Midwinter, occurring this year on Dec. 21, is the longest night of the year but also marks the beginning of the lengthening of days. Many cultures around the world celebrate this period as a time of lights, of feasting and of reflection as we light candles, string lights and light the home fires.
When I was young, there was one singular event that marked the beginning of this time of year — eggnog. Back then, it was unimaginable that anything remotely Christmas would appear in the stores until after Thanksgiving, and, on the day after, that most delicious of beverages would make its appearance along with the decorations, ringing bells and lights to brighten the shortening days.
But my mother would always make me wait until the week before Christmas. By then, school was on break. We would light the fireplace, decorate the tree and drink eggnog. Eggnog is the perfect accompaniment for such celebrations of light, for getting through those longest of nights and into the new year.
Today, my taste for eggnog has matured as much as I have, and I prefer to make my own rather than buy it (and add alcohol.) My wife and I have added the making of eggnog to our midwinter season celebrations, and continue to enjoy it well past New Year’s.
It should be noted that the term “nog” is an old English world for ale, and this recipe definitely has some “spirit” to it.
Safety comes first, and the alcohol is a necessity as raw eggs are called for. Enjoy making this recipe!
By the way … while shopping for the ingredients, pick up a carton or two of store-bought eggnog for the kids.
12 large egg yolks (pasteurized if you need peace of mind)
1 pound sugar
3 ¼ cups whole milk
2 ¾ cups heavy cream
1 cup Jamaican rum
1 cup cognac
1 cup Irish whiskey
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (plus more for serving)
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
Combine the yolks, sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon in a mixing bowl. Beat the mixture until yolks lighten in color and create a solid ribbon when falling off the whisk.
In a second bowl, combine milk, heavy cream, rum, cognac and whiskey. Slowly pour over egg yolk mixture until well combined.
Pour into a large mason jar (or several smaller ones). Store in fridge for a minimum of two weeks. A month would be better, two would be best. Note: You can drink it right away, but you can also store it for up to a year.
When serving, grate a little extra nutmeg on top.