Imagine the scene: you've got the fire lit (ok, you've put the radiators on), you're blasting out Bing Crosby and you're warming your hands on a festive drink. But what drink will it be? Will you be sipping on a hot mulled wine, or an indulgently creamy eggnog?
And speaking of which, what exactly is eggnog? If you break it down into ingredients, you're looking at eggs, sugar, cream, milk and alcohol. And if you thought it was an American thing, let us be the first to correct you.
In fact, eggnog has origins in Medieval England, when posset (a drink made from hot milk curdled with ale or wine, and then sweetened and spiced) was enjoyed by the masses. These days, it seems like eggnog has a firmer place in the hearts of Americans than us Brits, though. If you're turned off by the idea of it, remember that it is essentially made from the same components as ice cream. Doesn't sound so bad now, eh?
If you fancy giving eggnog a whirl this year, read on for our tips on how to make it from home, using this basic recipe:
100ml rum or bourbon whisky
75g caster sugar
100ml sweet sherry
450ml single cream
1. WHAT DO YOU DO WITH THE EGGS?
This is the tricky part – the 'egg' in 'eggnog'. Recipes vary broadly, but for the most part, eggs are separated before the yolks are whisked with sugar until thick and creamy. The egg whites are also whisked up with sugar, but only do this when you are about to serve your eggnog – stir them in at the end for that light, frothy texture.
2. CREAM OR MILK… OR BOTH?
Some recipes create eggnog that is almost dessert-like in consistency, while other variations resemble boozy milkshakes. In America, half-and-half (half cream, half milk) is a popular solution – though in some cases condensed milk is used as a substitute for both. For a pleasant not-too-rich eggnog, try mixing roughly equal quantities of both milk and cream. Whether you use single or double cream entirely comes down to personal preference. Stir this into your egg yolk and sugar mixture until it's properly mixed.
3. Choose your tipple
What's your liquor? Will it be brandy, Cognac, bourbon, whisky, sherry or rum? Bourbon is popular Stateside, but rum or brandy work very well (and don't pack as much of a punch). How much you decide to add to your creamy egg-and-cream mix depends on how strong (or mellow) you like it.
4. What else can you add?
Again, this depends on your own personal preference – you could add cinnamon, but nutmeg seems to be the most popular, classic choice. Simply grate it in, to taste, and you're ready to serve! So there it is – eggnog, the traditional way.