It’s spring, and that means lilacs are in bloom! We’re lucky enough to have a bush in our backyard, and when the sweet scent started wafting through the air I knew I had to make something to take advantage of it!
It started so innocently– I had a branch of lilac blossoms and thought it would be nice to sugar them. It took a while to individually pluck and dip them in syrup, then in sugar, but they looked so pretty and tasted lovely!
Then I thought that it might be nice to use the leftover sugar syrup for something, but I thought of it too late– which made me think of lilac-flavored syrup, so I made a batch of that as well.
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.
Butterbeer– An iconic beverage, prominently featured in the Harry Potter series and hugely popular at the Universal Studios Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Having heard that the recipe had been approved by J.K. Rowling herself I was eager to try it, and upon arrival at the park (after squee-ing over the storefronts and going on several rides) my friends and I purchased both varieties available– regular and frozen. We watched as the glasses were filled and topped with creamy foam from a special spigot (the bartender said that he was actually forbidden to sell it without the foam because it was such an integral part of the drink), and took our prizes to a table to taste.
Blech, was it sweet. Waaaaaayyyy too sweet. There were five of us splitting the drinks and we couldn’t come close to finishing them. And the drink contained neither butter nor beer, which seemed wrong given the name. But then– a ray of hope appeared– we had an idea. The Boar’s Head Pub, where we’d bought the sickly sweet swill, also served its own signature dark beer and maybe– just maybe– the stuff could be salvaged. We mixed the dark beer 50/50 with the sugary butterbeer, tasted it, and saw that it was good. And I decided then and there to perfect the recipe for my own butterbeer once I got home.