Archive for: eggnog
Eggnog is a natural fit for a custard pie recipe because eggnog is custard to begin with. Eggnog is a drink that traditionally made by combining milk, sugar and eggs with a splash of liquor and a bit of nutmeg. The most traditional recipes are uncooked (for which you should use pasteurized eggs) but most modern eggnog recipes are cooked to make them safer to eat, resulting in a drink that is rich and custardy. All of the elements that make eggnog are already in a basic custard pie – milk, eggs and sugar – and it is not a stretch to incorporate some eggnog into the recipe to make a whole new way to enjoy the seasonal holiday drink.
This custard pie uses both milk and eggnog as its base. I added some vanilla and nutmeg to enhance the eggy flavor of the ‘nog. I omitted alcohol entirely, but if you prefer a little kick from your eggnog, add in a 1/2 teaspoon or so of run extract to give it a hint of a boozy flavor. I used prepared eggnog for this recipe, but if you have a batch of homemade eggnog in the refrigerator already, you will be able to use it without a problem.
The finished pie is silky smooth, a delicate custard that seems to melt in your mouth. It has a really nice eggnog flavor to it, but at its core this is simply a nice custard pie with a bit of vanilla and nutmeg added in to it. You can use either a pastry crust or a crumb crust for this pie; both work well. If you are going to take the crumb crust route, use either a shortbread crust or make one from gingersnaps to add even more holiday flavor.
Eggnog is one of those foods that really conjures up thoughts of the holidays because it’s only available for a few weeks of the year (although you can make it at home anytime). There are also lots of eggnog-flavored treats out there, like cakes and cookies. Many don’t even use eggnog as an ingredient and just include vanilla and nutmeg in the recipes to capture a big of flavor that is reminiscent of eggnog. This is a huge disappointment when you want something that actually tastes like eggnog! It’s also unfortunate because eggnog can be a great ingredient to use when baking around the holidays. In many recipes (cakes, puddings, etc.) regular eggnog can be substituted for regular milk, adding a lot of holiday flavor to an otherwise unseasonal recipe.
Eggnog plays a big part in this Eggnog Ricotta Cheesecake, so you get a cheesecake that is a balanced mix of cream cheese and eggnog flavors. Ricotta cheese has such a mild flavor that it doesn’t come to the forefront, but it does have a big impact on the texture of the cheesecake. The cheesecake is light and very tender, not heavy or dense.
I used a shortbread crust for this cheesecake. Its plain, buttery flavor goes well with the cheesecake and it is very sturdy, so it slices and holds together very well. It is also very easy to throw together. The cheesecake batter is poured over the crust while it is still warm, so the whole cheesecake takes very little time to come together. I refrigerate this cheesecake before serving. It can be served warm or at room temperature, but you may want to bake it the night before and simply put it in the fridge for 8-12 hours before serving.
I like eggnog, but I’m not a big fan of most store-bought eggnogs, even “organic” ‘nogs from natural foods stores. I find that many of them have an overly strong nutmeg flavor, and others are so thick that they verge on being pudding. I like eggnog to be light and refreshing, with flavor from all the ingredients in it. Eggnog is made from milk and eggs. It is lightly sweetened and flavored with (usually) vanilla and nutmeg. You can drink it plain or make it boozy and warming by adding in some brandy.
My favorite eggnog is an uncooked eggnog, which can be made with pasteurized eggs – not eggs from a carton, but eggs pasteurized in-shell – or regular eggs. It’s quick, easy and has the flavor I’m looking for. But to avoid any salmonella risk, or to make a big batch in advance for a party, I also make a cooked eggnog. This ‘nog is the same recipe, but I put it on the stovetop and bring the temperature up to 160F, which is just high enough to kill off any bacteria that might be in there. I chill it for several hours before serving.
I like to use low fat milk for eggnog because I like the consistency that the eggnog has when it is finished, a good balance of light and creamy. You can use nonfat or whole milk in this recipe if you prefer. Freshly grated nutmeg will give you the best results in this recipe. If you need to use preground, you may find that you need to add more to get enough nutmeg flavor. Either way, feel free to add or subtract from the amount of nutmeg given to suit your individual tastes.
Eggnog is widely available in stores through New Years, but sales and consumption probably peak right around Christmas Eve. I know I don’t drink much after Christmas is over. I do often have leftovers, though, and never turn down the chance to use them up in a tasty holiday-ish recipe. My leftover eggnog this year went into a batch of eggnog rice pudding.
The rice pudding recipe is a simple one, starting with leftover rice. Steamed and boiled rice both work equally well here, but make sure that your rice was only cooked in water (as opposed to chicken broth) to ensure that it has a neutral flavor. I used a combination of regular milk and eggnog to get a light, but flavorful dessert. An eggnog-only rice pudding will be quite heavy, especially if you’re using a full fat eggnog (low fat works very well for this recipe, as do soy/nondairy ‘nogs). The pudding thickens a bit after it cools, so I always stir in an extra tablespoon or so of eggnog just before serving to help ensure that the pudding has a good eggnog flavor and a very creamy consistency.
Garnish the puddings with some freshly grated nutmeg and whipped cream.
Eggnog is a holiday tradition and, in fact, it is one of those few items that you can really only find during the holiday season (unless you make it yourself, of course). It is rich, eggy and has a unique flavor to it. Most people drink it straight, or with a bit of liquor added to it, but eggnog can be used for all kinds of other things in the kitchen. Its eggy flavor lends itself particularly well to custard-based dessert, like this bread pudding.
Bread pudding is easy to make and this one definitely has a holiday flair to it. Most bread puddings have a base made up of milk or cream. This one has a base made primarily of eggnog. The eggnog is mixed with a bit of milk and nutmeg and vanilla are added to complement the flavor of the ‘nog. I used a white sandwich type of bread because it has a very mild flavor. Challah or brioche will also work very well.
I’ve heard a bit of debate as to what the “proper” booze to add to eggnog is. Some say rum, while others prefer brandy or bourbon. I’ve always used bourbon myself, so I opted to spike my cranberries with a little bit of it for this recipe. I simply rehydrated my dried cranberries in abut 1/3 cup of bourbon by letting them soak in it for about 30 minutes (you can also zap the mixture in the microwave for a few seconds to help the process along). A lot of the liquor goes into the dried fruit, giving it a very subtle zip. If you prefer not to use alcohol, you can rehydrate the berries with the same amount of water before stirring them into the bread pudding.
The finished pudding is very Christmasy, with a wonderful flavor and aroma of vanilla and eggnog. The cranberries contrast well with the custard-soaked bread and add a nice, subtle zip of bourbon. This bread pudding is baked in a loaf pan and should be served in slices (this actually makes it much easier to portion than bread pudding baked in a big casserole dish). Let it cool completely in the pan before slicing to ensure that the pudding sets up, then reheat slices in the microwave before serving.