When we are lucky enough, something comes along that cannot be expressed in words. For us, that is the culinary artfulness of Laura Wright, who has created The First Mess. The First Mess is a blog that features plant-based, organic food creations that rival recipes from top Michelin-star restaurants and are captured with such photographic artistry, they could be featured in Saveur Magazine. Her inspiration stems from her surroundings, as her home sits between a peach orchard and vineyard, which is what allows her to be so in tune with all things natural. She believes a meal should never be taken for granted, which is why we are so enthusiastic about her healthy vegan eggnog. Let the party begin!
The first time I tried the-real-deal eggnog was at a holiday party for a restaurant I was working at. I had just arrived, and my boss/chef offered me a cup ladled right out of a big trifle dish. Prior to this, I had never loved eggnog. All boxed versions tasted sickly sweet and way too artificial, but since I have never been one to refuse offerings of any kind, down it went!
To my surprise, it was so good. I mean the texture was velvety and a bit frothy and there was a detectable backbone of nutmeg and spiced rum. The most appealing part of it was that the eggnog was extremely rich. And like all things conventionally rich, it was made with heavy cream, egg yolks, whipped egg whites and sugar.
Therefore, in a quest to turn this holiday classic into a less health-damaging beverage, I set out to make a vegan version. The key was to match the rich flavor and creamy texture, without the eggs and cream. So what was the solution? A base of coconut and raw cashews. I created a velvety milk out of the two, then sweetened it up with dates, and filled out the flavor with warm vanilla and freshly grated nutmeg. It is a pretty amazing, more nutrient-dense take on the classic… without the all the sugar and the cream coma. I opted to keep this eggnog sans booze, but you are always welcome to stiffen it up by adding some rum, bourbon, brandy or any spirit you love.
Vegan “Egg” Nog
makes 7-8 cups
1 cup raw cashews, soaked 4 hours or more
2 cups filtered water
1 400 ml can of coconut milk (organic + non-BPA-exposed is preferable)
5-6 medjool dates, pitted
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg + extra for serving
Strain the cashews and place them in a blender with the 2 cups of water. Blend on high until a smooth and creamy milk forms, about one minute.
Add the coconut milk, pitted dates, vanilla bean seeds, sea salt, and nutmeg to the cashew milk. Blend the mixture on high again until you have a smooth, homogenous mixture. Transfer the nog to a serving vessel or jar and store in the fridge until you’re ready to use it. I like it slightly cooler than room temperature. Once you pour the nog out into serving glasses, top it with a bit of extra grated nutmeg.
Note: If you’re making this ahead of time, it’s great to shake it up in a jar or re-blend it right before you serve it to achieve that frothy quality of traditional nog.