Cooking Tips · Ingredients

Eggnog — Love it or Hate it?

Where do you fall on the scale concerning eggnog? Do you love it or hate it or are you in the middle? I am not a huge fan but I was making some White Chocolate Eggnog Truffles and I must say that flavor did well in that preparation. In this Cooking Tip, let’s delve into eggnog and what it really is.

According to The New Food Lover’s Companion, authentic eggnog is “a homogenous blend of milk or cream, beaten eggs, sugar, nutmeg and usually a liquor.”

Proponents of fresh eggnog over store-bought claim the flavor and thick texture are superior in fresh and that those characteristics come from real eggs. The FDA defines eggnog as “a milk product consisting of a mixture of milk or milk products of at least 6.0 percent butterfat, at least 1.0 percent egg yolk solids, sweetener, and flavoring. Emulsifier and not over 0.5 percent stabilizer may be added.” That is not a lot of egg in the store-bought version. Since eggs can be expensive, companies will use the least they can to get the product they want. There are also thickeners added such as carrageenan, guar gum, and locust bean gum.

Also, a great homemade eggnog is foamy from the beaten eggs, something you won’t get with a commercial product. By law, the store-bought products must be pasteurized, which changes the flavor and texture. Finally, commercial versions are generally sweeter than homemade.

If you want to try homemade eggnog but are wary of the raw eggs, you can buy pasteurized eggs or cook the eggnog.

Some sources looked a little closer into this issue. As we all know, the FDA warns against consuming products with uncooked, unpasteurized eggs. According to a story on Chowhound, the writers say that the alcohol that is classic in eggnog will kill harmful bacteria. The recipe sited in this article contained more than 20% alcohol.

Serious Eats also looked at this issue. They quote a laboratory study showed that eggnog containing at least 20% alcohol will be sterile after 24 hours.

Recipes will differ in types of dairy used – milk, cream or a mixture. Some recipes call for using just egg yolks whereas others will start with the yolks, beat the egg whites separately and fold them in at the end. Others will add whipped cream to finish. Some have alcohol and some do not although without the alcohol, there is more of a concern for consuming raw eggs.

Nutmeg is classic but some recipes may add other flavorings such as cinnamon and vanilla. I even saw an interesting recipe from Jamie Oliver for chocolate eggnog with cardamon and cloves.

There is something called “aged eggnog”. According to the above referenced story on Chowhound, as eggnog ages, chemical reactions occur causing a blending of flavors. Other effects are that the color becomes more golden and the texture thickens. They say that the longer it ages, the mellower it becomes.

In the Serious Eats discussion, they did a taste test with three samples (one aged, two not aged), the un-aged eggnog was unanimously preferred. They felt that the aged product was stronger, even medicinal, in flavor. If you read this article through, you will see that there is a great difference of opinion on which is best. As with many things, taste is very personal.

So, are you a fan of eggnog or not? Do you buy it or make your own?

Let me know your thoughts!