Just as October brings us pumpkin spice lattes, December is the month for eggnog.
You can get your nog straight up, or in a latte at Starbucks and other coffee shops, as well as in cakes, cookies, candies and ice cream.
For vegans and others who are avoiding both eggs and milk there are nogs made with almond or coconut milks and egg substitutes.
Eggnog is an ancient beverage that is tied to tradition and the holidays.
Homestead Market in Lambertville, N.J. recently reminded us that eggnog has been around since Colonial times by sharing a recipe published on the website popularmechanics.com for George Washington’s favorite eggnog. Different versions of our first president’s eggnog recipe exist, and all of them call for a lot of alcohol. Washington also reportedly liked to allow his nog to age, letting it sit for several days in a cool place.
Today we are wary of using raw eggs in any food or beverage, although some experts claim that adding alcohol to the raw yolks effectively “cooks” any bacteria. That explains how generations of Americans have been enjoying eggnog without getting sick.
The Popular Mechanics recipe says that high-proof alcohol can “cook” an egg by causing a chemical reaction with the protein, a process that takes hours and begins with mixing the yolks with the bourbon.
If you aren’t convinced, the magazine says you can place the whole eggs in a 135-degree pot of water for two hours. It’s not hot enough to cook the egg, but is hot enough to kill any bacteria. Another option is to use pasteurized egg substitutes such as Egg Beaters, which are sold in cartons in the refrigerator section of the supermarket.
You also can make eggnog without alcohol, but will have to use the heated eggs suggested or egg substitutes to avoid possible contamination. Or you can buy eggnog at the supermarket or at Penn View Farm outside Dublin, where the farmers sell their version during the winter holidays.
Here is the recipe from popularmechanics.com:
George Washington’s Eggnog
7 eggs, separated
7 jiggers (1 and 1/3 cups) bourbon
2 cups milk
7 tablespoons (heaping) sugar
1 pint heavy cream
Nutmeg, grated, to float on top of each cup
Step 1. Using a standing or handheld mixer with a whisk attachment, beat the egg yolks till they are a lemon color.
Step 2. Gradually add bourbon to egg yolks, beating vigorously until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. At a lower speed, whisk milk into the mixture until it resembles loose custard.
Step 3. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites till stiff. Add sugar. Continue beating. Add to yolk mixture. In another bowl, beat cream till stiff. Add to mixture, folding in gradually. Store in refrigerator until serving time and sprinkle nutmeg on each cup.
Makes about 8 servings.