Thursday, December 20, 2007

Almond Custard

Nobody seems to make custard anymore. What happened to custard? Is it perceived as too bland? Pale? Wrong color altogether? It's a sad state of affairs. Custard is the ubiquitous dessert. Wonderful for a homey dinner. Nice enough for a company dinner, especially if accompanied by some fruit, or a cookie. I must admit that it's been a long while since I've made any custard. And yet, I like it very much.

So, when I was scouring through some recipes a week or so ago I ran across a custard recipe I haven't made in years and years. Pairing custard with almond may seem unusual. But it's a lovely match, especially since you add the apple juice concentrate as a perk at the end. What's unusual about this recipe is that there is no refined sugar in it. The custard is made with just eggs, flavorings (vanilla and almond) and the two milk types. Once baked and cooled, you put on the thickened apple juice topping, which is naturally sweet, and that provides the only sweet thing in the custard. Then you sprinkle almonds on top.This may not be a WOW kind of recipe, but it looks pretty enough, and represents good old American home cookin'. And note, this is gluten-free also, in case you're searching for those kinds of recipes.

A former employee, Kathleen Heckathorn., brought this to one of our potluck lunches at Ad Masters (the ad agency I've talked about before that I co-owned), and everybody just scooped it right up. I've made it a few times over the years, although not for awhile. I hadn't input it into my recipe program, so that's why I'd lost track of it. But it was in my catch-all alphabetized recipe files - the clippings, photocopies, some of them ancient, that live in a file cabinet. I use more of the apple juice concentrate that Kathleen did - to make sure there is enough sauce to go around, and Kathleen began the thickening with cornstarch, which wasn't part of the original recipe. The concentrate is just a bit too thin, as is out of the can, for a topping, so the cornstarch helps it along well. If you find the custard odd tasting (no sugar) you could add a little bit to it. Just not very much.
After making this, I phoned Kathleen to thank her for this recipe. Hadn't talked to her in years. It was great fun catching up about our families, etc. So, thanks Kathleen for this great recipe.
I have another custard recipe that I'll be sharing with you after the first of the year. It's truly low calorie. But you'd never know it. Absolutely wouldn't ever figure it out. It is a pumpkin custard. Since I haven't had my fill of pumpkin yet this year (I only got to eat two slices of pie over Thanksgiving), it will be something nice to make in the New Year. When DH and I have agreed we're going to work on reducing the calories around here. Blog writing isn't exactly the best thing for the waistline, I'll admit. I keep wanting to share more and more of my old tried and true recipes.

Almond Custard
Recipe looks like it may have come from a Family Circle magazine or something similar.
Servings: 7
4 whole eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 cups half and half
1 1/2 cups milk
6 ounces apple juice, frozen concentrate -- undiluted
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons toasted almonds
1. Preheat oven to 300. Measure milk and half and half into a saucepan and gently bring up to a simmer. Do not boil.
2. Meanwhile, combine the eggs in a medium bowl, then add extracts. Mix until well combined.
3. Pour scalded milk into the egg mixture and stir to mix up completely. Pour the mixture into a well-buttered ovenproof dish. Shallower is better than higher.
4. Place dish into a larger but flat container and pour hot water in the sides (do not get any in the custard) and place in the center of the oven. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center, comes out clean.
5. Remove to a rack to cool, then refrigerate.
6. When ready to serve, combine the apple juice concentrate and the cornstarch in a small saucepan. Stir to dissolve the cornstarch, then heat until the apple juice mixture has thickened some. Add the 1 tsp. of vanilla and cool briefly.
7. Just before serving pour the juice over the custard and sprinkle the toasted almonds on top.
NOTES : Use a shallow baking dish if possible. There is no sugar in the custard, so the apple concentrate topping is a necessary part of the dish.
Per Serving: 205 Calories; 12g Fat (53.0% calories from fat); 7g Protein; 16g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 147mg Cholesterol; 93mg Sodium. Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 1/2 Lean Meat; 1/2 Fruit; 1/2 Non-Fat Milk; 2 Fat.
To print a PDF recipe, click title at top.

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