By trying classic recipes I’ve long known about from Dickens and Shakespeare, but never tasted, I’ve been exploring the spirit of Christmases past. I’ve so far been wary of drinks containing eggs and dairy produce, but I decided it was time to give them a try.
Eggnog – a descendant of medieval posset, a mixture of ale, eggs and hot milk – takes its name from the practice of adding beaten egg to a noggin (a wooden mug) of beer. Since the 17th century, rum and brandy have become the mixers of choice rather than beer.
A quick-and-easy, cold eggnog can be made by mixing all the ingredients (see recipe, below) in a shaker with some ice, but this misses the point, like cold cocoa.
The recipe I’ve given here requires whisking and washing-up but the sweet-smelling froth, like snowdrifts flecked with nutmeg, is worth the effort. Adjust the sugar and cream according to taste. Eggnog is a soft, fluffy drink with a deep concealed bite. Think of a cashmere cardigan wrapped around a crocodile.
Me, I’m an eggnog convert. On tasting it, it was as though I’d discovered a secret recipe for home-made Baileys. It’s that good.
How to make eggnog
- 1 egg
- 4 tsp caster sugar
- 120ml (4fl oz) milk
- 30ml (1fl oz) double cream
- 60ml (2fl oz) brandy
- Grated nutmeg to taste
Separate the egg yolk and white. In a large bowl, beat the yolk with half the caster sugar.
In another bowl, whisk the egg white with the remaining sugar until frothy.
Gently warm the milk and cream in a pan, but do not boil. Pour the brandy and heated milk/cream over the yolk, stir, then fold in the egg white with a spatula.
Serve in a sturdy glass, topped with grated nutmeg.