Eggnog how-to

Winter wonderland in a bowl

December 17, 2010

In my house, eggnog season runs from Thanksgiving deep into January. A few days before Thanksgiving, I take down my jug of Maker’s Mark and check its level (I keep my top-shelf, small-batch bourbons for sipping neat). Throughout December, eggnog’s easy preparation makes it a natural for impromptu get-togethers. In January, once the tree is down and the lights packed away, I make a final bowl of eggnog. Usually I can scare up some forgotten cookies or fruitcake, as well as a few friends, for one last bit of winter festivity in front of the fire.

A caveat: You may need to replenish your bourbon supply during the season. Draw a line on the bottle, with a red Sharpie, where there’s enough for one last batch. Next to the line, write “Replenish NOW.” (I’m surprised the bottles don’t come pre-marked.)

With all the worries about contaminated eggs, more people are making cooked eggnog, which is essentially crème anglaise. Don’t get me wrong; I love crème anglaise. But when it comes to eggnog, what I want is the fresh taste of raw egg yolks beaten with sugar, lightened with egg whites whipped into clouds, and fortified with liquor.

Giovanna Zivny’s eggnog season runs from Thanksgiving deep into January.

Some people suggest using pasteurized raw eggs, but I wouldn’t bother. It’s difficult to whip the pasteurized whites into the kind of peaks that will make your eggnog bowl look like a winter wonderland. Besides, your eggnog is only as tasty as the eggs, dairy, and booze you use. This is the time to seek out pastured eggs, not pasteurized. (That said, this probably isn’t the best holiday libation for the elderly, pregnant women, or anyone who has an impaired immune system.)

Over the years, people have asked me to make non-spiked eggnog for their kids. I’ve always refused. Christmas is all about kids, so it’s only fair we adults get our own special treat. Besides, I like to think the alcohol helps kill any lurking bad bacteria. It’s unlikely, but it can’t hurt.

Separate a dozen eggs.
In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks until light. While still beating, gradually add the sugar. Continue to beat until the yolks become thick and light colored.
Whip in the half-and-half.
And continue whipping until the volume has increased nearly twofold.
Then, slowly add the bourbon and brandy, beating until well blended. Transfer mixture to a serving bowl.
In a large clean bowl, whip the egg whites until they hold stiff peaks.
Take about ¼ of the beaten egg whites and whisk them lightly into the egg-yolk mixture.
Fold in the remaining whites, leaving snowy mounds on top.
Sprinkle rum over the eggnog.
And grate fresh nutmeg over the whole thing.
Scoop nog into cups or glasses.
Have the nutmeg and grater available for people to add more if they’d like.
Plenty for everyone!

Giovanna Remolif Zivny is a writer based in Portland, Oregon. Her food writing has appeared in Gourmet magazine and on her blog, Giovanna's Trifles.

Related recipe: Eggnog

There are 7 comments on this item
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1. by anonymous on Dec 17, 2010 at 12:41 PM PST

Gotta do this soon.

2. by Nancy Singleton Hachisu on Dec 19, 2010 at 5:23 PM PST

Hey Giovanna, this is almost identical to the method I use, though without the initial whip of egg yolks and heavy cream instead of half and half. I stopped making it because of the calories and the booze, we never seemed to finish the supply and our Japanese friends just didn’t get it. This year I already ordered enough cream to make a batch and will serve with gingerbread men for Christmas Eve dinner. Nice to see we are on the same wave length. Got to go out and replenish my rum & bourbon...

3. by giovannaz on Dec 20, 2010 at 11:42 AM PST

Nancy, I’ve found eggnog isn’t always a good cross-cultural drink as well. But I refuse to give up--I like it too much! The original recipe called for equal parts cream and milk, so I’ve always just used half and half.

4. by Sarah on Dec 22, 2010 at 6:58 AM PST

How much half and half per dozen eggs?

5. by Kim on Dec 22, 2010 at 10:40 AM PST

Sarah, here’s the recipe, with all the ingredient amounts.

6. by Nancy Singleton Hachisu on Dec 22, 2010 at 5:17 PM PST

Giovanna, I can’t find my old blue “Joy” with my notes of which liquor I used (rum only?) and the new edition doesn’t specify, so I’m going out on a limb here and going to make your rendition. I also like that you use half and half instead of all cream. I’ve got my Maker’s Mark, Havana Club & what the heck a bit of Hennessey...after all, it’s Christmas. Thanks for this and wish we were sharing a glass in Portland...or Japan. N.

7. by anonymous on Dec 24, 2010 at 7:58 AM PST

Merry Christmas!
This is basically the recipe I use and can’t wait to imbibe tomorrow. As for the eggs, just glad my chickens are back in production business after the molting. The day old eggs are fantastic. Maker’s Mark must make a killing during Christmas between eggnog and bourbon balls.

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