Twice as Tasty

Homemade Shaken Eggnog

Homemade eggnog surpasses store-bought cartons in texture and flavor and comes together quickly when shaken, not beaten

By Julie Laing
Photo by Julie Laing.

Of the endless ways to make eggnog from scratch, every version I have tried is decidedly better than any premixed carton. Instead of overly sweet, milkshake-like packaged eggnog, the drink balances richness and softness in each sip.

I used to make eggnog by beating the egg yolks, whites and cream separately and then folding them with the alcohol. This makes a thick, rich mix – and a lot of dishes. I can justify the mess for a half-dozen or so cocktails, but I’ve switched to a shaken version for just a couple of drinks. The finished texture is more delicate but ready in a snap. I find dry shaking most effective at emulsifying the egg and alcohol and that following it with a wet shake chills without separating the ingredients.

For dairy, I prefer the richness of whole milk and cream, but I’ve made this recipe with whatever I have on hand, from 2% milk to half-and-half to entirely heavy cream. Expect texture changes when using more or less fat.

The alcohol can be mixer’s choice too. White rum and brandy form a classic pairing, or try white and dark rum, spiced rum and bourbon or aged rum and whiskey. I’ve even had delicious eggnog that blends tequila with sherry. For a virgin version, leave out the booze and consider swapping in organic brown sugar for more complex flavor.

Whenever working with raw eggs, I recommend fresh ones from a well-kept flock. You can pasteurize eggs at home, but it’s finicky work to heat without cooking. You can also substitute refrigerated or frozen commercially pasteurized eggs, but they’re called “egg product” for a reason. Once removed from their shells, they go through several processing steps, beyond pasteurization, and often contain additives. The extra processing and ingredients can make them difficult to froth and stiffen.

To sterilize raw eggs, you can also make eggnog at least 24 hours in advance and reshake it just before serving. Scientists at Rockefeller University found (in what sounds like a fabulous experiment) that bacteria can’t stand up to a mixture of raw eggs and 20% alcohol and that homemade eggnog was completely sterile after 24 hours. You can even age the eggnog longer; some people refrigerate it for up to a year, arguing it mellows and enhances the flavors. My homemade eggnog never lasts that long.

Homemade Shaken Eggnog

Serves 2

2 eggs

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (optional)

6 ounces whole milk

4 ounces heavy cream

2 ounces white rum

2 ounces brandy

Ice for shaking

Freshly grated nutmeg to taste

Combine the eggs, sugar, vanilla if using, milk, cream, white rum and brandy in a cocktail shaker. Vigorously dry shake the mixture until well blended and frothy. Add the ice and shake again until chilled. Divide between two glasses, sprinkle with freshly grated nutmeg and serve immediately.

Julie Laing is a Bigfork-based cookbook author and food blogger at TwiceAsTasty.com.

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