16 December 2011

Eggnog and Equipment Review - Splash-Proof Super-Fast Thermapen


Eggnog gets a bad rap. If you think you don't like it, keep reading. You've probably only ever had the store-bought kind, and it can never be the best and is usually much worse! And if you like the store-bought, you're going to love homemade.

Often associated with the winter holidays, eggnog was just a winter drink in our family. We usually had it whenever my English grandmother came for a winter visit. My mother always made two batches--one with, and one without, alcohol. Eggnog is the classic winter drink that makes any winter day feel like a party! 

Lots of people have no qualms about raw eggs, but I do. So I make my eggnog with a cooked custard base. Though I avoid buying eggs from battery-cage operations and always buy the best organic, free-range (pastured and local, if possible) eggs available, I'm just not willing to take a chance with salmonella. Besides, I think the cooked custard makes for an all-around better eggnog. And I always check the temperature.

Thermapen colors | Photo courtesy of ThermoWorks

Thermapen has been on my wish list for years. I've been making do with a vastly inferior thermometer; but since becoming "a woman of a certain age," it's just too hard to read, besides being far too slow. So when the Utah (US)-based company behind the English-made Thermapen sent me a shiny red Splash-Proof Super-Fast Thermapen Instant Read Thermometer for review, I was thrilled. The large, easy-to-read digital readout (Fahrenheit or Celsius) is just one of many advantages of the Thermapen. I don't have to stick my head in the pan to read it! I like the fact that it has auto on/off--no buttons. With a 1,500-hour battery life, I may never need to replace the battery.

And the Thermapen is faster and more accurate than any other cooking thermometer. With speedy 3-second readings, my custard won't curdle while I'm trying to get a reading! I like the fact that it's water-resistent because I can get a little splashy in the kitchen! But I use it for a lot of things besides custard. It's the best way to tell if meat is done to your liking, if bread is thoroughly baked, if oil is hot enough for deep frying. Grilling and barbecue enthusiasts swear by it. Besides, using it just makes you feel like a better cook! 

ThermoWorks makes another product (at a lower price point) that also gets rave reviews from cooks: The Original Cooking Thermometer/Timer by ThermoWorks. I haven't tried it yet, but I'm intrigued by the combination thermometer/timer. 

I hope you'll give my recipe a try and let me know how you liked it!  

Eggnog

(Makes about 2 quarts, sixteen 1/2-cup servings)

6 large egg yolks (Make a batch of meringues with the whites!)
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups hot milk (I use Organic Valley milk and cream)
2 cups cold milk
3 tablespoons to 1/2 cup or more brandy or rum, optional
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon grated nutmeg plus more for garnish
1 cup whipping cream

1 At least nine, or up to 24, hours before serving time: In bottom pan of double boiler, heat an inch of water to a gentle simmer. In top pan of double boiler, whisk together egg yolks, sugar and salt until well blended.

2 Gradually whisk in hot milk and cook over hot but not boiling water, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and registers between 160 and 170 degrees (but do not boil). Just pull a tall stool up to the stove like I do 'cause it's gonna take a while, perhaps 10 minutes.

3 Stir in cold milk. Strain custard into a two-quart bowl; stir in brandy* or rum, vanilla and nutmeg. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 8 hours.

*Actually, you could leave out the alcohol and let each person add his own favorite tipple or have it alcohol-free. I just use 3 tablespoons of brandy as a flavoring.

4 To serve: Whip cream until soft peaks form. With wire whisk, gently fold whipped cream into custard. Pour eggnog into chilled 2- or 2 1/2-quart punch bowl or pitcher; sprinkle with nutmeg.

16 comments:

Thomas "Sully" Sullivan said...

I second that. Nothing tastes worse than bad eggnog. Might as well scarf down vanilla from the bottle, like they do in Arizona, if you’re going for store-bought. Homemade can taste fresh, rich and satisfying. Or mellow. Vanilla seems to be the prime mover for variation, in my OSHO. Homogenized eggs from a carton might work for the Salmonella wary, though I’ve never tried eggnog with them. And Thermapen looks promising…

Jean said...

Thanks, Sully. I think you can even buy pasteurized whole eggs, but I love the taste and texture of a properly made custard so I'll just keep doing things the old-fashioned way. It's a wonder I don't insist on a wood or coal stove!

Mrs. Tuna said...

I have to say, not a huge eggnog, too thick. I don't even like whole milk, like drinking butter.

Jean said...

Ooh, I know what you mean about the milk. I drink only 2%. Whole milk kind of gags me. But, for some reason, I like eggnog. Maybe the thickness of it doesn't bother me because I think of it as a thin custard!

Charles said...

You know, I don't think I ever had eggnog, but I'd love to try it... oh, maybe my wife made me some last year... if I remember correctly I loved it, so no problems there. A friend of mine recently made a load of eggnog and was going to give me some but her friend freaked her out talking about salmonella so much that she ended up making some coconut swirls out of it instead, lol! :D

Your eggnog certainly looks creamy and delicious - methinks I'd love it!

Jean said...

Thanks, Charles! I hope you'll try it. And do tell those friends who are concerned about salmonella to follow my recipe and they'll have no worries!

Vicki said...

I just now saw your comment about the cake whisk on my blog! No one makes them anymore which is a real shame. I've pointed people to look on ebay for them, usually in unnamed kitchen utensils. Your blog is simply delightful with gorgeous pictures. I had no idea there was a combination thermometer/timer. Must check further into this! I've never made eggnog but the ABC bakers made an eggnog cake from Flo Braker's book, Baking for All Occasions. I'm giving it a go for Christmas Eve.

Jean said...

Thank you so much, Vicki! I do aim for "delightful"! Looks like you and I have a real rarity on our hands, can't imagine why it's no longer made, it's so very handy for all sorts of mixing jobs. Come back next Friday for my eggnog ice cream--it is soooo good!

TheLuc said...

This literally is the best eggnog recipe. I enjoyed every bit of my eggnog!
Thank you Jean! Can't wait until next Friday's post!

Jean said...

Thank you so much! When I develop a recipe, I just make it to suit my own taste; but when other people think it's the best too, that is really gratifying. I hope you're going to like next Friday's recipe as well!

Mary said...

I hadn't heard of the thermapen before now, but WOW. It is officially on my wishlist now. What an awesome gadget. Your eggnog sounds great too. I'm not a fan of the store bought varieties, I do enjoy an occasional glass of the homemade kind. Have a great day, Jean!

Jean said...

Thanks, Mary! I know what you mean. My husband had only ever had store-bought and so he thought he didn't like eggnog. But after he first tried a sip of mine, he was hooked.

Vic said...

This recipe looks absolutely scrumptious and very similar to my father in law's recipe, which was liberally sprinkled with rum!

Jean said...

Thanks, Vic! Though I've made it with brandy the last few times, it is equally scrummy with a nice dark rum.

Richard Sheppard said...

I made your eggnog recipe yesterday and had it today for Christmas and it was scrumptious! Everyone loved it. Thankfully I saved a tiny bit for tomorrow morning. Yum. As you may have guessed, I left the alcohol out this go round. I had never had home made eggnog before so this was really a treat!

Jean said...

Oh, Richard, I'm so glad to hear it! Wish I had a little left for breakfast in the morning!

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