In those dark days long ago, when I was still afraid of the kitchen, I avoided eggnog like the plague because it always seemed to come from a paper carton at the supermarket and tasted like... well... like you would need a whole lotta Bourbon to soften the blow. As you can imagine, that type of thing couldn't go on, so I got out there and tried a few recipes, and there emerged something so divine, so transcendent, so smooth and creamy and I've-died-and-gone-to-heaven good, that I look forward to the holidays every year just so I have a chance to make this eggnog again. Don't get me wrong - I *really* love getting together with my family, eating, laughing and exchanging presents; but in the back of my mind - in the very back, where chocolate and creme brulee and tarte tatins dwell, the thought of this eggnog gives me a warm glow until the time when I can rush to the stove and stir and stir and pour and then drink (ahhhh) and then I get a warm glow of an entirely different kind.
(serves 6-8 small cups)
Note: Because everyone prefers a different bite to their eggnog (and some, like me, drink it without alcohol - I know, the shame!), I like to pour the eggnog into small cups and let each guest add his or her own choice of spirits. You can do this, or you can just mix in about a cup full of rum, brandy or Bourbon before serving.
2 cups of milk, divided
6 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
1 cup cold whipping cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tablespoon sugar
Brandy, Bourbon, dark rum
In a small, heavy bottomed saucepan, whisk together the egg yolks, 1 cup of milk and 1 cup of sugar. Simmer on low for about 8-10 minutes, stirring often, until slightly thickened. If it's not thickening, turn up the heat a little, stirring constantly so as not to cook the eggs. Remove from heat, stir in the remaining cup of milk and let cool. Pass cooled mixture through a fine-mesh sieve (to get rid of any errant cooked egg yolks) - this is a very important step!
Whip heavy cream, sugar and vanilla extract to soft peaks.
If desired, stir in 1 cup of brandy, Bourbon or dark rum right before serving. Serve in small cups with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg. Can be served very cold, but it's also really good when it's just slightly warm.