I have a thing about traditions, especially at Christmastime. It was pretty important to me that there would be plenty of predictable things for my kids to look forward to each holiday season—going out to the tree farm the day after Thanksgiving, opening up a box on their advent tree every day, figuring out the Christmas wrapping theme for the year, and the list goes on. However, this time of year isn’t just for children and adults need special treats to anticipate as well! My eggnog recipe is a variation on a Martha Stewart recipe I found years ago and to say it’s boozy is an understatement. A once-a-year treat, this creamy, rich concoction is such a special tradition that I found a small milk glass punch bowl with matching cups whose sole purpose is to hold this spiked drink on Christmas Eve!
Christmas Eve Eggnog
1 quart whole milk
1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
12 large egg yolks
2 cups sugar, divided
½ teaspoon salt
1½ cups golden rum
½ cup brandy
1 pint heavy cream
1 whole nutmeg
In a medium saucepan, heat milk and vanilla bean halves. Bring to a simmer, remove from heat, cover and allow vanilla bean to steep for 30 minutes. Remove vanilla bean and with a spoon (a grapefruit spoon works really well for this), scrape the seeds out and add them to the milk.
Combine egg yolks, 1½ cups sugar, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat at medium-high speed until very thick and pale yellow, about 3 to 5 minutes.
Return milk to a simmer. Add half the warm milk to the egg mixture, whisking on low until well blended. Pour egg mixture into the warm milk. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens slightly and coats the back of a spoon, about 7 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Pass mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl. Chill completely in refrigerator or over an ice bath.
Add rum and brandy to chilled egg mixture, mix well and refrigerate. Whip cream with remaining ½ cup sugar until stiff. Gently fold into egg-milk mixture. Transfer cooled eggnog into a small punch bowl. Grate whole nutmeg over the top and serve. Makes about 20 servings