What is Christmas without eggnog? It started appearing on store shelves before Thanksgiving, and Geordie started talking about it as soon as that holiday had passed. Once November had faded away, the recipes started piling up: eggnog cookies, cakes, drinks, pies, pancakes – anything and everything baked and flavored with eggnog.

Here’s a little confession: I hate store-bought eggnog. I can drink buttermilk more easily than I can drink eggnog. (A statement that is sure to make my husband grimace.) For years, I just never bothered with the stuff. If I wanted to drink it, I had to cut it with reduced-fat milk. I baked with it, because that tamed it some, but eggnog treats are not typically my favorites.

Until I decided to try making my own eggnog.

It was my first Christmas in Japan, and eggnog was nowhere to be found (no surprise, I lived in a very small town several hours away from Tokyo, where eggnog probably could be found if one looks hard enough). I wanted to make some to share with some of my students who had never had it before and with my co-workers, both of whom had lived in North America for a time and were nostalgic about eggnog. So I looked it up and was pleased to find that it’s quite, quite easy to make.

Let’s be clear, though: eggnog is not healthy. Sure, it’s got a relatively small amount of sugar, but it gets its richness somewhere, and that somewhere is milk (full-fat usually being what’s called for) and heavy cream. Next to that, the raw eggs look pretty innocent. But I’m sure most people know that it’s best to drink eggnog in moderation. I’m just saying that there’s good reason for that.

homemadeeggnog

All frothy and creamy and eggnoggy.

I made it again in 2010, the first Christmas Geordie and I spent together.  We drank it snuggled up on the futon and watching “Conan the Barbarian.”  That’s a good memory.

And I’ve made it again this year, because Geordie wanted eggnog, and no way was I going to buy any. Also, I wanted to make eggnog cupcakes.

Eggnog cupcake with eggnog-vanilla buttercream. Eggnog!

Eggnog cupcake with eggnog-vanilla buttercream frosting. Eggnog!

I used Alton Brown’s eggnog recipe, because when it comes to the basics, he’s the man I turn to. He can get a little complicated with things at times, but eggnog isn’t as fussy as one might imagine it to be. Eggs get separated, yolks get beaten with some sugar, the liquids are added, the whites are beaten, and then they get whisked in. A little effort, but completely worth it for beautiful, creamy eggnog that’s made and flavored naturally.

I added rum instead of bourbon, because I have a plethora of rum leftover from the rum cake. And I don’t like bourbon. I think eggnog needs rum. Just a little bit. Less than what Alton Brown calls for, but still enough.

I got the cupcake recipe from Heather, though it’s pretty simple, a quick and easy white cake recipe where the liquid (buttermilk in this case) is replaced with the eggnog. Then I frosted it with a typical vanilla buttercream where the milk is replaced with eggnog.

Simple. And yummy. I’m not certain how eggnoggy it is, though. I mean, it’s a very good cupcake. The cake has both cinnamon and nutmeg in it, and the spices come out really well and just make the whole experience a very pleasant one, and perfect for the holiday season. But I don’t get an overall eggnog effect. Fortunately, the cupcake is so good that it doesn’t matter. Maybe it’s not the best, but it’s a decent cupcake, and I think I can make it better with a little tweaking.

Plus, we have eggnog left in the fridge, and it’s very nice for sipping while sitting and looking at the Christmas tree. Even if the cupcake didn’t fulfill all it’s eggnog destiny, the drink itself is just what I want it to be. Not overly sweet or rich, with just enough of a rum kick. And none of that chemical aftertaste that seems to come with store-bought eggnog. Definitely a keeper for Christmas traditions.

I can't help but love that beautiful yellow of the eggnog. So pretty.

I can’t help but love that beautiful yellow of the eggnog. So pretty.

Only four days to go! And still plenty of baking to go. Next week, I’m making all of our traditional family favorites. Are there any treats you absolutely can’t live without during the holiday season? Because all three remaining treats are absolute must-haves for me!

Happy baking!

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