Eggnog is one of my favorite culinary highlights of the holiday season. Thank you, good people of Dean’s Dairy, who create a lovely bottled grocery-store version I have enjoyed for many years, usually with a shot of dark rum and some grated nutmeg on top.
I had never actually made my own eggnog. But loving it like I do, I was curious as to whether the process would be worth it. I found an online recipe dubbed “Amazingly Good Eggnog” on Allrecipes that enthused, “you’ll never buy eggnog again!” Curiosity piqued, I stocked up on eggs and cream and made sure we had sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg.
Lemme tell you about making your own eggnog: It is extremely labor-intensive! There was apparently some discussion at my workplace as to whether eggnog contained eggs: Let me assure you that it does, because I separated an entire dozen eggs for this recipe. (My husband greedily and happily grabbed all the egg whites to make consommé.) I whipped the egg yolks with sugar while heating up some milk and spices on the stove. Then I whisked all that together and was instructed to let it cool. Unfortunately, while I left it on the stove, my husband went ahead with that consommé, so when I went back to the nog, it had curdled a little. Running it through a strainer solved that particular eggnog hurdle. Then I let it cool in the fridge overnight, and brought it in to work the next day.
I was slightly disappointed in my eggnog—I thought it tasted like rice pudding. And I may have been too conditioned by grocery eggnog thickened by guar gum, which doesn’t sound all that appealing but is rich and delicious. Apparently I am in the minority, though, because my coworkers loved my homemade eggnog. Some said it reminded them of what their grandma used to make, and liked it better precisely because it lacked that artificial texture. Weirdly, there was no rum in the office—The Onion office is usually packed to the rafters with all types of alcohol—so we put some whiskey in it. I have to admit it tasted much better with the whiskey.) We also had some leftover pecan pie-flavored whiskey, which made the eggnog straight-up heavenly.
So, would I make eggnog again? Maybe. It’s a definite showstopper—the type of culinary feat that will surely impress guests. You can doctor up your homemade version with as much vanilla or cinnamon as you like (with no guar gum). There are times when I’ll be jonesing for some nog and will definitely just pick up my usual convenient bottle. But other times when I’m up for a major eggnog project, seized by the holiday spirit, I’ll just make sure that I have some whiskey at the ready.