Egg nog (or eggnog) means “egg in a cup” and traditionally is served in small cups, so you can save some calories simply by taking a smaller portion. Egg nog was a preferred holiday drink for English aristocracy who spent Christmas at country homes where estate dairies provided fresh milk, which lower‑class city dwellers did not have access to. The Scots enjoy Auld Man’s Milk on Hogmanay.
Prior to the 1600s, the most closely associated drink was called “posset” which was all the rage in the middle ages, and survived unto the nineteenth century, but you rarely hear of them now. The posset was a warming concoction of hot milk mixed with hot beer, sherry, etc., sugar, and various spices, excellent for keeping the cold at bay when houses were heated by fires not central heating. It was a drink for the aristocracy since prices for milk, eggs and sherry were high. Accordingly, it would have been used in celebratory toasts.
We first see the term eggnog used in the Oxford English Dictionary [2nd edition, London] in 1825. The beverage was defined as “A drink in which the white and yolk of eggs are stirred up with hot beer, wine, or spirits.”
Today we can buy egg nog by the carton at the grocery store, laden with heavy creams and preservatives. Making your own is better for you and your guests.
Light Egg Nog
Light Egg Nog
- 2 cups skim milk
- 2 large eggs
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 tsp. cornstarch
- rum optional
- nutmeg, freshly grated to garnish
- Heat 1½ cups of milk in a saucepan to a simmer over medium heat. Meanwhile whisk the eggs, egg yolk, sugar and cornstarch in a medium bowl until light yellow.
- Gradually pour the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture, whisking constantly to ensure the eggs don’t cook. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and place on medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture thickens, about 10 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and immediately stir in the remaining ½ cup milk to stop the cooking process. Transfer the eggnog to a large bowl and place over a larger bowl of ice to cool, then chill until ready to serve.
- Keep your bottle of rum or bourbon or even sherry, next to the nog so guests can add their own portion.