Eggnog reinvented

Turn excess eggnog into a flavorful holiday custard, such as panna cotta.

Pity eggnog. It stays in the refrigerator, offered to family and friends alike, accepted on rare occasions, but mostly rejected. The holidays come and go, and ultimately it gets poured down the drain — unless some hapless household member grabs it instead of milk for his cereal.

Perhaps it is time to incorporate its richness in other ways, bringing the spirit of its tradition to a variety of tasty foods. It’s also a good way to incorporate the last of the season’s spices, ready to start the new year with freshly purchased ones.

Picture how lovely glasses or containers holding eggnog panna cotta, tasting of cinnamon and spices, might be welcomed. (Moravian cookies on the side make a dessert of contrasts — crisp cookies followed by the custard-like Panna Cotta, with a final bump of spices and alcohol as the finishing taste.)

Eggnog French Toast encourages lie-abeds to rise and eat in the morning, with the aroma of the heating spices wafting up the stairs. Quick breads can absorb any number of leftover pieces of nuts, dried cranberries or other fruit, orange rind and all sorts of spices, making a treat for breakfast, tea-time or a late-night snack.

These recipes are designed to use commercial eggnog. Homemade eggnog will not substitute well.


Serves 6-8

Before proceeding with the recipe, taste the eggnog. More sugar and additional spices can be used. Add a favorite alcohol, or rum or brandy extract, other spices, orange rind or other flavoring. Traditional Panna Cotta is made with cream and a flavoring such as vanilla. Panna Cotta means “cooked cream” in Italian. It is lovely served with fruit such as strawberries or oranges.


2-1/2 cups commercial dairy eggnog, divided use

Grated nutmeg to taste

Ground cinnamon to taste

Ground ginger to taste

1/4 cup sugar (optional)

1/4 cup brandy, bourbon or rum (optional) or Brandy or rum extract (optional)

1 teaspoon gelatin (1/2 package)

1/4 cup cold water

For garnish: cinnamon stick, grated chocolate, sprinkled cinnamon, whipped cream, berries, Moravian or other cookies.


Taste the eggnog and add grated nutmeg, ground cinnamon or ginger to taste, sugar, alcohol or other flavoring. Heat 1 cup of the eggnog until small bubbles form on the sides, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Meanwhile, sprinkle the gelatin over cold water in a small metal cup or pan and let it develop into a sponge. Melt the gelatin over gentle heat. Stir the dissolved gelatin into the warm eggnog, then stir in the cold eggnog. Place over a pan of ice and stir gently until nearly set. Pour into wine glasses carefully. Refrigerate and let set 4 or 5 hours or overnight. Will keep, covered, in the refrigerator several days. Garnish as desired with a cinnamon stick, grated chocolate, berries, Moravian or other cookies.


Serves 6-8


1 quart commercial dairy eggnog

1/2 cup bourbon or rum

Pinch of cinnamon, nutmeg, ground ginger, or cardamom

16 thick slices French bread

4 to 6 tablespoons butter

For garnish: powdered sugar, butter, whipped cream, berries or other fruit, orange marmalade or other jam


Lightly whisk together eggnog, bourbon or rum, and spices in a bowl that will hold individual slices of the bread. Taste and reseason as desired. Add bread to the seasoned eggnog and let absorb a bit of the liquid. Meanwhile, heat a frying pan that will hold two or three slices of bread. Add enough butter to cover the bottom of the pan and heat until butter is light brown. Add moistened bread to fill the pan without overlapping. It should sizzle. Cook 3 to 4 minutes or until lightly brown, then turn and cook second side. Serve hot or keep warm in a low oven until all are cooked. Garnish as desired with powdered sugar, butter, whipped cream, berries or other fruit, orange marmalade or other jam.


Makes 1 loaf


2 eggs

1 cup sugar

1 cup commercial dairy eggnog

1/2 cup butter, melted

2 teaspoons rum extract

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2-1/4 cups self-rising flour

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (optional)

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger (optional)

1/2 cup dried cranberries or other dried fruit (optional)

1/4 to 1/2 cup roughly chopped pecans (optional)


Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease the bottom of a 9x5-inch loaf pan. Line with a strip of parchment or wax paper and grease the paper. Beat the eggs to mix thoroughly in a large bowl. Add sugar, commercial eggnog, butter and extract. Mix together the flour, nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger in a large bowl. If using dried fruit, chop half, and combine both chopped and whole cranberries, and pecans if using. Toss with the seasoned flour. Stir dry ingredients into the egg mixture, just until dry ingredients are combined. Pour into greased pan. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes. Cool 10 minutes on rack. Turn upside down, peel off paper, and serve right side up.


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