Christmas and The Great Need for Eggs
When the weather started turning cold, the Woman began saving all the eggs. Every day she brought their favorite treats and entreated them to work hard at laying eggs, because it was almost Christmas. Now Penny knew what was going on, because she remembered last year! Penny had been pecking around by the back door and when the dog was let out, she decided to go in where it was nice and warm! No one had noticed as she quietly strutted through the house, exploring the rooms. She could smell lovely things cooking in the kitchen, like cranberries, and gingerbread. Then she spied The Woman sitting in another room on a large sofa, and Penny just went over and hopped into her lap.
“Well, isn’t this a surprise! Who let you in?” She said cheerfully.
Penny clucked a warm greeting in return and cocked her head to one side to get a good look at a bright red cup she was holding. Whatever was inside smelled very very good. Then the doorbell chimed and when the woman got up to see who was there, she put the cup down on the table. Penny, always an opportunistic eater, hopped onto the table and peered into the cup. She immediately decided to sample the beverage which turned out to be delicious eggnog full of rum, cinnamon, cream and nutmeg. She got as much as she could before getting caught.
“Well, Penny!” Laughed The Woman. It looks like you’ve discovered what I use all the eggs for. Would you like the recipe?"
Penny, of course, can’t make it, but here is the recipe for you to enjoy!
1 Quart of whole milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
12 egg yolks
2 cups white sugar
1 cup dark rum
2 cups bourbon
1 cup cognac or brandy
1 quart whipping cream
4 cups half and half
Freshly grated nutmeg
In a heavy medium-sized saucepan, bring the quart of whole milk to barely a boil (that is, scald).
Separate eggs and discard the egg whites (unless you have some other use for them like lemon meringue pie!)
Get the water simmering under your double boiler. If you don't have one, get a short wide pot and fill it halfway with water, then prop your large stock pot in that. I know you have a large stock pot. In the top, whisk together the sugar and egg yolks, for about 1 minute, until the mixture is thick and smooth.
Now gradually whisk the scalded milk into the whisked eggs and sugar, all while the double boiler, or a reasonable facsimile of one, is simmering away. Stir constantly all around the bottom and the inside curve with a rubber spatula. The mixture will foam up a bit. Don’t cook it too fast or the eggs will curdle. The foam will subside, then it will begin to look thick and custard like, after about 12-15 minutes. You know it is done when it solidly coats the back of a wooden spoon.
Remove mixture from heat.
Set a large heatproof bowl into the sink and pack ice around it. Place a fine mesh strainer over the bowl and ladle the mixture through the strainer. When it is nice and cool, add in the vanilla, and liquor, and nutmeg. Cover and refrigerate overnight or up to three days to ripen the flavors and allow most of the alcohol to evaporate.
*Note- to make a batch for children, add half and half in place of the alcohol.
To Serve: Pour the base custard into a large punch bowl. Beat the whipping cream with your electric mixer with 3 tablespoons of sugar or more to taste, add a bit of vanilla if you like. Beat until it forms stiff peaks. Then gently fold the whipped cream into the base. I then add a bit of half and half to get the right consistency, not too thick and heavy, not to thin. Sprinkle freshly grated nutmeg on top and serve with little punch cups.
Best to use medium or large eggs from healthy chickens. Cheaper eggs are small and the yolks break too easily.
I crack the egg into my hand and hold the yolk, while letting the whites flow into a bowl, then I put the yolk right into the top of the double boiler.
I use a heavy tri-ply stainless steel stock pot jammed into a slightly larger diameter stainless steel pan to form my giant double boiler. This allows me to make a double batch quite handily.
During the cooking, keep the heat low or the eggs curdle.
Do not use pre-ground nutmeg. Just don’t.