Monday, March 29, 2010

more about custard

the thing about custard is that it's  good to eat and so easy to make, if you've the time to let it bake and set.

one thing i have a lot of is time, and cr likes it a lot, so i'm kind of experimenting with custard. hey, if cr's coming for sunday lunch, there might as well be custard along with whatever i rummage from the cupboards.

basically, it's just two cups of milk and three eggs along with a sweetener and maybe a flavoring. you mix it together, toss it in the cups (ok, maybe pour is a better verb), put the cups in a water bath, and bake 'em at about 320° until you can stick in a knife or toothpick in and it comes out clean, somewhere between forty minutes and an hour.

it's not at all fussy about the time of baking, because of the water bath, and it's not very fussy about oven temperature. and you can vary the amount of eggs, or the proportion of  yolk to white; more yolk makes a tenderer, richer custard, and more white will make it stiffer.

this week i made two experimentals.

the first is a banana number with a caramelized molasses sauce.

i happened to have had a perfectly ripe banana and it turns out that cr likes banana cream, so into the freezer with the banana.

i've never worked with a frozen banana before; i knew that it would never again recover a state suitable for eating, but i was surprised about what the freeze/thaw did to it!

first of all, i had to keep taking it out of the freezer to play with it, because a frozen banana has an interesting, fun feel to it that i found irresistible.

but then when i set it out to thaw so i could USE it, what i had was basically a long thin black bag of smoosh and i was wondering what the most practical method for opening the container and pouring out the smoosh would be.

aha! i thought, glancing around me. scissors!

so i cut it open at one end, and simply poured the smoosh into the blender. from there is was business as usual, except that instead of caramelizing just the sugar, i put molasses in with that.

and then last night i made a little dark chocolate coconut number; i substituted a can of coconut milk for some of the regular milk. you have to melt the chocolate into whatever you're using for your base, so that takes a little extra time and care. you don't want it to scald, but you do want the chocolate completely melted and mixed in.

use good chocolate. it always pays in the end.

once the chocolate was melted and mixed and a little vanilla and a tiny bit of honey (gives it a little fruity tang) added, i had to wait for the thing to be cool enough to add the eggs, because if you add eggs into a mixture that's too hot they just cook, and that'd be no good.

so. into the water bath, and into the oven.


the house smells divine. it smells divine because of all the lunch basket cooking, but i'm not talking about that yet.

but add the smell of chocolate custard baking to all that, and -whoa, nellie!-

this right here is what heaven must smell like.

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