Monday, April 22, 2013

Earth Nog

For any of our loyal readers who might be getting nervous that April is almost over and we haven't designated a holiday this month to celebrate with eggnog, don't panic: Earth Day is today!  And boy, what a treat!  We've received a couple requests to prepare a pasteurized eggnog from some folks who definitely love their eggnog year round, but who aren't in love with year-round salmonella risk.  It's worth noting that the possibility an egg contains salmonella is small to begin with, but has very little to do with the style of agriculture that produced it.  The bacterium can come from many places, including the most natural of environments, although there is reason to believe that smaller flocks and less confinement can lead to lower salmonella counts.

As with everything on the Internets, there are differing opinions on what temperature is required to rid the eggs of salmonella.  The USDA and CDC say that 160 °F for any amount of time is a safe bet, but long times at lower temps will also work.  Since the egg can start to cook at temperatures as low as 140 °F, the pasteurization could potentially yield chunks in the eggnog. Some sources claim that adding an acid to the yolks can prevent them from getting chunky on heating, but their recommended process is somewhat involved since it's important to make sure that the temperature throughout the yolks stays fairly uniform.  However, the USDA also notes that if mixing some of the milk in the eggnog recipe with the egg yolks before heating might yield a good eggnog.  In this case, it's basically like making a custard that is then diluted with the rest of the milk.  That's the approach we'll try here for making our earth-flavored 'nog.

As before, start with six egg yolks and three cups of milk.  This time, however, only use 1.5 cups of milk at a time.

Mix together the yolks and 1.5 cups milk until homogeneous (bubbles are ok). EDIT: Make sure to beat the yolks first until stiff and pale yellow.  It seems to make the final product thicker and creamier.

Bring the temperature of the mixture up to 160 °F, either in a saucepan on the stove (slow) or in the microwave (much faster).  The trick is to make sure that the temperature rises fairly uniformly so that one part doesn't start to cook (denature) before other parts are pasteurized.  In the microwave (the way we did it), we started with two rounds of one minute, each followed by temperature checks and stirring, then a round of 30 seconds and stirring, then a round of 20 seconds and stirring.  We were skeptical that it would stay smooth to 160 °F, but sure enough it did!

Once it hits 160 °F, all the potential salmonella have been defeated and the rest of the ingredients can be added (1/3 cup sugar, 1/4 cup cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 1.5 cups milk).  The order of addition isn't particularly important, but the sugar will dissolve faster in the high temperature egg-milk mixture than if the rest of the milk is added first (which will cool it down). 

Here we are: chocolate (earth-flavored) eggnog!  This recipe is actually much better chilled, unless you're into hot eggnog for some reason.  Don't tell Katie, but there's a gummy worm at the bottom of hers.  Also, before you wrinkle your nose at the thought of chocolate eggnog, consider that if a bowl of custard and a glass of chocolate milk got together one night, drank a little too much vanilla extract and made some bad choices, this is what the offspring would look like.  Maybe that analogy didn't help.  But really, it's good!

The recipe:
6 egg yolks
1.5 cups milk
another 1.5 cups milk
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Beat egg yolks and 1.5 cups milk until uniform.  Heat mixture to 160 °F, stirring often.  Add sugar and cocoa powder, stir until uniform, then add rest of milk and vanilla extract.  Chill and drink.

Have you made a cooked eggnog recipe before?  How did it turn out?  Tell us about it in the comments section below!


  1. Bad choices that lead to a good outcome? Hmmmm.... I'm willing to try it anyways! Thanks, Jake!

    P.S.- How did Katie like her worm?