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What is eggnog?

Homemade Eggnog

Eggnog is an ever-popular holiday beverage that hits store shelves for a few weeks around Christmas and New Year’s and is served at holiday parties across the country. Eggnog is a thick, dairy-based drink made with milk, sugar, eggs and spices, usually nutmeg and vanilla. It is often spiked with a little bit of liquour – or a lot, depending on how chilly it is outside – such as brandy, rum or whiskey. The traditional recipe for eggnog calls for uncooked eggs. The eggs, when beaten in with the sugar and milk, give the drink a light and frothy texture. Most eggnog recipes these days are cooked and have a thick, creamy texture. They are cooked to eliminate the raw egg element of the original recipe, and cooking the eggs causes the mixture to thicken slightly. Eggnog is sweet and has a distinctly custardy flavor to it – thanks to all of those eggs – and it is delicious as a nightcap when it has been spiked, as well as as a simple, creamy dessert when simply topped with whipped cream.

Eggnog is readily available in stores, but it is easy to make at home, as well. A cooked Homemade Eggnog heats the drink through just enough to thicken it. Although it is usually served chilled, you’ll find that freshly made eggnog is just as tasty when warm. If you prefer the thinner consistency of uncooked Homemade Eggnog, you’ll want to start out with pasteurized eggs.If you’re buying it in the store, you can find a whole variety of eggnog options, from ultra rich to low fat versions to nondairy versions made with soy or almond milk.

You can use eggnog to infuse a holiday flavor into all kinds of recipes, from pies to puddings to cupcakes. It can generally be substituted for either milk or buttermilk in a recipe without needing to change any of the other ingredients, so you can experiment with things like eggnog pancakes on Christmas morning instead of simply serving the ‘nog at an evening event.

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  • Linda
    December 21, 2010

    Up until last year, I always thought eggnog was nasty and “weird-tasting” which is odd since I love all the ingredients and the spices. I got some original eggnog at Trader Joe’s and love it. I tried a soy version at Whole Foods and liked that too but I tried another regular eggnog and thought it too thick. And TJ’s light version is too sweet or missing something. I wondered about using it in recipes but wasn’t sure it would do the same thing as buttermilk–good to know! I’ve made different items with eggnog and liked them and made “eggnog” things that technically doesn’t have any eggnog in them but emulate the taste. I might have to try homemade one of these days. I know homemade Bailey’s is “to die for”.

  • Kelsi
    December 21, 2010

    i like to pretend i don’t know what egg nog is and then drink away. 😉

  • Anna
    December 21, 2010

    I’ve never really thought about what eggnog is beyond a holiday drink. Thanks! I really want to try one of the homemade versions now.

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