Sunday 15 December 2013
Eggnog (No Cooking Experiment)
Eggnog is a popular drink commonly associated with Christmas. It is sweet, creamy and rich. I have loved this stuff ever since I was a kid. Traditionally a custard-like mix of milk, cream and egg yolks are warmed on the stove to thicken up a bit. I heard of a technique of making eggnog that requires no heat at all. My friend and I decided to try it out. I find that store bought eggnog is a little too thick for me. I usually cut it with milk to thin it out just a bit. The no heat method tends to come out thinner than your usual eggnog so I was interested in trying it. You know what, it wasn't bad at all. The richness in flavour wasn't quite there but the texture was nice (not to mention the recipe was very hassle-free).
I spiked my eggnog with a little bourbon, which is common. Feel free to replace bourbon with spiced rum, brandy, whiskey or any combination of the above. If you would rather leave alcohol out of the recipe that's perfectly fine too. You can drink the eggnog as is but I prefer it with some fresh grated nutmeg on top. If you don't have fresh nutmeg, ground cinnamon or pumpkin spice are great alternatives.
"Hold the phone, Bram! Eggs? No cooking? Isn't that dangerous? Are you trying to kill us!?" You are correct in assuming that this does contain raw egg. Caution must be exerted to prevent contamination of salmonella and some other food-borne illnesses. Only use fresh and properly refrigerated A or AA grade eggs. Chickens in Europe are mostly treated with a salmonella immunization which makes the eggs almost entirely safe. This is a problem that exists more in North America (as for any other continent I am not sure). It is a risk, but using fresh, refrigerated eggs is rather safe. I had two friends enjoy this eggnog with me and we were all unaffected by any ailment.
4 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
2 cups whole fat milk
1 cup whipping cream (or "heavy cream")
1 vanilla bean (or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract)
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
3 ounces of bourbon
4 egg whites
1 tbsp sugar (separate from the aforementioned sugar)
I'm going to briefly go over how to use a vanilla bean for this or pretty much any recipe that calls for one. They are harder to find than extract and quite a bit pricier but very worth it.
Lay the vanilla bean flat on a cutting board. Using the back of a paring knife, stroke the bean to flatten it. This will release the seeds inside and make them easier to remove.
Make an incision across the whole vanilla bean, lengthwise. Then open the vanilla bean up (like a book) from the incision you made.
Gently run the blade across the inside of the bean, collecting as much of the black seeds as possible.
Now you have fresh vanilla ready to be added to any recipe. In this case, you would add the black seeds directly to the milk mixture. Vanilla beans, as I said before, can be expensive. There is plenty of aromatic vanilla flavour left in the skin of the pod. Add the used pod to a container with a cup or two of sugar. Give the container a good shake and leave it to infuse. After a couple of weeks you will have your very own vanilla sugar at your disposal and it will keep for well over a year.
Now that that's out of the way, let's make some egg nog!
Take four fresh, refrigerated eggs and separate the yolks from the whites.
In a large bowl (you can use a stand mixer for this part) add1/3 cup of sugar to the egg yolks and beat until combined. The colour of the mixture should lighten from yellow to blonde and the sugar should dissolve completely.
Add the milk, cream, bourbon, nutmeg, vanilla and whisk to thoroughly combine.
Add 1 tbsp of sugar to the egg whites and whisk until they form stiff peaks. Be cautious as not to overwhip them or they will separate.
Add the whipped egg whites to the milk mixture and whisk to incorporate completely. This will give the eggnog its frothy texture.
Chill and serve!
Because the eggnog is never cooked, it doesn't thicken up as much and so it tastes and feels much lighter (don't be fooled, this recipe is not for dieters). If you are confident that you will prefer the standard version where the egg yolk portion is cooked, here's what you do...
Mix the 4 egg yolks with 1/3 cup sugar until it's blonde in colour and fully incorporated. Set aside. In a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat, combine the milk, cream, vanilla and nutmeg and bring up to a gentle boil. Add a ladle of the warm milk mixture to the egg yolks and whisk them rapidly and constantly. This will temper the eggs so that they slowly warm up without scrambling. Return everything to the saucepan and continue to whisk for about three minutes as it thickens up. Remove from the heat and whisk in the bourbon. Pour the contents of the saucepan into a mixing bowl and allow to cool to room temperature. Then place the bowl in the fridge to chill. Once chilled, remove from the fridge, stir in the egg whites that have been whipped into stiff peaks with 1 tbsp of sugar. Then serve.
Whichever method you try this year I hope that you enjoy it. Leave a comment below and let me know how yours turned out.
In the meantime, happy holidays and I'll be seeing you again soon,