Time For A Little Eggnog

Eggnog is pretty much synonymous with Christmas. What other time of year do you get to drink something that’s basically custard spiked with booze? Whether you love it or hate it, chances are you might not have any idea what’s in it. The cartons of premade eggnog can be pretty mysterious. Just read the ingredient label and you’ll see its filled with high fructose corn syrup, thickeners such as guar gum and carrageenan.

No one is really sure where eggnog originated from but it is thought it a decedant of a medieval drink called posset – a hot beverage of sweetened and spiced milk spiked with ale or wine. And the word “nog” seems to refer to the wooden vessels that the beverage was consumed from. Even George Washington had his own version using rye whisky, rye and sherry. Honestly, who could tell a lie after drinking that concoction?

A good eggnog is made up of just a few simple ingredients – booze, sugar, cream and raw eggs. Now if you are skeptical of drinking something with raw eggs, take note that the Centre of Disease Control tested copious amounts of homemade eggnog (a tough job we are sure) to find that the addition of alcohol basically wiped out the risk of any contamination. The alcohol acts as both a preservative and sterilizer. Whole milk is the foundation of eggnog, so be sure to use the good stuff and freshly grated nutmeg (yes we sell it at Relish) is absolutely compulsory.

Homemade eggnog is thickened first with egg yolks and then given more texture by folding in whipped egg whites. Those egg whites transform what would basically be a fairly heavy, overly rich beverage to something airier and frothier – but no less decadent. Aging your eggnog even for a short time does wonders for it’s flavour and texture. The distinct flavours of eggs, sugar and liquor meld together even after a day or so, making a smoother, more balanced cup of nog. The proteins in the eggs also start to thicken, giving eggnog its signature spoon-coating thickness. If you want to make it ahead, combine the egg yolks with the sugar and liquor. Store in the refrigerator up to 5 days. Egg whites can be stored in the refrigerator (unbeaten) or frozen and thawed, then beaten when you are ready to blend them together.

And if all this isn’t enough to entice you, December 24this National Eggnog Day. So go ahead and indulge a little – it’s the holidays.

A RECIPE FROM OUR KITCHEN: Homemade Holiday Eggnog