As a Catholic girl, I have always loved Easter--a time of renewal. When I was a kid, my mom would make a mega ordeal out of the holiday. After Sunday mass, she'd bake a honeyed ham, sweet potatoes, greens, and a bunny shaped coconut cake. Not to forget my dad who always gave me and my siblings Easter baskets full of chocolates. And, we colored boiled eggs and hid them around the house and backyard.
This year, I admit I purchased gourmet jelly beans and chocolate squares. I almost put together a basket complete with milk chocolate eggs, and more. But then I remembered Easter goodies are good but there is something even better. Almost a decade ago here on the South Shore, the Easter Bunny (well, sort of) delivered me something special but not edible.
A new male kitty I chose from a Sacramento rescue organization greeted me at the front door. He was a Siamese mix with blue eyes, black and tan markings, and a long black tail--my Easter gift. That night was challenging with two Brittany spaniels and a new feline, like a white fluffy rabbit, in the cabin.
I do recall making baked egg custard paired with chamomile tea (more than one cup) for me. The Easter cat? He was hiding underneath the love seat, and eventually sitting on the cat trees while sizing up the dog duo. But in time, we all adapted. So, this week I put together a version of baked egg coconut custard and give credit to my beloved senior Scooter cat who was renamed Zen.
Egg Custard with Toasted Coconut
2 1/4 cups half and half
4 eggs yolks
¼ cup granulated sugar (or a bit more to taste)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Ground nutmeg to taste
3/4 cup coconut, toasted
Basil leaves, fresh (optional)
Berries, fresh (blackberries or strawberries)
In a saucepan warm up the half and half. Do not boil. Remove from the stove top. In a bowl, whisk egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla. Slowly pour the half and half in the egg mixture. Tip: This will help to keep your custard smooth without lumps. Pour the unbaked custard into ramekins. Sprinkle tops with nutmeg. Place dishes into a large baking pan filled with hot water. Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes or until firm. Remove and cool.
Top with whipped cream, and toasted coconut. (Place in shallow pan. Turn oven up to 400 degrees. Stir a few times. In about 10 minutes or less it will be light golden brown.) Garnish with basil and berries. *For a festive effect use colored sprinkles or chocolate shavings. Serves 4 to 6.
This dessert is creamy and rich. Eggs (one of the 20 picks in The Healing Powers of Superfoods --ebook on sale for 2.99 springtime specical!) and sugar (in moderation) can help satisfy a sweet tooth; and help you to not overindulge in an Easter basket of candy. Also, herbs and fruit are a nice touch for presentation, flavor, and some good-for-you nutrients. No doubt this custard is easy to make, fun and pretty to serve, and is calming without a lot of sugar. Truth be told, getting an Easter kitty is as good as it gets—but custard with a crunch of toasted coconut will give you a Zen-like feeling.