Eggnog, a creamy, sweet, boozy mix that happens only one time a year. And, who doesn’t love a good tradition, especially when it’s something you can eat or drink?
But, eggnog is one recipe tradition that, while I loved it in concept, didn’t resonate with me at first. Sure, I’d buy an occasional eggnog latte or pick up a carton of eggnog from the store. However, I didn’t really know what all the fuss was about until I made it for myself.
Homemade eggnog is not the cloyingly sweet and batter-like thickness I’d previously known. It’s rich (very, very rich) but it’s also light, airy even. It’s sweet but not too much so and simply spiced with nutmeg; freshly ground, although I do put a bit of cinnamon in mine as well.
The richness deems it worthy for a special occasion, making for a festive after dinner, or even dessert, cocktail people will look forward to year after year.
A classic recipe for homemade eggnog
Serves 6 to 8
Adapted from Alton Brown
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, plus more for garnish
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 4 egg yolks
- 1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar
- 4 egg whites
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 3 ounces aged rum
1. In a small saucepan combine the milk and cream with the nutmeg and cinnamon. Heat until it just comes to a simmer.
2. While the milk and cream are heating add the egg yolks to a medium sized bowl and whisk until they lighten in color. Gradually add 1/3 cup sugar and continue to whisk until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is light and fluffy.
3. Gradually pour half of the milk and cream mixture to the egg yolk mixture and whisk continuously.
4. Pour everything back into the saucepan and cook over medium low heat until the mixture has thickened slightly or reaches a temperature of 180 F
Refrigerate until cool.
5. Once the base is cooled add the egg whites to a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and whip until frothy. Add the cream of tartar while the machine continues to run. Increase the speed to medium and beat until soft peaks form then gradually add the 1 tablespoon sugar.
6. Fold the egg whites into the chilled eggnog base then stir in the rum. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
7. Pour a modest 1/2 cup or so into each glass then garnish with a grating of fresh nutmeg.
This is my recipe for a basic and very classic homemade eggnog. You can add more spice, float a vanilla bean in the milk and cream as it comes to a simmer, or switch up the alcohol variety and quantity.
I say it’s traditional but I did swap out the bourbon for aged rum. In part because that is what I had on hand and also because lately I’ve been more of a rum girl. I think it is making a big comeback. Move over, bourbon, there’s a new alcohol in town. Don’t get me wrong, I love bourbon and wouldn’t protest to its presence in my eggnog but the rum really does a great job here. The choice is yours.
Also, a lot of recipes skip the cooking of the egg yolks but here I show the cooked version just to be on the safe side. If you trust your eggs completely then feel free to simple stream in the milk and cream (cold) into your whipped egg yolks. The sugar will partially cook the yolks but the tempering insures any chance of salmonella is good and gone.