This recipe comes from Long Way on a Little: An earth lover’s companion for enjoying meat, pinching pennies and living deliciously.
My grandmother passed away when I was sixteen, but to this day our entire family considers Christmas incomplete without a few gallons of her eggnog. For years I dutifully adhered to her method of standing over the stove stirring together egg and milk for the better part of an hour until they congealed to make the custard base. Then, a few years back, while preparing too many different things in the kitchen at once and wearing myself out, I got plain old lazy and decided to experiment by tempering the egg yolks before adding them to the milk. The results were the best ’nog we’ve ever had (sorry, Grammie!), and in record time.
1 gallon milk or heavy cream
12 egg yolks
½ cup vanilla extract
1 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon salt
Maple Whipped Cream (optional) (recipe follows)
Nutmeg, to taste
Pour the milk into a heavy-bottomed large pot, cover, and heat over a medium flame on the stove top. Meanwhile, add the egg yolks, vanilla, maple syrup and salt to a large bowl. Whisk thoroughly and allow them to come to room temperature. Once the milk is steaming hot and just shy of a simmer, turn the heat off and slowly ladle it, ½ cup at a time, into the egg mixture, whisking vigorously all the while. When about 2 cups of the milk has been whisked into the egg, carefully pour the entire solution back into the milk pot. Stir the big batch of yolk and milk together thoroughly, turn the heat back on, and simmer over a medium-low flame, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and leaves a silky coating on a wooden spoon.
Remove the eggnog from the heat and whisk until it is cooled, then chill. If the egg has started to cook slightly, quickly whisk in an additional ¼ cup of cold milk, which should reincorporate the egg. If you have taken it so far that you are seeing bits of cooked egg floating around in your eggnog, hold your head high and boldly inform your guests when you serve it later on that you’ve made it “extra chunky” just for them. Advise them that they might have to chew, and privately note to yourself to not cook it quite so long next time. (You can just strain it through a wire mesh sieve as well.)
Chill the eggnog 2–4 hours, or overnight. Serve in wine goblets or punch glasses, topped (if you choose) with a dollop of Maple Whipped Cream and a dash of nutmeg.
Maple Whipped Cream
4 cups heavy cream
4 tablespoons maple syrup
4 teaspoons vanilla
Whip the above ingredients together until stiff peaks form.