Red Wicket Market Farm is a small farm 25 minutes from downtown Columbus, Ohio, near Slate Run Metropark. Breeding Black Ameraucanas and Black Copper Marans to the Standard of Perfection, as well as some Olive Eggers just for fun.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Maple Crème Caramel

Now that it's Spring, I look for a lighter tasting treat to go with those bright Spring flavors. This dessert isn't light in calories, but it's a perfect finish to a nice meal.

Custards seem very intimidating--the key to getting them just right is to take them out of the oven before they seem done. The center should still jiggle a little bit. If you allow them to cook until the center is set hard, the edges will be grainy and the whole thing will taste overpoweringly "eggy."

This custard is very good and very sophisticated. However, my very favorite "custard" of all times is a big, beautiful cheesecake. I'll post that one soon.

Maple Crème Caramel (Bon Appétit, September 1996)
Makes 4

Caramel
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp. lemon juice

Custard
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
3 large egg yolks
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
1/2 cup whole milk


Preheat oven to 300°F. Have ready four 3/4-cup soufflé dishes or custard cups.

For caramel:
Combine sugar, lemon juice and water in heavy small saucepan. Stir over low heat until sugar melts. Increase heat; boil without stirring until deep amber color, brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush and swirling pan occasionally, about 10 minutes. Don't be afraid to pull the caramel off before 10 minutes are up if it comes to deep amber--nothing worse than burnt caramel. Also, I like a lighter caramel, so I almost always pull mine off a little early. Immediately pour caramel into soufflé dishes or custard cups. Using oven mitts as aid, quickly swirl dishes to coat sides with some of the caramel. Set aside.

For custard:

Whisk maple syrup, yolks and egg in medium bowl to blend. Combine cream and milk in heavy medium saucepan and bring to boil. Very gradually whisk hot cream mixture into yolk mixture, making sure eggs don't get too hot too fast. Divide custard among prepared dishes. Put an old, clean dish towel into the bottom of a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan, and then add the custards, making sure they don't touch each other or the sides of the pan. The dish towel prevents sliding. Move the baking pan to your oven rack. Use a tea kettle to add enough hot water to pan to come halfway up sides of dishes. Cover baking pan with foil.

Bake custards until just set in center, about 55 minutes. When finished baking, don't remove the baking dish from the oven when custards are done; just take out the ramekins. Wait until the water is cooled and then remove the baking dish. That way you don't end up splashing boiling water into the custards or onto your toes. Chill custard uncovered until cold, at least 5 hours. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; keep refrigerated.)

To serve, run knife around dish sides to loosen custards. Invert onto plates.