FOOD

I Had An Eggnog Taste Test For Friends To See If Homemade Beats The Store-Bought Version

by Angela Andaloro

I grew up celebrating traditional holidays in a not-so-traditional manner. To be honest with you, no two Christmases have looked the same for as long as I can remember. The common thread of the holidays was being together, with details like who, when, and where changing from time to time. I’m impressed when I see families that are steeped in tradition, having the same meal or opening gifts in the same way year after year. That also means that I’m not familiar with a lot of holiday mainstays people swear by.

I’ve never understood the appeal of eggnog, if we’re being completely honest. I’m also not a fan of sweets by any means and largely repulsed by all forms of milk. It’s understandable how one of Christmas’ most traditional beverages has evaded me for 27 years. This year, I decided to change that. I asked a few of my eggnog-favoring friends what kind they liked best, thinking that the easiest thing to do was to add booze to one of the many premade eggnogs that are available in stores. Once someone suggested that eggnog is best when homemade, I knew I’d have to test the theory.

Other than the obvious eggs and something sweet, I had no idea what was in eggnog. I looked at a few different recipes to get an idea of what was customary and what people added to give it their own flair. I looked through a few recipes and determined that the more classic and simple the recipe, the better. I ended up deciding on Tastes Better From Scratch‘s Homemade Eggnog recipe, which makes a batch of virgin eggnog for six that anyone can add booze to if they please. For my taste test, to make it harder to figure out which eggnog was which, I added white rum to both. Bourbon, whiskey, and brandy are also delicious to add, if you choose to do so.

The Ingredients

The Ingredients
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I was shocked to find out that there weren’t more ingredients in eggnog. It’s pretty simple to make. Tastes Better From Scratch’s recipe for Homemade Eggnog calls for:

  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Ground cinnamon (as a garnish, if you’d like)

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First, mix the 6 egg yolks with the 1/2 cup granulated sugar.

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The consistency should be a little thinner than icing when properly mixed together.

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Next, get a saucepan. Over medium-high heat, mix together the cream, milk, nutmeg, and salt. Continuously stir until the mix is almost simmering.

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Next, the eggs need to be tempered. Tempering the eggs gently brings the temperature of the eggs up so that they’re cooked, but not scrambled.

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Add big spoonfuls of the heated cream mixture to the egg mixture, one after another. Continuously whisk the two mixtures together.

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You’ll want to continue until most of the cream mixture has been added to the egg mixture and is whisked together. Then pour the entire mixture back into the saucepan. Continue whisking until it thickens.

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When my mixture finished cooking, it looked like this. I added vanilla extract, and whisked again. It was thicker than it had been while mixing the egg and the milk mixtures together, but still fluid. I put the mix in the refrigerator to cool off.

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After an hour in the fridge, the eggnog had thickened up. It even looked a little lumpy. The bottom of the container it was in was still warm, so I whisked the eggnog a bit more and put it back in the fridge.

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Another hour and a half later, it had cooled through, but it was still lumpy. The recipe recommends blending it if you prefer it thinner, so I decided it was time for that.

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After about two minutes in the blender, it was smoother and thinner. Next, it was time for the taste test!

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For the store-bought eggnog, I used Southern Comfort Vanilla Spice Flavored Eggnog. I added rum to the two eggnogs and poured them before handing each glass to my taste testers.

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When I poured the two different versions of eggnogs in different glasses, they looked exactly the same. They even smelled pretty close. I was excited to see what my taste testers thought.

After my friends tried both eggnog versions, I asked them which was which. Their options were the wavy glass, which had the homemade eggnog, or the weaved glass, which had the Southern Comfort eggnog. The vote was unanimous. All three taste testers recognized the wavy glass was the homemade. They also liked it better than the store-bought. Sorry, Southern Comfort!

After tasting both versions of eggnog, I have to say they were pretty close. The vanilla flavor was a little stronger in the homemade. It was also a pinch thicker. I was excited to be complimented on the recipe on my first try! And I’ll have to agree with the eggnog aficionados: Homemade really is better.