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Friday, November 04, 2005

Eggnog

Homemade Eggnog

Eggnog is my favorite holiday drink. You can make it spiked or nonalcoholic; either is delicious.

Simple Single-Person's Eggnog

Get a big, wide-mouthed glass or plastic tumbler (the 16 oz variety works fine here, but you have to really like eggnog). Fill with the following, in order:

  • One or two tablespoons sugar, depending on the size of your glass or your desire for sweetness
  • A healthy dash of vanilla extract
  • One egg
  • A finger or two of your favorite liquor (rum or Bourbon are recommended); if you are a teetotaler, just skip this step

Mix the above together in your glass with a spoon. Now, fill your glass with plain whole milk. Skim milk won't suit most people's tastes here. If you're using a large glass, you might want to only fill it 2/3 full, or else your drink will lack sufficient egginess. If you are lactose intolerant, you can try substituting unsweetened soy milk.

Thoroughly mix up the 'nog with your spoon or a small wire wisk. Fish out any lingering clumps of egg white. Dust with nutmeg if you have it. Drink and enjoy!

Fancy Whipped Eggnog

Having a party? Then presentation is probably important to you, and the quick in-the-cup preparation method I described above just won't do. Try the following recipe if you're pulling out the stops (and the little glass punch cups!) for your next holiday shindig. You'll need:

  • Four large eggs, separated
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup bourbon, rum, or something similar. Alternately, you can just use 1-2 tablespoons of a good rum flavoring.
  • 2 cups real whipping cream

Mix the egg yolks, sugar, salt, and liquor or flavoring until the mixture is smooth. Whip the whipping cream. Beat the egg whites until they stand up in peaks. Fold the sweet yolky-alcoholic goodness into the whipped cream. Then, fold the egg whites into the yolky cream. Chill the whipped 'nog thoroughly, then dish out into little cups with spoons and dust with nutmeg and/or cinnamon. This recipe should be enough for 12 servings.

Store-Bought Eggnog

I can hear you now: "Gosh, Lucy, those recipes sound yummy, but haven't you heard of a little thing called salmonella? I don't want to spend the holidays sick as a dog over a little cup of 'nog."

Indeed, I have experienced the miseries of salmonella several times, never due to eggnog, but it's enough to put me off any raw egg products. As a result, I haven't made homemade eggnog in a while, instead preferring to buy pasteurized nonalcoholic quarts at the grocery store.

When I was a kid and eggs were considered safe to drink raw, grocery store eggnog seemed close to vile. But today, it seems much better and quite drinkable. I recently got a quart of store brand eggnog at Giant Eagle that has been quite tasty.

Using Eggnog as a Mixer

Store-bought nonalcoholic eggnog works marvelously well as a base for creating all manner of creamy, eggy drinks. Many liquors are used in regional eggnog recipes. Unlike regular milk, eggnog won't curdle in the more acidic liquers. Try citrus or coconut flavored liquers for a tasty sweet drink.

Last night, I experimented with mixing eggnog with clear Italian lemon liquer (limoncello). The result tasted just like lemon pudding with a kick. Got some vanilla vodka? Try it for a vanilla pudding flavor.

You can also try mixing eggnog half-and-half with sodas. Vanilla cream soda works beautifully for this, as does ginger ale, root beer, and colas.

I know the thought of mixing eggnog with something like Pepsi might seem revolting, but it's really quite good (think of how tasty a root beer float with vanilla ice cream is). The carbonation adds a nice subtle bite that can make the eggnog more interesting if you don't want an alcoholic version. After I tried my first Pepsi eggnog, I caught our kitten drinking the dregs out of my glass, so he thought it was pretty yummy, too.

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