I always know it’s eggnog season when Brian volunteers to go grocery shopping for me (which he never does during normal times of the year). It’s the only way store bought eggnog makes it into our house. I loathe the stuff. But I swear Brian’s veins run with eggnog from about November 1 to January 15. And of course, the boys, seeing their big, strong daddy chugging eggnog have jumped right on board. Apparently because eggnog-buying season overlaps with wrestling season, they have somehow made the association that drinking eggnog ensures faster take downs, better whizzers, swifter double legs and tighter gut wrenchers.
I seriously have no idea what I just said.
Anyway, I decided to try my hand at homemade eggnog, wondering if I would like it better than store bought. A few disclaimers: I knew right off I wasn’t going to make it with raw eggs. I wanted a version that I could serve to my little kids and also to my favorite 80-year old Yugoslavian friend without any of them having to sign a waiver about the risk of salmonella. I also knew I was going to make a non-alcoholic version since quite simply, I don’t drink alcohol and neither do my kids. I wanted this to be a family event. The Making and Drinking of The Eggnog.
So if either of those things have you crying “unauthentic” then we probably need to part ways for this post (but please come back tomorrow!). After several tries and variations, in the end, I loved this. Really loved it. It is thick and creamy with a rich flavor from the egg yolks and a delicious fragrant taste of nutmeg.
Because nutmeg is the only spice used here, I implore you to grate your own. The difference between already ground nutmeg and freshly ground is pretty amazing. I use my rasp grater (the same thing I zest my lemons and limes with); small spice jars of whole nutmeg are fairly easy to find in a well-stocked grocery store.
You are probably wondering what the boys’ verdict is on this homemade version. Of course the kids gulped it down – I mean, it’s sweet and creamy, what’s not to love? Brian, the eggnog connoisseur, liked it but said it was missing the classic taste he’s grown accustomed/addicted to (uh, honey, that’s the artificial pencil shavings and paint extract they added to your store bought stuff to make it last longer). Either way, this is much more my style. It tastes clean and fresh and so very, very creamy, plus the nutmeg flavor really shines and it makes me nerdily happy to have a homemade version that all of us can enjoy together.
I think when Brian’s not looking, I’m going to pour this into his empty eggnog carton and see if he really can tell a difference. The dead giveaway will probably be when he catches me guzzling it from the carton since that’s never happened in the history of ever (chocolate milk? yes. eggnog? no way).
So now I’m curious: are you an eggnog lover or hater?
I use 1% milk when making this - you could probably get away with anything from skim to whole milk. I happen to really love nutmeg - if you think the full 1 1/2 teaspoons might be a bit overwhelming, knock it down to 1 teaspoon to start and add more after tasting, if needed.
- 6 large egg yolks
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 cups milk
- 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
- Pinch of salt
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon rum extract (optional)
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until light and creamy.
- In a saucepan, bring the cream, milk, nutmeg and salt to a bare simmer, stirring often. Slowly ladle in 1/2 cup or so of the hot milk to the egg mixture, whisking vigorously to avoid little bits of cooked egg. This will temper the eggs so they don't scramble when cooked on the stovetop. Ladle in another 1/2 cup, whisking vigorously the entire time. Do this until all the hot milk has been added to the eggs and the mixture is well combined.
- Pour the tempered egg mixture back into the saucepan of milk on the stove, whisking quickly, and cook the mixture, stirring constantly, until it reaches 160 degrees F on a thermometer.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and rum extract (if using).
- Pour the eggnog into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.
Recipe Source: adapted from various sources until I liked the result (including Alton Brown’s recipe and one from Cuisine at Home)