I’ve always thought custards were rather icky, probably bad associations with powder based sauces that were served up along side crumbles and steamed puddings when I was at primary school (for the most part the meals were lovely and we had proper dinner ladies who cooked everything daily but where I would happily eat second helpings of the vegetables the puddings were never much to my liking…rice pudding, semolina and jam, gypsy tart….horrible,horrible,horrible though I would eat chocolate custard as that was served with chocolate pudding and also because, hello, chocolate…lemon love cake was my absolute favourite school pudding and as far as I can remember it was a shortcake base, a thick lemon curd centre and then a crumbly top…I may be wrong as it’s nearly 35 years since I last tasted it but I know it used to make me so happy to see it written up on the lunch time board.)…anyway off subject a bit there…even at home custard tended to be made with a couple of heaped spoonfuls of a pinky yellow powder from a fat bright primary colours striped cardboard “tin” so I’d often skip puddings and have something from one of the cake tins that my mum would keep in the pantry.
Even once I was all grown up I’d just assumed custards and sauce anglises tasted like I remembered from when I was small so as far as I was concerned custard was just a yellow fright. My boyfriend however loves them and so I happily make custard for him, served alongside crumbles and fruit pies, or if he’s feeling a bit poorly I’ll make him bannana custard (shudder…I hate banana flavoured things) …whisking up egg yolks and scolding cream, slowly stirring the two together, it’s lovely and relaxing to do….but I’ve never thought to actually taste them because you know, custard is yeuch.
But then last Summer when I was on a bit of an ice-cream making fit, a little light sort of came on in my mind…the ice-creams I was making were all for the most part custard based and I very much liked eating them, so I had a taste of the custard I was making..and then another little taste…and another…how stupid was I. For years I’d been missing out on something so delicious……most puddings that are served with a hot custard I don’t care for but turn that custard into a creme brulee and I’m putty in your hands.
I’ve been tinkering about with creme brulee/trinity cream recipes for the past 6 months or so and this seems to be my best one. It sounds a lot harder than it actually is to make, and my boyfriend’s mum declared it the best creme brulee she’d ever had (it’s one of her favourite puddings).
Creme Brulee (enough for 4 people who like to properly taste a pudding)
300 ml of Jersey cream (not an extra super thick one as they often have a thickener added to them and that cooks up a bit odd) just a regular Jersey cream
200 ml of double cream
2 dessert spoons of castor sugar (it can be golden or vanilla if you like)
1 fat vanilla pod (yes good quality ones are a bit expensive but no more than a latte)
4 large organic egg yolks (freeze the whites, you can use those for meringues)
4 single sized ramikans
Put the ramikins into the freezer so they are nicely chilled before you go to use them.
Using a heavy bottomed pan, pour in the jersey cream and the double cream. Cut the vanilla pod lengthwise and with the blade of a knife squish out the vanilla seeds and put seeds and pod into the cream. Gently scold the cream and then allow to cool (this helps the vanilla to infuse)
Put the egg yolks and castor sugar in to a bowl and beat together until the mixture becomes quite pale. It should thicken up and feel quite foamy.
Strain the cooled cream into a clean bowl through a sieve and wash up the heavy bottomed pan. (I also wash and pat dry the used vanilla pod and then keep it in a mason jar of bourbon to make my own vanilla extract.)
Add the egg/sugar mix in to the clean pan and stir in the strained, cooled milk. Stir well together.
On a low heat and using a wooden spoon stir the mixture for between 10-15 minutes until it thickens. You may like to use a wooden whisk for the last 5 minutes or so. Don’t be tempted to turn up the heat as it might catch, just take it slowly, have the radio on, listen to a podcast…..just keep stirring.
Once the mixture has begun to thicken, turn off the heat and pour into a measuring jug and use this to now pour the mixture into the chilled ramikins.
Pop the ramikins into the fridge and now leave them there for at least 7 hours or overnight.
Sprinkle the top with some of the demerara sugar and place them carefully under a hot grill, just keep an eye so that the sugar doesn’t burn. When the sugar is bubbled and ready, turn off the heat and carefully allow to cool for a few minutes before putting them back into the fridge for half an hour…. then serve to a round of ooohs and ahhhs, hand claps and you clever old thing-ing!