food – all homemade (down to the pastry and bread): mini quiches with caramelized onions & mushrooms, chicken wings (the boy’s special butter/hot-sauce concoction), a veggie tray & bread sticks with caramelized onion yogurt dip & chipotle hummus, (more) bread with rabbit rillettes (absolutely delicious stuff – we made it with pork belly) & baked brie with quince preserves (the boy came home with a barrel of quinces one day), and gingersnaps (loosely based on this but with more spices including star anise; it was great fun to try out my newest kitchen toy: a granite mortar & pestle). Of course there was homebrew (something similar to a Chimay Rouge), and my eggnog.
Ah! Eggnog. The very idea was not enthusiastically received.
Pre-party polling our invitees, we discovered that most of them did not like the stuff, though many promised to try a thimbleful. For those who did like eggnog, often the cartoned version was preferred over the Real Deal. This saddened me immensely. It thus became my mission to find a perfect eggnog – so I skimmed and skimmed until settling on Alton Brown’s version. The only thing I wish we had done differently was to use fresh nutmeg! But I had no idea where to find the stuff in London, Ontario (so if any of you know, please share) and was on a bit of a time crunch.
If success is measured by the amount of eggnog left untouched (none) and the number of skeptic-to-lover converts (a goodly handful), this was a definite win. The following recipe doubles easily. In mine (doubled batch), I added 1/2 a vanilla bean (scraped + bean directly thrown into the milk & cream in the saucepan). From Alton Brown’s Good Eats, S09E13:
Eggnog! (yields 6-7 cups)
4 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
1 pint whole milk (delicious!)
1 cup heavy cream (I used 18% table cream)
3 ounces bourbon (I used Sailor Jerry Rum)
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
4 egg whites
STAND MIXER: Beat the egg yolks until they lighten in color. Add 1/3 cup sugar gradually, beat until dissolved.
MEDIUM SAUCEPAN: Over high heat, combine milk, heavy cream and nutmeg and bring just to a boil, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and gradually temper the hot mixture into the egg and sugar mixture. Return everything to the pot and cook until the mixture reaches 160 degrees F. Remove from the heat, stir in liquor, pour into a medium mixing bowl, and set in the refrigerator to chill.
STAND MIXER: Beat egg whites to soft peaks. Add 1 tablespoon of sugar while mixer is running, beat until stiff peaks form. Whisk the egg whites into the chilled mixture.