Oct 162014

Maple Custard + Nocello

I don’t make a ton of desserts — I fall more into the cook than baker camp. But out of all the desserts I have ever made, this has to be one of my favorites. Perfect for fall, or any time you want just a small bit of something absolutely decadent, these maple custards are super simple, and utterly delicious. Three rather ordinary ingredients — cream, eggs, maple syrup — are gently cooked together to make these little pots of dreamy custard. Served with a ginger snap or perhaps a pecan- or walnut-flecked butter cookie, they make a lovely ending to a fall meal. (Plus, they give me an excuse to use my pot de crème pots, which makes me unreasonably happy!)

Pairing: Nocello

I forget about Nocello. For years at a time, even. And I don’t know why! Because it is so, so delicious. This walnut- and hazelnut-flavored liqueur from Italy is silky smooth, sweet and concentrated, with accents of vanilla and caramel. I absolutely love it — on its own or splashed into coffee. (If there’s a better flavoring to make a boozy iced coffee, I haven’t found it yet.) And it’s a fabulous match for these maple custards. Definitely give this pairing a try!

Maple custards

Recipe: Maple Custards

2 cups cream
1/2 cup dark, Grade B or C maple syrup
6 egg yolks

Preheat oven to 325F.

Warm the cream in a small saucepan.

In a small bowl, stir the maple syrup into the egg yolks. Mix in a little bit of the warm cream, then the rest of the cream, stirring constantly until smooth. Strain into a measuring cup or pitcher, then pour into six pot de crème or other small ramekins or cups. Lay a small piece of foil over each cup and place in a larger baking pan. Fill the pan with water to about 1/2 way up the cups to make a water bath.

Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the custards are set in a ring about 1/2-inch wide around the outside edge. The custards should still be soft in the center.

Do not over bake, or you’ll lose the silky smoothness. I try to keep a close eye on them after about 30 minutes, and take them out as soon as they gain that ring around the edge and get past the obviously-still-liquid stage in the center.

Serve warm or chilled. I like them best still slightly warm, but they do keep well in the fridge, covered, for two or three days. Makes 6 custards.

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