Fancy some eggnog? How about some posset? A soupcon of syllabub? Or maybe a wee spot of biersuppe?
They’re all variations on the eggs-sugar-milk-booze creation that seems to have as many incarnations as jolly old Santa Claus/Kris Kringle/Joulupukki himself.
Take coquito, a Puerto Rican tradition that combines eggs, cream of coconut, rum and spices for ultra-rich seasonal sipping.
Daisy Martinez remembers grating coconut by the hour with her sister for her mother’s special version of this drink. These days, there’s canned cream of coconut to be had in abundance.
“It’s just as good and really time-and labor-friendly,” points out Martinez, who hosts “Viva Daisy” on the Cooking Channel and has written several cookbooks, including the recent “Daisy’s Holiday Cooking.”
Then again, you could try a “Yard of Flannel,” a recipe from colonial times included in Holly Arnold Kinney’s cookbook, “Shinin’ Times at the Fort,” a collection of recipes from the family’s landmark restaurant near Denver.
Flannel relies on beer, not liquor, for its punch. In fact, that’s how the drink was initially made, says Kinney, noting that “nog” is an old English word for strong beer (noggin, meanwhile, was a small wooden cup used in taverns).
Kinney’s recipe calls for blending hot ale with other ingredients gently (so the eggs don’t curdle), resulting in a mixture that is silky, or as “soft as flannel.”
Coachmen would drive up to a tavern and call for a “yard of flannel,” the drink served in a long, skinny glass. Handed up to the coachman as he sat on his tall seat, it would refresh and “warm the cockles of his heart,” says Kinney.
Over time, bourbon or rum, which were cheap and available, replaced beer. Kinney’s Southern-born mother used to make syllabub, a variation that uses wine.
But Kinney likes the idea of drinking something that harkens back to colonial days.
“It’s delicious,” she says.
However you like your eggnog, you probably already have picked up a carton or two. Dairies across the country have been producing it since early November.
“Over the years, it’s moved up,” says Neal Glaeser, president of Denali Ingredients in New Berlin, Wis., which makes eggnog base for dairies. “It’s really become a winter drink, not necessarily a holiday drink.”
Even with the mass-produced eggnogs, tastes vary from region to region, with dairies on the East Coast looking for spicier blends while those in the Midwest seem bigger on rum flavoring.
Television cooking show host and author Paula Deen, a native of Albany, Ga., has her own family recipe, “Mama’s Eggnog,” which combines bourbon, cream and other delicious things.
“In the Hiers family household, we didn’t celebrate a Christmas without Mama’s Eggnog,” says Deen. “The added bourbon is the perfect touch to this holiday beverage to really make you feel warm and cozy.”
Of course, with something as varied as eggnog, the best version may well be your own.
Just ask Martinez how good coquito really is.
“Once you taste coquito,” she answers with a laugh, “you’ll be like, ‘Eggnog who?’ ”
Note: Consuming raw and lightly-cooked eggs carries the risk of salmonella or other food-borne illness. To reduce this risk, use only fresh, properly refrigerated, clean, grade A or AA eggs with intact shells, and avoid contact between the yolks or whites and the outside of the shell.
From Daisy Martinez’s “Daisy’s Holiday Cooking,” (Atria, 2010). If you want a chocolate version – what Martinez calls a “choquito” in her latest book, “Daisy’s Holiday Cooking” – prepare as directed below, then heat an additional 1/2 cup of heavy cream (but who’s counting?) to a simmer. Add 1 1/2 cups of bittersweet chocolate to the cream, whisking until smooth. Whisk 2 cups of the coquito into that, then whisk the whole thing into the full batch of coquito.
2 jumbo eggs or equivalent of pasteurized egg substitute
3 jumbo egg yolks or equivalent of pasteurized egg substitute
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (15-ounce) can cream of coconut
1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 to 1 cup light rum
Ground cinnamon, to garnish
In a blender, combine the eggs and egg yolks. Blend on high until the eggs are pale yellow and very light.
With the motor running, one at a time slowly add the condensed milk, cream of coconut and evaporated milk. Blend for a minute or so, then with the motor still running, slowly add the heavy cream. Blend until just incorporated. Stir in the rum.
If while preparing the coquito your blender becomes too full, simply transfer some of the mixture to a serving pitcher, then continue as directed. Add the remaining coquito to the pitcher and stir well.
Chill for 2 to 6 hours. Serve sprinkled with cinnamon.
Yield: 8 servings
Approximate nutrition per serving: 299 calories, 15 grams fat (10 grams saturated, 45 percent fat calories), 5 grams protein, 30 grams carbohydrate, 109 milligrams cholesterol, no dietary fiber, 79 milligrams sodium.
Yard of Flannel Eggnog
From Holly Arnold Kinney’s “Shinin’ Times at the Fort” (Fur Trade Press, 2010).
1 quart good ale
4 large eggs
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon powdered ginger
4 ounces Jamaica dark rum
Grated nutmeg, for garnish
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, warm the ale to nearly boiling.
Meanwhile, in a blender, combine the eggs with the sugar. Blend well. Add the ginger and rum, then blend again.
When the ale is almost boiling, pour it slowly into the egg mixture with the blender running. Blend until the drink is silky. Serve in large glasses sprinkled with nutmeg.
Yield: 4 servings
Approximate nutrition per serving: 266 calories, 5 grams fat (2 grams saturate, 15 percent fat calories), 7 grams protein, 19 grams carbohydrate, 215 milligrams cholesterol, no dietary fiber, 88 milligrams sodium.
From Paula Deen, www.foodnetwork.com
6 eggs, separated
3/4 cup sugar
1 pint heavy cream
4 pints milk
1/2 pint bourbon
1 tablespoon vanilla
In a bowl, beat the egg yolks with the 1/2 cup of sugar until thick. In another bowl beat the egg whites with 1/4 cup of sugar until thick. In a third bowl beat the cream until thick.
Add the cream to the yolks, fold in the egg whites, and add the milk, bourbon, vanilla, and a pinch of nutmeg, if desired. Chill in freezer before serving.