Homemade eggnog with fully cooked eggs, so everyone can enjoy it.
1 quart (4 cups) milk (preferably whole)
4 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
4 3-inch cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1. In a medium saucepan, warm 2 cups of the milk with the cinnamon sticks over medium-high heat until steaming. Stir occasionally and keep the lid askew to prevent a skin from forming. Allow the cinnamon sticks to infuse and flavor the milk for about 15 minutes or longer, while you whisk the eggs in the next step.
2. In a medium bowl, blend the egg yolks and sugar together with an electric mixer. Continue to blend until they have turned light yellow, and have thickened enough to "form the ribbon," which 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" (see pics). (You can do this by hand with a whisk, but it's a lot of work. So if you have an electric hand mixer, use it.)
4. Tempering the eggs. Remove the milk from heat and position the milk and egg yolks next to each other, with a wire whisk at the ready. Begin to whisk the egg yolks with one hand, while you ladle the smallest possible stream of hot milk into them, quickly whisking the milk in as it dribbles in. Gradually add 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 and the bowl of egg yolks is quite warm to the touch. Now, gradually pour the egg mixture into the saucepan with the rest of the milk, whisking constantly as you do. Once all the egg mixture has been added to the saucepan, return the saucepan to the stove over medium heat.
5. Stir the final 2 cups of milk into the saucepan along with the nutmeg. Set the lid on askew, and stay close. Heat the eggnog, stirring occasionally, until it is piping hot (you will see steam), 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, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Cool gradually to room temperature in the saucepan with the lid askew, stirring occasionally in the early stages to prevent a skin from forming. 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.) Serve with an extra pinch of nutmeg in each glass if desired.
Use whole milk if possible for maximum creamy goodness.