Eggnog ice cream, served in a teacup

Eggnog ice cream, served in a teacup

Ryan Michalesko/Staff Photographer

You're busy, so I'm gonna keep this short: Eggnog ice cream is the secret weapon of holiday desserts.

It is, to be clear, what eggnog should have been in the first place. All of the hater objections disappear if you just make the stuff into ice cream. No awful thickness in the mouth, no cloying sweetness that makes more than a sip unbearable, no (God forbid) serving it warm. Do you hate the raw egg flavor or have qualms about raw eggs, period? For eggnog ice cream, you make a custard first so the eggs are cooked and there's none of that yolky yuck.

The richness that repels in liquid form is ideal for ice cream, where it is transformed into something smooth, even light on the palate. And for those who love eggnog, having it as ice cream is a heavenly discovery, with a surprisingly boozy kick.

Eggnog ice cream 

Eggnog ice cream 

Ryan Michalesko/Staff Photographer

I started making it years ago, when David Lebovitz published a recipe in his excellent ice cream book, The Perfect Scoop. It's become my standing Christmas Eve dessert, served with a grating of fresh nutmeg on top and a pretty tray of Christmas cookies on the side. A light ending that still feels festive. And boozy.

But really, eggnog ice cream is my go-to for the whole season. Make it now and keep a batch in the freezer. The rum and brandy lower the freezing point and keep the ice cream perfectly scoopable. It will resurrect a second-day sweet. I particularly love it with a thin slice of gingerbread, and it's also delicious with pie, of course. I've made it into holiday ice cream sandwiches with chewy ginger cookies and served it with a caramel sauce or alongside a fruit crisp.

Never made ice cream before? Here's another secret. It's just about foolproof. The only tip I have is to cook the custard long enough so the raw egg taste disappears, but not so long that it tastes cooked. There's a sweet spot in there where the egginess vanishes and leaves only richness. What temperature is that, you ask? I still haven't unpacked my thermometer. Like I said, busy.

If you don't have an ice-cream maker, you can buy a $50 Cuisinart model with a metal liner that you chill in the freezer. It works nearly as well as an expensive machine, and sometimes you can even find one on Craigslist for a few bucks. Or you can borrow mine. Seriously. That's how much I want you to try this recipe. My email is at the end of this article. Happy holidays. And use the good brandy.

Eggnog ice cream 

Eggnog ice cream 

Ryan Michalesko/Staff Photographer

Eggnog Ice Cream

1 cup whole milk

2/3 cup sugar

Pinch of salt

2 cups heavy cream

6 large egg yolks

1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, plus more for serving

2 tablespoons brandy

2 tablespoons dark rum

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Place the milk, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat and stir until dissolved. Put the cream into a large bowl and place a strainer over the top.

In a separate medium bowl, lightly whisk the egg yolks just until smooth. Slowly pour the warmed (not hot) milk mixture into the yolks, whisk together, then pour the yolk mixture back into the pan. Continue to cook over medium to medium-low heat until the mixture thickens and coats the back of the spoon. If there is still raw egg flavor, cook it a little longer.

Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it together with the cream. Add the nutmeg, brandy, rum and vanilla. Cover the bowl and refrigerate until cold (ideally, overnight). Freeze in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions. Serve with a grating of fresh nutmeg.

SOURCE: Adapted from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz

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