Eggnog—Five Ways

Recipe by María Del Mar Sacasa Photographs by Tara Striano

We’re approaching that time of year: Time for family, friends, gatherings and recipes that get dusted off once a year. Eggnog needs more of a scouring: the classic egg-and-liquor-based beverage is often met with a wince, which won't do for the most wonderful time of the year. There are those who treasure eggnog for its place in tradition more than its taste in many cases. Whether you're an eggnog supporter or opponent, these recipes are for you. A basic eggnog sweetened with dark brown sugar and made frothy and light with meringue will get you started, but if you care to venture down more exotic and spicy routes, try the variations with ingredients such as cardamom, kefir lime and lemongrass. For the dessert lover, a chocolate variation, silky smooth and mousseline-like, will be the perfect cocktail.

Recipe 1: Basic Eggnog

If you prefer to serve this beverage warm, heat the milk and brandy prior to starting the recipe. This beverage contains raw eggs.

Ingredients

  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 2 tablespoons (1 ounce/ 30 grams) packed dark brown sugar
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • 1 cup (8 ounces/250 milliliters) whole milk, chilled
  • 1 cup (8 ounces/250 milliliters) heavy cream, chilled
  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces/60 milliliters) brandy or dark rum*
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract1/4 cup (1.75 ounces/50 grams) granulated sugar

Method

In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, brown sugar and salt until thick and pale. Whisk in the milk cream, brandy or rum (if using), and vanilla.

In a second large bowl, whisk the egg whites until starting to foam. While steadily whisking (wrap a damp towel around the base of your bowl to keep it steady on the counter or use an electric mixer), slowly add the granulated sugar and continue whisking until the whites hold soft peaks. Fold the egg whites into the egg mixture and serve immediately.

Makes 1 quart/1 liter (6 to 8 servings)


Recipe 2: Chai Eggnog

To make this variation, toast 1/2 cup (1 1/2 ounces/45 grams) chai tea mixture in a small dry saucepan over medium heat for about 2 minutes or until fragrant. Add the milk and cream and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and steep 15 minutes. Strain and discard the solids. If using alcohol, substitute the brandy and rum with 1/4 cup (2 ounces/60 milliliters) honey liqueur. Alternatively, sweeten with honey to taste. Proceed with recipe as above. Chill the steeped milk for a cold eggnog, if desired.


Recipe 3: Orange Cardamom Eggnog

To make this variation, substitute the brown sugar with granulated sugar. Using fingertips or palms, rub 1 tablespoon orange zest into the sugar. Add 2 teaspoons freshly ground green cardamom to the orange sugar and proceed with recipe. If using alcohol, substitute the brandy with1/4 cup (2 ounces/60 milliliters) Grand Marnier. If not, make a citrus simple syrup by bringing to a simmer in a small saucepan 1/2 cup (4 ounces/125 milliliters) fresh orange juice and 1/2 cup (3.5 ounces/100 grams) granulated sugar and cooking until dissolved. Add to eggnog in place of Grand Marnier. Serve warm or cold.


Recipe 4: Kefir Lime Lemongrass Eggnog

To make this variation, substitute the brown sugar with granulated sugar. Using fingertips or palms, rub 2 teaspoons kefir lime zest into sugar. Remove the outermost layers of 2 lemongrass stalks, then pound it with a mallet just to bruise. Crush 5 kefir lime leaves. Bring the milk and cream to simmer in a small saucepan along with the lemongrass and lime leaves. Proceed with recipe. If using alcohol, substitute the brandy with 1/4 cup (2 ounces/60 milliliters) white rum. Serve warm or cold.


Recipe 5: Chocolate Eggnog

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons (1.5 ounces/45 grams) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces/60 grams) natural cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup (3 ounces/90 grams) bittersweet chocolate chips or chocolate, chopped
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 6 tablespoons (2.6 ounces/75 grams) granulated sugar
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • 1 cup (8 ounces/250 milliliters) whole milk
  • 1 cup (8 ounces/250 milliliters) heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces/60 milliliters) amaretto*

Method

In medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the cocoa cook until a smooth paste forms, 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk and cream until combined. Add the chopped chocolate or chips and stir until melted. Remove from heat. If a skin forms, skim it off the top with a spoon.

Proceed with recipe. If using alcohol, substitute the brandy with 1/4 cup (2 ounces/60 milliliters) amaretto. Serve warm or cold.