Ah, the winter holidays!
The season of festive lights, honeyed hams, cheer, and nog. Oh, that we could always see such spirit through the year, am I right? Or rather were Lee Mendelson and Vince Guaraldi Trio right when they wrote those lyrics for A Charlie Brown Christmas back in 1965?
Indeed the fleeting nature of the holiday season (which now stretches roughly from September of one year to an April of the following decade, if retailers are to be heeded) is part of what makes it such a meaningful time. We have a bit more kindness and warmth to share with kin and stranger alike in these few weeks. We take a bit more time to relax and reflect. We buy lots of stuff. The winter holiday season is a sweet one indeed, but its brevity also comes with its share of bitterness. I’m speaking specifically of eggnog withdrawal. Because as eggnog and holidays have become irrevocably intertwined, that sweet, eggnog spends but a few months on sale each year.
To quoth the immortal Homer Simpson on the subject:
“We only get thirty sweet noggy days. Then the government takes it away again.”
So let’s make the most of those short, sweet days we have! Here are a few ways to make the most of the nog you have before it’s too late to buy more. (Or before it’s forgotten behind that carton of OJ and turns rancid.)
The Ultimate Easy Eggnog Cocktail
Start with your favorite store-bought eggnog, or use the recipe below (or some other recipe, if you must) for homemade nog. Then procure…
- Four Parts Nog
- 1 Part Liquor (see below)
- 1 Pinch Nutmeg
- 1 Pinch Cinnamon
And… yeah, that’s it. Mix the nog and booze well and sprinkle the spices atop, ideally garnishing with a cinnamon stick. Now, that all seems simple enough, right? Well, it is. But the devil is in the details… or rather in the liquor. (As per standard. Oh, you liquor, you!) For a sweet, desert-like drink, use bourbon. For a spicy beverage, use a dark spiced rum. For a stiff drink that nonetheless puts the eggnog flavor ahead of the liquor’s taste, use a strong cognac or brandy. (Those are often the cheapest liquors to buy, and there’re really no reason to egguse the good stuff here.)
Easy Cooking With Eggnog
If you chat with a pastry chef about how to use eggnog in your culinary pursuits, you’re going to hear about a whole lot of fancy whatnot like Salt and Caramel Eggnog Brownies, Gingerbread Eggnog Creampuffs, or Eggnog Macaroon Flipper Chips. But those fancypants whatnots don’t have much truck with me. I prefer to use eggnog in cooking foods I was going to make already as opposed to concocting some strange, complex foodstuff just because there’s nog in the fridge. So here are some great easy as pie ways to cook with nog, no pie actually involved.
- Replace milk with nog when making pancakes
- Replace half of the butter in a sugar cookie recipe with nog (add an extra tablespoon if needed)
- Make eggnog ice cream like this:
- Beat 2 cups heavy cream until it begins to stiffen
- Mix in 2 cups sweetened condensed milk and a half cup egg nog
- Pour it all in a loaf pan, sprinkle with nutmeg and cinnamon, and freeze it overnight.
How To Make Eggnog
Knowing how to make eggnog from scratch is an important skill for two reasons. First, it will impress people at your holiday party (provided you don’t poison them with salmonella. Or strychnine). Second, but empowers you to enjoy nog any time of year, even after the government takes it away in January. You will need…
- 4 Cups Whole Milk
- 1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 12 Egg Yolks (NOT the whites, mind you)
- 1 1/2 Cups Sugar
- 4 Cups Light Cream
- Pinches of nutmeg and cinnamon
To make your nog, you must…
- Mix the milk and vanilla in a sauce pan and bring to a low boil
- Meanwhile, mix the yolks and sugar, whisking ’em unto a light froth
- Now mix the milk/vanilla and yolks/sugar in a bowl, then pour it all back into the pan. Stir over low heat for about three minutes.
- Cool that whatnot in the fridge for an hour or two, then mix in the cream (and some booze and spices if you want, but that can always come later) and then chill everything for at least five or six hours.
There, you just made homemade eggnog, baby.