SHF#12: Cooking Up Custard
Vanilla Bean Pots de Crème
Thomas Keller's method as detailed in the Bouchon cookbook produces a luxuriously creamy custard, set so delicately it virtually melts in your mouth. The most magical thing, perhaps, is that it practically cooks itself. The pots (or ramekins) are coddled in a water bath before being baked in the oven. And thus, the simplest of ingredients - eggs, cream and vanilla beans - are transformed by the alchemy of very gentle heat.
Crème Brûlée Tart with Lavender Scented Crème Anglaise
This is based on an unusual recipe from Sherry Yard's The Secrets of Baking. I had first approached the preparation with trepidation but Ms.Yard's unconventional technique works a treat - by baking crème brûlée in sheets then freezing it, you are able to cut out any shapes you fancy (I used a fluted cookie cutter) and blowtorch the tops a la minute. The custard sits atop a fragrant white peach compote (the original recipe calls for sliced Royal Blenheim apricots) and some fabulously flaky almond pastry, accompanied by a classic vanilla crème anglaise intriguingly infused with lavender.
Another Thomas Keller recipe, this time from The French Laundry Cookbook, and replete with spectacular twist, as you would expect. The slow-baked meringue swaddles a bittersweet chocolate mousse centre - a surprise hinted at by the garnish of chocolate tuiles and shavings. This featherweight island floats in a yolk-yellow pool of silky crème anglaise, picturesquely speckled with mint oil. The finishing touch? A few flakes of sea salt (I used Maldon instead of the fleur de sel specified) to round out the sweetness.
17 September 2005: Elise's rolling roundup is up!