The richness of this authentic eggnog recipe is lightened with a big puff of whipped meringue and whipped cream. You can go non-alcoholic, but the rum really does cut the richness.
Authentic eggnog, rich and creamy and heavily spiked, has always for some reason seemed out of reach come Christmas and New Year’s at home. The Christmas Eve of my mother’s cherished childhood involved midnight mass, then brunch, presents, and an eggnog her mother made that was so special that Mom closed her eyes in the telling. Yet she never made it or even tried. I suppose cookies, gifts, and stockings for five kids plus formal and informal entertaining throughout the season knocked recipes like homemade eggnog off the to-do list.
One year I bought a carton of eggnog from our local Quality Dairy, with tame yet moderately high hopes. All I can say is: bubblegum. It tasted like bubblegum. And not in a good way.
Enter Alumni Hall, at the University of Notre Dame. I’m lucky my brother Dick maintained an open-door policy for his sisters during college. That included the wide open door of the rector of the dorm come the last day of finals before everyone scattered for Christmas. Here in the middle of his room was a massive punch bowl of eggnog, beckoning everyone with Christmas music. All I can say is: alcohol, burning stinging Mad Men-style.
Peggy, the family mixologist (see this, this, this, this, this. Need I say more?), has for a long time been promising me an authentic eggnog recipe for all of us here. She assured me this one would satisfy me most especially because of the whipping and the meringue (who knew eggnog has a meringue?! And a crème anglaise, aka, egg yolks gently cooked with sugar).
The recipe would satisfy her because of the punch bowl. She’s lining up many a punch bowl recipe for us. I think she is inspired by the big mama of a crystal punch bowl we gave her for her birthday last year. Fostoria Glass, footed, lots of facets and little crystal mugs to go with.
It’s a different Christmas, fewer gathered around (pandemic + Mom’s not here). That doesn’t prevent us from, or in fact makes an even stronger case for going festive punch bowl. Or at least going authentic eggnog. Steven says this eggnog is so good he wants to chug the whole bowl. With his ultra-healthy Mediterranean-style physique, all of the calories couldn’t even make a dent.
If chugging isn’t for you, or you don’t get through the whole batch at your table for two/etc., just refrigerate and enjoy a tibble later.
I promise you this: whenever you remember and describe this nog, you’ll close your eyes in the telling.
Make the egg yolk mixture in advance and chill, so when you're ready for eggnog, it's ready for you. The recipe can be easily doubled for a big batch. Leftovers are fine for several days, kept refrigerated. Adapted from Chef Mary Sue Milliken in Saveur. The rum quantity can be adjusted down or up as you wish...
- 1 cup light rum
- 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 6 large eggs, separated
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- ground nutmeg and/or cinnamon, for garnish
- 1 cup whole milk, cold
In a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan with just an inch or so of simmering water, stir the rum, sugar, and egg yolks. Cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is very thick, 2–3 minutes. Chill for at least two hours, or set the bowl in an ice bath to cool it quickly.
Whip cream in a bowl until soft peaks form.
In a clean bowl, whip the egg whites until soft peaks form, adding a tablespoon of sugar while whipping.
Fold whipped cream and cold egg yolk mixture into the whipped whites; stir in the milk. Serve the eggnog from a punch bowl, the top of the eggnog dusted with nutment and/or cinnamon. Sprinkle more spice atop each individual glass of eggnog.