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Since I never seem to get around to sending out Christmas cards or letters, I decided to blog a bit to keep my fans updated. :-)

Monday, January 26, 2009

Custard (or, what to do when you have lots of egg yolks)

Here is the promised custard recipe. It is intended to be used as pie filling, so it is quite firm. If you want a softer consistency, reduce the amount of cornstarch or add more milk. Just a "heads up", this one is very rich.

Chocolate Custard
5 ounces fine-quality Bittersweet (Dark) Chocolate
4 ounces Unsweetened Chocolate
1 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Cornstarch
3/4 tsp. Salt
6 large Egg Yolks
4 1/2 cups Milk
3 tablespoons unsalted Butter, cut into bits and softened
1 1/2 tsp. Vanilla

In a microwave-safe bowl or measuring cup (I prefer the 4-cup pyrex measuring cup), melt the chocolate using 50% power. Start with 2 minutes, and then check the chocolate by trying to stir it. If it is still pretty hard, go for 1 more minute (still at 50% power) and check it again. Repeat until it is soft enough to stir. There is a fine line between melting and scorching, and you don't want to cross it. Chocolate doesn't really lose its shape when melting, but it does get soft enough that when you start to stir it, the shape collapses into a melty pool of chocolate. Keep stirring until it is all melted and smooth.

In a heavy saucepan (about 3 quarts) whisk together sugar, cornstarch, salt, and egg yolks until combined well and add milk in a stream, whisking. While whisking, bring milk mixture to a boil over moderate heat. Allow to simmer (keep whisking!) until thick, about 1 minute. Force custard through a fine sieve into a bowl and whisk in melted chocolate, butter, and vanilla until smooth. Cover surface of filling with plastic wrap and cool completely (unless you like the skin on top. I do!)

To use as pie filling, pour custard into a 10-inch prepared crust and chill pie, covered, at least 6 hours or overnight. Top with whipped cream just before serving (if desired)

Variation: Coconut Custard
Omit chocolate. Toast 1 cup coconut in a dry skillet over low heat, shaking constantly. Do this before making the custard so that the coconut has time to cool before being stirred into the custard (add with vanilla)

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