Monday, December 6, 2010
Back in August some of the ladies in my neighborhood gathered for a "Back to School" dinner on the Sunday evening before our kiddos ended their summer break and re-entered the world of academia. School supplies were purchased, gym shoes placed into new backpacks, and outfits for the ceremonious first day were neatly laid out on top of dressers. "The husbands" stepped in to handle bedtime and we ladies gathered to unwind following a week of back to school preparations. It was wonderful! Sometime during this dinner, we discussed starting a book club. This was not only an opportunity to read and discuss what we had read, it was an excuse to get together on a more regular basis throughout the long winter months when we all seem to disappear into our cozy houses, busy with meetings and practices and piles of homework. As an avid reader and "discusser" (Um...TALKER), I was psyched. I've always wanted to be part of a book club.
Our organizer divided us up into Team 1 and Team 2 in regard to refreshments for the meetings. If a member of Team 1 is hostessing, then her team is in charge of beverages on the night that we meet to discuss the book of the month. Team 2 then provides snacks. I am on Team 2 and as it turned out this month, one of the members of our team would hostess on Friday night. Cool. I got to bring a beverage! Early last week, some of the moms were gathered in my kitchen after school while our kiddos played. The discussion turned to book club and what everyone would bring. Since the holidays are upon us, I wanted to bring something festive. When I mentioned eggnog, it was met with such an enthusiastic response, that I knew that would be my contribution to the beverage table on Friday night. "Okay, so eggnog." I said, "What do you girls prefer? Bourbon? Rum? Brandy?" The resounding response was "RUM!" A quick Internet search turned up lots of eggnog recipes, but most of them recommended bourbon. Then, I came across a couple of Alton Brown recipes. One, in which the egg yolks are pasteurized (safety first!) and another that used both bourbon and dark rum for the alcohol element of this rich, seasonal treat. I decided to combine the recipes. Perfect.
I was almost as excited to make my own eggnog as I was for a night out with the girls.
Here's how Alton Brown's homemade eggnog came together in my kitchen:
First of all, you need 4 eggs. (I ended up using 8 in total, because I made another batch after a friend and I sampled the first one and decided that it was "more than worthy") Separate the eggs and then mix the yolks with sugar until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is a pale yellow color. (But save the whites!)
Then, mix together the cream, milk, and nutmeg. I used half & half rather than cream for the first batch (Because that's what I had in my fridge...plus I felt a little less guilty cutting some of the fat.) But when I decided to make another batch, I was out of half & half, so I just used all whole milk (lighter yet!) While I was worried about the end result, using lighter ingredients.... it was ALL good!
Bring the milk, cream, and nutmeg mixture just to a boil.
Then temper the egg yolks/sugar by slowly by adding a ladle full of the hot milk mixture to the egg yolks. I went ahead and did this in my stand mixer, beating the egg yolks the whole time. Apparently, I did not add the hot milk slowly enough, because I STILL had a couple of cooked egg chunks in my final product. Nothing a strainer couldn't take care of, but the fact that I messed up this step did "toast my cupcakes". : )
After tempering, add the egg mixture to the rest of the hot milk/cream/nutmeg mix and cook until the mixture reaches 160 degrees. Then remove from the heat.
Now for the alcohol. I used an inexpensive Kentucky Bourbon (see my latest bread pudding recipe) and dark Bacardi Rum. A bit of a funny story: I wheeled my shopping cart into the liquor store at my local supermarket to purchase the rum. I happened to have my 2 young children with me. Not ideal for a trip to buy booze, but hey, my husband was working late and the state of Ohio (unlike my home state of Indiana) actually allows kids to enter bars and liquor stores. Plus, it was Thursday night and I had no intention of making another trip out the next day. Hey, the house doesn't clean and decorate itself for the holidays, right?! As I approached the cashier, he asked, "We ARE old enough to buy this, aren't we?" I was certain he was making a joke. I've come to terms with the fact that that I look older than 21 years of age, even on my best day. Unfortunately.
I glanced back at my daughters who were seriously misbehaving in the cart. "We?" I asked. (Sometimes I can be such a punk.) I decided to get cute. "If you mean the collective "we", then YES. Our cumulative age is almost 42. If you mean just me on my own, then it's still a yes. If you mean me and you, then I'd guess that'd be a yes again, Sir." And then I gave him a big smile.
Either my joke was lost on him or this guy was a stickler for the rules...
He just stared at me, unamused. "I need to see your i.d. ma'am."
Ma'am?! You're calling me ma'am AND asking for i.d.? "Oh yeah. Okay. Sorry. Here it is."
Alton Brown's recipe called for 1 and 1/4 oz. of each of the bourbon and rum. I wasn't that accurate, I just poured in 2 shot glasses of each.
After adding the liquor, I refrigerated the eggnog until the next day. Before the party, I poured the reserved egg whites into my mixer.
And beat them until stiff peaks formed.
Then I folded the egg whites into the prepared eggnog mixture. I tasted the (doubled) mixture after I folded in the egg whites. The taste of the alcohol was sub-dued with the fluffy addition. I certainly didn't want the flavors of the alcohol to be over-whelming or offensive, but at the same time, I wanted to taste it a bit. I resolved to stir in one more shot of both the bourbon and the rum. This seemed to be the perfect amount. To recap: for a doubled recipe, that's 3 shots of each, or 6 shots in total.
Before serving, I poured the mix into a pitcher and sprinkled with a little more nutmeg.
The low down: This eggnog was a huge hit! Because I folded in the egg whites just hours before the party, the mixture was very light and foamy...completely unlike any store-bought eggnog that I've ever poured and sampled. Party-goers loved it!
I did bring about 1-1/2 cups of leftover eggnog home from the party, which I refrigerated. Yesterday, while decorating the tree, I poured some of the leftovers into my coffee cup. The foamy egg whites had calmed down and the eggnog was definitely more like the grocery purchased eggnog that I am accustomed to. Either way, I am a fan! Homemade eggnog is awesome! I will definitely make this again!
Egg Nog, Adapted from Alton Brown's Recipes
4 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
1 pint whole milk
1 cup heavy cream (I used half & half)
2 shots bourbon
2 shots dark rum
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
4 egg whites*
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg yolks until they lighten in color. Gradually add the 1/3 cup sugar and continue to beat until it is completely dissolved. Add the milk, cream, bourbon and nutmeg and stir to combine.
Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat to soft peaks. With the mixer still running gradually add the 1 tablespoon of sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.
Whisk the egg whites into the mixture. Chill and serve.
Cook's Note: For cooked eggnog, follow procedure below.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg yolks until they lighten in color. Gradually add the 1/3 cup sugar and continue to beat until it is completely dissolved. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan, over high heat, combine the milk, heavy cream and nutmeg and bring just to a boil, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and gradually temper the hot mixture into the egg and sugar mixture. Then return everything to the pot and cook until the mixture reaches 160 degrees F. Remove from the heat, stir in the bourbon, pour into a medium mixing bowl, and set in the refrigerator to chill.
In a medium mixing bowl, beat the egg whites to soft peaks. With the mixer running gradually add the 1 tablespoon of sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Whisk the egg whites into the chilled mixture.
*RAW EGG WARNING
Food Network Kitchens suggest caution in consuming raw and lightly cooked eggs due to the slight risk of salmonella or other food-borne illness. To reduce this risk, we recommend you use only fresh, properly refrigerated, clean grade A or AA eggs with intact shells, and avoid contact between the yolks or whites and the shell.