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Recipes: Eggnog, an iconic yet polarizing holiday drink, finds new fans . . . in baked goods

Try it in scones, muffins, and eggnog cremes.

 Glazed Eggnog Scones with Dried Cranberries and Ginger and Eggnog Streusel Muffins
Photograph by anthony tieuli; food styling by Sheila jarnes/Ennis inc.
Glazed eggnog scones with dried cranberries and ginger and eggnog streusel muffins.

My sister’s glazed, tree-shaped eggnog cake stands tall in our family’s holiday baking pantheon, but an annual slice isn’t always in the cards for me, as thousands of miles separate us. So, to fill the gaps, I’ve come up with a couple of my own eggnoggy holiday treats. Tidy little ginger- and cranberry-studded scones and streusel-topped muffins are lovely either for breakfast or with a pot of coffee or tea to fuel a late-night gift-wrapping marathon (isn’t all the best elf work accomplished under the cover of night?). Lastly, individual eggnog cremes end dinner with a cheery holiday vibe.

GLAZED EGGNOG SCONES WITH DRIED CRANBERRIES AND GINGER

Makes about 18 2-inch scones

For tender scones, don’t over-knead the dough — stop just after it becomes cohesive. These are best served very fresh, within a couple of hours after the glaze sets.

Scones

2        cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling dough and cutting scones

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¼      cup sugar

1½    tablespoons baking powder

½      teaspoon ground cinnamon

¾      teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Salt

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6        tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into roughly ½-inch cubes

2/3      cup finely chopped dried cranberries, plus about 18 whole dried cranberries, for garnish

1/3       cup finely chopped crystallized ginger

1         large egg

2/3      cup eggnog

Glaze

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½ cup confectioners’ sugar

4 teaspoons eggnog

¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Salt

Scones

With the rack in the upper-middle position, heat the oven to 500 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment and set aside.

In a food processor, pulse the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ¼ teaspoon salt to combine. Scatter the butter pieces over the flour mixture and pulse until butter and flour are thoroughly combined and have a mealy texture, about 8 3-second pulses. Pour the mixture into a large bowl, add the chopped dried cranberries and crystallized ginger, stir to distribute, and make a well in the center. In a small bowl, whisk the egg and eggnog until uniform, add the liquid to the flour mixture and, using a flexible spatula, fold until the mixture looks shaggy and very little dry flour remains at the bottom of the bowl.

Flour a work surface, turn out the dough, sprinkle a little flour over the top, and knead gently just until uniform and cohesive (try to keep the kneading to a minimum). Reflour the work surface to prevent sticking, if necessary, and gently roll the dough into a circle roughly 9 inches across and ¾ inch thick (thickness is more important than the shape or diameter, which may vary).

Flour a sharp 2-inch biscuit cutter and briskly punch out rounds of dough (push the cutter straight down and avoid rotating it), cutting them as close to one another as possible (to maximize the number of rounds) and reflouring the cutter as necessary. Arrange the rounds about 1 inch apart on the lined baking sheet. Gently knead the dough scraps together 2 or 3 times until cohesive, roll ¾ inch thick, and punch out as many rounds as possible; add them to the baking sheet with the first batch.

Place the baking sheet in the oven, immediately adjust the temperature to 425 degrees, and bake until the scones are puffed, light golden on top, and browned on the bottom, about 10 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through baking. Transfer the scones to a wire rack and cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.

Glaze

In a small bowl, whisk the confectioners’ sugar, eggnog, vanilla, nutmeg, and a tiny pinch of salt until thick and smooth. Top each scone with about 1 generous teaspoon glaze, spread it to the edges, place a whole dried cranberry in the center, rest for at least 30 minutes for the glaze to set, and serve at once.

 

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EGGNOG STREUSEL MUFFINS

Makes 12

As a hedge against overbrowning the crusts, use a light to medium gray or gold-toned nonstick tin, if you can. Note that the streusel mixture should chill for at least 20 minutes before using it.

