Nothing gets me more excited than holiday cooking! Each year since I began my experimentations in the kitchen has definitely been a new experience. The first Christmas we spent in Germany, I ventured into the art of goose cooking. We still haven’t tried authentic German home-cooked goose, so to this day we really have no way to compare mine to the rest. But to be honest, I don’t think we’ll ever know if it was a complete failure on my behalf in the kitchen, or maybe we’ll come to find out we just aren’t too fond of goose. I look forward to our first formal dinner invitation from our German friends for authentic East-German goose later this week to find out!
In light of my new project – thegutenappetit.com – and after recently having read the Beverages chapter of ‘The Joy of Cooking’, I challenged myself to prepare my very own version of eggnog. The famous egg milk punch is known worldwide: eggnog in the United States, rompopo in most of Latin America, lait de poule in France, & Eierlikör in Germany, among many others. Each region has its own distinct variety, and even within regions there is a distinct uniqueness to each blend, more so since many are homemade & contain different variations of the ingredients. Being accustomed to my beloved cinnamon-infused Honduran version, I came to appreciate the German kind each Christmas over here, both the commercial kind & the homemade variety.
I’ve never been such a huge fan of the traditional granny-style eggnog from back home, thick & with a tremendous kick. It always tasted way too strong for my taste, because of the liquor primarily used: guaro or aguardiente (fire water) with 40% alcohol, a clear liquid distilled from sugar cane, making it slightly sweeter than comparable liquors. Nonetheless, the holiday season could never go forth without the beverage! As for the different additions and preparation styles, each home & recipe has its own instructions. After much investigation I came up with, what I would call, the absolute most perfect eggnog according to my own personal palate. Sweet, thick (but not too thick), cinnamon- and rum-infused…this recipe is perfect! But it makes way too little! It’s all gone now, only 3 days after Christmas, but I felt extremely proud of my work and look forward to sharing my recipe with everyone!
For the Eggnog
- 1 L of milk
- 2 cups (460g) of heavy cream
- 10 egg yolks
- 2 cups (400g) of sugar
- 1/2 cup (55g) of raw natural sliced almonds
- 1 teaspoon of nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1/2 cup (120ml) of dark rum
Patience is necessary when preparing this beverage, and the slower it’s prepared, the yummier the results. In a small bowl, combine 1 cup of milk (from the liter) with 1 cup of the heavy cream. Set aside. Separate the eggs, setting the yolks in a medium-sized bowl and discarding the whites – or saving them for later use to make a delicious merengue topping! Grind the sugar with the almonds in a blender, until reduced to a powder. The finer, the better!
Pour the powdered sugar mixture into the egg yolks, and add the nutmeg; whisking just until blended. Pour the remaining liter of milk into a medium saucepan and set on medium heat. Add the additional cup of heavy cream, the vanilla, & the cinnamon stick. Do not bring to a boil; instead, just before it breaks a boil, reduce heat to low heat. Slowly add tablespoons of the hot mix to the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Add enough to warm the egg yolk mixture, up to about 1 cup.
Slowly add the new egg yolk mix into the saucepan with the rest of the warmed milk, stirring constantly until thicker. This should be done at low heat, slowly and surely, stirring constantly and never overheating or else the entire mix will curdle. The thickness is up to you; I stood there stirring for about an hour, thickening it enough to enhance the sweetness, but of course don’t let it thicken to a custard! Remove from heat and immediately stir in the original milk & cream mixture that had been set aside. Strain carefully into a large bowl, making sure to remove clumps and almond grains. Cool on the counter.
Chill thoroughly, uncovered, in the refrigerator for about an hour. Then add the rum, or the liquor of your choice, the amount of your choice as well! My 1/2 cup of rum added just the right amount of sweetness and subtle alcohol taste that we love with my husband. Some people like a stronger kick, given by a strong brandy or any other strong liquor. If it thickens too much for your taste, just add milk to water it down. Pour into a storage container – I recycled a champagne bottle; and place in the fridge for a minimum of 3 hours, and a maximum of 5 days. The results yield a sweet, deliciously thick-enough version that received many a compliment!