A Timely Repeat from the ol’ livejournal…

In this festive yuletide season, I feel that it is time to finally share a family secret. Therefore,  I present the recipe for the Adams Family Egg Nog!

People have hounded me for this recipe for years, and I have jealously guarded it as have generations of my family. However, in these times of strife and non-representative politics, joy should not be hoarded, should not be locked in a dingy recipe box.   No…joy should be shared. I need to warn you, however, this is a recipe that is prepared to taste.  This means, of course, that if you haven’t tried Adams Egg Nog, you may have a bit of trouble with this recipe…however, I will do my best to illuminate.

The first thing you need to know is that the taste referred to in “to taste” has absolutely nothing to do with that ill-conceived and unpleasant concoction sold in most grocery stores under the name of egg nog.  That egg nog is bad.  This egg nog is good… very good.  It is also family-friendly.  If you prefer your nog to be prepared irish, you can add a shot of brandy (or bourbon or rum or whiskey) to your glass.

Adams Egg Nog

Ingredients:

  • 1  dozen eggs
  • sugar
  • cinnamon
  • nutmeg
  • vanilla
  • whole milk (vitamin D is nice)
  • 1/2 gallon ice cream
  • 7-quart punch bowl

Image of separated yolks and whites

Step One: Separate one dozen eggs. Add the whites to a large mixing bowl and set the yolks aside.

A few quick notes about the eggs.  These eggs are the base for the nog, and they will not be cooked.  Now, I have enjoyed this recipe for nearly four decades and never suffered the slightest hint of gastrointestinal discomfort. However, as recent news stories have shown, the farther we as a society drift from a system of small, local farmers supplying our produce, the more likely we are to have outbreaks of things such as salmonella on a large scale.  Therefore, I’d like to recommend a trip to your local fancy-pants food dealer to find some pasteurized eggs.  (I’ve always been able to find them at Krogers, Hillers and Jewel, so it needn’t be that fancy.)  You have been warned!   I suppose you could also toss a silver dollar in the bottom of the bowl as they used to do with milk jugs in colonial days…but then people died early in those days so your mileage may vary.  You could also do a weak custard prep of the eggs, but done improperly you end up with egg nog pudding, and that’s no fun.

Remember, when separating the eggs, it is important that you keep the yolk out of the whites.  It doesn’t matter if you spill any whites in the yolk bowl, but the whites won’t whip properly with heavy yolk content.

Image of the whites whipped to a peak

Step Two: Beat the whites to a stiff peak.

For those that don’t beat egg whites regularly, a stiff peak means that you’ve beaten them to the point that the slimy egg whites have become somewhat stiff.  When you pull the beaters out of the mix, a small peak will form and will hold its shape.  The image above shows the eggs beaten to a meringue. That’s too much… don’t do that… it’s not fatal, but will cause the nog to take an extra 30 minutes or so to “ripen”.

Beaten Egg Yolks poured in with Beaten Egg Whites

Step Three: Beat the yolks.

Add the previously beaten whites to the punch bowl and add the yolks to the mixing bowl (no need to wash the bowl).  Turn the mixer on high and beat the yolks until they are smooth, somewhat creamy color (something on the order of #EDE68F).  The yolks will thicken, but not become stiff… sort of like pudding before you stick it in the fridge to firm up.  When you’re satisfied, add the yolks to the punch bowl.  For those that are worried about cholesterol, you can leave out some of the yolks (no less than six for a dozen whites, though).  You can do this, but as the yolks are responsible for the rich yumminess, you’re only cheating yourself.  It’s not like you’ll be drinking this every day of the year, after all.

Nog with Spices added in but not mixed.
Step Four: Add the spices.

This is the point where to taste comes into the picture.  I start with 1.5 cups of granulated sugar, ~2 tablespoons of vanilla and equal amounts of nutmeg and cinnamon to cover the top of the eggs as in the regrettably blurry image above (couple few tablespoons).  Mix them all together with a rubber spatula and taste the nog base. The cinnamon and nutmeg should be in balance.  If you taste one stronger than the other, add more to balance.  The base should taste very sweet, and you should be able to taste a hint of the vanilla.  As per the “best” ingredients to use, I suggest fresh nutmeg (i.e. – the nut and a grater) and real vanilla.  You do not need to resort to vanilla beans, but try to avoid the imitation extract.  Also, cinnamon from a can is fine… don’t go looking for the bark… that would be silly.

Completed Bowl of Nog Ready for the Fridge

Step Five: Add the dairy.

Take your half gallon of ice cream (French Vanilla, New York Vanilla or Golden Vanilla in that order of preference–No need to layout for Hagan Daaz, but don’t by the $0.99 ice-crystal special either), and add it to the bowl.  Grab your gallon jug of whole milk and fill the bowl.  Stir until mixed.  Notice in the image above that the top of the nog appears grainy.  This is because the eggs were beaten until the meringue state… the granules will dissolve as the nog develops, so don’t worry and stick the nog in the fridge.  Walk away for half an hour.

Step Six: Taste Test.

When you arrive back at the fridge, pull out the nog and give it a good stir with the ladle.  Notice that the eggs have begun to dissolve into the milk, and the level has sunk significantly. Add more milk to fill the bowl.  Stir.  Taste.  Not sweet enough, add more sugar (1/4 to 1/2 cup).  Can you still taste the vanilla?  If not, add another tablespoon. Nutmeg and Cinnamon still strong and balanced? When you are satisfied with the taste, put the nog back in the fridge for another half hour.

Step Seven: Enjoy.

Pull the nog from the fridge and have another taste test…good isn’t it?  Invite the friends and family in for a lovely toast… now beat them away from the bowl!  It is supposed to last all evening after all.  I’ve seen  people leave the nog bowl on the counter in a self-serve fashion, but it is best cold (and less germ-friendly), so I recommend keeping it in the fridge except when serving… oh… and if there are leftovers at the end of the evening, pour it in a pitcher… it will be FABULOUS for breakfast!

Happy New Year,

Dave