Many Mainers will purchase a carton of eggnog to enjoy a glass while trimming the tree or on Christmas. More often than not, though, the rest of the sweet, creamy liquid languishes in our refrigerator until it inevitably expires. Even if you do not want more than just a single glass of store bought eggnog, there are many ways you can use it to transform classic recipes into something sweet, spicy and unique.
Store bought eggnog, also known by names like milk punch or egg milk punch, is a rich beverage made with milk, cream, sugar, whipped egg whites and egg yolks.
Rob Dumas, food science innovation coordinator at the University of Maine, said that eggnog can be used wherever a recipe contains dairy, egg and spices. However, it is not necessarily a one-to-one swap, especially for heavy cream.
“The beautiful thing about heavy cream, it’s a really stable emulsion, so you can heat it, bring [it] up to simmer and reduce it without adding anything else to protect it,” Dumas said. “Eggnog might be able to do that, [even] if it has enough sugar and emulsifiers. I wouldn’t try to do a wholesale switch out of the two. Heavy cream has a high butter fat percentage, [but] egg fat and butter fat are two different things.”
Dumas said that eggnog would be an easier substitute for milk, especially in recipes that also include eggs and sugar.
“Basically someone’s already done the work of sweetening that milk for you,” Dumas said.
Jay Demers, department chair of culinary arts and restaurant food service management at Eastern Maine Community College, said that eggnog is delicious in many baked goods. Consider adding eggnog to pancakes and waffles in the morning. Or use it to prepare eggnog French toast.
“Maybe make that into a Monte Cristo sandwich if you’re more of a [brunch] person,” Demers said. “There are really just a ton of dessert applications where, depending on the makeup of the eggnog, it could be used in place of the liquid dairy.”
Dumas said that he is especially fond of using eggnog in bread pudding.
“A few options would be to make a bread pudding and use some eggnog with additional eggs and sugar as your custard component,” Dumas said. “I think the bread pudding is going to be a super delicious way to eat it.”
Dumas also said that eggnog is great for custards and puddings.
“I also love making panna cotta which is so simple,” Dumas said. “All you do is thicken the eggnog with gelatin. It’s an elegant looking dessert that’s incredibly easy to make.”
Eggnog can also be used for a custard pie.
“You could even do a gingersnap cookie pie crust and fill that with eggnog pudding for a Christmas-y cream pie [which] might be nice to garnish with candied cranberries,” Dumas said. “Take gingersnap cookies, crush in a food processor [with] just enough butter to reach that wet sand consistency and press that into a tart pan. Bake that in a 325 degree [Fahrenheit] oven until it’s nice, golden and crisp, let it cool, take your leftover eggnog and make a pudding with it. That would be a fun use as well and a different way to feature it.”
Eggnog isn’t reserved only for sweet treats, though. You could add eggnog to mashed sweet potatoes or squash for an extra bit of spice.
“Put that in a casserole dish, and the classic southern thing would be to top that with marshmallows and bake that until it’s brown and crispy,” Dumas said. “I tend to top mine with an oat pecan streusel. That’s great if you have kids that are like squash is gross and then it really blurs the line between dessert and a vegetable side and kids seem to like that, as do adults. [If you] throw some eggnog in there, that would work great.”
If you are not looking for something to eat, you could use eggnog to mix up some of your favorite drinks. Consider making an eggnog latte for the morning if you have the ability to make espresso.
“If you have a steam wand on your coffee machine, you could definitely try to steam up some eggnog,” Dumas said. “You could also heat it in a pot and hit it with an immersion blender to try and froth it up a bit.”
Dumas said that adding eggnog to black coffee will not be as delicious.
“In my opinion, you might as well add it to coffee brandy and make an eggnog White Russian rather than adding it to hot coffee like cream,” Dumas said. “The best thing to add eggnog to is brandy or bourbon and serve it on the rocks.”