When it comes to eggnog, people either love it or hate it. For some, it's a sweet, sticky mess best reserved for the children's table at holiday parties. For others, it's a must-have for any Christmas gathering, the frothy, spicy drink creating a holiday memory with each rich sip. Whichever side you and your holiday guests pick, it's always a lot easier to get people to drink the traditional beverage when it actually tastes good. That means skipping the bland supermarket brands and concocting the real stuff from scratch. Eggnog is traditionally made from milk, sugar and whipped eggs. But don't let that stop you from adding a personal or international touch. Below are five recipes for eggnog. Choose wisely, or make them all.
1. Traditional Eggnog: Here's the drink you remember from your childhood. TV chef Alton Brown's version is a tad complicated, but it really rates with Food Network fans. To start, beat four egg yolks until they lighten in color. Add 1/3 cup of sugar until it is completely dissolved. Add 1 pint of whole milk, 1 cup of heavy cream, and a pinch of nutmeg; stir. Put the remaining four egg whites in a bowl and whip until stuff peaks form. Use a medium saucepan over high heat to warm milk, cream and nutmeg mixture. Remove from heat and gradually pour into the egg and sugar mixture. Return to pot and cook until it reaches 160 degrees F. Remove from heat, add three ounces bourbon and put in secure container for refrigerator. Once cold, whisk the egg whites into the drink, then serve. Serves six.
2. Vegan Eggnog: If you are skipping traditional dairy products, coconut milk or almond milk are good substitutes. To make this Vegan Eggnog from The Roasted Root, first soak and drain 1 cup of raw, unsalted cashews. Blend with 2 cups of water, 1 14-ounce can of coconut milk, a tablespoon of maple syrup, eight pitted dates, a teaspoon of nutmeg and a pinch of salt. Continue blending until the dates have been chopped into pieces and the drink has a uniform consistency. Refrigerate until cold. Serves four.
3. Coquito, or Puerto Rican Eggnog: Puerto Rico has given the U.S. Roberto Clemente, Jennifer Lopez and Rosie Perez. But perhaps the best thing from the land of salsa and bomba is coquito, an island import you won't want to live without once you try it. To start, blend two 12-ounce cans of evaporated milk, one 15 ounce can of cream of coconut, one can of 13.5 ounces coconut milk, 1/2 cup of condensed milk, a tablespoon of vanilla extract and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon. To make it alcoholic, add 1/2 cup of white rum. Chill until cold. Garnish each glass with cinnamon sticks if desired. This Goya recipe serves six.
4. Rompope, or Mexican Eggnog. What tacos are to sandwiches, rompope is to eggnog. This Central American version of the familiar American drink is tastier and more fun to share with your friends and relatives. Like the spiciest of hot sauces, rompope packs a punch, but it's worth it. To make this rompope recipe from Serious Eats, pulse 2/3 cup of blanched almonds into a fine paste. Bring 6 cups of milk, 2 cinnamon sticks, the rind of one lemon, one teaspoon of vanilla extract and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda to a boil over medium-high before simmering it for up to 20 minutes over medium-low heat. Remove from heat. In a large bowl, whisk eight egg yolks, 1 1/2 cups of sugar and almonds until thick. Remove cinnamon stick and lemon rind from milk, then whisk the warm liquid into the yolk mixture. Return to low heat, stirring constantly until it is thick enough to coat back of a spoon, or about six minutes. Cool for about two hours. Stir in one cup of rum or aquadiente. Serves eight.
5. Chocolate Eggnog. Leave it to domestic diva Martha Stewart to upgrade eggnog by adding another holiday favorite: chocolate. First, heat 2 quarts whole milk, 1 3/4 cups of sugar, a pinch of salt, one vanilla bean and four cinnamon sticks in a large pot over medium-high heat, stirring until the mixture is heated through and the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let it rest for 30 minutes. Whisk 12 egg yolks into a medium bowl for about two minutes. Whisk one cup of the milk mixture into the yolks in a slow, steady stream. Combine rest of milk and yolk mixtures and cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, for about 6 minutes. Do not boil. Remove from heat, add five ounces melted bittersweet chocolate and three ounces melted milk chocolate, stirring until combined. Toss the vanilla pod and cinnamon sticks. Let mixture cool, stirring often. You're still not done. Now, whisk two cups heavy cream until soft peaks form. Pour drink into a large serving bowl and add 1 1/4 cups of brandy if you're trying to get your relatives a little tipsy. Top with whipped cream, grated nutmeg and a pinch of cayenne. If that isn't decadent enough, Martha recommends serving the chocolate eggnog with warm churros, because she thinks of everything. Serves 12.