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Two eggnog recipes, a drink and a dessert, to guarantee Christmas cheer - rich, potent and definitely not suitable for children

If the only eggnog you've tasted is the cloyingly sweet stuff that comes in cartons, you'll be in for a surprise if you make these recipes.

The first is eggnog in dessert form, but with a presentation that's a little more elegant than the liquid just having been poured into cups and steamed (although that would have worked, too). The second recipe - for a delicious and potent eggnog drink - is one you might want to save for the New Year's celebrations.

Most tarts taste better fresh, but this one is best eaten a couple of days after it is made, so the flavours have time to blend. Just before it is served, however, you need to torch the top - sprinkle sugar, caramelise it with a propane (or butane) torch, then let it sit for several minutes so the caramel becomes crisp.

For the crust, I use gingersnaps (or another type of thin, crisp, spice cookie) mixed with shortbread, so the spice flavour isn't too strong. If you want to use only gingerbread/spice cookies, use 220 grams.

The ingredients for the tart.

1 Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.Put the gingersnaps and shortbread in a food processor. Add the flour and process until the ingredients are crushed to a powder. Put the mixture into a bowl. Melt the butter, then add most of it to the bowl. Mix with a fork until the dry ingredients are evenly moistened and hold their shape when you squeeze them tightly in your fist. If needed, mix in more melted butter.

Press the crust ingredients into a tart pan.

2 Firmly press the crust ingredients into a fluted tart pan (23.5cm in diameter and 2.5cm deep) with a removable bottom. Make sure the crust is tightly packed and of an even thickness, including the sides, and that there are no cracks or holes. Place the tart pan in the oven and bake at 180 degrees for about 15 minutes, or until fragrant and firm. Take the pan from the oven and lower the heat to 160 degrees.

3 Whisk the eggs and yolks with the salt, sugar and nutmeg. Cut the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape out the tiny black seeds. Put the seeds in the bowl with the whisked eggs. (The scraped out vanilla pod can be dried at room temperature, then put into a container of granulated sugar, to make vanilla sugar.) Stir thoroughly, then whisk in the rum and the whisky or brandy. Add the cream and milk and stir gently but thoroughly, then strain the mixture through a fine sieve placed over another bowl.

Slowly pour the custard mixture into the tart pan while it is in the oven.

4 Put the tart pan with the baked crust on the lowest shelf of the oven. Pour the custard mixture into a container with a spout. Slowly pour the custard mixture into the tart pan while it is in the oven. (If you were to fill the tart pan on the kitchen counter then try to move it into the oven, the filling would slosh out.)

Bake at 160 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until the filling is set: it should be a little wobbly at the centre. Cool to room temperature, then chill for at least an hour (longer is better).

5 About 10 minutes before it is time to serve the dessert, sprinkle granulated sugar in a thin, even layer over the entire surface of the tart. Use a propane (or butane) torch to caramelise the sugar so it is a medium to dark brown. Cool for about five minutes, then garnish with fresh fruit before serving.

Use a flame to brown the tart's surface before serving.

I have no idea where the original recipe came from, but whoever created it has my eternal thanks. It's rich, potent and definitely not suitable for children.

There have been articles written about the benefits of ageing eggnog, saying it mellows the flavours. Some advise ageing it for a year or even longer, while others say the eggnog tastes metallic and/or unpleasantly alcoholic if it is aged for too long. But if you have the fridge space, it is not a bad idea to do step one of the recipe now - mixing the egg yolks with sugar, milk and the three kinds of alcohol. Let it age in the fridge until New Year's Eve (or New Year's Day, or whenever you are having your party) before proceeding with the rest of the recipe.

12 'wines' for the 12 days of Christmas - plus a recipe for mulled wine

1 Use a hand mixer to whip the egg yolks with 125 grams of sugar until thick and pale. Stir in the milk, bourbon, rum and Grand Marnier, then refrigerate for at least eight hours.

2 Use a hand mixer to whip the egg whites with the salt until frothy. With the mixer speed on medium, add the remaining sugar (125 to 225 grams) in a slow, steady stream. Turn the mixer speed to high and whip until the egg whites are glossy and form medium peaks.

3 Add one-third of the whites to the egg yolk/sugar/alcohol mixture and whisk to combine. Use a rubber spatula to gently mix in the remaining whites in two additions, trying to maintain as much volume as possible.

4 Use the hand mixer (no need to wash it) to whip the cream to soft peaks. Gently fold the cream into the eggnog. Ladle it into small cups, then add a cinnamon stick and a small amount of freshly grated nutmeg to each portion.

This article originally appeared on the South China Morning Post (SCMP).

Copyright (c) 2018. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

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