Eggnog for a Holiday Party
December 6, 2015
Note to those of you who are waiting to see Fast & Fearless Cooking for the Genius (the book): do not despair. Although the release date provided by my publisher has long passed, progress is being made. There will be a book, and you will be among the first to know when it is available. It will be worth the wait.
And now to the eggnog. When I was a girl, a highlight of the holidays was the annual New Year's Day party given by a wealthy family in our small midwestern town. Shy and party-averse as I was, I never tried to back out of this shindig because of two things: the hostess made in advance hundreds of cheese straws (butter, cheese, and flour, pressed through the star plate of a cookie press so each piece had crispy ridges); and the host made eggnog. In the early years I was restricted to the children's version, but once I hit my late teens I graduated to the real stuff.
Somehow my family ended up with the recipe for this killer eggnog. For years I gave an annual caroling party for thirty or forty or fifty people, and after the mulled wine and chili--and the caroling--I served this eggnog as dessert. It bears NO resemblance to the stuff you find at the supermarket dairy counter.
EGGNOG (enough for 20 to 25 guests, depending on the serving size)
1 doz. eggs, separated
2 quarts (8 c.) whole milk
3 c. sugar
1 tsp. salt
Beat the egg yolks, then add the milk, sugar, and salt and mix well.
3 c. light rum
1 c. bourbon
You can do this much in advance. Keep the mixture chilled, of course. The egg whites should be at room temperature when you are ready to beat them, but refrigerate them separately if you make the base in advance.
At serving time:
the egg whites, at room temperature*
2 c. whipping cream, well chilled
Beat the egg whites first, then fold them partially into the base.
Now beat the chilled cream.** Pour this whipped cream onto the base mixture and fold it, along with the egg whites, thoroughly into the base. You have just created the world's best eggnog.
*To bring the egg whites to room temperature, take them from the refrigerator at least an hour before beating. OR put their container into a bowl of warm water for 30 minutes.
**A stand mixer is the easiest way to do all this beating; a hand-held mixer will also work but takes longer.
Other things you need to know:
1) to make a children's version, replace the four cups of alcohol with an additional quart of whole milk.
2) Ah, the question of raw eggs. My own (unscientific) approach is to buy my organically produced, free-range eggs from a local farmer, and then just make the eggnog with raw eggs. If you are paranoid about Sam & Ella, then make a creme anglaise, or "boiled custard" with the eggs, milk, and sugar. This cooks the eggs. Chill the custard, then add the alcohol and whipped cream before serving. This gives the eggnog a different, "cooked" taste, but it will still be very good, very rich, and very decadent.
3) Leftover eggnog will keep for a few days in the refrigerator.