Oooh, egg nog. I’m ever smitten by its festive flavor and creamy decadence. I wait all year for it to come back to me in the form of frozen yogurt, steaming lattes, and even cake. I love the way it matches perfectly with my favorite spice — magical nutmeg — and how it reminds me of the occasional milkshakes I sometimes sipped in my younger days.
But when the holidays come, I rarely indulge in egg nog. The fact is, it’s just too dangerous. Efforts at self-discipline notwithstanding, I tend to guzzle my drinks instead of sipping them, and after a drop too many of egg nog, I feel stuffed and sorry. But if the nog comes in the form of dessert — one that can’t disappear with the tilt of a glass — I tend to slow down, to savor it. And with all its sweet richness, egg nog simply seems at home in a format that can be sliced, bitten, and washed down with hot coffee. For my latest creation, I transformed it into a pudding-y custard, slathered it with spiced whipped cream, and paired it with an almond-flecked gingersnap crust. Here’s the recipe:
Egg Nog Cream Pie with Gingersnap Crust (makes a 9” pie; serves 10)
- 8 ounces (1/2 lb.) crunchy gingersnap cookies
- 1 ounce unsalted almonds (about ¼ cup)
- 1/3 cup butter, melted – plus a bit more for pan
Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease the inside of a 9” pie pan, preferably glass. Place gingersnaps in a plastic bag; whack with a rolling pin or spoon to break up the cookies. Place nuts and broken cookies in the bowl of food processor; turn on, gradually adding 1/3 cup melted butter. Pulse until moist, evenly- sized crumbs have formed. (If not using a food processor, chop or crush the cookies and nuts; mix in the melted butter.) Press mixture evenly and very firmly into pie pan, holding it up to light to avoid thin spots, especially in the center. Bake for about 15 minutes, until toasty and fragrant. While crust is still hot, use the back of the spoon to gently press it down, especially any bulges. Let crust cool completely before filling; place in fridge to hasten cooling if desired. (Once cool, feel free cover and store crust up to 24 hours before filling.)
- 4 egg yolks
- 3 tablespoons sugar, divided
- 2 tablespoons spiced rum*
- 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons corn starch
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, divided
- 2 and 1/4 cup egg nog
- 1/2 pint (1 cup) heavy whipping cream, chilled
- fresh or frozen whole cranberries for decorating (optional)
- fresh peppermint leaves for decorating (optional)
In a large heatproof bowl, whisk together the yolks, 2 tablespoons sugar and rum until smooth. Sift the corn starch, flour, salt, and ½ teaspoon nutmeg over the yolk mixture. Mix well; set aside. In a medium saucepan, heat egg nog over low/medium heat, whisking constantly. Egg nog will come to a simmer and then froth up; at this point, turn off heat and keep whisking for a few more seconds. Let egg nog sit in pan for 30 seconds to a minute; meanwhile, give the yolk mixture another stir. Working rapidly, pour about a third of the hot egg nog into the yolk mixture, whisking vigorously. Add remaining egg nog to bowl and mix continually for 30 seconds to a minute. Place a sieve over the saucepan and quickly pour mixture back into pan through sieve. Remove sieve, turn heat to low/medium, and whisk constantly while mixture thickens, 1-2 minutes. Just when the texture is becoming pudding-like, transfer it to pie crust and spread evenly to edges. Chill.
When the pie filling has cooled to at least room temperature, beat whipping cream on high speed with 1 tablespoon sugar and ¼ teaspoon nutmeg, until voluminous and firm. Spread evenly over the cooled pie. If desired, decorate with fresh cranberries and peppermint leaves. Keep refrigerated and covered, serving chilled, and eating within 24 hours.
Custardy and crisp at once, egg nog cream pie is a successful celebration of the beverage behind it. Its spicy gingersnap crust is rich with butter and bits of almonds, and is balanced by the creamy coolness of every bite. Easy to make and scrumptious to eat, this dessert will thrill both lovers and loathers of drinking egg nog. The nutmeg throughout is a natural match, giving the dessert even more of a holiday flavor than the main ingredient already offered. And the more holiday flavor, the better — ’tis the season!
*Maybe next time… I have a special place in my heart for Sailor Jerry spiced rum for my baking. Dark rum or brandy are classic stand-ins for the spiced rum, or if you prefer not to use booze at all, substitute 1 tablespoon vanilla extract and 1 tablespoon milk or water. For premium texture, try to pick an egg nog that is not light/diet, with only familiar/natural ingredients. Or, for a delicious DIY version of this pie, use homemade gingersnaps, homemade egg nog, and freshly ground nutmeg. While the whipped cream pairs nicely with the egg nog custard, you could make a lighter, sweeter topping by using the egg whites (from the yolks) to make meringue, like this one. Finally, in the crust, pecans, macadamias or other favorite nuts can deliciously replace the almonds, or the nuts can be skipped all together and replaced with more gingersnaps.