If you’re looking for a new spin on the traditional eggnog this holiday season, then eggnog rice pudding is the answer. It will be your salvation. It has all of the delicious flavors of that holiday drink we all adore, but in a dessert form. This recipe has all of the wonderful characteristics of rice pudding as silky, creamy and rich meet with the spice and warming effects of eggnog. Leave this out for Santa Claus, instead of the boring cookies he is used to, and I can guarantee you that you will end up on his nice list.
The house is silent, and amidst that silence is a cold air, unnerving in its calm appearance. It is early in the morning, and dawn is slowly approaching. The early hour has yet to awaken the inhabitants of the house, but it is only a matter of time before that changes. Christmas decorations are hung and stuffed into every nook and cranny of the house. White lights are strung around the evergreen tree decorated with ornaments, tinsel, candy canes and topped with a gold star. The adorned tree stands out in the living room like a giant beacon. The stockings are hung above the fireplace, filled to the brim with goodies and treats. Garland and wreaths decorate the banister. There is definitely something magical in the air that has nothing to do with the festive red, green and gold decorations or the carefully wrapped presents under the tree. There are feelings of love, happiness and comfort. These feelings rise and emit from this season of joy and season of giving. Christmas Day has arrived.
At six o’clock in the morning, my eyes open wide. It’s as if my brain is just registering, for the first time, that today is Christmas Day. I leap out of bed and rush out of my room in my pajamas. I barge through each door down the hall and wake up the rest of the family, clearly ignoring last night’s orders that they all wanted to sleep in. I jump on each of their beds and yell out “It’s Christmas! It’s Christmas! Presents!” One by one they all wake up, some more willing than others. I run down the stairs, pick out my spot by the tree and the presents and impatiently wait for the others to join me. When mom finally comes down, we are ready to begin. Good mornings and Christmas hugs are exchanged, and we are finally allowed to open gifts. We take turns passing out beautifully wrapped boxes adorned with bright bows. Some presents are covered in newspaper, thanks to an environmentally conscious sister. A couple hours are spent just sitting around the tree, laughing, tearing apart the wrapping, telling jokes and stories and showing off our loot. Only when the final thank yous are shared, and the living room floor is lost beneath crumpled paper, bows and ribbon, is the moment broken.
The rest of the day is spent toying around with our new gadgets and gizmos, trying on clothes, discarding wrapping paper and dismantling boxes as Christmas tunes play in the background throughout the house. We watch movies and play games, and although those activities, including the opening of gifts, are entertaining and beloved, the majority of the day is spent in the kitchen preparing food and eating. That is the real magic of Christmas. It’s a pancake breakfast with a slew of toppings followed by a light lunch of sandwiches and potato salad. Homemade cookies and treats serve as snacks in between. Then there’s a glorious dinner to celebrate one last big hurrah before the start of the new year. After we have stuffed ourselves, we migrate to the living room and pick out a movie. Now that we are all old enough to drink, spiked eggnog is passed around. Mine is topped with whipped cream and an excess dusting of cinnamon. And just like that the day begins to slow down. Night passes as all of us are curled up on a chair, a couch or the floor while the fireplace keeps us warm. Memories were made and traditions carried on. Photos were taken, and yet we know that we will not need them because those happy moments will stay with us forever.
Eggnog Rice Pudding
Yield: 6 servings
Stand mixer with whisk attachment
4 egg yolks
4 egg whites
4 oz (120 ml) sugar, plus 1 tablespoon (15 ml)
16 oz (480 ml) whole milk
8 oz (240 ml) heavy cream
3 oz (90 ml) bourbon
1 tsp (5 ml) freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp (5 ml) cinnamon
16 oz (480 ml) water
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) salt
1 tbsp (15 ml) butter
1 cinnamon stick
8 oz (240 ml) arborio rice
1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla extract
whipped cream, for serving
cinnamon, for dusting
1. In a large bowl whisk the egg yolks with the 4 ounces of sugar until they lighten in color and appear to be thick. Continue to beat until the sugar is completely dissolved. Add the milk, heavy cream, bourbon, nutmeg and cinnamon. Stir to combine.
2. Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until soft peaks form. At this stage, slowly add the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar. Continue to whip on high until stiff peaks form.
3. Whisk the egg whites into the milk and cream mixture. Guess what? You have just made eggnog. Set aside.
4. In a large heavy-bottomed pot, bring water, salt and butter to a boil. Add the rice and cinnamon stick, and return to a boil. Place a lid on it and reduce heat to the lowest setting. Stir the rice occasionally to prevent from sticking to the bottom, and cook for about 15 minutes until the rice has absorbed the water, but it is not completely cooked through.
5. Add the eggnog mixture to the cooked rice along with the vanilla extract. Cook at a simmer over low heat until the rice absorbs most, but not all, of the eggnog. It should start to get thick and sticky, about 8-10 minutes. Stir constantly while cooking to prevent the pudding from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
6. Remove the pudding from the heat, discard cinnamon stick and portion out into individual serving mugs. Allow to cool to room temperature and then place in the fridge to chill. Serve with fresh whipped cream and a sprinkling of cinnamon.
If the pudding has dried out, after it has chilled, add a splash of milk and mix before serving and topping with whipped cream and cinnamon.
Jonathan Melendez is a contributor at The Boys Club and blogger at The Candid Appetite.