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Did you know that eggnog has been enjoyed at parties since medieval times? Yes, historians say that eggnog originated in early medieval Britain (under a different name, “posset”), and that it was a high-class drink usually reserved for lords and ladies due to the fact that most people wouldn’t have been able to afford the ingredients needed to make the special drink.
Well, today even us commoners can afford to toast the holiday season with a glass of eggnog — and now we can even make a cake with it. That’s right: Eggnog cake is one of the most decadent and elegant ways to bring the creamy, spicy flavor of eggnog to your holiday table. As Marie Antoinette would say, let them eat cake…eggnog cake!
Eggnog cake is kind of a no-brainer if you think about it. After all, eggnog is already a dessert in a glass, so it’s no wonder that eggnog cake is a tradition for many families during the holidays. And once you try this recipe for Eggnog Cake from Sweetest Menu, we think it will quickly become a holiday tradition for you as well!
You can make this cake into two layers or three layers, but regardless of how many layers you choose, the real star of this Eggnog Cake is the Eggnog Buttercream that you will spread on top. Both the cake and the buttercream include real eggnog, and you can choose your favorite store-bought brand or make your own. This Mashed list of the most popular store-bought eggnog is spot-on, with the Southern Comfort Vanilla Spice Eggnog taking the well-deserved top position. Despite the brand association, the Southern Comfort Eggnog doesn’t include any alcohol.
And while you can choose any eggnog brand you like, it is trickier if you choose an option made with liquor. This is because alcohol can impact the structure of your cake (learn more here). So play it safe and get a non-alcoholic, full-fat carton of eggnog.
Additionally, you can make this recipe with dairy-free eggnog and plant-based butter, but your mileage may vary as the original recipe is made with dairy-based ingredients.
How to make Eggnog Cake
To make the eggnog cake, you first make the cake batter by creaming together butter, vanilla, sugar and eggs. You then add in your dry ingredients including flour and rich, seasonal spices like nutmeg and cinnamon. As the last step, put in your eggnog of choice. Sweetest Menu warns that at this point, the batter may look much thicker than the cake batter you’re accustomed to, but don’t worry: When this cake is through baking, it will be light, fluffy and have the perfect crumb.
While the cake bakes and then cools, make the eggnog frosting. The buttercream includes eggnog and is then topped with white chocolate shavings and pretzels to add a bit of salt and crunch. If you prefer, you could also top your eggnog cake with a dusting of coconut flakes or shimmer sugar in holiday colors like red and green or even blue and white. We also love the idea of swapping out pretzels for slivered almonds or pecans.
You can find the full recipe here at Sweetest Menu. And while you’re there, check out some of their other eggnog baking recipes, including Easy Eggnog French Toast and Baked Eggnog Cheesecake with Maple Caramel.
Other eggnog recipe ideas
If you prefer cream cheese frosting to buttercream, we also love this eggnog cake recipe from Liv for Cake which not only includes a cream cheese frosting, but also a rum simple syrup and white chocolate ganache. After you are done baking the cake, you poke holes in it and pour your rum simple syrup over it so that it saturates deep into the cake for lots of spiced holiday flavor. Then, you spread your cream cheese icing over it and sprinkle the white chocolate ganache on top. This is a recipe that would make even the Grinch light up with the Christmas spirit!
Or, try this recipe for Buttered Rum Eggnog Cake from Grandbaby Cakes. Made with eggnog, vanilla, sugar and cake flour, this spiced pound cake is then topped with a frosting made with rum, butter and powdered sugar.
If you’re short on time (and who isn’t during the busy holiday season?), you can try this eggnog cake recipe from Love From The Oven which uses handy shortcuts like boxed yellow cake mix and French vanilla instant pudding mix.
Or, if you don’t have time to bake and ice a cake, you can make eggnog cookies to add to your Christmas cookie roundup. These Eggnog Sugar Cookies from King Arthur Flour are easy to make in advance, as you can prepare the dough and chill in the fridge until you are ready to roll them and bake them.
Sugar cookie dough can be chilled for up to five days before baking. Chilling cookie dough makes for a better-tasting cookie because the time in the refrigerator allows the fat to solidify, so the cookies won’t spread as much while baking and the flavor will be more concentrated.