Lfborjas' Nerdlog

Awesome Eggnog

So this sunday a friend invited me and some other friends to her house to make eggnog. But it wasn’t your run-of-the-mill holiday eggnog, socially acceptable preamble to real alcoholic beverages. Oh no. It was the most awesome eggnog I’ve had in a while, a recipe her dad got from his mother, and must be preserved for posterity. Thus, we bring you, world, the recipe written by her and somewhat expanded by me (couldn’t keep my hands off it). Try it and be flabbergasted!

##Prelude

This recipe will make up to 4 (wine-sized) bottles.

###Ingredients 1. 2.5 liters of milk 2. 2 soup spoons of ungrounded allspice 3. 12 cloves 4. stick cinnamon 5. ground nutmeg 6. vanilla essence 7. 18 egg yolks 8. 0.5 liters of any liquor you wish (we use a brandy called “yuscarán” made in my country, Honduras, which has 38 alcohol degrees) 9. 5 cups of sugar

###Utensils and miscellanea * 2 mid-size saucepans, one for the milk and the other one for the syrup * 1 big saucepan to mix the final product and let it cool down * Strainer * Electric mixer (or a manual mixer, if you have the arm prowess) * Spoons (for stirring the mixtures, preferably wooden) * Natural-made cloth, or any material clean and porous enough to be used as filter * Yarn * Something to ground, a mortar is fancy; but any clean, blunt object will do.

##Before you begin

You’ll need to sterilize all utensils (specially the cloth!) and bottles beforehand. The bottles, cannot stress this enough, must be sterilized: to achieve an acceptable level of cleanliness, wash them with water and soap, rinse with boiling water and put them in an oven until thoroughly dry. Because the mixes you’ll do with milk and eggs are susceptible to being spoiled by extraneous agents, try to maintain everything clean and free from any pollutants (dust, hair, saliva, etc),

There are three processes involved: the making of the syrup, the preparation of the milk and the mixing of the egg yolks. All should be done in parallel, and in roughly the same interval of time (approximately an hour). So prepare to multitask or fetch some friends.

##First stage: preparation of the mixes

Prepare a pouch with the cloth (this is easy to do parting from a square-ish piece of cloth, better yet if you already have an actual pouch made out of cloth, though you’d be losing all the fun and ingenuity involved). Break the allspice in the mortar or by sheer brute force with the blunt object of choice, we’re doing this so it can better release its scent and flavor later. Put the allspice and the twelve cloves in the pouch and close it tightly with the yarn, making sure that nothing could accidentally fall out of the pouch or that the knot could be undone by accident (this pouch will swim in the sugar mix and be moved to and fro a lot, so keep that in mind). Dissolve the five cups of sugar in 4 cups of water, filter the mix into a middle-sized saucepan. Before filtering, make sure that the sugar has dissolved completely into the water, this is easily achieved by just stirring vigorously. Put the pouch which contains the allspice and cloves (hereafter to be known as “spice-pouch”) inside this saucepan, as if it were a tea-bag: the purpose here is to release the “essence”of the aforementioned spices, but not the spices themselves -hence the knot- into the sugar mix, from here on to be referred to as “syrup”.

Pour the milk in the other saucepan. Add some cinnamon and one small spoon of nutmeg.

By any means necessary, extract the egg yolks from the eggs (make extremely sure to avoid accidentally leaving some whites here) and put them in the mixer. Mix for around an hour at medium speed.

##Second stage: mixing processes and caveats

While the eggs are being mixed (either by a machine or by a very vigorous human), heat the milk and syrup until they reach boiling point.

The bag in the syrup tends to swell-up with vapor, so you should squeeze it to make it release flavor, the preferred technique is to use a spoon and squeeze it against the walls of the pan (the least preferred technique being using your bare hands, which is as hazardous as it is dirty). When the bubbles formed start to get bigger, it’s time to make consistency tests: put a small amount on a plate and let it cool down for a couple of seconds. You know is ready when it gets thick - syrup-like - not too liquid nor solid, either.

Be aware that the milk doesn’t stick to the bottom or sides of the saucepan. Stir slowly, but not too frequently, to avoid this.

(As you see, apart from the mixing of the eggs, that -in this day and age- should be done by a machine, a single person could be overseeing both the swelling of the flavor-pouch and the milk)

##Third stage: the grand finale

Now comes the delicate part of the process. As stated before, all utensils involved should have been sterilized and measures should have been taken avoid any dust, hair or any other undesirable pollutant to enter the mix. It is advised strongly to not speak during this phase, as to avoid any saliva droplets falling into the product.

Take out the spice-pouch from the syrup and put it in the milk, so the milk can absorb any of the syrup that got trapped inside and even more of the flavor of the spices.

When the yolks are done (the mix should no longer have the peculiar smell of egg, be clearer in color yet still soft: avoid at all costs that the mix reaches the point when it begins hardening) pour them in the big saucepan. While manually mixing the yolks in the big saucepan, gradually add the syrup, which should still be boiling (so, careful here!). Mix well.

Using a bigger cloth (or any filter which won’t let anything too solid go through) filter the milk -as to remove the cinnamon and nutmeg, into the saucepan previously occupied by the syrup: this way any syrup left over will end up in the milk-mix, and nothing is wasted. Wait until milk boils again and add it to the yolk-syrup mix which is already in the big saucepan, again, gradually and mixing well.

Let the whole mixture cool down for 3 to 4 hours.

When the final product is cool enough remove the froth, adding some liquor helps; then, add a spoonful of vanilla and as much liquor as desired.

Finally, use a funnel and a small strainer to fill the bottles. Again, remember, do not speak over the finished product!! Not only no one likes your nasty saliva, pollution could still spoil the eggnog at this point.

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