Thursday, August 29, 2013

Nog Brûlée

One faithful and astute reader recently pointed out to us that August was rapidly running out of days to celebrate, and we had yet to designate which of those days should be celebrated with eggnog.  Well, fear not, digital friends, because tomorrow is National Marshmallow Toasting Day!  We're going to celebrate this holiday by combining the two best parts of summer: s'mores and eggnog.  "But eggnog isn't normally even a part of summer!" you defiantly protest.  Well, just wait until next summer when this dish is on the front page of the New York Times, or some other famous publication.  This recipe is bound to go viral.  Maybe.

First, we should introduce the newest member of our family: Ed the Eggbeater.  When the plastic teeth on our old one finally did more slipping than biting, we decided to upgrade to one that was made probably 50 years ago.  (They just don't make them like they used to!  Darn kids, rastess frastess gobbeldy gook...).  Ed's got stainless steel gears, a near-zero-clearance connector piece at the bottom, and an ergonomically correct handle, like he's from the future.  So, if you ever happen to find yourself antique shopping with your mother-in-law on a beautiful gardening day, keep an eye out for one of these guys, and it will be a nice silver lining.  We just might have to have another go at egg-beater butter making, now that we've got Ed.  Thanks, Shari!
The recipe starts out like it always does here: separate the yolks from six eggs and beat them with Ed (or your analogous tool) until they're thick and yellow.  Then add 1.5 cups milk and heat 'em up until they hit 160 °F to kill all the salmonella.
Then add 0.25 cups brown sugar (or whatever type of sugar you prefer) and 10 quartered marshmallows.  Better taste-test a few marshmallows just to make sure you didn't happen upon a pile of Michelin Man turds.  Mix these in to the hot egg mixture with Ed.
When they're all dissolved, add another 1.5 cups milk and cool down.  Actually, we didn't cool it down this time, and the finished product was surprisingly drinkable warm.  Still, we think it would probably be better cold.  When it gets to your desired temperature, pour it into your fancy drinking glasses.
Now comes the fun part.  We're celebrating National Marshmallow Toasting Day.  If you were paying attention, we didn't toast the first ten marshmallows we added.  We just dissolved them with the mighty beater-like arms of Ed.  The 11th marshmallow is the lucky one.  (Or unlucky, depending on your perspective.)  Take marshmallow number 11 and soak it in the most concentrated liquor you've got for a few minutes.  It will help to swish it around in there and squeeze it like a sponge to expel the air and fill the pores with alcohol.  In case you were wondering, 190 proof (95 volume percent) is as concentrated as ethanol can get by distillation because it forms an azeotrope with water.  It results from non-ideal mixing of ethanol-water solutions. (To a certain extent, water would rather stick to water and ethanol to ethanol than water to ethanol or ethanol to water--it's a positive azeotrope!)  Ahh, thermodynamics.  If you want more concentrated ethanol, you can use 3A zeolites to remove the rest of the water, since water can enter the pores of the zeolites and form energetically favorable interactions with the pore walls, whereas the ethanol molecule is too large to fit in the pores.  Ahh, more thermodynamics.
Then add the alcohol-soaked marshmallow to the glass of eggnog, add another tablespoon of liquor, and light the sucker on fire.  Ethanol burns with a bluish flame, indicating that very little soot (carbon) is produced.  Ha ha, look at it go!
After a few minutes, it should get hot enough to start toasting the marshmallow.  We did some (extensive) experimentation with this part, and found that we couldn't get the marshmallow to toast reliably with (the less-concentrated) rum, or without adding an extra tablespoon of concentrated alcohol.  Alternatively, you could just add the alcohol and light it, then toast the marshmallow over your flambé-ing eggnog.
You might have to swish the marshmallow around in the glass a little to get it to toast (somewhat) evenly, and you might also have to blow out the flame before the marshmallow melts down into the eggnog.  Careful--you look better with fingers and eyebrows!  There will be some residual alcohol, which you will probably be able to taste. 
Once the fire is out, add a couple sections of graham crackers and some chocolate syrup that Katie made.  S'mores and eggnog--what could be better?  This is probably the start of a National Marshmallow Toasting Day tradition here at the Homestead Laboratory.  Let us know if you want to come celebrate with us--we'll make sure to have enough marshmallows for everyone!

The recipe:
6 egg yolks
1.5 cups milk
another 1.5 cups milk
1/4 cup sugar
10 marshmallows, quartered
Another marshmallow per glass, soaked in concentrated alcohol
1 tablespoon concentrated alcohol
1 tablespoon chocolate syrup and at least two graham cracker sections per cup

Beat egg yolks and 1.5 cups milk until uniform.  Heat mixture to 160 °F, stirring often.  Add sugar and quartered marshmallows, stir until dissolved.  Chill (or don't) and pour into glasses worthy of National Marshmallow Toasting Day.  Soak extra marshmallow in concentrated alcohol, add to glasses.  Add another tablespoon of concentrated alcohol to glasses, light on fire.  Swish marshmallow around to toast evenly.  Blow out fire before marshmallow melts.  Add graham crackers, garnish with chocolate syrup. 

How are you celebrating National Marshmallow Toasting Day (other than with eggnog)?  Do you know of any other ways to flambé eggnog?  Let us know in the comments section below!

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