Saturday, March 26, 2005

For your arteries' pleasure

Here's a really delightful recipe I came up with today. It's a substantial reworking of something I found in a Cookshelf book. The original had some serious editing problems (not uncommon in that series, unfortunately, because the recipes are otherwise very nice) that resulted in impossible caramelizations, noxious amounts of nutmeg (2 tsp.!), etc. There was also an apparently intentional garnish that, in the photo, looked like mouse droppings. So here is my much-changed version. There is, happily, nothing rodent-like about it.

Makes 5 1/2-cup servings

1 1/4 c. whipping cream
3/4 c. skim milk
3 Tbs. to 1/4 c. sugar, to taste
zest of 1/2 orange, minced
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground Ceylon cinnamon
1/2 tsp. good honey (orange blossom honey is a nice touch)
3 large eggs, beaten
2 dried apricots

Place the cream, milk, and sugar in a large saucepan and slowly bring to a boil, whisking often. Reduce to a simmer and add orange zest, nutmeg, cinnamon, and honey. Continue to simmer a few minutes more.
Add some of the hot cream mixture to the eggs and whisk briskly. Add the eggs to the cream mixture and whisk well. Cook over medium-low heat, whisking often, until the mixture thickens.
Pour into custard cups. Chill at least two hours.
While the custards are chilling, place the apricots in a Pyrex cup and cover with water. Heat in the microwave for 2 minutes. Let stand at room temperature to completely cool and rehydrate the apricots.
When ready to serve, drain and mince the apricots. Spoon a little minced apricot onto the center of each custard.

(Served with: Chicken Marsala, spaghetti tossed with roasted red pepper and anchovy sauce, and steamed broccoli.)