Eggnog is a popular traditional beverage enjoyed typically during the holidays. The deliciously rich and uniquely different drink is as varied and unique as its history. The holiday drink presently enjoyed by many is a departure from its very humble beginnings of what was consumed during medieval Europe. Many believed eggnog originated from a drink that was called posset, which was a mixture of cream or milk, eggs and spirits. The brew was popular among the aristocracy, because only the upper classes could afford to make it. Eggs, milk and cream were particularly expensive, as was liquor.
Even after the concoction crossed the Atlantic, it was consumed largely by those who had dairy cows. The drink gained popularity among the many dairy farmers, it was readily available, plentiful, and widely consumed. It was noted that during George Washington’s time, he entertained his guests and celebrated the holidays with large quantities of eggnog. The egg cream mixed with alcohol grew in popularity and quickly became synonymous with holiday celebration by the mid-nineteenth century.
The basic and very traditional version of eggnog consisted of raw eggs, milk, sugar and different spices. Heavy cream was added to make the drink thicker, and for those who wanted to indulge in a beverage with more of a kick, alcohol was added. The history of eggnog past has become blurred, lost through time as it exchanged hands, cultures, and time, eggnog has evolved, and egg yolks are now cooked with milk to eliminate any potential health hazard from the use of raw eggs, or egg substitutes can be used, which blend and work well. For those with allergies to dairy products, eggnog can be made with soy milk or other non-daily products.
Eggnog of today, though typically enjoyed during the end of the year holidays, is a cherished holiday beverage that can be enjoyed by many any time of the year. It is noted that eggnog can supply as much calcium as milk, and it also provides protein. Enjoying a sip of light eggnog rather than regular eggnog, and forgo the rum will save on calories. The basic recipe consists of egg yolks separated, sugar, heavy cream and milk, freshly grated nutmeg to taste, and light rum or cognac. The egg yolks, sugar, heavy cream and milk, are cooked into a custard-like consistency, the alcohol of choice is added, and topped with a whipped cream and nutmeg. All ingredients are mixed in well and chilled. The possibilities and variations are endless, and the creations are limited only by your imagination. A little vanilla or almond extract added in lifts the flavor to a delicate sweet flavor, whole cloves can be added in while the eggnog is simmering, then removed after the mixture is heated through. Cinnamon adds an exotic twist, and when combined with other spices makes a very delightful yuletide drink that can be enjoyed anytime of the year. Holiday tradition calls for eggnog spiked with any combination of rum, whiskey, bourbon, cognac, or brandy to taste. There is even a German interpretation of the drink made with beer.
Eggnog is not just for drinking, the eggnog flavor can be infused into many different recipes, such as pies, cakes, cupcakes, puddings, and even pancakes. Eggnog flavored frappe is a deliciously rich blended drink that can be enjoyed at any time. From baked goods to frappes, from blended coffees to ice cream, eggnog is a holiday tradition that is not just for holidays.