I always thought I hated eggnog, because until a couple of years ago, I had only ever had the store-bought stuff. I bear no ill will towards those who passionately love those cartons of pre-made nog, but might I humbly suggest you step away from that holiday display and instead mosey on over to the plain ol’ dairy isle where you can stock up on the fixings for this highly delicious homemade eggnog.
Never one to blindly follow a recipe (unless it’s from the Barefoot Contessa because, let’s be real, it’s hard to improve upon those classic gems), I started with a simple Martha Stewart recipe and ran with it. Although I’m not at all squeamish about using raw eggs in cocktails, I opted for a cooked, custard-based nog for two reasons: 1. it keeps better in the fridge, allowing for easy gifting to neighbors and coworkers and 2. custard is one of the most stunning culinary inventions ever, and I believe it should be incorporated into recipes whenever remotely possible.
And as for the added flavor: some freshly grated nutmeg for that familiar aroma, a dash of maple extract (my new favorite addition to buttercream and pancake batter) and a healthy dram of bourbon to warm you up. I defy you to restrain yourself to a healthy serving of this stuff.
Maple Bourbon Eggnog
adapted from Martha Stewart
• 3 cups milk
• 5 large egg yolks
• 3/4 cup sugar
• 2 cups heavy cream
• 1/2 cup bourbon
• 1/8 tsp maple extract
• grated nutmeg
1. Scald two cups milk. I like to do it in the microwave because it’s easier, but feel free to do it on the stove for the sake of tradition, if you prefer. Meanwhile, whisk 5 large egg yolks and 3/4 cup sugar on medium-high until very thick and pale yellow, 3 to 5 minutes.
2. Pour the scalded milk into a medium saucepan, then add half the scalded milk to the yolk mixture and whisk until blended. Stir into remaining milk and cook, stirring constantly over medium-low heat until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. You’ll know it’s ready when you can draw a line through the custard with your finger and the mixture doesn’t run.
3. Remove from heat and pour into a medium mixing bowl. Immediately stir in 1 cup heavy cream, then let cool for about 5 minutes. Stir in another 1 cup milk, 1/2 cup bourbon (or more!) and 1/8 tsp of maple extract—this stuff really goes a long way. Grate some whole nutmeg over the top, as much or as little as you prefer, and refrigerate overnight to really let the flavors meld.
4. When you’re ready to serve it, whip the other 1 cup of heavy cream to soft peaks and top each mug of eggnog with a big dollop. Garnish with a bit more grated nutmeg.