Jazz up your holidays with this sweet, creamy, nutmeg-topped homemade eggnog spiked with a hint of brandy...it's easy to make and sure to please!
It's snowing...bring out the 'nog!
Winter came early to New England with a snowstorm that greeted us as we returned from our Thanksgiving trip to SoCal. Don’t get me wrong…I love the snow, and I was especially happy that I didn’t have to go anywhere that day. It was a great day to start getting in the holiday spirit, and what better way to start than with a cup of eggnog? And not just any ol’ nog would do, and certainly not the overly sweet, overly processed stuff you get at the market.
How to make homemade eggnog
It’s surprisingly easy to make sweet, creamy eggnog, garnished with a sprinkle of nutmeg. There are plenty of recipes from which to choose…I went with The Crumby Kitchen’s Homemade Eggnog recipe. The ingredients were straightforward, already at hand, and I could pronounce them all. I liked that.
Eggnog is basically a variation on a vanilla sauce custard (or crème anglaise for you foodies), a combination of milk and/or cream, egg yolks, and sugar flavored with vanilla. This sauce is very versatile…it can be used warm or chilled, and thickened to make a base for pudding or frozen into ice cream. And depending on the ratio between the liquid to the eggs, you can create a loose sauce to a free-standing egg custard or quiche. So eggnog is really just crème anglaise that’s been spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg in addition to the vanilla. How’s that for versatility?
Raw or cooked egg yolks?
There are two ways to make eggnog, the difference being whether you use raw egg yolks or cook them into a custard base. If you’re pressed for time (and are confident in the safety of your egg yolks), you can just combine all the ingredients in a blender, pulse a few times until everything is nicely mixed, and away you go. This truly is homemade eggnog made easy, and while it won’t be quite as thick and luxurious as the cooked custard version, it’ll certainly taste wonderful.
If you have the time, I suggest you go ahead and make a more traditional eggnog by heating the milk and cream and steeping them with a vanilla bean and the spices. Meanwhile, whip the sugar and egg yolks into a smooth, silky sauce. When the milk mixture has cooled a bit, add it into the egg mixture a little at a time to warm the eggs (that’s to avoid little pieces of scrambled eggs in your ‘nog), then cook it on the stove to thicken the custard. After it’s chilled, this will be thick and creamy eggnog. Yummmmm…
To spike or not to spike
That is the question. (Really? You had to go there? Yup.) The answer, of course, is it’s totally up to you. Traditionally, homemade eggnog with alcohol was how the drink was preserved before refrigeration…the more alcohol used, the longer it lasted (and the richer it got). You can have eggnog without alcohol, but this is Scotch & Scones after all. I made homemade eggnog with rum…er…I’m out of rum…homemade eggnog with brandy? That’s the ticket! Seriously, choose the type of alcohol you want to use. Rum is traditional, but whisky, bourbon, or brandy work just fine.
I like eggnog chilled, but it can be served warmed as well. After you’re finished sipping on this cup of cheer, use the leftovers to make eggnog scones. Wait, you may not have any leftovers, so better make a double batch. And invite me over, even if it’s snowing!
Slainté! L’chaim! Cheers!
Easy Homemade Eggnog
- hand mixer
- 1 cup milk (8 oz, 227g)
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream (4 oz, 114g)
- 1 cinnamon sticks
- 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- pinch salt
- 3 large egg yolks
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar (1-3/4 oz, 50g)
- 1/4 to 3/4 cups rum, brandy, or bourbon (optional)
- ground nutmeg, for garnish
- In a saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the cream, milk, cinnamon stick, vanilla bean, nutmeg, and salt. Stir often until mixture just begins to bubble around the edges. Remove from heat and allow it to steep as you whip the eggs.
- With a hand mixer, beat the egg yolks and sugar together in a medium bowl until light and creamy, about 5 minutes. Thick ribbons will form when the mixture is lifted from the bowl.
- Slowly whisk about a cup of the milk mixture into the egg until it’s well combined and smooth...the milk will have cooled upon standing, but still, don't take any chances of having scrambled egg in your eggnog.
- Pour the tempered egg mixture into the saucepan with the rest of the milk. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes (you want it to be pourable). Just to be safe, let the custard come to 160°F.
- Pour the eggnog into a pitcher or an airtight container. Refrigerate 2 hours until chilled, or overnight. It will thicken as it cools.
- Serve with a sprinkle of nutmeg. Enjoy your cup of cheer!
- Non-alcoholic eggnog will keep in the fridge for 2-3 days. If made in a blender, consume within 1 day.
- Eggnog with 1/4 to 1/2 cup of liquor will keep for about 1 week.
- Eggnog with 1/2 to 3/4 cup of liquor will last several weeks and continue to thicken and age along the way.