There are all sorts of approaches to eggnog, but our favorite is to make a custard base, add some spice and bourbon, brandy or rum, and enrich with some whipped cream. It’s thick but delightfully drinkable. Serve very cold.
do ahead Eggnog can be made up to four days ahead, but add whipped cream no more than a few hours before serving. Stir as needed.
7 cups whole milk
10 egg yolks
11⁄2 cups sugar
3 cups heavy cream, divided
11⁄2 tablespoons vanilla extract
2 cups bourbon, rum or brandy
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, plus more for garnish
8 cinnamon sticks
1 In a large mixing bowl, combine egg yolks and sugar and beat until mixture thickens and turns pale yellow.
2 Add milk to a 4-quart pot and over moderately high heat, scald milk to just below boiling. Working very gradually at first, add milk to egg-sugar mixture, whisking constantly. Once you’ve added about a third of the milk, you can add the rest more quickly.
3 Return mixture to pot over low heat and cook, constantly stirring, until mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. If you’re using a thermometer, shoot for a temperature of 170°. Remove from heat, and immediately transfer mixture back to the mixing bowl. Add 1 cup heavy cream, vanilla, bourbon and nutmeg and mix well. Allow to cool and transfer to refrigerator. Chill for at least 6 hours.
4 Just prior to serving, whip 2 cups heavy cream until soft peaks form and fold into custard mixture. Transfer eggnog to a pitcher. Divide between glasses and serve with a cinnamon stick and some grated nutmeg on top.
yields 3 quarts