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Egg Cognac: A Vintage Austrian Holiday Treat

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Classic Viennese cooking from the turn of the century (and that would be 1900) is not a trendy style. But, many of the recipes you’ll find in this recently published cookbook, “The Viennese Kitchen,” (Interlink Books, $30) by Monica Meehan and Maria von Baich, will appeal to modern cooks.

The recipes are from a carefully handwritten notebook and journal kept by Baroness Hertha Freiin von Winkler, born in what is now Slovenia, in 1889. Meehan is von Winkler’s great niece; von Baich is Meehan’s mother.

The recipes might be vintage, but they were all tested and updated for home cooks. Dumplings and molded gelatin puddings might seem old fashioned, but they are still around in various forms — panna cotta, for instance, is essentially a molded gelatin pudding, though an amazingly delicate and delicious one!

This recipe for egg cognac caught my eye because eggnog is something I look forward to every holiday season.  I imagine this is the eggnog of 120 years ago – and it is very well fortified with vodka. If you want it for Christmas Eve, make it soon, as it needs to sit a few days in the refrigerator. But, after that you can keep it refrigerated for up to four months.

Aunt Putzi’s Egg Cognac

3 cups whole milk
Generous 2 cups powdered sugar
1 ounce vanilla sugar (or use a teaspoon of vanilla)
5 large egg yolks
1 cup vodka

Rinse a medium-sized saucepan in water (but do not dry). Pour in the milk, along with 3/4 cup of the powdered sugar and the vanilla sugar. Slowly bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes, uncovered. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. Then strain the milk through a sieve into a large bowl to leave the skin behind.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk the egg yolks with the remaining powdered sugar (1 1/4 cups) until pale. Ladle a quarter of the strained milk into the mixture and whisk on the lowest setting. Now add the remaining milk and the vodka and whisk very briefly to incorporate.

Transfer to a sterilized bottle and refrigerate for 4-5 days before sampling this delicious tipple. Keeps well, refrigerated, for up to four months.

From “The Viennese Kitchen” by Monica Meehan and Maria von Baich


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