This rich, thick, boozy, yummy drink is a result of my experiments with the holiday classic. I served it in demitasse cups along with tiny honey-spice cookies (sort of my take on German Pfeffernusse; the original German cookies are supposed to be made in advance and aged for at least a week and I forgot to do that on time, so I improvised to get them quicker).

Happy Holidays, everyone!!!

Makes about 5 cups of eggnog and around 70 tiny pop-in-the-mouth cookies

For the cookies:

  • 1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp ground cardamom
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp allspice
  • 1/8 tsp cloves
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • 4 tbsp (2 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • ¼ cup honey
  • Zest of ½ medium orange
  • ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped candied orange peel (preferably, home-made)
  • ¾ cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 3 tbsp rum or brandy
  • A few drops orange oil (optional)
  • Enough water added to pourable consistency

For the eggnog:

  • ½ cup + 2 tbsp granulated sugar, divided
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 1 ½ oz dark rum
  • 1 ½ oz bourbon
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Make the cookies:

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, spices, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a medium bowl, using electric beaters, beat the butter until creamy. Gradually beat in the brown sugar and mix until light and fluffy. Beat in the honey, orange zest, and vanilla extract. Beat in the egg yolk. Reduce the speed to low and gradually mix in the flour mixture. Stir in the chopped candied orange peel. Finish the mixing with your hands. Wrap the dough into plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours and up to overnight.

When ready to bake, center an oven rack and preheat the oven to 375F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Put the lined baking sheet into another sheet to protect the bottoms of the cookies from overbrowning. Set aside.

Pinch off small portions (about a teaspoon each) of dough and roll into tiny balls (should be about hazelnut size). Place on the prepared baking sheet spacing them less than an inch apart (the cookies won’t spread much). Continue until all dough is used. Chill the formed cookies on the baking sheet for about 20 minutes before baking. Bake for about 10 minutes, until the cookies are firm to the touch and very light golden in color (it’s better to check their bottoms which should be light brown). Cool on the sheet on a rack for 5-10 minutes.

Place the rack over the baking sheet. In a small bowl, combine the confectioners’ sugar, rum, and orange oil (if using); whisk until smooth and pourable consistency. While they are still warm, drop several cookies at once into the bowl with the glaze. Lift them with a fork or fingers and scrape off the excess glaze from the bottoms over the side of the bowl. Place the cookies on the rack to dry the glaze. Transfer the cookies into an air-tight container and wait overnight before serving. They can be made a couple of weeks in advance.

Make the eggnog:

In a high-sided large saucepan, stir together ½ cup sugar and 2 tbsp water. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves, then raise the heat to moderately high and boil without stirring, occasionally brushing down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush, until the syrup turns deep amber in color.

Meanwhile, combine the milk and cream together and heat until hot (it will minimize the splatter).

When color is achieved, take the pan of the heat and very carefully pour in the hot milk/cream (pour through a sieve to protect yourself from extremely hot splatter). It is very dangerous, so have long sleeves on and be prepared to step back. Place the saucepan with the caramel-milk mixture over medium heat and whisk until the caramel is completely dissolved. Keep heating the mixture, stirring often, just to a boiling point.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the yolks, two remaining tablespoons of sugar, nutmeg, and salt. Temper the yolks by whisking a couple spoonfuls of the hot caramel milk into the yolks. Continue whisking and slowly pour the rest of the milk into the tempered yolk mixture. Pour the egg yolk and caramel milk mixture back into the saucepan and place the pan over the medium/low heat whisking continuously until the mixture reaches 170F-175F (don’t heat it over 180F though). Remove from the heat and strain the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean bowl. Stir in the rum, bourbon, and vanilla extract. Place the bowl into the ice bath to cool completely, stirring often. Cover with plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator to chill well. It will even improve in flavor if you let it chill overnight.