Right up front, I have to acknowledge that this is not my recipe. I believe that the current way of expressing it would be to say that I’ve carefully curated this recipe.
But its pedigree is pretty impressive, I got it from the Washington Post, and the Post lifted it from The Joy of Cooking.
But let me establish my credentials as curator.
First, giving credit where it’s due, here’s a link to the Washington Post article that brought this recipe to my attention last Christmas: Eggnog recipe
6 large egg yolks*
2 cups (8 ounces) of confectioners' sugar
1 cup light rum
1 quart heavy cream
1 cup of cognac or Asbach brandy
1/2 cup of orange liqueur
Grated nutmeg, for garnish
*The Washington Post recipe comes with warnings about the dangers of raw egg yolks and suggests, as an alternative, using pasteurized eggs, which are indeed available at Central Market. Last Christmas, in the midst of the pandemic, I wasn’t about to wear a mask for months and then die of salmonella poisoning, so I used the pasteurized eggs. They worked fine.
THE FIRST STEP is to beat the egg yolks in a large bowl until they’re light in color. Gradually whisk in the confectioner’s sugar. Then whisk in the rum.
THE SECOND STEP is to put the bowl in the refrigerator, uncovered, for an hour. This is intended to get rid of the ‘eggy’ taste.
THE THIRD STEP is to add the heavy cream, cognac, and orange liqueur while whisking constantly.
THE FOURTH STEP is to put the mixture into the refrigerator (covered, this time) for at least three hours. The flavor improves with time, so I’d recommend making it at least a day ahead.
SERVE in a cup, garnishing it with grated nutmeg.
An important note about alcohol content
This warning wouldn’t be necessary in that little town where I grew up, but I’m going to play it safe here: The authors warn against reducing the alcohol content, for reasons of food safety. That may not apply if you use pasteurized eggs, but why take a chance?
Keeping it on-hand
Let me add another note. The Washington Post article reports that this eggnog lasts ‘indefinitely’, apparently because of its high proof. I can’t attest to that. It didn’t last any longer than the cheesecake that Jane made for Christmas. They were both gone by New Years Day.
I’ve got a long history with eggnog.
I’ve drunk eggnog every Christmas season since I was maybe sixteen or seventeen years old. I grew up in rural Wisconsin, winters were really, really cold; we spent a lot of time indoors; and we honored our liquor traditions.
On Christmas Eve, it wasn’t uncommon to honor our heritage at one of the local bars (yes, of course they were open on Christmas Eve). If you were Catholic, you were free as soon as you attended the early Mass. If you were Lutheran, you were free all evening, but, out of courtesy, you waited for your Catholic friends.
Anyhow, all the bars had some traditional holiday drink in a big container behind the bar. It might be a coffee urn, for Irish coffee. It might be a mulled cider (also in a coffee urn). Or it might be eggnog, in pitchers sitting in the beer cooler. If you visited multiple bars (also a tradition), you’d be guaranteed at least one shot at eggnog.
In later years, after I left home, I always made up a batch of eggnog for Christmas.
It’s my recollection that I got the recipe for my eggnog from Joy of Cooking (my exclusive source of cooking advice immediately after college graduation), but I’m absolutely confident it was not this recipe.
Because this recipe is the best eggnog I’ve ever had, by a very large margin. This eggnog is cheesecake in a glass. Or something like that.
Let’s get to it.
Jim Feuerstein is co-editor of LNF Weekly; he also designs and manages the website.
An important safety warning from 'The Joy of Cooking': Do not reduce the alcohol content.