Have you ever made old-fashioned eggnog? It is a process. I had a friend who was very into the idea of homebrewing, but thought it was too intense to actually attempt it himself. About five years ago, he obtained an eggnog recipe from the super-geniuses at MIT though, and somehow convinced me that I should attempt it with him. Never mind that I had never tried eggnog and generally thought it sounded gross (we’ll get to my aversion to liquid dairy later). One late autumn Sunday, we collected all the necessary ingredients and got to work. I remember startling amounts of heavy cream, light cream, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, a handle of bourbon, and cracking and separating two dozen eggs. The MIT guys had figured out that whipping the egg whites made for a better final result. We put it in the biggest stockpot I’ve ever seen in a home kitchen, and stuck it all in a fridge deep in the basement of his family home. After three weeks, it was deemed safe enough to try. All I remember is that it was kind of like melted ice cream. It was after this little taste that he told me he was going to let it ferment in the fridge for A YEAR, when it would be “at its peak.” I was secretly grateful when his dad tossed it during a cleaning rampage six months later. Year old eggs and dairy? Not my thing. I’ll stick to the stuff in a box. And to bypass my previously mentioned aversion to milk, I’ll throw it in some cookies and fill them with frosting. That’s an eggnog recipe I can get behind.
These cookies are soft and sweet, full of eggnog flavor, and spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg. When I began thinking about an eggnog cookie recipe about a year ago, I couldn’t imagine that they would be good. Maybe they would taste right, but they’d be cakey. A good rule of thumb is that the higher the ratio of liquid to flour in a cookie recipe, the cakier the final product will be. Luckily, I’ve learned a lot about making chewy cookies in the last several years and have a few baking chemistry tricks up my sleeve. Here, we use two egg yolks, and then replace the volume of egg whites with eggnog. This nixes the possibility of cakey cookies and ensures a soft and chewy texture. To amp up the eggnog flavor, we add 1/2 teaspoon each of cinnamon and nutmeg and a splash of pure vanilla extract. The dough will appear very soft and fluffy after mixing, and will need a chill. This will allow the butter to re-solidify and the flavors to meld. Don’t skip the chill! This is what will give us soft, chewy cookies to fill with a thick eggnog frosting. The alternative are crunchy, possibly lacy cookies. We don’t have time for those this holiday season. The eggnog frosting filling is a snap to make. Just whip together shortening, confectioner’s sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt, then add in a few tablespoons of eggnog and some vanilla. That’s it. I’ve mentioned my belief in wiggle room when it comes to dessert, but if you are not into using shortening, you may substitute and equal volume of softened unsalted butter. The shortening will have a filling more reminiscent of Oreos, and the butter will have a (you guessed it!) more buttery flavor. Either way, the filling takes these cookies over the top! The soft cookies and the creamy filling together just…well, they’re magical.
No matter whether you enjoy eggnog as a beverage or not, you won’t be able to resist these cookies. Sweet, creamy, spicy, and chewy?! You can’t go wrong with these. Make sure to make room for these on your cookie trays this year!
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg*
2 large egg yolks, room temperature
4 tablespoons eggnog*
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup shortening*
2 1/4-2 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
pinch of ground cinnamon
pinch of ground nutmeg
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
3 tablespoons eggnog
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In a separate mixing bowl, beat the butter with a hand mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in sugar and spices until completely combined. Add egg yolks one at a time, mixing until combined. Then mix in the eggnog and vanilla. Turn the hand mixer to low, add in the flour mixture in two installments. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and
chill for 90 minutes or up to 2 days.
Preheat the oven to 350F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
Scoop the dough in one teaspoon increments. Roll dough into balls, and set them two inches apart on your prepared pans. Bake cookies for 7-8 minutes, until the tops no longer look doughy. Let cool on the baking sheets for 7-10 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely. Repeat process until all dough has been used.
To make the filling, place the shortening in a large mixing bowl, and beat with a hand mixer on low speed. Once it’s smooth, add in 2 1/4 cups confectioner’s sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in two installments, until smooth. Beat in eggnog and vanilla. If you’d like the filling to be thicker, add an additional 1/4 cup of confectioner’s sugar. If you would like to pipe the filling, place it in a plastic sandwich bag, and snip off a corner.
There are two options for filling.
1. To assemble a sandwich cookie by piping, apply filling by pipe a circle in the middle of the underside of one cookie, leaving about 1/4″ around the edge. Top with a second plain cookie, with the underside filling-side-in. Repeat until all cookies have been used.
2. To assemble a sandwich cookie by spreading, use an offset frosting knife to spread 1/2-1 teaspoon on the underside of one cookie. Top with a second plain cookie, with the underside filling-side-in. Repeat until all cookies have been used.
Sandwich cookies keep covered at room temperature for up to a week.
1. I recommend using freshly grated nutmeg. It has a much more pronounced flavor than the pre-ground variety.
2. I use Horizon Organic Low Fat Eggnog.
3. If you do not wish to use shortening, you may use 1/2 cup room temperature butter.