This year, make your own eggnog and celebrate in style!
1 quart (4 cups) milk (whatever you have on hand is fine, but we recommend whole milk for creamier eggnog if you have it)
4 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
Cinnamon sticks (2 long or 4 short)
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1. Pour 2 cups of the milk into a medium saucepan. Add the cinnamon sticks to the saucepan (if your cinnamon sticks are long, break them in half to make them easier to work with), and put it on the stove. Turn the heat to medium high and put the lid on askew. Stir occasionally while the milk becomes hot.
2. Combine the egg yolks and sugar in a medium-sized mixing bowl.
3. Use a wire whisk or electric mixer (much easier) to mix the sugar and egg yolks together until they have turned light yellow, and have thickened. When they have thickened enough they will "form the ribbon": this means that when you scoop some up with a spoon and allow it to dribble back into the bowl, you will be able to see that the dribbled part remains briefly distinct from the rest. This is called "the ribbon."
4. Tempering the eggs. Set the bowl of egg yolks near the saucepan of hot milk, and have a wire whisk ready. Turn the heat off under the milk while you work. Use a small ladle to carefully dribble the smallest possible stream of hot milk into the eggs while you quickly whisk it in. Once the first ladle-full has been mixed in, add more and more ladle-fulls of hot milk to the eggs, whisking the whole time, until about half the hot milk has been added to the eggs. Doing this gradually gently brings the eggs yolks up to temperature without turning them into scrambled eggs. When you have added about half the hot milk, the bowl of egg yolks should feel quite warm to the touch. Now, use the whisk in the saucepan to quickly whisk the milk while you gradually pour the egg mixture in. Once all the egg mixture has been added to the saucepan, turn the heat on to medium.
5. Add the final 2 cups of milk to the saucepan, and add the nutmeg. Set the lid on askew, and stay close. Heat the eggnog, stirring occasionally, until it is piping hot, but do NOT allow it to simmer or boil! If you have a cooking thermometer, warm the eggnog to between 150 and 160 degrees.
6. When the eggnog is hot, turn the heat off and stir in the vanilla. Put the lid on askew and allow it to cool to room temperature. Pour the eggnog, along with the cinnamon sticks, into a pitcher or other container and chill it in the refrigerator. (Leaving the cinnamon sticks in the pitcher imparts maximum flavor.)
7. Your Homemade Eggnog is ready! Serve with an extra pinch of nutmeg in each glass if desired.