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11.10.2005

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making spirits bright classic winter holiday drinks by Yee-Fan Sun | 1 2
continued from page 1

eggnog
If you've always wanted to make eggnog but can't get over worrying that the traditional raw eggs used in this beverage might mean you inflict salmonella poisoning upon you and all your guests, here's a recipe for cooked eggnog that avoids that problem. Basically, you'll have to heat up the egg mixture until it reaches 170F, the temperature at which any nasty bacteria present should successfully be killed off. It's actually a pretty simple process, provided you take care to do three things. First, you'll need to get your hands on a cooking thermometer. Second, be certain to heat things up very, very slowly -- no getting impatient here, unless you want a grainy mess. And last, stir the mixture constantly once it's on the stove, to keep the end product from being clumpy and gross.

Note: This produces a lovely custardy nog that has good amount of body, without being so thick as to feel like you're trying to sip flan. If you want a fluffier eggnog, you can whip up some of the whipping cream just before serving and fold it into the mixture for an airier texture. Of course, if the eggnog ends up too viscous for your liking, you can also easily thin it out with more milk.

6 large eggs
5 cups whole milk*
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup whipping cream
2 tsps. vanilla
1 cup dark rum, or to taste

yields: 7 or 8 cups of nog, or about 10-12 servings

* No, skim milk will not do; the milk/cream quantity is already adjusted to produce a nog with just enough to body to be satisfying. In fact, true eggnog connoisseurs might even complain there's not enough fat in this version; should you know for a fact that like your nog very thick and super rich, you can up the ratio to as much as half milk, half cream.

1 Pour the milk into a good heavy-bottomed pot, and heat it up just to the point where it's beginning to boil. You'll see little bubbles forming at the surface in the middle of the pot, and the milk will turn frothy; this is perfect.
2 While the milk's heating up, whisk together the eggs and sugar in a mixing bowl. When the milk's reached the just-boiling point, take it off the heat. You want to SLOWLY add the hot milk to the egg and sugar mixture, pouring in a steady but small stream and whisking constantly. If your pot's heavy and unwieldy, you might find it easier to use a ladle to add the milk (this is my preferred method). The key here is to add the hot liquid very gradually to avoid shocking the eggs.
3 Pour the mixture back into the pot, and slide the pot back on the stove. Pop in the thermometer. Over a moderately low flame, heat things up until the thermometer just registers 170F, a process which can take anywhere from 6 minutes to double that. Basically, the more slowly you'll heat up the mixture, the less likely things will curdle irreparably on you; however, an overly low heat may also try your patience. (I cook at a medium-low temperature and just make sure to keep an eye on the consistency and temperature.) Whether you choose a heat setting that's closer to medium or low, however, it's critical to stir the mixture constantly to ensure that the top and bottom of the mixture don't cook at completely different rates.
4 When you've reached the magic temperature, immediately remove the pot from the stove. Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve to get rid of any clumpy bits that may have formed on the bottom of the pan (if you've done a good job stirring, they're shouldn't be much). Stir in the cream, vanilla and rum. Do a taste test (yum), adding more sugar or alcohol if desired.
5 At this point, it's best to stick the bowl of cooked eggnog in a bigger bowl full of ice water to quickly cool the concoction. When it's more or less reached room temperature, cover and refrigerate. Chill the eggnog for at least a few hours before serving. When you're ready to enjoy, pour or ladle into small glasses (remember: that nog is rich stuff!), and sprinkle with freshly ground nutmeg.

o

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