Developing my eggnog recipe

Eggnog is a fun drink that adds a festive feel to the winter months. It is known to be thick, creamy, and unique, and can only be found in stores at a certain time of year. If you’re looking for the actual recipe and detailed instructions, that’s in another post. Otherwise, stay tuned for my personal history with eggnog, and how I developed what I think is the perfect eggnog recipe.

My history with eggnog

As a kid, eggnog was usually served at our family Thanksgivings. Occasionally, my mom would even buy some once or twice a year as a special treat. Store-bought eggnog was always an obsession of mine, and I would drink as much as I could whenever it was available to me. However, as I grew older, I stopped consuming dairy products. This meant store-bought eggnog was no longer an option.

As I was browsing Pinterest one day, I came across an eggnog tutorial video. This was the first time I even considered how eggnog was made, and it sparked my interest. I did some research, and hoped to come up with an eggnog recipe that worked for me.

Although I don’t eat a lot of animal products (i.e. eggs, meat, or dairy), I figured a few eggs in this case would be fine. I explored doing a vegan eggnog, but I wanted to go authentic. Vegan versions were pretty much just flavored milk, and I wanted to get the richness from the egg yolks. Therefore, I settled on 8 recipes that I could pick and choose elements from in order to come up with the perfect formula.

Eggnog recipe analysis

To start developing my recipe, I searched Pinterest to get an idea of what was out there (per usual). Not all the recipes I found were the same serving size, so there were some I either had to divide or estimate. Based on the serving size I was aiming for, I wanted to use around 6 egg yolks. Here are the recipes I pulled from, and what they consist of:

RecipeEggsMilk CreamSugarMethod (below)
Made in a Pinch6 whole eggs2 cups1/2 cup5/8 cup1-B
The House and the Homestead6 yolks2 cups1 cup1/2 cup2-B
Optional: fold in stiff egg whites
Immaculate Bites6 yolks1 cup whole milk, 1 cup evaporated3/8 cup5/8 cup1-A
Back to the Book Nutrition6 yolks3/8 cup1 1/8 cup3 tsp. each: honey, maple syrup2-A
The Stay At Home Chef7 yolks2 1/2 cups2 cups3/4 cup1-B
Also the Crumbs Please6 yolks4 cups1 1/2 cups5/8 cup1-B
Spoonful of Flavor6 yolks2 cups2 cups3/4 cup1-A
Good Food Baddie4 whites, 2 yolks1 cup almond milk4 cups full fat coconut milk1/4 cup maple or date syrup 1-A

Methods

There were two basic methods for making eggnog, both with a little variation:

1-A. Beat egg yolks with sugar until light. Simmer milk, cream, and spices over medium-low (3) heat. Add ~1/4 cup of warm milk mixture to eggs and mix thoroughly. Add the rest of the milk and return to heat. Heat again over medium-low until hot but not boiling. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Chill.

1-B. Same as 1A, except cream is added after everything else is heated and combined.

2-A. Blend everything together. Chill.

2-B. Same as 2A, except beat the egg yolks with sugar until light before blending.

The final eggnog recipe

As you can see, there was quite a bit of difference in methods and ingredients. I not only had to figure out which ingredients to use, but what ratio to use them in and what would be the best method. Here’s what I went with:

Ingredients

5 egg yolks

I would’ve used 6, but I only had 5. My dad actually said it was not too eggy-tasting like normal eggnog is, so I think I will keep it at 5. From the beginning, I knew I was only going use the yolk. I’m not sure if it’s true, but adding the whites felt like it would throw off the texture. The only way I would include them is if I beat them to stiff peaks and folded them in, as suggested in one of the recipes above. However, this still didn’t feel right, like the entire thing might end up being too rich. So, I left them out totally.

2 cups of milk

The ratio of milk to cream was one I considered for a while. Eventually, I settled on 2:1, and therefore I ended up with 2 cups of milk. Since I made this last minute, I used rice milk from a carton; ideally, though, I would’ve made homemade almond milk.

1 cup of cream

Although this was not vegan, I still planned to make it dairy-free. Therefore, I had to figure out a substitute for cream. Coconut cream was the best substitute I could think of, but I would probably try soy milk next time. I put the entire can of coconut cream in the fridge, and scraped off the solid part from the top.

1/2 cup brown sugar

Every recipe that used sugar used white sugar. I used brown sugar because I wanted to add another layer of depth to the flavor. If I only had white sugar, I would’ve had no problem using it, or even maple syrup. However, I would be hesitant to use date syrup, as it would likely affect the classic eggnog flavor I was after.

1 tsp. vanilla

Using vanilla was a given, but how much to use was the question. I love the flavor of vanilla, and when I added it to the drink it completely elevated the flavor. 1 teaspoon was just enough to give depth, while not being overpowering.

Spices

Most recipes included the same spices, namely cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. I tried using cinnamon sticks on their own, but they didn’t give me as much flavor as I wanted. Therefore, I supplemented it with 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon. The cloves were noticeable, but again, I would probably prefer 1/4 tsp. ground cloves.

Nutmeg, in anything else, would be the spice I would use the least of. It’s not my favorite flavor, but it’s the main spice in this case. I went with 1 teaspoon, as 1/2 tsp. was not enough. I didn’t want to be overwhelmed by nutmeg, but also wanted to make it noticeable.

Method

Of the two methods given above, I chose between 1-A and 1-B. Originally, I thought about using method 2-B (whisking the egg yolks and sugar then blending everything together). It seemed like the quicker, easier option, and I wondered how much different the end result would be. However, once I thought about it, I felt that heating it would be beneficial. The primary reason was so it would kill any bacteria that may be present. Not only that, but it would give the flavor a chance to develop further and thicken it at the same time.

The second part I had to consider was when to add the cream. I concluded to add it at the same time as the milk, which was at the beginning. First, it would give the cream a chance to blend with the flavors. As I was using coconut cream, I didn’t want the coconut flavor to come through in the finished drink. Second, it would allow it to become more smooth, enhancing the creamy texture.

How to serve

The method you serve the eggnog is a matter of preference. I initially served it cold, but the coconut cream solidified. This resulted in unpleasant chunks that ruined the drinking experience. If you want to serve it cold, simply strain it before serving. The way I think eggnog is best is when it is at room temperature. Store in the fridge until 2-3 hours before serving, then remove and let come to room temperature. This way the coconut cream will soften, and it will be able to be mixed back into the whole drink.

Conclusion

This recipe turned out just how I dreamed it would: creamy, flavorful, and rich. Of all the recipes I saw, I really believe this combines the best elements of all of them. Overall, eggnog is a great recipe to have on hand, just in case the craving strikes. If you want to see step-by-step instructions, go to the eggnog recipe.

eggnog—final drink
Eggnog

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