I wish I could say that making real eggnog at Christmas time was a Nattress family tradition. It was not.
We had the Dairygold variety out of the box when I was a kid. Oh sure, we grated a little extra nutmeg on the top of it and my parents added some booze, but it was pretty pedestrian stuff. Then I married a Mayflower Princess and Fanny Farmer came into my life. And once you have had Fanny’s nog, there is no going back.
We had our Nog Night last evening at Orchard Kitchen. It was a pleasure to see the look on the faces of the folks who had never had real eggnog before. “It is like drinking cake mix, but in a good way” was the response of one of our friends. We found that, despite the seemingly huge amount of alcohol in the nog, it is so rich that you really cannot drink enough to become too intoxicated. (24 ounces of alcohol for 8 adults, which would have been 3 ounces per person, but about a quarter of it was left over to enjoy later.)
It is the most delicious winter treat, bar none, and utterly unique in both its taste and texture.
My initial reaction to the recipe when Tyla first presented it to me was to be a little bit freaked out about the amount of raw egg in it. The batch we do calls for a full dozen eggs. Of course there is also a fair amount of sugar and a boat load of Boubon and rum in the drink, so I feel confident that the benefits of its consumption far outweigh the risks. Plus we use the eggs from the healthy chickens in our orchard.
I will say, however, that there is no one Fanny Farmer Eggnog recipe. If you look at the various incarnations of her famous book – we have the 23rd edition from 1990 – they are really quite different from one another. I picked up a early 20th century copy of the Boston Cooking School Cook Book by Fanny Farmer several years back, and the version in it called for the concoction to be made at least a week in advance so it could mellow. Other copies offer the possibility of using wine in the nog, but only if your physician allows it. If not, you should use Bourbon and rum. But that is just common sense, isn’t it?
The recipe that follows is my version of the classic.
It is certainly derivative of Ms. Farmer and I tip my glass to her for firmly establishing this beverage in the American repertoire. It is simply a must for the holiday season and once you try it, you will see why the store bought variety just will not do.
Ingredients for about 2 gallons of Eggnog
12 eggs, separated
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 vanilla beans, split and the seeds scraped out
1 pinch salt
1 Quart 2% Milk
3 Pints (48 oz.) Heavy Cream
2 1/2 Cups Bourbon Whiskey (We use Jim Beam)
1/2 Cup Rum
1 whole Nutmeg to grate
In a standing mixer, whip the whites until frothy. Add the vanilla bean seeds, salt and 1/2 Cup of sugar and beat to soft peaks. Reserve. Whip together the remaining sugar and the egg yolks. When they are pale yellow and smooth add the alcohol and the milk and mix until incorporated. Reserve. Beat the heavy cream to soft peaks and reserve. Now combine all three ingredients in one large bowl, or do so in batches if you do not have a bowl big enough.
To serve, ladle the eggnog into glasses and grate a little nutmeg over the top. This beverage will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week, simply stir it back together and enjoy.