Classic eggnog

Eggnog, in the upper left hand corner, will be ready by Christmas Eve, but messed up a pile of dishes in the making.

Eggnog, in the upper left hand corner, will be ready by Christmas Eve, but messed up a pile of dishes in the making.

Toby and I just made our eggnog for Christmas. It’s so much better if it ages for a week at least. Make it today and drink it on Christmas Eve. Actually, you could drink it a year from Christmas Eve.

It’s true. Eggnog, aged for a year in a refrigerator, is absolutely delicious. You do have to make the alcoholic kind, because the whiskey and/or rum is the preservative. I could not have been more surprised to discover this. A couple years ago, Toby and I made up a full batch using our usual Fannie Farmer recipe, which makes enough, I swear, for fifty, and we had a scant half gallon left. From time to time, I’d use it to make French toast, or in pumpkin pie filling–after all, it has sugar, milk, and eggs in it. I probably could have made ice cream out of it by folding it into whipped cream and freezing it.

At any event, I still had some a year later, and frankly, I kind of wondered if I should give it the old heave-ho. Then I read in Ed Behr’s magazine, The Art of Eating, about aged eggnog, and I went and poured myself a little glassful. It was mellow and lovely and rich, really deep in flavor. Fabulous.

Still, this year Toby and I made a half-batch because year-old eggnog may be tasty, but it doesn’t pay rent in an already too-crowded fridge.

Food sites on the web are full of recipes for eggnog, and if you need any inspiration for changing it up a little, then be my guest. I like the old 1970s Fannie Farmer version just fine. We knock back the whiskey and rum amounts just a little because if we want a little more kick, we can always add some upon serving. Also, this year, I changed the procedure a bit to add milk to the beaten egg and sugar which lightened it up before folding in the beaten whites. It always separates anyway. I tend to stir the eggnog or shake the jar before serving, otherwise I feel like I ought to pass out spoons so folks can eat up the floating part before drinking the rest.

The other change I made in the Farmer recipe was a switch to whipping cream rather than using heavy cream.

Of course, with all the beating-separately one does to make eggnog, I find I dirty up every bowl in the kitchen. One life saver is an emersion or stick blender. It is so handy for more than just eggnog, like especially for pureeing soups even when they are hot. If you don’t have one, ask Santa to bring you one. Bear in mind that you burn more calories with a crank-style eggbeater.

Classic Eggnog
Serves: Lots of people.
A good, basic holiday eggnog.
  • 6 eggs, separated
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 pint whipping cream
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 pint milk
  • 2 cups bourbon or other whiskey
  • ½ cup run
  • Nutmeg to taste
  1. Assemble all the ingredients.
  2. Separate the eggs.
  3. Beat the whites gradually, adding one-quarter of a cup of sugar a little at a time, until they are quite stiff. Set aside.
  4. In a separate and large bowl, beat the yolks with one-half of a cup of sugar and a pinch of salt until the yolks are lemony and light.
  5. Stir in one cup of milk.
  6. Fold together the beaten whites and the beaten yolks.
  7. In still another bowl, beat the whipping cream until quite stiff and fold it into the egg mixture. Then add the remaining one cup of milk, the whiskey and rum and beat all together.
  8. Grate some nutmeg over the mixture and stir it in. (Add more nutmeg if you wish when you serve it.)
  9. Pour into a gallon jug and keep in a fridge or a cool place for a week.



Sandy Oliver

About Sandy Oliver

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working Waterfront. Besides freelance food writing, she is a pioneering food historian beginning her work in 1971 at Mystic Seaport Museum, where she developed a fireplace cooking program in an 1830s house. After moving to Maine in 1988, Sandy wrote, Saltwater Foodways: New Englanders and Their Foods at Sea and Ashore in the 19th Century published in 1995. She is the author of The Food of Colonial and Federal America published in fall of 2005, and Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving History and Recipes from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie which she co-authored with Kathleen Curtin. She often speaks to historical organizations and food professional groups around the country, organizes historical dinners, and conducts classes and workshops in food history and in sustainable gardening and cooking. Sandy lives on Islesboro, an island in Penobscot where she gardens, preserves, cooks and teaches sustainable lifeways.