05 Dec Dairy-Free Eggnog
Every year, for as long as I can remember, in the weeks leading up to Christmas my parents and I gather together, pull several large, dusty boxes down from the attic, and trim our tree with the hodgepodge of ornaments and knick knacks that we have amassed over the years. We each have a few of our own special ornaments, not to be hung by anybody else, or else — Mom with her gargoyles and crystal Merlin, Dad with his Yosemite Sam and a homemade Santa Claus that was crafted by his late brother in the 1st grade, and me with my incandescent unicorns and about ten Disney ornaments that I refuse to part with, no matter how old I become.
You may be thinking that these seem like quite the motley crew of Christmas ornaments, and you’d be right, but each holds it’s own sentimental value, and each year, once all 100+ adorn the tree, I can’t help but take a step back and feel a wave of nostalgia, breeding those warm fuzzy feelings that come with cherished memories of Christmases past. The tree trimming is a labor of love, no doubt, and the weeks leading up to Christmas are spent bundled under cozy blankets on my parents big leather couch, admiring our disparate masterpiece, spotting forgotten ornaments, and reminiscing about the memories attached. It’s a helluva lot better than any fancy, designer Christmas tree, if you ask me.
And every year, as we hum along to carols and sift through those hundreds of ornaments, it’s tradition for each of us to sip on a glass of eggnog. Always out of my mom’s emerald cocktail glasses, always with Christmas themed cocktail stirrers, and now that I’m old enough, always spiked with bourbon. Though to be honest, I think I may still like mine best plain, over ice, with just a sprinkle of nutmeg on top. I never understood how one couldn’t like eggnog. It’s akin to drinking melted ice cream, and if you don’t like ice cream, well, I’m sorry but we can’t be friends.
Or so I thought, until I fell for a sweet, blue-eyed boy from Rochester, New York, who gets almost equally as excited about Christmas as I do, and also happens to be lactose intolerant. Sigh.
When I questioned Steve about whether he was a fan of eggnog at any point in his life, like maybe before his allergy developed? (please, please say yes) he, perhaps seeing the hope in my dairy-loving eyes, politely said I don’t think so…not really…no. But do you think I took that as a FINAL answer? No. Of course not. You see, since the early days of our relationship, it’s been my mission to convert Steve back to a “dairy”-loving individual, through adapting buttery, creamy recipes by substituting a variety of nut milks, dairy substitutes, etc. etc. I’ve had enough successes to keep the hope alive — thus, dairy-free eggnog. After all, it’s tradition.
For this recipe, I used the cooked version of Alton Brown’s Eggnog recipe and substituted almond milk and full-fat coconut milk for the whole milk and cream, respectively. The result isn’t quite as creamy as the real thing — you don’t fully get that incredibly heavenly milk-fat mouthfeel that comes from sipping on heavy cream (there’s a reason we only do this once a year) — but the whipped egg yolks help to introduce the smooth, rich flavor of traditional eggnog. I find the texture comparable to a fat-free store bought eggnog, a little lighter and thinner in consistency, which is definitely not a bad thing, especially if you’re looking to save on a few calories. Instead of almond milk, you could alternately use any nut or non-dairy milk (soy milk, hemp milk, etc.) that you desire, the creamier the better. I chose to use coconut milk in place of cream because I know we both like the flavor, however I would also like to try this recipe using soy or almond coffee creamer to see if I can achieve an even creamer, truer-to-the-original texture result.
This was also my first time using freshly grate nutmeg. After years and years of staring at the tube watching Rachael Ray grating fresh nutmeg over quick-fix Italian recipes, wondering how the flavor differed from the canister of the ground version I have stocked in the pantry, I finally purchase some whole nutmeg of my own. I’m a HUGE fan. Freshly grating it results in softer, flakier pieces than the ground variety and there’s a bright, freshness to the flavor that is often lost on ground nutmeg, as it typically sits on the shelf for longer than it should. Also, look at how pretty the insides of the seeds are!
Steve has been out of town this week so I haven’t had the chance to test this recipe on him, but I must admit if it weren’t for the bourbon, I may have drank it all by myself already. Lucky for him, I’m avoiding alcohol this week because I’m running a half marathon tomorrow (#5!). I haven’t talked about it much here (it kind of snuck up on me!) but the course is supposed to be a fairly hilly, and challenging course so I’m a tad nervous. BUT it’s at a local winery and there’s wine and cheese at the finish line, so HELLO!!, you bet I’m going to power through some big old hills…because, CHEESE. Wish me luck!!
Also, now that my love of Mariah Carey Merry Chrismas is out in the open, this happened. And it crushed me.
Have a great weekend! XO, Katie
A Few Notes About This Recipe
Instead of almond milk, you could alternately use any nut or non-dairy milk (soy milk, hemp milk, etc.) that you desire, the creamier the better. The same goes for the coconut milk — just stick to the ratios in the recipe. For a lighter version, you could eliminate the full-fat coconut milk and replace with almond milk whatever lighter milk you choose.
This recipe includes an optional step to include whipped egg whites, folded in just before serving. When consuming raw egg whites make sure to use high quality eggs, and wash the shells before cracking to avoid salmonella and other nasties. If you don’t want to consume raw egg whites you can skip this step, though I added them to mine and it was delicious so I highly recommend it. Note that if you choose not to include the egg whites, your eggnog will not look as light and foamy as the eggnog pictured.
- 4 egg yolks
- 1/3 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
- 2 cups almond milk (or non-dairy milk of your choice)
- 1 cup full-fat coconut milk
- 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 cup bourbon (or measure to taste)
- 4 egg whites (optional)
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, or by hang, whisk the egg yolks until light in color. Add 1/3 cup of sugar and continue to whisk until sugar is mostly dissolved. You yolks should become light and creamy.
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the almond milk, coconut milk, and nutmeg and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and gradually temper the hot mixture into the eggs by adding about 1/4 at a time, whisking constantly. Once you have added about half of the hot mixture to the eggs, transfer the egg mixture back into the saucepan and return to the heat. Cook the mixture for about 4 minutes. If you're concerned about consuming raw eggs, use a thermometer and cook until mixture reaches 160F.
- Set the mixture aside to cool, and once cool enough, transfer to a medium mixing bowl and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled. Once chilled, add the bourbon and mix well.
- Optional: Just before serving, beat the egg whites to form soft peaks. With the mixer running gradually add 1 tablespoon of sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Whisk the egg whites into the chilled mixture.
- Serve cold, with a sprinkling of freshly grated nutmeg. (I prefer mine over ice.)