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Friday, February 21, 2014

Custard That'll Make You Lick the Bowl

Happy Friday! It's here, oh joy! The weather is pretending to lean towards spring (but we know the Polar Vortex is coming back! UGH) so let's use this time to look ahead to the delicious desserts of the warmer months! Custards are often the ugly step sister of desserts, often misunderstood and forgotten, so today's post brings them to the forefront and puts a spotlight on all of their gloriousness.

Bringing together two of my favorite things...
Ricotta Caramel Custards
Erica De Mane

  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 pounds fresh whole milk ricotta
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon light rum
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon orange-flower water
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
  1. Preheat the oven to 375° and position a rack in the middle of the oven.
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine 1 cup of the sugar with the water and bring to a boil over moderately high heat. Stir with a wooden spoon to dissolve the sugar. Using a wet pastry brush, wash down any sugar crystals from the side of the pan. Continue to boil the sugar syrup, without stirring, until a golden amber caramel forms, 6 to 8 minutes.
  3. Remove the saucepan from the heat and dip the bottom of the pan in a bowl of cool water to stop the cooking. Immediately pour the hot caramel into eight 4-ounce ramekins; swirl to evenly coat the bottoms with caramel. Set the ramekins in a roasting pan.
  4. In a food processor, combine the ricotta with the whole egg, egg yolks, cream, rum, vanilla, orange-flower water, orange zest and the remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Process until smooth. Pour the mixture into the ramekins. Put the roasting pan in the oven and pour enough hot water into the pan to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
  5. Bake the ricotta custards for about 45 minutes or until golden brown on top and set around the edges but still slightly soft in the center. Transfer the ramekins to a rack and let cool. Cover and refrigerate the custards overnight.
  6. To unmold, run a small knife around each custard, place a dessert plate on top and invert, giving the ramekin a little shake. If the custard sticks, briefly dip the bottom of the ramekin in hot water and invert again.

Utilizing one of Giada's favorite ingredients...
Mascarpone Custards with Summer Berries
Lori De Mori

  • 8 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sweet Marsala
  • 1 1/2 cups brewed espresso, cooled
  • 4 dozen 1 1/2-inch Italian amaretti cookies (see Note)
  • 2 cups mascarpone, at room temperature (1 pound)
  • 2 cups mixed fresh berries, such as blueberries, blackberries and raspberries
  1. In a large stainless steel bowl, beat the egg yolks with the sugar until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Set the bowl over a medium saucepan of simmering water. Gradually whisk in the Marsala and whisk constantly until the mixture triples in volume, about 8 minutes. Remove the bowl from the pan and continue whisking for another minute.
  2. Pour the espresso into a shallow bowl. Dip the amaretto cookies in the espresso one by one and use them to line the bottoms of eight 3 1/2-inch ramekins; use any broken cookies to fill the spaces.
  3. In a medium bowl, beat the mascarpone with a rubber spatula until creamy. Add the Marsala custard and fold together until smooth. Spoon the mixture into the ramekins and refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours. Garnish with the berries and serve.
MAKE AHEAD The mascarpone custards can be refrigerated, covered, for up to 2 days. Serve chilled.

From one of my favorite DC chefs...
Maple Custards with Sugared Pecans
Jose Andres

  • 3 1/4 cups pure maple syrup
  • 16 large egg yolks
  • 4 large whole eggs
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cups pecan halves (1/2 pound)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Salt
  • Boiling water
  • Whipped cream, for serving
  1. Preheat the oven to 325°. Spoon 1 teaspoon of maple syrup into each of twelve 1/2-cup ramekins, swirling to coat the bottoms. Arrange the ramekins in a large roasting pan.
  2. In a large stainless steel bowl, whisk the yolks with the whole eggs until blended. Whisk in the remaining 3 cups of maple syrup. Pour the mixture into the ramekins. Carefully pour enough very hot water into the roasting pan to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Cover the pan with foil and bake for about 55 minutes, or until the custards are just set.
  3. Using tongs, immediately remove the ramekins from the hot water and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate the custards for at least 6 hours or overnight.
  4. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, melt the butter. Add the pecans and stir to coat with the butter. Cook over moderate heat until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Put the sugar in a large bowl. With a slotted spoon, transfer the pecans to the bowl with the sugar and toss to coat. Transfer the nuts to a baking sheet, shaking off any excess sugar. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Let cool.
  5. Carefully run a thin knife around each custard. Dip each ramekin in a bowl of boiling water, then quickly invert the custard onto a plate. Spoon whipped cream over the custards, garnish with the sugared pecans and serve.
MAKE AHEAD The custards can be refrigerated for up to 2 days. The sugared pecans can be stored overnight in an airtight container.

Happy baking!

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