Christmas Traditions – Part 1

Every year when I travel to my parents’ home for Christmas, one of the first things I do is start a batch of eggnog.  The first year I made eggnog, my father was happy to have some.  On the other hand, my mother, who had only tried store-bought eggnog, wasn’t interested.  But once she tried my made-from-scratch eggnog, she changed her mind. I’m pretty sure that mine is still the only eggnog she will drink.

This year, I’ve been watching what I eat and drink so I decided to wait until I was at my parents’ home on Christmas Day before having my first glass of eggnog for the season. I could hardly wait.

I use the recipe for “Eggnog in Quantity” from Joy of Cooking.  It starts with a wonderful quote from Mark Twain “too much of anything is bad, but too much whisky is just enough.” The recipe calls for whipping cream, but I’ve never been able to bring myself to use that. I substitute half-n-half, which results in eggnog that is more rich enough. (My mother used to push for me to use fat-free half-n-half, but I’d rather take the fat than the additives used to thicken the fake stuff. )

This recipe uses raw eggs.  If they are available, I try to use pasteurized eggs; if not, I use the freshest eggs possible (purchased within a day or two of making the eggnog). I’ve made dozens of batches from un-pasteurized eggs and never had a problem, but I’ll still buy pasteurized when I can.

The recipe also says you can use a mixture of rum, brandy, bourbon, or rye.  I’ve always liked my eggnog with rum, so I stick to that. I used to use a mixture of light rum and Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum, but last year I discovered Sailor Jerry’s Spiced Rum – delicious!  So I use mainly Sailor Jerry’s, mixed with a little golden rum.  The recipe gives a range for the amount of rum to use – I stick to the low end (and it’s still pretty potent stuff).

I mix this up in a really-large bowl (I’ve even used a large stock pot, though that makes using a hand-mixer hard) – by the time you add the last of the ingredients, you need something really big to hold it all.

To start, separate 12 eggs (reserve the whites to be used later in the eggnog).   Then whip:

  • 12 egg yolks

until they are a little frothy (there should be some air bubbles) and have lightened in color to a paler yellow.  Mix in gradually:

  • 1 pound powdered sugar

Once the powdered sugar is fully incorporated, gradually add (mixing constantly):

  • 2 cups rum

Cover, let sit for an hour, then gradually beat in:

  • 2 cups rum
  • 2 quarts half-n-half

Cover again, and let sit for 3 hours – this is the hard  part, and I don’t always make it quite that long.  In a large bowl, beat until stiff but not dry:

  • 8-12 egg whites

Fold the egg whites into the rest of the eggnog mixture.  The result will be a wonderfully frothy eggnog.  Ladle into glasses, and top with freshly-grated nutmeg (if desired).

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