Is There Nothing Eggs Can’t Do: Spiked Eggnog

It’s cold outside. I mean, it’s really cold outside. And I will be the very first to admit that when the winter weather kicks in for real, I have never thought to myself, “Hey, self, I could really go for some drinkable eggs.” Still, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more “traditional” holiday drink, aside from the glass of New Year’s champers, so I decided it was time to give it a try. Plus, I had three different bottles of bourbon left over from Thanksgiving (an embarrassment of riches!) just begging to be used in something fun!

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What I found most interesting is how similar the preparation is to chocolate mousse. The eggs are separated and dealt with the same way — the only real difference is who you cast as your supporting players. The butter in mousse turns into milk and cream here, and the chocolate is replaced with nutmeg and cinnamon. This goes to show that eggs really are incredible: you really can use them in everything, and I am pleased to have learned that even in a drinkable form, they taste fantastic. Oh, and if you’ve ever wondered what recipes mean when they say to beat egg yolks until they form “the ribbon,” well — just look at that picture up there. Serious ribbon territory!

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There are a million eggnog recipes out there, in both cooked and uncooked varieties. I opted for the ever-reliable Alton Brown’s cooked version — with a few of my own little tweaks, like adding cinnamon, vanilla, a touch of salt, and (obvs) upping the bourbon content. Next time I might use orange extract or even a pinch of zest, assuming Santa brings me that microplane I’ve been asking for. What I discovered at the end of this is that there’s a reason eggnog is a good wintertime drink: even though it’s served chilled, it’s curiously warming, and even comforting. It’s smooth, it’s creamy, and the heat of the spices and the bourbon do a wonderful job of eliminating that deep December chill.

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Spiked Eggnog
Adapted from the recipe by Alton Brown

4 eggs, separated
1/3 c plus 1 tbsp sugar (I used superfine, for easy dissolving)
2 c whole milk
1 c heavy cream
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 pinch of salt
1/2 c bourbon

  1. Beat the egg yolks and 1/3 c sugar in a large mixing bowl until they’re thick and pale yellow — i.e., formed the ribbon.
  2. Over high heat, bring the milk, cream, nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla, and salt to a boil, and then remove from the heat.
  3. Temper the yolks with the hot milk mixture by adding the milk a little bit at a time, whisking constantly, to avoid whipping up a batch of Scrambled Eggnog.
  4. Pop the mixing bowl over a small pot of boiling water and whisk away, until it’s too hot to touch. (Mr. Brown would say “Until it’s reached 160 degrees,” but based on mousse-making experience, I find the touch-test to be a quick substitute.)
  5. Remove from the heat, stir in your bourbon, and put in the fridge to chill.
  6. Beat your egg whites to soft-peak, add the remaining tbsp of sugar, and then continue to beat until they form stiff peaks.
  7. Whisk the egg whites into your cooled yolk mixture, and serve. Feel free to use your cutest novelty cups, and top with a dusting of cinnamon and/or nutmeg.
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