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Countdown to Christmas, Part Two

Posted: December 14, 2011 - 9:05am  |  Updated: December 14, 2011 - 9:19am
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Eggnog and other festive beverages are part of the Christmas tradition, but they are rich, so keep portions small. Pictured clockwise from top are, Spirited Coconut-Cream Eggnog, Old-Fashioned-Rum Eggnog and a punch made with coffee, hot chocolate and brandy, displayed in vintage punch bowls and a variety of mismatched punch cups.
Eggnog and other festive beverages are part of the Christmas tradition, but they are rich, so keep portions small. Pictured clockwise from top are, Spirited Coconut-Cream Eggnog, Old-Fashioned-Rum Eggnog and a punch made with coffee, hot chocolate and brandy, displayed in vintage punch bowls and a variety of mismatched punch cups.

I’m glad the time for enjoying a few Christmas drinks is here. It gives me reason to actually use some of the many punch bowl sets I’ve acquired over the years. Despite their enormous size and inability to be tucked away neatly and discretely, I continue to find them irresistible. I definitely don’t need another punch bowl, but if I came across one that is the right age (old) and is offered at a good price (cheap), it would likely come home with me. And, should I find  beautifully made vintage punch bowl cups, even ones that have long been separated from their matching bowls, I might just to have those, too. Among their many uses, punch bowl cups, especially ones possessing deep cut glass patterns, make stunning votive candle holders, particularly beautiful strewn about the house in all their mismatched splendor. Now that Christmas is here, if you’ve got a punch bowl, get it out and let it do what it does best – be decorative, inspire conversation and serve punch. If you don’t yet own a punch bowl, any large glass jar or container will do in a pinch. As for the cups, hunt them down – they’re easy to find, in a variety of places, but only if you get there first.

Sue Ade is a syndicated food writer with broad experience and interest in the culinary arts. She has worked and resided in the Lowcountry of South Carolina since 1985 and may be reached at kitchenade@yahoo.com.

Old-Fashioned Bourbon-Rum Eggnog

6 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups milk
1 cinnamon stick
1/8 teaspoon ground mace
3/4 cup bourbon
1/2 cup dark rum
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, divided
2 cups heavy cream, slightly whipped to soft peaks
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until well blended; set aside. In a heavy saucepan, combine milk with cinnamon stick and mace. Over low heat, cook for 5 minutes, then increase heat to medium and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat, remove cinnamon stick and gradually add hot milk to egg yolks/sugar mixture, whisking constantly to keep eggs from curdling. Return mixture to saucepan and cook, stirring constantly until sugar is dissolved and mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. (Do not let mixture boil.) Remove from heat and strain mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a large mixing bowl; cool to room temperature. Stir in bourbon, rum, vanilla and 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg. Cover bowl and refrigerate several hours or overnight. Just before serving, fold in whipped cream; dust top with remaining nutmeg, adding more, to taste. Serves 8.

Brandied Mocha Punch

1 quart strong coffee, chilled
1 quart hot chocolate chilled*
1 pint brandy
30 coffee ice cubes
Confectioners’ sugar, to taste
Heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks
Ground cinnamon, for garnish, optional

Combine the coffee and chocolate in a large punch bowl.  Stir in brandy.  Sweeten, to taste, with confectioners’ sugar. Add about 30 coffee ice cubes to the bowl. Garnish with whipped cream and a dusting of ground cinnamon, if desired. Makes about 12 servings.*Kitchen Ade Note: Make hot chocolate by melting 2 cups chocolate chips (one 12-ounce bag)  in 3 cups hot scalded milk.

Spiced Coconut-Cream Eggnog

8 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
2 (14-ounce) cans coconut milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup (or more, to taste) Malibu Caribbean Rum*
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon coconut extract
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg mixed with
    1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided
Softened vanilla ice cream
Cinnamon sticks for garnish (optional)

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until well blended; set aside. In a heavy saucepan, combine milk and heavy cream. Over low heat, cook for 5 minutes, then increase heat to medium and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and gradually add hot milk to egg yolks, whisking constantly to keep eggs from curdling. Return mixture to saucepan and cook, stirring constantly until sugar is dissolved and mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. (Do not let mixture boil.) Remove from heat and strain mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a large mixing bowl; cool to room temperature. Stir in, rum, vanilla and half of the ground nutmeg/cinnamon mixture.  Cover bowl and refrigerate several hours or overnight. Just before serving, spoon large scoops of softened ice cream over top of eggnog and dust with remaining nutmeg/cinnamon mixture. Garnish with a cinnamon stick, if desired. Serves 8.
*Kitchen Ade Note: Malibu Caribbean Rum is white rum flavored with coconut. If you cannot locate it, substitute with regular white rum.

Cranberry Juice Sparkler

2 quarts cranberry juice, chilled
1 (6-ounce) can frozen pink lemonade, thawed
1 quart ginger ale, Fresca, 7-Up, sparkling white grape juice, or champagne
In a large punch bowl, combine cranberry juice and lemonade. Stir in ginger ale or sparkling beverage of choice. Makes about 12 servings.

For the Punch Bowl – Flavored Ice

Whenever possible, add ice to the punch bowl that has been made with some of the ingredients* that are included in the punch. Not only will flavored ice cubes keep the flavor in your punch vibrant, but ice offered in fun shapes, like the coffee stars, upper right, will add interest and whimsy to whatever beverage is being served. Easy-release mini silicone cake molds, such as Wilton’s “Pumpkin and Leaves,” are good for making large fruit-filled chunks of ice. Look for the Wilton pan in stores, or via on-line sources, specializing in cake-making supplies. *Kitchen Ade Note:  Do not try to freeze ingredients containing alcohol – alcohol won’t freeze.

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