Sunday, March 13, 2011

Adventures with Angie OR How I Learned to make Custard

Photos: scrambled vanilla eggs, anyone?

Custard!

Okay--my cupcake fixation has led to many hours of watching any TV show with cupcakes in it, and this practice has led to a fixation and fascination with Buddy Valastro and Cake Boss. (Wouldn't you love to have an Italian family that works together and eats together all the time?) Anyway--I ordered Buddy's delightful book and after cleaning the house on Saturday, I took off to the grocery store to stock up on cake flour, eggs, butter (lots!), and confectioner's sugar.

But before I started one of Buddy's cakes (the book has recipes!), I wanted to try an ice cream recipe that I found on epicurious.com. I have an ice cream maker that I hardly ever use, so I thought I could make some ice cream and freeze it for a day when I'm NOT on a diet. Then, while the ice cream churned away, I'd start Buddy's carrot cake because that's my favorite kind of cake in all the world.

Well . . . the ice cream recipe called for only a few things: whipping cream, whole milk, sugar, eight, count 'em, EIGHT egg yolks, and a teeny bit of Frangelico. Oh--and an entire vanilla bean, sliced lengthwise.

Had to go to two stores before I found a vanilla bean, and I almost didn't buy them--TWO beans in a jar cost $9.99. Ten bucks! Five bucks a bean!

But because I was in a gourmet mood and feeling pretty invincible because I've been watching so many hours of Buddy and Company, I bought the beans.

Came home and put on one of my new aprons (I'm still making them!), then poured the cream, milk, sugar, and bean into a saucepan and began to heat and stir. I have to admit, it was pretty cool to see little black flecks appear in the mix--the bits of the vanilla bean you often see in really good vanilla ice cream. Then I whipped the eight egg yolks together. I was supposed to next pour the egg whites into the milk and vanilla mixture, while not letting it boil.

I have a gas stove, so I thought if I kept stirring and kept an eye on the flame, I could keep it from boiling. So I'm stirring and stirring and suddenly, a bubble--Eeek! I quickly lower the flame, but suddenly--I mean really, all of a sudden, I find myself staring little bits of scrambled egg with vanilla flakes all through it.

Sigh. I had a sinking feeling, but I persevered. I strained the mix, following the direction, and ended up with a small bowlful of watery whey, and a big bowlful of very sweet, very spotted scrambled eggs. (I tasted them. If I hadn't been on a diet, I might have eaten them all.)

I realized all hope was lost and set the eggs aside for my dogs.

On to Buddy's cake.

He gives good directions, but I see right away that an OPTIONAL ingredient is a vanilla custard cream. I consider doing without it--especially when I see that the steps to making the custard creme are almost EXACTLY like making the ice cream-with-the-five-dollar-bean I just ruined, but I'm determined to make this like Buddy would.

So I stir in the milk and the cream and the sugar and vanilla extract (Buddy saves me a bundle of cash by not asking for the vanilla bean), and I whip the egg yolks--five of 'em--in a separate bowl, then I have to pour the eggs into the milk mixture. This time I'm so paranoid about getting the mix so hot that it scrambles the eggs that I turn the flame WAY down low, practically off.

Buddy says to beat the mix on the stove for a minute, so I do. The mix is supposed to be thick and creamy, and mine is like yellow soup. Not working. I try to convince myself that my soup looks like cream, but then I have to get real and admit that it's not. So I turn up the heat, pray, and beat for another minute, and YES! The froth disappears, the mixture thickens, and it's CREAM! I quickly turn off the flame and beat in the butter.

THANK YOU, BUDDY, FOR TEACHING ME HOW TO MAKE CUSTARD!

The rest of the recipe was fairly standard: I added carrots, sugar, cake flour, spices, the custard, walnuts, raisins, etc., and after baking I placed two cakes into the freezer--I'll defrost and frost them when I need a dessert for my book club or something.

So now I won't faint if I have to make a custard. Now, if he can only teach me how to melt chocolate without burning it . . .

1 comment:

Accidental Poet said...

I love it!!!