Surely I can’t be the only person making eggnog this Christmas Eve? Alongside all of the other final preparations for the holiday, such as last minute shopping, gift wrapping and, of course, cookie baking, that is. All of this is in progress and will continue for awhile, with requisite carols and symphonies filling the room with holiday music. Will it inspire you if I tell you my husband and I are also headed out for a ten mile run in a few minutes or will you just roll your eyes? Well, do with it what you will; there you have it. This is my idea of a wonderful Christmas Eve!
Now, I really must be getting back to all of the above, but I wanted to share my recipe for eggnog with you, as promised. It’s much lower in calories and saturated fat than most other recipes, and absolutely divine! Here’s the ingredient list and directions, along with a picture of what it looks like on the stove top:
- 2 dozen eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 gallon skim milk (or 1/2 skim, 1/2 soy)
- 1-2 tbsp honey
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 1 tbsp whole cloves
- Peel from 2 oranges
In a large saucepan or pot, whisk up the eggs, then add the sugar. (If you use an electric beater, don’t overbeat.) Add the milk and cook slowly over medium-low heat, whisking constantly. More or less constantly, I’d say. I tend to multitask while waiting for this to cook but do be careful. There is a very fine line between eggnog and custard, as I’ve learned. The latter is delicious, but not to imbibe. Add the spices and peel from both oranges to flavor the nog, along with the vanilla and honey, stirring to combine. (Here’s a little holiday challenge for you: Can you remove the orange peel in one long piece?)
It usually takes around 20-30 minutes or so for the nog to reach a temperature of about 160-170 degrees F (70 C or so), which you want to do in order to cook the eggs. When it reaches the correct temperature, remove from the heat and let it sit for 2-3 hours. It will thicken substantially, and may even look like custard at this point, especially if you used soy milk. Soy milk has more protein so it will lead to a more viscous product. Do not fret, my friends! This is normal. Next, obtain a large container and set a colander or sieve (like for sifting flour) on top. Pour the eggnog through, using a wooden spoon to move it through the sieve. This will remove the cooked eggs from the nog, which is the objective. This is much like straining my vegetable juice from way-back-when, actually; here’s the video if you’d like to check it out. This part does take patience, but it’s worth it for homemade eggnog, I assure you. If egg solids remain, the the holes in your colander are too large and you’ll need to switch to a finer sieve.
Once the eggnog is through the colander, it will be smooth. Take a taste. You can certainly adjust the seasoning, viscosity, or creaminess as you desire by adding a bit more of the above ingredients. I often find myself adding a bit more milk to thin it out and/or a bit more vanilla or honey to fine-tune the flavor. As with most things culinary, making eggnog is an art and science, as you will find when you make it. Just remember: moving it through the sieve solves any unintended custard-like qualities that have transpired. Usually. Unless it’s really, really thick, in which case you might want to consider making a trifle for dessert and running out to the store to buy some high-quality store made nog.
By the way: Mine is clearly a recipe for a big gathering of people, and it remains in the fridge all week for sipping and adding to coffee. (I usually drink coffee black but coffee with eggnog is a special Christmas treat in which I indulge yearly. It’s like having coffee with scrambled eggs, right? Yeah, not really.) Alter the proportions accordingly if you have a smaller group.
There are so many different ways that people like to drink and serve eggnog. Straight up or on the rocks? With or without alcohol? Rum, brandy, Grand Marnier, whiskey, or bourbon? Garnished with freshly grated nutmeg? Topped with whipped cream? It’s up to you! I personally enjoy eggnog on the rocks spiked with bourbon, brandy, and/or Grand Marnier, along with a sprinkle of fresh nutmeg.
Finally, when serving in a punch bowl at a party, I like to leave the orange and spices in it because it looks pretty. Or, you can omit them during the original straining process. If you select the former option, do have a little strainer on hand for your guests to make sure you remove the cloves, orange peel, and cinnamon sticks when serving. No need to hinder your holiday by having to perform the Heimlich, after all.