By Linda Ditch on December 18, 2019

The Love-Hate Relationship with Eggnog

When it seems like the rest of the world is celebrating pumpkin spice season, I start looking for eggnog in my grocer’s dairy case. I love eggnog, especially the one made by Kansas’s Hildebrand Farms Dairy. To me, it’s a sure sign the holidays have arrived. However, there are people who feel equally negative when it comes to eggnog. Is it possible to find a way everyone can enjoy this seasonal beverage?

Let’s start with a history lesson. Eggnog is thought to be a descendent of a medieval European beverage called posset, which was made with hot milk and strong ale. (Nog was an old English term for ale.) Eggnog as we know it was enjoyed first by the upper classes in England since milk, eggs and brandy were expensive. However, in America, the beverage was enjoyed by everyone since dairy products were abundant and people used rum from the Caribbean instead of expensive European spirits.

Many home cooks are fearful when it comes to making homemade eggnog since the traditional recipe uses raw eggs. If you want to go this route, make sure you use the freshest eggs possible. There are also pasteurized eggs available at most stores.

However, there are delicious cooked eggnog recipes that eliminate this worry. The egg and milk mixture will need to reach at least 160 degrees. (You’ll know you’re there when it coats the back of a spoon.) Then pop it immediately into the refrigerator.

Of course, vanilla and nutmeg give eggnog a delicious flavor, but many people enjoy a little liquor added to their drink. Like the early Americans, rum is a good choice, as is brandy and whiskey. Kahlúa and Baileys Irish Cream are also popular, but consider adding a Kansas-made spirit, such as whiskey or rum from Wheat State Distilling in Wichita.

For people who swear they hate eggnog, try a chocolate version. Or add some pumpkin pie spices to the traditional recipe. Then top it with some whipped cream. I bet they’ll change their mind.

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  • Linda Ditch

    Linda Ditch

    Linda Ditch is a food writer who inherited her love of cooking from her dad. She learned most of her cooking skills watching her grandmother cook in her farmhouse kitchen, and from TV chefs like Julia Child, Jacques Pippen and Graham Kerr. Her work appears regularly in KANSAS! Magazine and Topeka Magazine. You can... Read more