I’m ever smitten by the festive flavor and creamy decadence of egg nog. 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 pairs perfectly with my favorite spice — magical nutmeg — and how it reminds me of the cool, sweet milkshakes I sometimes sipped in my younger days.
But when the holidays come, I rarely indulge in egg nog. 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 egg nog 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)
FOR THE CRUST:
- 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 butter 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 a food processor; turn on, gradually adding 1/3 cup melted butter. Pulse until moist, evenly-sized crumbs have formed. 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.
FOR THE FILLING AND TOPPING:
- 4 egg yolks
- 3 tablespoons sugar, divided
- 2 tablespoons rum or brandy
- 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 and 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 about 30 seconds; 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, 2 to 3 minutes. Just when the texture is beginning to bubble and is becoming pasty and 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, fluffy and thick. 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. The 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 has thrilled 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!
Note: If you prefer not to use alcohol, substitute 1 tablespoon vanilla extract and 1 tablespoon milk or water. For a delicious DIY version of this pie, use homemade gingersnaps and freshly ground nutmeg. While the whipped cream pairs nicely with the egg nog custard, a lighter topping can be made by using the egg whites (from the yolks) to make meringue, like this one. For my pies, I used Clover Organic egg nog, which contains a bit of organic thickening agent (i.e., tapioca starch); I suggest taking a similar route, since egg nogs without any added thickener may produce a pie that does not set, while those with many artificial thickeners could produce a rubbery pie.