For years, I tried and tried to love eggnog, that quintessential rich drink for winter holidays, but every taste left the same impression: too thick, too sweet, too icky. A few years ago, I started hosting my family’s Christmas party and wanted a special drink to serve. So, I decided to give eggnog another try and started researching recipes to find the appeal and make it my own. Now, a pitcher of eggnog is a Christmas tradition at our parties, with grownups and kids (drinking virgin versions of course) going back for more.
My recipe is one that I’ve experimented with and tweaked over the years, borrowing a technique from Jamie Oliver here, snatching a tip from Alton Brown there, and making adjustments for my family’s preferences. For example, my mom and I dislike nutmeg and others in my family are not particularly fond of it either. So I replaced it with cardamom. (Turns out, it was the nutmeg that had me hating eggnog all those years.) We also leave out the alcohol and add it to individual drinks at the end, so we can save some liquor-free eggnog for the kids. They like fancy drinks too after all.
The result is flavorful thanks to steeped spices, and silky thanks to whipped egg whites. Garnishing with whole star anise pods adds a spicy fragrance and looks lovely to boot. It won over a family full of eggnog haters, and it’s nostalgia in a glass.