Thursday, December 15, 2011

Towards a Theory of Eggnog

For the last two years I've been using this method to make eggnog:
  • whisk egg yolks with some sugar until pale and foamy
  • whisk egg whites with some sugar until soft peaks form
  • fold the two egg foams together and stir into milk and cream
  • add rum and nutmeg
The problem with this method, first of all, is that if it sits for even five minutes, the eggy foams separate from the milk and cream. I wouldn't mind a bit of head on the nog, but the foams make up about 90% of the volume.  Even during the brief moments in which all the ingredients are properly incorporated, the light and airy texture of the nog doesn't seem appropriately robust and nourishing.

So I've done some experimenting with my nog method.  First I tried simply whisking all the ingredients together, by-passing the egg separation and foaming.  This version also separated, which absolutely baffles me, as whisked eggs don't separate if you leave them in the fridge.

Out of sheer curiosity I tried cooking out a mixture of milk, cream, and yolks, à la crème anglaise.  It was a bit thick, even once thinned with rum, but before repeating the process with a lower yolk content I decided that the cooked-egg taste is also inappropriate to the ideal nog.

For now I've settled on using just yolks.  Somehow this isn't as satisfying a concept as drinking whole eggs, but it's tasty.

Eggnog: A Working Recipe

  • 4 oz egg yolks
  • 8 oz granulated sugar
  • 1 pinch kosher salt
  • 16 fl oz whole milk
  • 4 fl oz heavy cream
  • 16 fl oz golden rum, I use Appleton's
  • nutmeg to taste
  1. Whisk sugar and salt into egg yolks.
  2. Add all remaining ingredients and whisk to combine.

The final important piece of information I came across this year was that properly boozed nog can be made well, well before consumption, and aged in the fridge.  Michael Ruhlman has successfully aged eggnog for two years, if you can believe it.

I put up a large jar of eggnog on the first of December, with the intention of cracking it open on the solstice or Christmas.  It lasted maybe fours days in the fridge.  A replacement batch is currently ripening on the bottom shelf.


  1. I wonder how big a batch Michael Ruhlman made that he managed to allow to age for two years. I am quite sure you could put some in my fridge in the bottom at the back and it would go untouched for at least two years.
    So is the nogger Lisa or yourself or both?

  2. Hi, Allan,
    I ran across a recipe and instructions for egg nog in a book I've been reading. Basically the instructions are as follows:
    Set aside a large bowl in a larger bowl of ice water.
    Wisk egg yolk (6) and 1/2 cup of sugar until thick.
    In pan over med low heat bring 3 cups whole milk,vanilla bean and pinch of salt to a simmer. Remove from heat and whisk 1 cup of milk mixture into yolks. the slowly pour milk yolk mixture into remaining milk mixture. Place pan over medium heat stirring constantly until 160 degrees.(Thick enough to coat back of wooden spoon. Strain though fine seive into bowl in ice bath. Let cool 20 muinutes. Then refridgerate for an hour.
    Add 1/2 cup brandy and 1 cup of cream to egg nog mixture. Beat egg whites with 1/2 cup sugar to stiff peak stage. Fold whites into eggnog until blended. Chill in fridge for several hours or overnite.
    Is this similar to your cooked egg technique that you didn't care for ?

  3. That's exactly the technique, just like making a custard.