Festive holiday eggnog or punch for all ages Essay

Festive holiday eggnog or punch for all ages



Nonalcoholic refreshments for this party season can appeal to all
ages. Here we offer two very different choices: a rich eggnog and a
sprightly punch. You might consider serving both.

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Bottled beverages are another option. Sold in wine bottles,
nonalcoholic juices made from wine grapes can go into a tub of ice
alongside white wines so that guests can choose for themselves. Varietal
juice choices include Gewurztraminer, Chenin Blanc, White Riesling, and
Beaujolais Blanc, plus native grape juices like Catawba. There are also
wines with very low alcohol (about .5 percent) content.



Other beverages to consider, often handsomely packaged, are
domestic and imported apple ciders. The grape juices and cider cost
about $1.50 to $4 a bottle.



Praline Eggnog



For a fluffy topping, if you make the eggnog ahead, reserve some of
the cream to whip and add just before serving.



1 1/4 cups sugar



3 to 6 cups milk



3 sticks cinnamon, each about 3 inches



1 vanilla bean, about 7 inches, split in half lengthwise


2 cups whipping cream


12 eggs



Nutmeg



In a 3- to 4-quart pan, melt half of the sugar over high heat,
stirring constantly until it is a golden liquid; lumps will melt on the
heat. Do not let syrup scorch. Remove from heat; at once add 3 cups of
milk, cinnamon sticks, and vanilla bean. Mixture will sputter.



Return pan to medium heat and stir until the caramelized sugar is
dissolved. Cover and chill until cold, at least 3 hours or overnight.
Remove spices. Rinse vanilla vean and let dry; reverve for other uses.



Whip cream until it holds soft peaks; set aside. Whip eggs with
remaining sugar until about tripled in volume. Whisk eggs and half the
cream into caramelized milk.



For less rich eggnog, add remaining 3 cups milk. Pour into a 4- to
5-quart punch bowl, top with remaining cream, and grate nutmeg on top.
Serve cold.



If made ahead, do not add nutmeg; cover and chill up to 2 days.
Whisk gently to blend, then top with nutmeg. Dip down into punch as you
serve. Makes 12 to 16 cups, or 16 to 21 servings of 3/4 cup each.



Christmas Flower Punch



Dried hibiscus are sold as Jamaica flowers in Mexican markets; they
give the punch a brilliant ruby color.



10 cups water



24 bags herbal tea with hibiscus flowers



1/2 cup dried hibiscus flowers, optional



3/4 cup sugar



1/4 cup lime juice



2 limes, cut crosswise into thin slices



Bring water to boiling in a 4- to 5-quant pan. Add tea bags,
hibiscus flowers, sugar, and lime juice. Remove from heat and let
stand, covered, until flavors are blended, about 10 minutes. Pour punch
through a stainer into a warmed punch bowl, top with lime slices, and
serve hot.



Or reserve lime slices and chill punch, covered, up to 2 days.
Serve cold or reheat, and add lime slices. Makes 2 1/2 quarts, or 13
servings of 3/4 cup each.



Photo: A dusting of nutmeg settles on cool, cream-fluffed eggnog
that is colored and flavored by caramelized sugar



Photo: Bottled like fine wine, juices of wine grapes offer pleasant
alternatives for people who prefer nonalcoholic refreshments

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