Eggnog is associated with Christmas the way pumpkin pie is inextricably linked to Thanksgiving. You know the holidays are right around the corner when you see cartons of this sweet grog standing up rank and file alongside the milk and butter at supermarkets and corner stores, shimmering in deep glass punchbowls next to the buche noel at office parties.
The origins of eggnog are widely debated, but most agree that the drink was originally associated with the British upper class, as the hoi polloi had little access to fresh dairy products or refrigeration.
It is likely that it caught on at Christmas since this was a time when everyone splurged a bit; you bought the fattest goose, you drank what the rich people drank.
Alcohol has always been a part of it, the “nog” being derivative of a middle English “noggin”, a small wooden mug used to serve alcohol, and folks began mixing in the popular local spirits; Madeira, brandy, whisky, and in the New world, Rum and Bourbon.
Modern eggnog, the kind you buy in grocery stores, has very little –if any-actual egg in it, as government regulations often allow less than 1% egg yolk solids. Our friends at Harmony Organic have put out their own eggnog and are giving out samples in the store this weekend, make sure you grab a taste on your weekly shopping trip.
Making your own eggnog at home is fun and easy too, and you can alter a basic recipe to make it your own, substituting soy or nut beverages for milk, and adding your favorite hooch. Here are two of our favorite recipes for eggnog
Chez Piggy Eggnog (serves 6)
This is Sue Newberry’s recipe from Chez Piggy in Kingston. This appearance of this Holiday treat alongside her famous Gingerbread houses are much celebrated annual event at the famed Kingston restaurant. One sip and you will be putting more than a penny in the old man’s hat.
7 eggs, separated
1 cup sugar
2 cups whipping cream
2 cups milk
1 cup bourbon, chilled
1/3 cup amber rum, chilled
Fresh ground nutmeg for garnish
Beat egg whites to soft peaks while slowly adding half the sugar. Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat egg yolks with remaining sugar until creamy. Fold in egg whites. Set aside.
Whip cream and fold into egg mixture. Whisk in milk, bourbon and rum. Ladle into glasses and garnish with nutmeg.
“Cooked” eggnog (serves 12)
This is a good recipe for those who are worried about eating raw eggs. It’s a little more work, but it keeps well in the fridge and doesn’t separate.
4 cups milk
5 whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
12 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups light rum
4 cups light cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Combine milk, cloves, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and cinnamon in a saucepan, and heat over lowest setting for 5 minutes. Slowly bring milk mixture to a boil.
In a large bowl, combine egg yolks and sugar. Whisk together until fluffy. Whisk hot milk mixture slowly into the eggs. Pour mixture into saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly for 3 minutes, or until thick. Do not allow mixture to boil. Strain to remove cloves, and let cool for about an hour.
Stir in rum, cream, 2 teaspoon vanilla, and nutmeg. Refrigerate overnight before serving.