By Cal Orey, The Writing Gourmet
"There is something about the blandness of soggy bread, the crispness of the golden outer crust and the unadulterated pleasure of a lightly set custard that makes the world seem a better place to live.”
-- Clement Freud
-- Clement Freud
Tomorrow is the first day of autumn and today the temperature feels like summer. The tourists are still here. The store was crowded but the pool was empty--the way I love it. When it's warm outdoors (the windows are open) it's not the time to bake an Italian casserole as I'd planned. So, I settled for one of those organic, roasted veggie pizzas "Made in Italy." And then, baking egg custard was teasing me all day long...
I also gave in to my food cravings (if you do this in moderation you'll not pack on unwanted fall/winter weight) and baked the light, easy, inexpenisve and somewhat healthful custard. (This pudding does boast calcium, protein, iron, selenium, and other nutrients. But note, it's high in saturated fat and cholesterol. That means, enjoy a small serving with a big scoop or two of fresh fruit.) Also, I had half and half milk leftover from the Italian Hazelnut Fudge so it was meant to be...
I remember in 7th grade, making baked custard was fun and I did it for an assignment in my Home Economics class. (My teacher didn't think I was domesticated enough; I received a D grade. I couldn't cook or sew. My blue whale pin cushion turned out flat, not plump like my classmates' cushions.) But my custard was OK. My mom had those cute custard dishes with the scalloped edges. I do have the parfait glasses which can be doable but not as darling... This time around I put the custard mixture into a new round glass dish (the concoction fit perfectly) with a red top and will put it in fridge when it cools. It is so easy to make baked egg custard. And I've decided to top it off with dark chocolate to celebrate today's foreign rights sale to a publisher in a faraway country. Yes! Yes, they like my book The Healing Powers of Chocolate. Meanwhile, back at home in the mountains...
Sierra-Style Baked Custard 'n' Dark Chocolate
2 cups half and half milk, 2% low-fat
1/2 cup 2% low-fat organic milk
3 large brown eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup premium maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
nutmeg and cinnamon to taste
dark chocolate 60% cacao, shavings
Combine milk in a saucepan and heat till scalded, but do not boil. Mix eggs, sugar, syrup and vanilla Pour into glass baking dish. Sprinkle nutmeg on top. Place dish in a pan of water in the oven. Bake at 400 degrees (I live in a high altitude so it may be different, a bit lower for you) for about 45 minutes until firm. Cool. Top with grated dark chocolate shavings.
I have a lot of quality chocolate leftover from my research for the chocolate book. I chose Ghirardelli Chocolate "Evening Dream" ("A milder dark chocolate with a hint of madagascan vanilla). Since I prefer not to eat after 7:00 P.M. (I learned this from Europeans who like to stay lean), I'll have this custard with chocolate for breakfast with fresh sliced strawberries and Italian Roast. But I just tasted it plain. And yes, it is like I remember when I was younger. Creamy, sweet but not too sweet, and comforting. The nutmeg flavor makes it work for me. So, I may not be in Italy yet....but I'm going to fantasize a lot. (Next month it's back to the European spa here at Lake Tahoe to swim and pamper the body, mind, and soul.) Till then, I'll cook and bake like I'm vacationing in Tuscany for the fall olive harvest.