19 December 2009

A lazy Saturday calls for...

...eggnog!

Eggnog

My wife and I have been having a Christmas party as long as we've been together. The first year we had it, my graduate advisor brought an intensely flammable eggnog. It was rich and frothy, not too sweet, but filled with flavours of nutmeg and honey. She claims the only time she hears from her former students is at Christmas time when they call and ask for the recipe for this eggnog. I cleverly wrote it down that first year (so she never hears from me), and it's now a tradition around our home to serve this delightful stuff.

This is the flavour of Christmas in a cup. Delicious, rich and creamy. Indeed, I spend 11 months of the year dreaming about this eggnog. If it were traditional to drink this year-round, I'd be a much larger man with a much smaller liver. (Disclaimer: This recipe has raw eggs in it. If you're not willing to risk the relatively small risk of Salmonella, don't make it. Indeed, if you have any underlying health condition that would make Salmonella a life-or-death event, all you should do is look over these photos, and drool over the eggnog. No raw eggs for you. Be sensible.)

Alright, I generally do a 2x to 3x recipe for a Christmas party with 30 guests:
2 eggs
4 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
honey to taste
1 cup dark rum
1 cup brandy
lots of fresh ground nutmeg
Separate the eggs. Beat the yolks until yellow and foamy.

Eggs

You're going to make an emulsion, so you want a nice foamy egg yolk. While mixing, slowly add the booze. If you add it too fast, you'll curdle the yolks.

Eggs

Beat in the milk. (Or in a triple batch, beat in about half of the milk - you'll have to add the rest of the milk in a separate, larger bowl).

Eggs + alcohol + milk

Once all the milk is added, add the honey to taste, mixing well to ensure that it dissolves properly. I tend to aim for a barely sweet mixture, as overly sweet eggnog is too cloying for me. But again, you're adding it to taste.

Eggnog

Beat the egg whites until they hold stiff peaks. Beat the heavy cream until they hold light peaks. Fold into the eggnog. Grate in lots of fresh, whole nutmeg (to taste). It really makes a difference, as freshly grated nutmeg is not at all bitter. Then leave the grater out for people to grate more fresh nutmeg on their drink.

Eggnog

I used to be concerned about how long you can store this stuff, and would dump it if I had leftovers more than a few days after the party. However, Michael Ruhlman claims that homemade eggnogs improve with age (up to two years), so now I'll hold onto it for as long as it takes to finish it (never more than a few weeks).

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to one and all. I hope you find a lazy Saturday or two over the holidays, and find your own way to enjoy it.

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