Eggnog is a surprisingly polarizing drink. Surprising to me, because of how much I love it. It is creamy, sweet, and lightly spiced (which you know I love if you read my recent gingerbread post).
When drinking eggnog I try--try so hard- to make it last, sipping slowly the way you would with a glass of wine. It never really works, going down far too easy.
This eggnog is just how I like it: creamy, sweet, with a hint of spice. There are a lot of variations on eggnog so if you would like to customize yours, here are some tips!
On Spiking Your Eggnog: I prefer not to tamper with my eggnog, and let it stay like it was when I was a kid. Alcohol free. That's just me. There's likely a time and a place that spiked eggnog would fit into my life well, but regular old eggnog drinking isn't it. This recipe works either way: my friends stirred in whiskey, which adds to that sharp spicy flavor. Rum would be good as well! No matter what, top with fresh nutmeg (advice from my grandmother).
To Cook or Not to Cook: This recipe will ask you to cook your eggnog on the stove-top. It doesn't take long, and it helps you get a thick, creamy eggnog. I've made it in the blender (i.e., skipped cooking), and the flavor is there but the creaminess falls a bit short (Plus, without adding alcohol, this makes drinking the raw eggs a little risky). Lots of recipes will ask you to whip your egg whites to stiff peaks and fold them in to get that creamy texture, but that is just too much work (...in my opinion 😉) considering you could also just stir everything on the stove for a few minutes. And while eggnog is usually enjoyed cold, warm eggnog straight from the stove is something else (and an experience worth having).
If you want to skip the cooking but don't want to eat raw eggs, try this smoothie (which is Paleo and dairy-free!).
Maple Syrup > Sugar: This recipe calls for maple syrup rather than sugar. It does have a subtle maple flavor, but it's quite nice, and I'm surprised you don't see more maple sweetened eggnogs around. It might sound odd, but really, has maple syrup ever messed up anything?? Plus, it's an unrefined sugar. Three cheers for maple syrup!
What's All the Fermentation Talk? Fermenting eggnog is the traditional way, and does several things. First, it mellows out any alcohol you may have put in. Second, whatever alcohol you have added kills off any bacteria (or so I've heard). Third, it gives flavors time to meld together. Have you heard of leaving your cookie dough in the fridge over night? Same idea. Key to fermentation: use booze. The alcohol is what kills off any bacteria. I wanted my eggnog now, so this recipe is a drink-it-right-away recipe. You can try adding booze and fermenting it for a few weeks if you're that sort of daring (use a 1/4 cup cognac and 1/4 cup rum).
Serves: 12 | Total Time: 30 minutes
- 3 cups whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 4 whole cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, plus more for serving
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 6 egg yolks
- 1/2 - 3/4 cup maple syrup
- Pinch of salt
- Combine milk, cream, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, and pinch of salt in a sauce pan and heat until almost simmering. Stir frequently to avoid scalding.
- While the milk heats, whisk together the egg yolks and 1/2 cup maple syrup until frothy and golden.
- Ladle 1 scoop of the hot milk into the egg mixture, while whisking it quickly to avoid curdling. Do this two more times to temper the eggs and then pour the egg mixture into sauce pan with milk, whisking while you pour. Cook for 3-5 minutes while whisking constantly. Do not allow mixture simmer (or boil), as this will cause the eggs to curdle.
- Once eggnog begins to thicken, remove from heat. At this point, you may add extra maple syrup if you would like, just taste it and adjust, stirring between each addition. (for me, the 1/2 cup we added in step 2 is enough, but if you are accustomed to store-bought you might want a bit more).
- Pour the eggnog through a fine mesh sieve to remove the whole cloves and ensure a silky smoothy eggnog.
- Pour in an air-tight container and chill in the fridge. Serve topped with freshly ground nutmeg. (I'm often impatient and drink it while it's still warm -- yummy that way, too!)