Thursday, March 10, 2011

Sweetly



Got all the recipes for the book rounded up, a hundred-forty-plus: two desserts, and one of them was toast. I'm not joking.



Me, when I hear "dessert," I translate that to "cheese." It is not that I don't like sweets; indeed, at certain points in my life, like my entire childhood, I liked them too much, just ask my dentist. Little will power issue there, so over time I backed away until today I hardly ever eat dessert. But I felt that a whole wide-ranging cookbook with two desserts, one of them toast, would be sort of lame. So I cooked a few up, and I'm glad I did. In the last couple of days I made two takes on maple, apple, cream and eggs: maple flan with maple-calvados sauce, and maple-apple custard pots (pots de creme, en autres mots). Maple and apple go really well together, and hey, it's what I've got.



Then today, an apple-blackberry galette, darling and delicious, with our own apples and blackberry jam, a triumph. So lately I am taking that good advice about eating dessert first, and then eating it again, just for good measure. Pictures here of two of those three, recipe for one. I gotta go walk the dogs for a couple of hours.



Maple Flan with Maple-Calvados Sauce
Serves four

The custard is rich and light at the same time, just barely sweet. The caramel and syrup are intensely mapley, quite sweet; the Calvados and vinegar cut the sweetness and complement the maple flavor beautifully.

The Syrup:
¾ cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 ½ tablespoons Calvados or applejack (or, in a pinch, brandy or rum)
Good pinch salt
2 teaspoons unsalted butter

The Custard:
3 yolks from large eggs
1 whole large egg
6 tablespoons maple syrup
1 ½ tablespoons Calvados or applejack
Pinch salt
1 cup whole milk
½ cup heavy cream

Heat your oven to 300.

For the syrup, reduce the maple syrup by half in a small saucepan over medium heat, taking care that it does not boil over. When it is reduced, very thick and dark, spoon one tablespoon into each half-cup ramekin, and turn and tip the ramekins to distribute the syrup partway up the sides. To the remaining reduced syrup add the vinegar, Calvados, and a pinch of salt, and stir to mix. Set aside.

For the custard: In a mixing bowl whisk together the egg yolks and whole egg. Heat the milk and cream to boiling in a small saucepan. Turn off the heat and let sit for two minutes. Very slowly whisk the milk-cream mixture into the eggs yolks, a couple of tablespoons at a time at first. When half the milk and cream have been added, pour in the rest in a steady stream, continuing to whisk. Add the six tablespoons maple syrup, Calvados, and salt. Strain the custard into a large measuring cup, then pour it into the ramekins. Place the ramekins in a cake pan and add hot water to halfway up the ramekins. Loosely cover the pan with aluminum foil. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes. The custards are done when the sides have firmed up, and there’s just a wee wiggle in the center. Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until ready to serve.

Just before serving, reheat the sauce over medium heat. Stir in the butter and bring the sauce to a boil. It should have a syrupy consistency; if you want it thicker, reduce it a bit more.

Run a paring knife around the edge of the ramekins, and invert each onto a plate. Spoon a bit of sauce over the custards, and bring the rest to the table.

Text and photos copyright 2011 by Brett Laidlaw

5 comments:

Frustrated Farmer Rick said...

I will have to remember this if we ever manage to produce some of our own maple syrup this year. I even have a bottle of calvados close at hand.

vvgveryverygood said...

Can't get enough of that maple!! Tis the season!

Trout Caviar said...

Hey Rick: Huh, my liquor cabinet must have a leak in it, the calvados never stays in there for long...(!)Let me know how it comes out if you try it. I'm going to replace the recipe with a recent edit, as I have found that adding maple and/or calva directly to the egg yolks can sometimes "cook" or curdle the yolks--but it doesn't do it every time, seems to depend on the eggs. Anyway, good to take precautions against that happening. It's a depressing sight.

Alyssa, 'tis the season indeed! I'll be setting taps in our trees this coming week. Definitely need to refresh our supply--I've gone through a bucket of syrup testing recipes.

Best~ Brett

sylvie in Rappahannock said...

C'est tres drole, I have been making a number of desserts experiments here too. ANd I am also using more and more maple syrup (mine's mostly from Pennsylavania, although some is also produced in Virginia's "Little Switzerland" ie Highland County).

Best (continued) wishes for the book!

Trout Caviar said...

Hi Sylvie: Maple syrup is great, and a little can have a big impact in a dish. That said, I also like to eat it by the spoonful! I don't tend to think of Pennsylvania when I think of maple syrup, but that makes sense. I think in Indiana and Ohio it's quite common, too.

It's definitely getting to be that time here--though as in the past two years, it's threatening to get too warm too soon. Today would be perfect, but I didn't get my taps in, tant pis pour moi.

Best~ Brett