Despite the aforementioned Christmas pause, I wouldn’t want to let this special day go by without remembering you. This post is dedicated to all the people who follow my adventures over there, on the other side of the screen. So I’ve decided that it would be nice to raise a glass of this rich and Christmassy eggnog to the good things this year has brought and the good things to come.
For those of you who haven’t heard about it, this frothy beverage, which is made out of eggs, sugar and milk/cream, usually flavored with nutmeg and spiked with alcohol (originally brandy, but nowadays rum or bourbon are also commonly used), originated as a wintertime drink for British aristocracy in the 16th century.
Only the wealthy could afford these said expensive ingredients and liquors. Brandy and sherry were often added to keep the drink from spoiling. However, it wasn’t until the 18th century when eggnog travelled to the US colonies, where the drink was slightly changed. Instead of adding the heavily taxed brandy or wine, colonists used to add rum —”the drink of the marginalized”—, which was traded from the Caribbean, according to Frederick Douglass Opie, an American food history professor.
The term “egg nog” appeared on a written document for the first time in the 17th century. In the US, this term evolved from a combination of two colonial slang words, especially from the colonial New York, Boston, Charleston and Mobile areas—rum was referred to as “grog” and bartenders served it in small wooden mugs called “noggins”. The drink first became known as “egg and grog in a noggin”, later “egg-and-grog”, which led to “egg’n’grog”, and it was only a matter of time that that ended up in the current “eggnog”.
And having said that, I leave you with the recipe and I wish you all the best for the 2015. This one’s for you all!
- 4 cups (960 ml) whole milk
- 1 cup (240 ml) cold heavy cream
- 1 cinnamon stick (optional)
- 3 cloves, whole (optional)
- ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
- 8 large egg yolks
- 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
- 120 ml (1/2 cup) bourbon (optional)
- 60 ml (1/4 cup) rum (optional)
- Freshly grated nutmeg, for sprinkling
- Place egg yolks and sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer, fitted with the whisk (or a large bowl) and whisk at medium-high speed until thick and pale for 3-5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat milk, cream, cloves, cinnamon stick (if using), nutmeg and vanilla bean and seeds in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, whisking constantly.
- Pour 1 cup of the spiced, hot milk mixture into the yolk and sugar mixture in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly.
- Gradually pour the milk and yolk mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until it is thick enough to coat slightly the back of a spoon, about 10-15 minutes until the mixture reaches 160 degrees F (70ºC). Do not let it simmer.
- Strain the mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl and discard the vanilla bean, cloves and cinnamon stick. Whisk in bourbon (and/or rum), if using, and let cool completely.
- Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate to cool completely for about 1 hour (better overnight).
- Serve chilled sprinkled with nutmeg. You can serve it with a dollop of either whipped cream or stir in some whipped egg whites.
Keep refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
- National eggnog day: December 24th.
Sources:: USA today, Food Timeline, et al.