flavors of the season

Oh, the flavors of the season… peppermint bark, warm ginger cookies and gently spiced nuts. This time of year just begs me to cook complicated and adventurous concoctions, things I would never have considered before. Perhaps it’s the fact that food porn reaches its peak this time of year:

Really… when else would I even consider making chocolate ribbons or frosted cookies or meat marmalades that take six hours to cook?

I got the bug last night, thanks to The New York Times. Eggnog, of all things.

Let me confess something here: I don’t like milk. I don’t think I’ve drunk a glass of the stuff since before high school. Fortunately, I like yogurt and ice cream and cheese, and I keep a box of Viactiv calcium chews on my desk just in case. But milk’s never really been my thing. For this reason, I never worried much about the annual eggnog craze. I don’t think I’ve bought it in several years. But the New York Times made this one sound so good, “It was better than any eggnog I’d tasted before, less eggy and brighter in flavor. Thanks to the addition of the beaten egg whites, the texture was mousse-like while still being rich and semi-liquid. You could drink it, but a spoon worked even better.”

And so there I was, separating eggs, whipping cream and measuring bourbon. On a Thursday evening.

And oh, my, I’m glad I did. It is Christmas in a glass (I also say that about chai tea lattes and peppermint hot chocolate, but whatever). Creamy and spicy and rich. Much better than anything you’ll buy in a carton. It’s thick, so thick it hardly qualifies as a drink. Were there not so much bourbon in it, I’d tell you to have it for breakfast. You can if you want, actually. I won’t tell.

Make this to sip while you decorate the tree. Or for a holiday gathering. Or to dull the pain after you receive yet another reindeer sweater from Aunt Lil. A note: do follow the instructions and put this together immediately prior to serving. It will lose considerable volume (ie air) sitting in your fridge over night.



Butterscotch Eggnog
(adapted only slightly from the NY Times)

12 large eggs, separated
1 cup dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups milk
1 cup good quality bourbon
1/2 cup brandy
2 cups heavy cream
4 tablespoons granulated sugar
Grated nutmeg 

– In a large bowl, combine the yolks, brown sugar, vanilla, brandy, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Using an electric mixer beat on medium-high speed until thick and dark golden, about 3 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and slowly drizzle in the milk and bourbon. Refrigerate while you assemble the rest.

– Whip the cream on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Set aside. In another bowl, using clean beaters, whip the egg whites on medium-high speed, adding the sugar by tablespoons until soft peaks form. Keep the egg yolk, cream and meringue separate until ready to serve.

– To assemble, pour the yolk mixture into a large bowl. Fold in a small amount of whipped cream to lighten it, then fold in the remaining cream. Fold in the egg whites. Generously dust the top with nutmeg; serve immediately.

Serves 12.

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4 thoughts on “flavors of the season

  1. Man, I feel like we are in some kind of holiday mind-meld here. Erin brought over some store-bought egg nog last night to decorate our tree, and we were just discussing how store-bought egg nog is better than home-made egg nog, ’cause it allows us to forget that the stuff is made out of, umm, raw beaten eggs. Maybe you can help us get over the creep factor by explaining it away Alton-Brown style?

    • hi Emily! I wondered if I’d have a hard time with “raw” eggs in eggnog. My answer is no. A few thoughts:
      – if you don’t see it made, you’ll forget there’s raw egg in there. It certainly doesn’t taste or look like raw egg.
      – The egg whites are whipped into meringue, which makes frequent non-gross appearances on pies and in cookies. Also in drinks like the pisco sour.
      – We eat runny yolks all the time in eggs, don’t we?
      – The booze kills any bacteria.
      – This is so processed and cream laden there’s nothing raw about it.

    • Hi Lisa. This is a good one, though probably more labor intense than other recipes out there. Let me know how yours goes!

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