I am a huge fan of eggnog - not eggnog flavoring, nor eggnog ice-cream, nor eggnog coffee (Starbucks has a version) - but pure, honest-to-goodness eggnog. Even better if it's homemade! Going through my recipe box last night, I came across a folded magazine tear sheet that intrigued me. (I do sometimes harm my magazines, but it's not something I make a habit of.) The page was from an issue of Martha Stewart Living. When I unfolded it, I was reminded immediately of why I had torn it out in earnest in the first place. It was a recipe for Martha's spiced chocolate eggnog, which blends two kinds of chocolates with vanilla, cinnamon and cayenne for a surprising and delicious alternative to the traditional holiday standby. Below is the recipe to try this season.MARTHA'S SPICED CHOCOLATE EGGNOG:
2 quarts whole milk, plus more if needed
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon of coarse salt
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped and pod reserved
4 cinnamon sticks
12 egg yolks
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
3 ounces milk chocolate, melted
2 cups heavy cream
1 1/4 cups of brandy (optional)
Whole nutmeg for garnish
Cayenne pepper for sprinkling
1. Heat 2 quarts of milk, the sugar, salt, vanilla seeds and pod, and cinnamon sticks in a large pot over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves and the mixture is heated through. Remove from heat. Let stand for 30 minutes.
2. Prepare an ice-water bath. Whisk yolks in a medium bowl until pale, about two minutes. Whisk one cup of milk mixture into yolks in a slow, steady stream. Whisk yolk mixture into remaining milk mixture. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until mixture registers 180 on an instant-read thermometer, about six minutes. (Do not boil.)
3. Remove pot from heat, add melted bittersweet and milk chocolates, and stir until incorporated. Discard vanilla pod and cinnamon sticks. Pour mixture into a large bowl set in an ice water bath, let cool, stirring often.
4. Whisk heavy cream until soft peaks form. Pour the cooled eggnog into a large serving bowl. Add brandy if desired. (Add more milk if necessary in order to reach desired consistency.) Top with whipped cream. Grate nutmeg over top and sprinkle sparingly with cayenne. Serve immediately.