Boiled Custard, Eggnog, and Having it Your Way
My whole life, I drank eggnog not even considering what the heck it was. I always assumed the 'egg' in eggnog was the 'egg' in eggcream—no egg at all, and probably no nog either.
I did like it though; Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years (and sometimes Chanukah, too) Mom would truck down to Wilson's Farm out in Lexington and bring back a carton or two. Give it a sprinkle of nutmeg, and later on, a shot of whiskey or Southern Comfort, and I was happy. It was sweet, it was rich, what more could I ask for?
Wasn't until my mid-20's that the possibility of actually creating eggnog even crossed my mind. And the tip wasn't eggnog at all, but it's odd and excellent Southern cousin. It was a New Year's party, with a Texas hostess with Tennessee roots. When I slipped into the kitchen for a drink, she was tending a bubbling kettle of froth.
"Boiled custard," she said, and ladled some into a cup. "You drink it."
This stuff was weird. It smelled like eggnog, but it was foam. Entirely foam: a hot, boozy emulsion of eggs, cream and bourbon. I drank it, and asked for another cup, hoping to come up with some of the body this time. Again, a cup full of foam, but a steamy sweet foam.... and I thought Southern food was heavy!
Well, it is.
It was only when I called for the recipe that I learned that it was a mistake... a very delicious mistake. Boiled custard is actually thicker than eggnog in its original form, but there had been an over-whipping. Still it opened my mind to the possibility that making it yourself means making it as you like it. Why not serve piping hot whisky foam?
Imagine for the holidays, a Christmas fruitcake you enjoy eating, a juicy Thanksgiving duck rather than a dry turkey, a New Year's eggnog that's practically a cloud. Of course, I'll have to experiment with that last one. But what I'm trying to say is, the holidays are yours. Why not innovate?
Here's Chelsea's family recipe for boiled custard, "via Frances Farmer."
- 2 cups whole milk
- 3 egg yolks
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
Scald milk in a double boiler. Beat eggs lightly, add sugar and salt.
Temper the beaten eggs with small doses of milk until they're completely integrated and then beat the mixture into the milk. (If you add the eggs directly to the milk, they'll scramble instead of mixing in smoothly.)
Cook in the double boiler, continue stirring till mixure thickens and evenly coats your spoon. For traditional custard, strain, chill & spike. For the custard supercloud, spike first, then use an immersion blender to whip into a frenzy.
Top with grated nutmeg or whatnot.
For an eggnog recipe, see this tasty concoction from Blackberry Farms
"Ingredients" via Dinner Series