Three Custards

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The texture of a baked custard should be tremblingly fragile and as smooth as kid gloves. There should be the least amount of texture to interfere with the perfumes and flavors, which in this recipe are pistachio, orange, and caramel. Other flavors to use for infusing the milk are pecans, walnuts, almonds, fresh ginger, cinnamon, star anise, fennel seeds, coconut, and espresso.

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • pinch salt
  • 2 tablespoons grated orange rind
  • ¼ cup Grand Marnier
  • ½ cup shelled pistachios, blanched, peeled
  • 6 egg yolks

Method

Heat the oven to 300°F.

Put ¼ cup sugar and the water in a saucepan and boil over medium heat until the sugar becomes golden brown and caramelized, about 15 minutes.

While the sugar is cooking, mix the cream, milk, and salt and heat almost to boiling. Divide into thirds. Stir the orange zest and Grand Marnier into one part.

Grind the pistachios in a food processor or spice mill and stir into another part.

When the sugar is caramelized, let it cool 5 minutes and pour the last third of the milk and cream mixture into the caramel. Stir until the caramel is dissolved. Let the mixtures steep for 1 hour.

Put 2 egg yolks and ¼ cup sugar in each of 2 bowls and beat until light yellow and smooth, about 5 minutes. Put 2 egg yolks in another bowl and beat until smooth.

Heat each of the milk infusions and strain each flavor separately into the bowls, putting the caramel milk into the bowl with yolks only. Stir until each egg mixture is dissolved in the flavored milks.

Pour each mixture into 4 ramekins and put them in a baking dish. Put the dish in the oven and pour boiling water around the ramekins until the water comes three-quarters of the way up the sides of the ramekins. Cover the dish with foil and bake until the custards are set, about 20 minutes.

Take the dish out of the oven carefully. Take the ramekins out of the water and let them cool. Serve at room temperature.

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