Why It Works
- Using only egg yolks sets this apart from traditional egg nog and yields a deeper, richer flavor.
- The recipe can be customized with spice additions or a different combination of spirits.
When I was a kid, Dutch relatives would bring my family all the treats that were hard to find here in the States. My favorite was hagelslag, which are candy sprinkles that you put on buttered bread. (Boxes of hagelslag guaranteed that I would be allowed to eat candy for breakfast.) The grownups, however, got all excited about an ochre-colored liqueur called advocaat. It looked like an avocado-and-mustard milkshake to me, so when they'd pour themselves a big glass for Christmas, I was never tempted to sneak a sip. After all, these were the same adults who'd rave about salty black licorice, which I knew for a fact was the worst thing I'd ever tasted.
When I finally became an adult myself, my uncle convinced me to try some advocaat. He assured me that no mustard and avocados were involved. I braced myself for something weird, especially since its consistency is more pudding-like than liqueur-like. But I was pleasantly surprised. Advocaat tastes like a creamy brandy custard. Though it's often called "Dutch eggnog," advocaat uses only the egg yolks, so it has a deeper and richer flavor than what you're probably accustomed to. While it's certainly not a low-calorie drink, it doesn't seem as heavy on the palate as holiday drinks made with milk and cream. So my family was right about advocaat, and in recent years I've mixed some every Christmas. (Note: I'm still convinced that they're wrong about salty black licorice.)
What's Available to Buy?
I've never seen advocaat in an American liquor store, but I've heard that some shops will carry Bols or Warninks. I've also seen Herman Jansen and Cooymans available online. There are other brands throughout the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany, but they don't seem to be imported in any large quantity. If you are able to find a bottled brand at the liquor store, it's usually about $20, but ordering it from outside the US seems to double that price. Waiting for a Dutch relative to visit me still seems like the easiest way to get a bottle of advocaat without paying through the nose.
I've tried Bols and Warninks, and they are indeed delicious. But nothing beats homemade. Aside from a longer shelf-life, I don't see any benefit to tracking down commercial advocaat. (I'm also a bit wary of how exactly manufacturers get such a long shelf life from a product made with egg yolks.) You can scale the recipe to make whatever size batch you want, so storage isn't really an issue anyway.
I like being able to make this with fresh local eggs, which is not something you're guaranteed when buying a commercial product. Advocaat is easy to make and it should be refrigerated a while before serving, so you can make it ahead or even bottle some up to give as a holiday gift.
Since advocaat is basically boozy custard, you can personalize the recipe in any number of creative ways. I like to keep mine simple with only a pinch of cinnamon and some vanilla, but you could add in any of the traditional holiday spices for a bolder flavor. You could even get creative with some fruit flavors or use honey instead of sugar.
I use a mixture of brandy and vodka in my recipe, but you could use just one of those spirits or try whiskey or rum. Some say that advocaat was originally made with avocados in Suriname and that they subbed in egg yolks since avocados weren't readily available in the Netherlands. So you could even try a vegan version made with avocados. (Even though I'm semi-fluent in Dutch, I didn't know that advocaatpeer is the Dutch word for avocado. Advocaat means lawyer, so I was always told the name came from the fact that the drink was invented by a lawyer. That makes less sense than the Dutch importing avocados from Suriname.)
A small chilled glass of advocaat topped with a dollop of whipped cream is still my favorite way to enjoy this holiday treat. You can also serve it warm with coffee. The Snowball seems to be the most popular mixed drink made with advocaat—just mix one part advocaat and three parts sparkling lemonade, poured over ice in a Collins glass. You can also mix it with some whiskey and bitters for a (very strong) drink called a Jack Torrance.
It's basically a dessert anyway, so why not spoon it on some cake or ice cream? You can even bake an advocaat cake or make advocaat and pear muffins.
10 fresh egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon (more or less to taste)
1 cup brandy
2/3 cup vodka
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Fill a medium saucepan with 1 inch of water and bring to a simmer over high heat. Reduce to low. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the salt, sugar, and cinnamon until sugar is dissolved and mixture falls from whisk in creamy pale yellow ribbons, about 4 minutes. Whisking continuously, pour in liquor.
Place bowl over simmering water and cook, whisking continuously, until mixture is thick enough to form a coat on the back of a spoon, about 8 minutes total. (If using thermometer, mixture should reach at least 130°F (54°C)).
Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla. Pour into a sealable glass container and refrigerate for a minimum of 6 hours before serving. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.
Though this recipe does cook the yolks somewhat, if you are concerned about salmonella, use pasteurized eggs. You can substitute all brandy or all vodka (or even whiskey or rum) in place of the vodka-brandy combination in this recipe.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 3 to 4|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 13g||17%|
|Saturated Fat 4g||22%|
|Total Carbohydrate 68g||25%|
|Dietary Fiber 0g||0%|
|Total Sugars 67g|
|Vitamin C 0mg||0%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|