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Thursday, July 24, 2008

A Custard Easier to Make Than Creme Brulee

One of the delights of living in the Pacific Palisades is being able to take daily walks along the beach. The walks are great for exercise but also to enjoy the way the beach, ocean, and sky look in the early morning. I have to admit that I would never have discovered the pleasures of walking on the beach had it not been for my wife. For Michelle taking a walk is as necessary as breathing. I think she learned the benefits of walking from her mom, Helen. Whenever we visit her parents in New Jersey, she and her mom head to the boardwalk to take a long walk. This is their way of catching up and clearing their minds before the day begins.

This morning we walked with our friends Janet, Kelly, and Annette. We hadn't seen Kelly for a month because she and her family had been in Europe. She told us that one of the high points of the trip was a crème brûlée she'd eaten in Paris. That dessert was so delicious she couldn't stop thinking about its perfect crust and flavorful custard.

The walk was a short one because we had early meetings but there was enough time to catch up about kids going off to college in the fall (UC Davis and Cooper's Union) and trips everyone had taken (Japan, Europe, and Sundance). Before we left the beach to head back to our cars, Kelly wanted me to tell her how to make crème brûlée.

I told her that, personally I thought that a traditional crème brûlée takes too much work and uses too many egg yolks. If she wanted a good recipe she could find one by googling it. I offered her my custard recipe that is easier to make and less artery-clogging.

Custard with Baked Plums

Any stone fruit--peaches, nectarines, cherries, apricots--will work as well as plums. Cherries would be pitted and halved. Peaches and nectarines cut into eighths.

Yield 4-6 servings
Time 90 minutes

Ingredients

2 eggs
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla (optional)
4 ripe plums (washed, pitted, quartered)
1 tablespoon raw sugar
1 teaspoon sweet butter

Method

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the plum quarters on a Silpat sheet or piece of tin foil on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle the tops with raw sugar, then bake 30 minutes. Remove and let cool. Spatula up any liquid that accumulated on the Silpat and reserve to drizzle over the finished custard.

Beat together the eggs and 1/2 cup white sugar. Add the cream and (optional) vanilla and stir well. Butter a large 8" round oven-proof baking dish or 6 porcelain ramekins. Pour in the custard and put in the baked plum quarters. Add 1" of water to a large roasting pan. Put the custard into the water bath and bake for 30-60 minutes. Every 15 minutes rotate the baking dish and ramekins so they cook evenly. If the custard is browning too quickly, lay a piece of tin foil over the top The custard is done when it doesn't jiggle when lightly shaken.

Remove to cool on a wire rack. Drizzle with plum liquid. Refrigerate until just before serving. To make the sugar crust, dust with the tablespoon of white sugar, then heat with a kitchen torch until lightly browned. Serve immediately.

1 comment:

LV said...

This is so fantastic for the season- I just bought a bag full of plums from the farmer's market. Thanks for the recipe!