Saturday, June 09, 2007

Custard 2 Ways: Baked Creme Caramel & Frozen Vanilla Custard

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As spoken about previously, I promised the good people at the Mount Tamborine Winery cellar door that I'd feature a dessert dish on my blog that (hopefully) does justice to their fantastic Mountain Muscat. Now, I think I've outdone myself! Here is a second dessert, following last week's olive oil and Muscat cake, a duo of of creme caramel and frozen custard, laden with that wonderful Muscat.

I won't deny it, this dish does require a bit of effort. But irregardless of whether you're a self-confessed culinary dummy or an accomplised home cook, this should'nt be in any way out of your league. So here's how its done:

Muscat Creme Caramel and Frozen Custard

150 gm sugar
100 ml water

200 ml thick cream
200 ml milk
100 ml Muscat (or other appropriate dessert wine)
seeds of 1 vanilla pod, or alternatively, a few drops of vanilla extract
4 whole extra large eggs (59g min weight)
4 egg yolks
110 gm caster sugar
8 buttered ramekins

200 ml cream (extra)

Preheat the oven to 160C.

For the caramel component of the creme caramels, simply heat the sugar and half of the water over a medium heat till the water evaporates, and the sugar begins to caramelise. Once it reaches a golden brown colour, take off the heat and splash in the remaining water to slow the cooking. Swirl it around till the caramel dilutes and cools down slightly. Distribute warm caramel among the bases of each buttered ramekin.

In a separate saucepan, heat up the cream, milk and vanilla till just scalding (ie. just before boiling point). Meanwhile, whisk the sugar, whole eggs and yolks in a mixing bowl till pale and frothy. Pour in the hot cream mixture bit by bit, whisking constantly to prevent the eggs from scrambling. Then, when all the cream has been incorporated, whisk in the Muscat. Pour the entire mixture back into the pot and heat over a medium-low flame, stirring constantly, for 4-5 minutes till it slightly thickens.

Strain the liquid mixture through a fine sieve into each of the prepared ramekins. If there are little bubbles along the top edges, remove them carefully with a teaspoon (trick of the trade: you could use a blow torch, if you have one, to blast out any small bubbles off the tops of custards). You will have some custard left over, this will be used to make the frozen custard.

Place the ramekins in a baking dish half filled with hot water (aka. bain marie), and cover the entire thing with al-foil. Place in the preheated oven and bake for 35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Remove, wrap each individual custard with al-foil to prevent drying out, then chill for at least 6 hours, or at best, overnight. Run a hot knife around the rims to unmould them onto a plate, pouring out as much of that sinful caramel sauce as you can! The longer you leave it in the fridge, the more caramel sauce you will get out of it (within reasonable limits of course!).

For the frozen custard, mix the remaining egg custard with the extra cream and churn it in an ice cream maker. If you, like me, do not have an ice cream maker, you can most easily complete this process by placing the mixture into the freezer and diligently mixing with a fork every half an hour till it freezes. That should make it fluffy enough!

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