Introduction: Eggnog Cream Pie

About: I love to spend time in the kitchen to relax and feed those I love with great eats and treats.

Well this eggnog cream pie isn't going to win any diet food contests, but its rich, creamy flavor, with a little bit of booze, is a perfect ending to a holiday meal, or a comforting end to a cold winter's night. One local dairy, Hartzler’s, makes a delicious eggnog, and the season is so short, I figured incorporating eggnog into a pie would bring two of my favorite winter staples into a tasty dessert I was happy to serve.

I adapted this recipe from America's Test Kitchen's Family Baking Book Vanilla Cream Pie recipe, using eggnog instead of whole milk, adding nutmeg, and using vanilla paste instead of a vanilla bean. One of my favorite techniques I've learned from ATK is the pie crust they use for custard pies is a regular crust rolled out using graham cracker crumbs. This creates a wonderfully flaky crust, with sweetness and crunch from graham cracker crumbs.

I hope this pie will find a place at your next holiday gathering, happy holidays!

Serves 8

Step 1: Gather Ingredients

1 recipe Pie Dough for Custard Pies, fully baked:
I use ATK's Vodka crust recipe, found here: rolled out with 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs instead of flour. After fitting into pie plate and crimping edges, freeze dough for 30 minutes. Place a baking sheet on lower-middle oven position and preheat oven to 375 F. Prick dough all over with fork, line with 2 perpendicular sheets of nonstick foil and fill with pie weights (I use dried beans).Bake on baking sheet for 25 to 30 minutes until the dough looks dry and is just beginning to color, remove foil and weights and continue baking until deep golden brown, 10-12 minutes longer. Let the crust cool to room temperature. 

Eggnog Cream Filling
1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon table salt
5 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
2 cups eggnog, room temperature
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg (preferably freshly grated) 
1 tsp. vanilla paste (can substitute 1/2 split vanilla bean, or 1 tsp. vanilla extract)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 2 pieces
1 teaspoon brandy or more to taste (I now use two Tbsp. Disaronno almond liqueur)

Step 2: Prepare Filling

Whisk sugar, cornstarch, and salt in medium saucepan. Add yolks, then immediately but gradually whisk in eggnog and evaporated milk. Stir in ground nutmeg and vanilla paste.

Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently at first, then constantly as mixture starts to thicken and begins to simmer, 8 to 10 minutes. (This is NOT the time to start playing Candy Crush, unless you enjoy eggnog scrambled eggs.) Once mixture simmers, continue to cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute longer. (When they say stir constantly, they mean it, many times I read online comments that their filling never set, if it's not a thick pudding when you finish cooking, it won't be a thick pudding when you eat it, keep stirring the full minute, the mixture will thicken and be much harder to get your whisk through.) 

Remove pan from heat; whisk in butter and brandy. (If you've used a vanilla bean, remove it now.) Let the mixture cool until just warm, stirring often, about 5 minutes.

Step 3: Fill Pie Shell, Cool, and Enjoy

Pour the warm filling into the baked and cooled pie crust and spread to the edges. Lay a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the filling and refrigerate the pie until the filling is chilled and set, about 4 hours. 

Serve with whipped cream, if desired. Enjoy! 

(The pie crust can be baked, cooled completely, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, and stored at room temperature up to 1 day. The filled pie can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 24 hours before topping and serving.) 

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