We’re hovering right up to Christmas, and it’s time for Virgo Man and me to whip up The Recipe: our local, sustainable eggnog made from local, sustainable eggs, milk and cream.
What? You’ve never made your own eggnog? You MUST.
And you must invite people over, because The Recipe makes a whole bunch of eggnog. Also, warn whoever drinks it that they will need a cab to get home, possibly even if they live on the same block. The first year we made it, Virgo Man’s mother had to go down for a nap after some number of slurps. This stuff is potent. And really, really good.
I’m writing this post to assuage the general fear about making eggnog from scratch: that consuming raw eggs is a risky business. I’m here to tell you that I have been consuming raw eggs since I was a young whipper snapper, and I’ve never once had a problem. I’ve had them in home-made mayonnaise, in ersatz blender hollandaise, in countless Caesar salads, and in many an eggnog. When I was a girl, my mother regularly made sukiyaki the way she’d learned to make it in Japan, and we always dipped it into raw egg, a Japanese culinary tradition. Not even a hint of an upset in all these years.
Even the experts agree that the risk of contamination in raw eggs is quite small.
The thing about eggnog is it will not work with pasteurized eggs, and it will certainly not work with Egg Beaters or any other such substitute. Well, I guess you can make it that way, but you will not be making true eggnog. Some people theorize that there’s so much alcohol in eggnog that food-borne pathogens don’t stand a chance, and in fact there’s never a recorded spike in salmonella poisoning at holiday time – so maybe that’s why.
I personally trust my eggs, because I know where they came from. I’ve seen the farm and the conditions under which the chickens are raised. It’s as clean as a whistle. I’ve never gotten a carton of eggs where any of the eggs are cracked or damaged – which is one of the main ways that salmonella can spread. You should never eat a raw egg if it’s been in proximity to another egg that is cracked or damaged.
Okay, enough said about the warnings and reassurances.
Homemade eggnog is a dream come true.
It’s unlike any eggnog in a carton you’ve ever had, although I often drink eggnog in a carton because I love it so much, and some of the brands on the market are pretty darned good. But they’re not the same thing.
Homemade eggnog is like drinkable whipped cream. It’s light and luxurious at the same time, somehow. It’s alcoholic enough to make your eyes water, but it just makes you feel kind of happy, not falling down drunk. It’s rich but oh-so-drinkable.
Have I convinced you?
Here’s The Recipe:
For 24 servings, you’ll need 6 cups of rum and/or bourbon or Canadian whiskey. I like the mix, but some purists prefer one or the other. The day before you’re going to whip up your nog, pour your liquor over 3/4 cup of sugar. I highly recommend superfine sugar, as it dissolves more completely than regular sugar. Let that mixture marinate overnight, occasionally giving it a stir. Put a kitchen towel over the top and don’t leave it next to the sink lest some helpful soul decide to do the dishes and throw it out, unawares.
Next day, separate one dozen eggs. The fastest and most reliable way to do this is with your hands, letting the egg white slip through your fingers as you cradle the yolk. Whatever works. It is VERY important not to get even a speck of yolk in the whites, because they won’t whip if there’s any fat in them; but it doesn’t matter if you get a little of the white into the yolk.
If you have a stand mixer with two bowls, you have the perfect set-up. It can be done without a stand-mixer, though I wouldn’t attempt it by myself by hand. I’m sure Julia Child would.
Beat the yolks with 3/4 cup superfine sugar until the color is pale yellow and thickened. In the other bowl, beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks when you lift the beater out of them. With a rubber scraper, fold the yolk mixture into the whipped whites. Try to blend away all the white streaks, but don’t be rough about it or you’ll lose all your volume. Then slowly pour half of the sugar/liquor mixture in and stir at low speed just to blend.
Now add 4-1/2 cups of milk. Whole milk, please, because what would be the point of 2% with all the other fat you’re putting in this thing? Stir to blend.
Add the rest of the sugar/liquor mixture and 1-1/2 cups of heavy cream, and stir to blend.
Get someone to wash the bowl that held the yolks, and – IMPORTANT – give it a final rinse in cold water and dry it completely. Or plan this step ahead and put the clean bowl in the frig or freezer for a few minutes to chill it. Use the bowl to whip 1-1/2 cups of cream to soft peaks.
Now, fold the whipped cream very gently into the other ingredients. Folding means you gently drop some of the cream (may 1/3 of it at a time) on top of the other mixture. Then take a rubber spatula and run it edgewise down the middle of your bowl. Turn the bowl 1/4 turn as you turn the spatula over. Repeat. Folding is a specific technique and if you didn’t know that, watch the following video:
Now you’re ready to serve this gorgeous eggnog. Ladle gently into cups and grate fresh nutmeg over the top. It is mandatory to buy a grater if you don’t already have one, and use a fresh whole nutmeg for this step, because you’ve worked too hard to toss stale nutmeg from last year into it.
I promise, your first sip is going to be a revelation. Sustainable eggnog: a dream come true.