Streusel

2/3      cup lightly toasted walnut or pecan pieces

½      cup flour

¼      cup granulated sugar

¼      cup, packed, light brown sugar

½      teaspoon ground cinnamon

½      teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Salt

5        tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Muffins

2½   cups all-purpose flour

2        teaspoons baking powder

½      teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

¾      teaspoon ground cinnamon

Salt

8        tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

½      cup granulated sugar

½      cup, packed, light brown sugar

1         teaspoon vanilla extract

2        large eggs

1         cup eggnog

Streusel

In a food processor, pulse the nuts 2 or 3 times to make the pieces a little smaller — take care not to grind them fully. Add the flour, granulated and brown sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ¼ teaspoon salt and pulse once or twice to combine. Drizzle the melted butter over the mixture and pulse until the mixture just begins to resemble wet sand. Scrape the mixture onto a plate and refrigerate until ready to use (at least 20 minutes).

Muffins

With the rack in the middle position, heat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a nonstick standard-sized 12-cup muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray, or line with paper liners, and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, nutmeg, cinnamon, and ¾ teaspoon salt and set aside. In another large bowl, whisk the melted butter, granulated and brown sugars, and vanilla until uniform. Add the eggs and whisk until uniform. Add the eggnog and whisk until uniform. Add the dry mixture and, using a flexible spatula, fold and stir until wet and dry ingredients are just incorporated (do not overmix — small lumps are fine). With a large spoon or portion scoop, divide the batter evenly among the prepared cups in the muffin tin.

Form the cooled streusel into green pea- to chickpea-sized clumps with your fingers and, working quickly, top each muffin with about 1½ tablespoons of the mixture. Gently pat the streusel into the batter to help secure it, and bake until the muffins are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin or 2 comes out clean, about 20 minutes, rotating the muffin tin halfway through. Cool the muffins in the tin for about 10 minutes, remove them to a wire rack, cool for about 10 minutes longer, and serve warm or at room temperature.

TIP: IN A MELLOW TONE

 In recent years, you may have noticed bakeware with a gold-toned nonstick finish. In my experience, this medium tone produces beautifully browned baked goods, neither too dark (which is often  the case with heavily sweetened batters in very dark bakeware) nor too light (which is sometimes the case with light-toned bakeware that can reflect  some of the oven’s heat).
Anthony Tieuli
In recent years, you may have noticed bakeware with a gold-toned nonstick finish. In my experience, this medium tone produces beautifully browned baked goods, neither too dark (which is often the case with heavily sweetened batters in very dark bakeware) nor too light (which is sometimes the case with light-toned bakeware that can reflect some of the oven’s heat).

EGGNOG CREMES

Serves 6

Dense and silky, this dessert falls somewhere between creme brulee and creme caramel on the richness spectrum. I developed this recipe using good-quality low-fat eggnog.

1¾ cups eggnog

1 cup heavy cream

¼ cup sugar

Salt

1½ tablespoons bourbon or dark rum

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

8 large egg yolks

¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, plus extra for garnish

Fresh raspberries and/or confectioners’ sugar for garnish (optional)

In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the eggnog, cream, sugar, and ¼ teaspoon salt to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar, about 7 minutes. Set aside off heat to cool to lukewarm. Add the bourbon or rum and vanilla and stir to mix.

Meanwhile, with the rack in the middle position, heat the oven to 325 degrees. Line the bottom of a large baking dish or roasting pan with a kitchen towel, arrange 8 5-ounce ramekins or custard cups in the towel-lined pan, and set aside. Bring a large saucepan or kettle of water to boil over high heat.

In a large bowl, whisk the yolks to combine. Whisking constantly, slowly add the eggnog mixture; continue whisking to combine. Strain the liquid into a large measuring cup or bowl with a spout, add the nutmeg, and stir to distribute. Gently tap the measuring cup on the work surface to release any trapped air bubbles, skim any foam from the surface, and divide the mixture evenly among the ramekins.

Transfer the pan to the oven rack, carefully pour in the boiling water to about two-thirds of the way up the sides of the ramekins, and bake until custards are just barely set (the center 1 inch or so will jiggle slightly if you gently shake the ramekin), about 30 to 40 minutes. Transfer the ramekins to a wire rack and cool to room temperature. Cover them with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold, at least 4 hours or up to 4 days. Garnish with a light dusting of nutmeg and raspberries and/or confectioners’ sugar, as desired, and serve.

Adam Ried appears regularly on “America’s Test Kitchen.’’ Send comments to cooking@globe.com. Follow us on Twitter @BostonGlobeMag.