I was in high school before I learned that “eggnog” could be made at home, rather than just purchased in colorful cartons at the grocery store around Christmas– imagine my surprise when I discovered that some people made it from scratch, and that it was considered (gasp) refreshing! “Refreshing” was about as far from my experience of eggnog as it could get– eggnog as I knew it was sickly sweet and cloyingly thick. Probably based on that impression, despite my newfound knowledge I had no desire to actually make the stuff, particularly as it apparently involved raw eggs, which did not strike me as particularly palatable.
Fast forward several (okay, more than just several) years, and I’ve decided to take the plunge and try Alton Brown’s recipe for traditional (uncooked) eggnog.
I’m still a tiny bit paranoid about salmonella, so I home-pasteurized my eggs in shell using this technique— heating them to 140 degrees F and keeping them there for 3 minutes. It may not be perfect, but it makes me feel better about food safety.
The eggnog was simple to make, turned out fantastically, and was a big hit at the party I brought it to. It was smooth, creamy, slightly fluffy from the whipped egg whites, and yes, refreshing. I will absolutely be making this again!
Alton Brown’s classic eggnog:
4 egg whites
1 tbs. granulated sugar
4 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
1 pint whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
3 ounces bourbon
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the egg whites to soft peaks, then (with the mixer on) slowly add 1 tablespoon of sugar and whip to stiff peaks.
2. Transfer the egg whites to a separate bowl, then re-use your original bowl to whip the egg yolks until they turn light yellow. Then slowly add 1/3 cup of sugar and continue to whip until pale and thick. The sugar should be completely dissolved if you rub a drop of egg between your fingers.
3. Whisk in the milk, cream, bourbon, and nutmeg.
4. Whisk in the egg whites thoroughly. You don’t want clumps of foam in your drink, but the whites, properly distributed, will make the whole drink foamy.
5. Serve immediately, or chill and serve later. Be aware that the longer you let it sit, the less foamy it’ll be as the egg whites deflate. (Alton says you can re-froth with a blender, though)
- The original recipe called for the egg whites to be beaten last so no volume is lost while you put together the rest of the drink. However, since you can’t beat egg whites in a bowl that has any fat in it, and since I didn’t feel like washing out two stand mixer bowls and two whisk attachments, I did the whites first and just set them aside. They leaked a little during the wait time, but it wasn’t too bad.
- Egg whites whip up best at room temperature, but it’s easiest to separate cold eggs. If possible (and it may not be if you go straight from pasteurizing your eggs to making the eggnog), separate the eggs right from the fridge and then let them sit for a bit before proceeding with the recipe.
- While many of the commenters on the original recipe mentioned making this a day or two ahead, I think this is best served immediately upon folding in the egg whites. If I wanted to make this ahead I’d save the unbeaten egg whites, make the rest of the recipe, and beat/fold them right before serving.
- Be forewarned that this recipe isn’t all that sweet– I think it’s perfect, but sweet-lovers may want to add a little more sugar.
- The recipe is also not that boozy– feel free to add more bourbon if you want this to be m0re of a cocktail than a punch.