Cocktail

Eggnog Any Which Way, Even for Those Who Claim to Not like It

December  5, 2016

You’re either in Camp Nog or you’re not.

I considered, when writing this, drawing the line there: Beware all ye who enter here! Back, eggnog skeptics, back! But I’m not going to, because no one deserves homemade eggnog more than eggnog skeptics—the ones who shy away from the sticky, manila-envelope-colored stuff from the grocery store. (Who can blame them? Can you tell I’m among them?)

We're in Camp Nog. Photo by James Ransom

Real eggnog is nothing like it. You don’t have to cut it with milk just to get it down the hatch. It’s not so sweet you get the sugar sweats. It’s light and frothy and yolky in the way custard is. It’s fresh-tasting and boozy.

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“Now on to making some eggnog... Cheers!”
— Jackie
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Adjust it freely and to your liking: Play with the ratio of milk to cream; use coconut milk or rice milk or macadamia milk instead of dairy; swap out the sugar for maple syrup or honey; up the amount of nutmeg; play with the kind of booze you add (or omit it entirely). You can even make it vegan, in which case I’ll direct you here. If you want your eggnog to have eggs in it, though, keep reading.

Photo by James Ransom

Gather these ingredients:

Here’s what you’ll need for six servings. Scale up or down depending on how many are coming over! One more quick note, while we’re talking about entertaining: You can (and, I’d encourage, should!) make this a day or two in advance of your occasion. It’ll thicken up and get velvety—and more flavorful—as it ages, and it’s good for up for a week.

  • 6 eggs, separated (1 egg per person)
  • 1/3 to 1 cup something sweet (white sugar, brown sugar, honey, maple syrup, or a mix)
  • 3 cups dairy of some kind or non-dairy substitute (I like a mixture of 2 cups whole milk with 1 cup heavy cream, for richness; you could also mix and match half-and-half, reduced-fat milks, coconut milk from a can, unsweetened coconut cream from a can, or nut milks of all sorts)
  • Up to 1 1/2 cups booze (bourbon is traditional; rum, whiskey, cognac, or brandy all work, too—and feel free to mix and match these)
  • Nutmeg, of course! (But also experiment with adding a vanilla bean, a shake of cinnamon…)

This may seem like a lot of information, but keep this in mind: Eggnog is pretty much entirely “to taste.” Adjust at will.

A couple of suggested pairings, to get you going on the riffing front:

  • bourbon + maple
  • rum + coconut milk
  • whiskey + brown sugar
  • cognac + honey
Whipping egg whites makes for extra-frothy eggnog. Photo by James Ransom

Then, make your eggnog:

To make your nog, carefully separate your eggs into two large bowls. Add the sugar or other sweetener to the egg yolks and whisk vigorously, until they’re light and creamy. Add the dairy, booze (if using), and nutmeg, and stir again to combine. Taste and see what you think: Is it too thick or too sweet? Add more milk or a little water. Not rich enough? A splash of cream will take care of that. If something just doesn’t seem quite right, add a little pinch of salt, which makes everything taste more like itself. When it tastes good to you, pop it in the fridge until you’re ready to drink it.

This is the part where I’m obliged to remind you about the potential risks of consuming raw eggs. It’s true. There are some associated risks—though, it should be noted, the presence of alcohol will pretty much kill any bacteria present. Even still, if you’re sharing this eggnog with very little kids, older folks, pregnant folks, or anyone who’s immuno-compromised, go ahead and do this instead:

Whisk your egg yolks and sugar together until pale and creamy. Meanwhile, heat your milk and any spices in a saucepan over medium-low heat, until steaming. Remove from heat. Whisking vigorously, temper the eggs by sloooooowly add a ladleful of the hot milk to the egg mixture. Add another ladleful, whisking all the while. When the egg mixture is hot and you’re certain you haven’t scrambled your eggs, add it back to the pot, whisk together until well combined, then let cool completely before stirring in the alcohol, if you're using it. (Otherwise, you’ll cook off the alcohol, and we certainly don’t want that.)

*Gently* fold those whites in. Photo by James Ransom

Okay, now you have your extremely delicious eggnog base. If you’re not going to drink it today or tomorrow, stash your reserved egg whites in the freezer, and thaw the day you’re planning on serving.

When you’re just about ready for cocktail hour, whip up your egg whites into soft peaks. (Alice Medrich would want you to add a pinch of cream of tartar.) Pull the eggnog base out of the fridge, stir to incorporate, and gently fold in the egg whites. The result should be frothy and light—not dense.

Ladle into cups and serve cold, with a grating of fresh nutmeg.

If you want to serve your eggnog hot, omit the egg whites and add milk to taste and to loosen the mixture; you’ll want to wait to add the booze until you’re ready to serve, too.

Grate some extra nutmeg on top, if you please. Photo by James Ransom

Are you Camp Nog or not? Let us know in the comments below!

8 Comments

Jackie December 25, 2016
Thank you Caroline! I see now that had I read your instructions more carefully, (not skimming over the "Or Do This" part!) I would not have gotten the two parts confused. Thank you for clearing this up, making me go back and read it correctly. Now on to making some eggnog... Cheers!
 
Jackie December 25, 2016
I'm definitely camp nog and would like to make this. But a little confusion... the instructions have you add dairy after whisking yolks and sugar. Next part says heat the milk and add to temper. Are you to save out part of the milk from the first step of adding dairy?
 
Author Comment
Caroline L. December 25, 2016
Hi Jackie! If you want to temper, heat all your milk/cream/etc. until steaming but not simmering; meanwhile whisk together egg yolks and sugar. When the milk is hot, remove from heat and very slowly add a ladleful of the milk to the yolk-sugar mixture, stirring constantly, then another, then add the egg mixture to any remaining milk in the pot, stir, and refrigerate until you're ready to drink! Hope this is helpful.
 
HalfPint December 13, 2016
I'm definitely on Team Nog! And I enjoy Paula Deen's recipe too.
 
Victoria M. December 12, 2016
My family made homemade Egg Nog last Christmas for the first time. I made a big batch on Christmas Eve thinking it would last till Boxing Day. It was so good we drank our entire stash on Christmas eve! We ran out on Christmas morning to get more eggs, milk and cream to make more!
 
granjan December 11, 2016
My husband delights in serving my egg nog to guests who've never had the real thing. And once they've had it the 1st thing they say at our holiday parties is"Where's the eggnog?" Just don't make it so boozy you can't taste the nog!<br />
 
sydney December 7, 2016
I'm a 'shortcut' cook so I love when eggnog appears in stores. It functions as a pudding base for leftover rice for rice pudding; and leftover brioche, pannetone, challah, (etc.) for bread pudding. And throwing some whisk[e]y into a little glass of it doesn't hurt, either.
 
Beth S. December 5, 2016
Oh, I'm soooo camp nog!