Yield: Makes 1 quart. Serves 4-6
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups milk
2 whole cloves
Pinch of cinnamon
1 cup cream
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 Tbsp each of bourbon and rum or brandy, or to taste (can omit for kid-friendly eggnog)
*4 egg whites (optional)
1 In a large bowl, use a whisk or an electric mixer to beat egg yolks until they become somewhat lighter in color. Slowly add the sugar, beating after each addition, whisking until fluffy.
2 Combine the milk, cloves, and cinnamon in a thick-bottomed saucepan. Slowly heat on medium heat until the milk mixture is steamy hot, but not boiling.
3 Temper the eggs by slowly adding half of the hot milk mixture into the eggs, whisking constantly while you add the hot mixture. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan.
4 Cook on medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture begins to thicken slightly, and coats the back of the spoon. It helps to have a candy thermometer, but not necessary; if you have one, cook until the mixture reaches 160°F. Do not allow the mixture to boil, or it will curdle. (If the mixture does curdle you may be able to save it by running it through a blender.) Remove from heat and stir in the cream. Strain the mixture through a mesh strainer to remove the cloves. Let cool for one hour.
5 Mix in vanilla extract, nutmeg, and bourbon/rum and brandy (feel free to omit for kid-friendly eggnog). Chill.
*Optional: Beat egg whites until they reach soft peaks. Add a teaspoon of sugar and continue to beat until they reach stiff peaks. Gently fold into eggnog. Note, because of the salmonella risk from raw eggs, it is recommended that children, elderly, and people with compromised immune systems refrain from eating raw eggs such as the optional whipped egg whites in this recipe, unless you use pasteurized eggs.