This is the 25th anniversary of my eggnog.
Wow. That deserved its own paragraph. It’s quite an old reliable friend. I first made it for Thanksgiving in 1985 from a recipe, Nat’s Eggnog, in the Sugar & Spice section of the December 1985 issue of Gourmet. I still have that stained page:
“My husband used to make the following eggnog every Christmas. For him Christmas was not Christmas without it. His friends would drop by early on the Eve — as soon as they thought it was ready.” ~Clotile P. Glover-Wilson, Chicago, Illinois
I was a restaurant general manager and had access to separated pasteurized eggs, something not easily found in the supermarket back then. I followed Nat’s recipe to the letter and the nog was a hit. I’ve made it every Christmas since.
When I left the restaurant business (for the first time) in the early 90’s, I lost my pasteurized egg connection. Even though I could buy safe eggs at the farmers market, I didn’t want any of my friends to worry at all about the risk of salmonella. I continued to separate the eggs and pasteurize them myself, heating the yolks in a double-boiler and making an Italian meringue with the whites, but that was a pain.
Then I decided to leave the eggs whole and pasteurize the nog base on the stove. What a revelation! Besides being so much easier to do, this added a custardy creaminess to the recipe, like a crème anglaise. I’ve made no changes since.
If you’re going to pasteurize the eggs like I do, you’ll need an instant-read thermometer. If you prefer to buy pasteurized eggs, you can skip the stovetop steps. It may not get as thick as my method but it will be even easier.
You should know, this nog has quite a kick. I served it at all my Christmas dinner parties in Arlington and Sacramento, my parents’ home in Massachusetts, my brother’s house in California, our “pre-Christmas party party” at the CBIA office, the Bonn Lair parking lot (my neighborhood pub in Sacramento) and now here. It’s my most eagerly anticipated Christmas tradition.
Merry Christmas to all of you!
- 12 lg eggs
- 2 cups white sugar
- 4 cups milk, preferably whole
- 3 Tbsp vanilla
- 2-1/2 cups brandy
- 2/3 cup Myers dark rum
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
Beat eggs until very pale, quite a long time. With beaters going, add sugar slowly until it’s all incorporated into the eggs. Add the milk while beating slowly.
Put the egg mixture into the top of a double boiler. I use a stainless steel bowl on top of a sauce pot. Don’t let the water in the bottom pot boil, just lightly simmer. If it boils, you may cook the egg in spots. I keep the bowl covered until the temperature approaches 140. Keep scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl with a spatula so you don’t cook the eggs. Heat until the temperature reaches 140 and then stays at or above 140 for 3 minutes, or until the temperature reaches 160, whichever comes first.
Once it reaches the temperature (either 140 for 3 minutes or 160), immediately remove from the heat and cool it down for a little while in an ice bath. Strain mixture through sieve into a larger bowl — I use the one that had the ice in it. This will remove any cooked bits of egg. Stir in the vanilla, brandy and rum.
Whip cream to the soft peak stage — when you pull out the beaters, the peak of cream curls over or flops a bit. Fold the cream into your nog. It will look clumpy, that’s fine, you’ll give it a good stir (or whisk) before serving.
Pour into a pitcher, cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator to chill a few hours. Or, if you can’t wait (it’s been known to happen), serve warm in mugs. Before serving, give it a good whisk or stir so the whipped cream blends in. Serve chilled in a festive glass. Top each glass with grated fresh nutmeg.
Yield – one gallon
Original recipe: Nat’s Eggnog, Gourmet, December 1985 (not published online)