Eggnog may be second only to fruitcake as a holiday punchline. And why not? It comes up most often as an explanation for otherwise inexplicable behavior at office parties, and the pre-made version in most grocery stores resembles an opaque, insipid quart of 10W-30 motor oil. For the first 30 or so years of my life, I never gave much eggnog much thought. Then, thanks to a lucky day at Myopic Books, the Gourmet's Guide to New Orleans came into my life. The name is misleadingit is, in fact, a Junior League cookbook. Charleston Receipts is probably the most famous Junior League cookbook, but as a rule, they are worth keeping an eye out for when you trawl the cookbook section at your favorite used book store. My copy is the 13th edition, from 1955, but I don't know when the eggnog recipe became part of the collection. After I read the recipe, I knew immediately I had to make it:
You'll notice a complete absence of any redeeming ingredient. There is a perverse genius in presenting this concoction as something that adults might make and serve to one another. So I made it. It became a holiday party staple. Nobody asks for it at Labor Day, but about once a year, it has its place.
As you approach the end of the gauntlet of holiday parties, I urge you to make this recipe. I would offer a few notes on Mrs. Steven Pierre Cottreaux' recipe:
- 6 tablespoons sugar total is plenty
- Resist the temptation to exercise your whiskey snobberya decent Bourbon or Tennessee whiskey is fine. Save the good stuff for a highball glass and maybe an ice cube
- On the other hand, get the best eggs you canI used some very fresh local eggs this year, and the difference was a revelation. The whites whip up much more stiffly, which means that when they are added to the other ingredients, they add a much-needed dose of ethereality to a mixture of cream, egg yolks, and liquor
- A whole nutmeg Microplaned over each serving is a nice touch
- Consider raising your 'nog in a toast to the good cooks of New Orleans, past, present, and future
- 12 eggs
- 1 quart best whiskey
- 1 quart heavy cream
- 1 quart milk
- 8 to 12 ounces rum
- 8 tablespoons sugar
- 4 tablespoons to be added to beaten white
Beat yolks very light, sift in sugar, and beat vigorously. Stir in whiskey, cream, and milk. Fold in the stiffly beaten whites. Put in refrigerator until ready to serve. Extra whiskey may be used if the flavor of rum is not desired. This may be made the day before.