For the winter holidays, I like to spread light and love in the form of hand-created food. In particular, two rich and delicious treats I never make any other time of year.
I reserve these treats for the holidays partly because of the effort involved (that's my big mixer in the photo above, working at top speed to whip 36 egg whites!), and partly because I like the idea of some things being so special that I only make them once a year. Their uniqueness increases the anticipation among the recipients, and also my joy in sharing them.
Since I can't give you these treats, I'm doing the next best thing and sharing the recipes.
First is my homemade-from-scratch eggnog, famous among my friends and my family. If you've never had real (meaning not store-bought) eggnog, you're in for a treat. (Warning: This eggnog is smooth, but very strong! Drink it responsibly in small doses.)
This hand-thrown porcelain sake cup is the perfect size for sipping this rich eggnog.
Susan's Sinfully Delicious Holiday Eggnog
one dozen eggs (free-range eggs with their orange yolks make prettier 'nog)
1 pound powdered sugar
2 to 3 cups dark rum (if necessary, can substitute brandy or bourbon, but the flavor is different)
1 qt 2% milk
1 qt half 'n half
1 qt heavy cream
Separate eggs, placing yolks in one bowl and whites in another. Cover whites and refrigerate. Beat yolks until creamy. Add powdered sugar gradually, beating slowly. Add two cups of rum (reserving one, if using three), beating constantly. Cover and let stand in refrigerator for at least an hour to eliminate the "eggy" taste. Then add the remaining cup of rum (beating constantly), along with the milk, half 'n half, and the cream. Cover the mix and put it back in the refrigerator overnight (if overnight is not possible, for at least three hours) to mellow the liquor. When the egg mix is ready, beat the whites until they form soft peaks (the peaks barely droop). Fold the whites gently into the egg mix and sprinkle the whole with freshly-grated nutmeg. Serve in a punch bowl with a ladle and small glasses or cups—this is very rich eggnog! A grater with whole nutmegs nearby is a nice touch. (Keeps about two weeks in the refrigerator, but it never lasts that long.)
A large steel bread bowl full of freshly made eggnog, with nutmeg grated on top--yum!
I make the eggnog in batches of three dozen eggs, ending up with enough to fill Richard's two largest bread bowls. I ladle it into quart and pint-size jars to give away.
The other treat is the deluxe holiday "gorp" or trail mix I've been making for years. This year's version is definitely the best yet, though I just thought of a small tweak I'll try next year to make it even more addictive...
Chile-Spiced Holiday “Gorp”
1 cup Ghirardelli dark chocolate chips (or another premium kind, 60% chocolate or more)
1 cup Ghirardelli milk chocolate chips (or another premium brand)
2 cups roasted whole pecans (I think organic pecans have the most buttery flavor)
1 cup organic dried sour cherries
1/2 cup organic raisins
1 cup crystallized ginger chunks (I use Reed’s baby ginger)
1 tsp dried red chile powder (I use hot red chile; adjust for your spice tolerance)
Mix ingredients thoroughly in a steel, glass, or glazed bowl (a porous bowl will absorb the chile flavor). Package however you wish; I like to put the mix in pint jars with pretty lids. (A little of this gorp goes a long way, and the chile powder gives a lovely spicy finish that offsets the bit of the ginger and the sweetness of the dried fruit.)
Enough for 3-4 pint jars
May the remainder of your holiday season be full of light and joy, the warmth of love from family and friends, and the goodness of healthy, delicious food. And may you find time to get outside and be awed by the blaze of the stars overhead at night, and refreshed by the beauty and wonder of nature wherever you are.
Blessings to all!