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.
It’s surprisingly easy to make sweet, creamy eggnog at home!
Homemade eggnog as custard
There are plenty of eggnog recipes available, and I adapted The Crumby Kitchen’s Homemade Eggnog recipe. The ingredients are straightforward, already at hand, and I can pronounce them all.
I like 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.
Custards are very versatile. They can be used warm or chilled, and thickened to make a base for pudding or frozen into ice cream.
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. 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 make a more traditional eggnog.
Heat milk and cream, then steep them with a vanilla bean and 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 (to avoid little pieces of scrambled eggs in your ‘nog). Then cook the custard on the stove to thicken.
After it’s chilled, this will be thick and creamy eggnog.
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 make 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.
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!
Custards come in many forms, but the method is similar across the board. Luckily, the technique is easy to master, and you'll be able to make a whole range of treats!
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Easy Homemade Eggnog
- 1 cup milk
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 1 cinnamon sticks
- 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- pinch kosher salt
- 3 large egg yolks
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ to ¾ cup 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 when measured with a digital thermometer.
- Remove the custard from the heat. Strain into a bowl using a fine mesh strainer (save those spent vanilla beans to make your own vanilla extract) and allow to cool to room temperature. You can speed the process by putting the bowl in an ice bath with equal parts ice and water. Stir in the liquor, if desired.
- Pour the eggnog into a pitcher or an airtight container. Refrigerate for 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 to 3 days. If made in a blender, consume within 1 day.
- Eggnog with ¼ to ½ cup of liquor will keep for about 1 week.
- Eggnog with ½ to ¾ cup of liquor will last several weeks and continue to thicken and age along the way.