Sunday, November 13, 2011

Spiced chocolate eggnog

I've spent a lot of time this weekend thinking about holiday floral arrangements and centerpieces, which got me in the mood for holiday music, holiday movies, and holiday decorating. My best friend and his partner came over last night for a somewhat impromptu very late dinner (not because it took me forever to cook, but mostly because we were in Maine for the afternoon / early evening celebrating my niece's 7th birthday) and for dessert, my husband bought some eggnog. Now, I'm not a fan of eggnog, but my husband, Alf, gets through the holiday season simply because he can drink it whenever it strikes his fancy. And, my best friend adores it nearly as much as Alf does, so you can say I'm pretty much surrounded by it from November through January.

Breaking the eggnog seal last night got us talking about eggnog in general and I mentioned this recipe I had seen via Martha Stewart last year, a recipe that made Alf drool and nearly squeal with delight. So, guess who's going to tackle this recipe in the VERY near future?

2 quarts whole milk, plus more if needed
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon 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 brandy (optional)
Whole nutmeg, for garnish
Cayenne pepper, for sprinkling
1. Heat 2 quarts milk, the sugar, salt, vanilla seeds and pod, and cinnamon sticks in a large pot over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves and 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 2 minutes. Whisk 1 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 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 6 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 ice-water bath, and let cool, stirring often.
4. Whisk cream until soft peaks form. Pour cooled eggnog into a large serving bowl, and add brandy if using. (Add more milk to eggnog if necessary to reach desired consistency.) Top with whipped cream. Grate nutmeg over top, and sprinkle sparingly with cayenne. Serve immediately with churros on the side if desired.

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