Ahh, eggnog! The word alone invokes thoughts of mistletoe, snow angels, candy canes, and caroling. Every year, after Thanksgiving, we would buy the quart cartons of the thick, yellow concoction in the grocery store, and sip it while putting out the Solstice decorations or watching Elf on DVD. Last year, David drank his while I watched enviously, surreptitiously sniffing the sugary nutmeg fumes from the carton. I didn’t dare touch the stuff. Are you kidding? I can’t pronounce half the things in the ingredients list on the label. And I’ve learned the hard way, if something contains flavorings, preservatives, thickeners, or any other item I can’t readily identify, my body won’t tolerate it. So I went without.
That was last year. This year is different! My culinary skills have come a long way, baby. I will attempt to cook many things that I previously wouldn’t have had the guts to try. So after Thanksgiving, I decided to try out eggnog. Maybe I could create something reminiscent of eggnog. Eggnog-like, even.
Eggnog-like doesn’t describe what I ended up with.
I got eggnog! Real, honest to goodness eggnog!
I even surprised myself. This tastes exactly like the stuff in the carton. Exactly like it. And it was ridiculously easy. Why haven’t I been making this myself all along?
Eggnog, from the Joy of Cooking (my bible)
Do not double this recipe, but it halves quite nicely. This is cooked, and will store in the fridge for up to 3 days, but it’s unlikely to last that long.
Combine and set aside:
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
Whisk just until blended:
12 large egg yolks
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 cups milk
2 cups heavy cream
Transfer the mixture to a large, heavy saucepan and place over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture becomes a little thicker than heavy cream (about 175 degrees, use a thermometer to be sure). Do not overheat, or mixture will curdle. Remove from the heat and immediately stir in the reserved milk and cream. Pour through a strainer into a storage container. Chill thoroughly, uncovered, then stir in 1 1/2 cups brandy, Cognac, dark rum, or bourbon. Or not! We tried it both ways and preferred it without alcohol.
Either way, cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. If not using the spirits, add up to 2 tablespoons of vanilla (optional). Serve sprinkled with more freshly grated nutmeg.