Friday, December 10, 2010

Aged Eggnog

I love eggnog. It's one of those love/hate kind of things, and I'm firmly in the love camp; it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, and while this might sound cheesy, it gets me in the holiday spirit.

I used to make the Cook's Illustrated recipe, which is delicious, but it's pretty time-consuming because you basically pasteurize the eggs and dairy by heating it all over a very low flame until it reaches a certain temperature. It takes forever, and if you rush it at all, or forget to stir for even a few minutes, you can end up with a curdly mess.

I did that one year, and it made me sad. So when I read about the concept of aged eggnog on, I was super excited; not only because it sounds virtually fool-proof, but because I'm lazy.

You see, for this aged eggnog, you mix a few things together and throw them into jars, which then go in the fridge for up to a year. That's it! And just like what happens with the bourbon balls, the aging process tames the harsh bite of the alcohol and makes the eggnog deliciously smooth and mellow.

I'm going to write a disclaimer here, as you'll see on every website that has this recipe: You're taking raw eggs, cream, and milk, and letting it sit for at least a month and up to a year, which would probably cause the FDA to collectively have a heart attack.

The theory behind this technique, though, is that the large amount of alcohol in the mix prevents any nastiness from forming. Plus, in order for anything like salmonella to fester in there, it would have had to be present in the eggs or milk in the first place, which is unlikely. But if rawness scares you, you should try a pasteurized eggnog recipe. Me, I like to live on the edge.

Aged Eggnog
  • 12 large eggs 
  • 2 cups sugar 
  • 1 cup heavy cream 
  • 1 quart (4 cups) whole milk 
  • 1 liter (about 4 cups) bourbon, such as Jim Beam 
  • 1/2 cup dark rum 
  • 1/2 to 1 cup good Cognac or other brandy 
  • Pinch kosher salt 
  • 1 whole nutmeg

To serve (optional):

  • 10 egg whites
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream

  • Separate egg yolks and whites. Combine yolks and sugar in a large mixing bowl and whisk until well blended and creamy. Add heavy cream, milk, bourbon, rum, Cognac, and salt, and mix to combine. Bottle it right away and refrigerate it until it’s ready. You can use an old liquor bottle, washed out jars from pasta sauce (like I did), or any other largeish glass vessel.
Allow the eggnog to age for at least 3 weeks and up to a year. (You'll note an improvement after only a week, and it keeps getting better from there.)
To serve, pour over ice and grate some fresh nutmeg over the top. If you only have the pre-ground stuff, skip it, and get some whole nutmeg the next time you go to the store. Or, if you want to serve the eggnog in the traditional way, pour it into a punch bowl. In separate bowls, whip 10 egg whites and 1 1/2 cups heavy cream to soft peaks and fold them into the eggnog. Serve in punch cups, garnished with freshly grated nutmeg.

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