Sunday, 24 October 2010

The squirels nuts

Baked custard that just manages to hold itself up on the plate, real custard comfort food!


2 desert spoons of roasted and ground acorns (see acorn coffee blog)
100g sugar
375 ml milk
250ml single cream
half a vanilla pod
2 Eggs (well beaten with a whisk)
3 Egg yolk
sugar to make dark caramel


You will need to think about this the day before by first infusing the acorns overnight in the milk and cream or just the milk if you like. Put the milk, cream, vanilla and roasted ground acorns in a heavy bottomed pan and bring to the boil, take off the heat immediately let it cool and put it in a container in the fridge overnight.

Next day make a dark caramel using about a cup of sugar, then carefully add a desert spoon of water (watch out for the bubbling and spitting) pour this into the bottom of the ramekin dishes in a thin layer. you will need to work quickly as it starts to set pretty fast. tip and roll each one to move the caramel across the bottom.
Pass the acorn milk you made the day before through a fine sieve. Put the milk, cream mixture in a heavy bottomed pan and bring back to the boil, stir in the 100g of sugar then briskly but briefly whisk in the egg and yolk.

This is your custard ready to pour into the moulds on top of the caramel. Fill them to the top then sit them in  deep tray containing hot water (not boiling) , the water needs to come nearly to the top of the moulds containing your custard.. temperature should be 70 to 80 degrees c, if you don't have a thermometer then you can hold your finger in the water for a second or two it should be about right.

Put them in the oven at 150 degrees c for 30 to 40 minutes being carefull not to let the water splash into the custards. (Putting the tray into the oven and then pouring the water into the tray can make things easier).
After 25 min you must watch them carefully and check "the wobble", use your finger to tap the top and if you get a kind of ripple as if there is liquid under the skin then they will need longer. you can also give the mould a slight tap to check this.

The perfectly baked custard can take some mastering and may take several attempts, so many factors come into its making like - accuracy of your oven (convection is better) , initial water temperature, how fresh your milk and cream is and the quality of your eggs. Once you get the hang of it you will learn that slower is better, i like to turn the oven down by 5 degrees half way through and cook for a little longer.
You may also decide they are not quite cooked but taking them out of the oven, or turning it off and leaving them in the water bath to cool down will just about finish off the cooking.

The custards are best left in the fridge for 24 hours, this gives the caramel on the bottom time to dissolve which will be your sauce when you turn it out. But also i find the flavour improves in this time.

Gently push your finger into the custard at the edge of the mould to tease it away from the edge, this makes it easier to turn out. You shouldn't need to run a knife around the edge.

Note:  Every oven is different, this is one of the reasons you must start looking closely at the custards before cooking time is supposed to finish.

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