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The Spirited History of Holiday Eggnogg

December 10, 1987|JOAN DRAKE | Times Staff Writer

Question: A group of us are wondering when the custom of holiday eggnog began. Also, years ago you printed a recipe for eggnog like the dairies make. I didn't cut it out at the time, but now I would really like to have a copy.

Answer: The following history of eggnog comes from "Woman's Day Encyclopedia of Cookery--Vol. 4" (Fawcett Publications: 1966):

"An eggnog is a deliciously smooth, cold drink containing beaten raw eggs, sugar, milk or cream, and flavoring. Often brandy, rum, or whisky is added. It is one of the traditional drinks served at Christmas time, especially in our southern states where eggnog parties are an established form of entertaining.

"Eggnog is an American drink with English ancestors. The word eggnog is English in derivation. Nog is a shortened version of the word noggin, a small drinking vessel with an upright handle. Apparently the noggin was used for a strong ale that came to be known as nog. Thus, eggnog appears to have a close kinship with sack-posset, a milk-and-egg beverage known in England for centuries. The sack-posset was made with ale or with sack, a dry wine from the Canary Islands or Spain.

"Since the earliest references indicate that eggnog was made with rum, and since the word grog is associated with rum, the term eggnog may also reflect a telescoping of sounds. In other words, eggnog may be an elision of the words egg 'n' grog.

"General confusion surrounds the nomenclature, ingredients, and technique used for milk-and-egg beverages. The beverage containing milk-and-eggs-and-flavoring that became known as eggnog appeared under many names and guises. It has been egg-pop, custard posset, syllabub, milk punch, egg-and-milk, flip, one yard of flannel, auld man's milk and probably other things."

British colonists settling this country continued to make the traditional drink. Through the years many variations have been developed, flavored by coffee, bananas, oranges and other ingredients. Spirits used also vary, and sometimes eggnog is served warm.

We have many eggnog recipes in our files, so hopefully this is the one you remember.

DAIRY EGGNOG

6 eggs, separated

1/2 cup sugar

4 cups milk

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 cups whipping cream

2 teaspoons vanilla

Freshly ground nutmeg

Beat egg yolks, add 1/4 cup sugar and beat again thoroughly. Scald milk and stir slowly into yolk mixture. Cook slowly over low heat until mixture coats metal spoon, stirring constantly. Chill.

Several hours before serving, add salt to egg whites and beat until stiff, gradually adding remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Fold into custard mixture. Whip cream and fold into eggnog. Add vanilla. Chill several hours and serve with nutmeg. Makes about 24 (4-ounce) servings.

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