December is an exciting time of the year for eggnog, a time when it finally starts to push out pumpkin spiced everything on the grocery store shelves. As consumers, we see eggnog cartons pop up in the refrigerated dairy section, specialized spiced versions at the ends of the aisles, fancy serving bowls of the homemade variety at every holiday party, eggnog cookies, coffee drinks and even baked desserts. And while most of us enjoy these eggnog delights unreserved, few of us take the time to ask, what is eggnog, anyway, and how is it made?
Traditionally, eggnog is a combination of:
Milk + Spices + Eggs + Sugar + Whipped Cream + Optional Liquor of Choice
There are many ways to combine the ingredients to create the creamy texture of eggnog, with many secret family recipes circulating in this country. However, most recipes are based on the concept of adding sugar-whipped egg yolks to a mixture of spiced milk. Folding in whipped cream and egg whites often completes the perfect recipe.
To make the eggnog we see on the shelves today, dairy processors add their own special eggnog blend to fresh local milk, assuring that both the egg mixture and milk are pasteurized for our safety.
From a nutrition standpoint, eggnog often is knocked for its calories and lactose content, but enjoying one glass won’t be the pitfall of your holiday diet. However, keep in mind that multiple glasses of eggnog can add up in calories, especially the varieties made with whole milk. Feel free to enjoy this tasty beverage as a holiday treat (after all, since it is made with milk it provides essential nutrients that a bowl of candy will not) but remember the serving size often recommended is a ½ cup.
For those concerned about the lactose content, eggnog can also be made with lactose-free milk.
This year, we decided to try our hand at homemade eggnog - here are the step by step directions.
- 2 cups milk
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/4 tsp whole cloves
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 6 eggs
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 cups whipped cream
- Heat 2 cups milk (we used 1%), 1 tsp vanilla, 1/4 tsp whole cloves, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp nutmeg on low. Slowly bring to a boil.
- In a separate bowl, whisk 6 eggs with 3/4 cup sugar.
- Slowly add egg mixture to the milk and heat to 160⁰F, approximately 2-3 minutes, stirring continuously.
- Strain the mixture to remove any cooked egg and the whole cloves.
- Chill overnight.
- Before serving, whip 2 cups of heavy whipping cream in a bowl, using a whisk or electric mixer. Whisk until frothy.
- Add whipped cream to chilled eggnog mixture and combine well.