Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Space Honey Custard

To celebrate the season premiere of one of our favorite shows - Futurama - Chip and I decided to make a show themed feast!  I knew that I had to make something with honey;  The Sting is one of my favorite episodes and it heavily features the (not-so) ordinary honey the Planet Express crew gathers from deadly, deadly space bees.  From Bender's buzzing buttocks to Leela's slow descent into madness, this episode demonstrates the wonderful weirdness that is Futurama - part ridiculous absurdity and part sweetness.

I decided that we needed a dessert we could eat by the spoonful; something to mimic eating honey straight from the jar, just like they do in the show.  Since the day was so hot, I settled on making a creamy, cool custard with some Earl Grey shortbread cookies on the side.  To make the custard I slightly modified a basic baked custard recipe from the excellent blog Baking Bites; I'll post my version below.  For the cookies I followed Martha Stewart's recipe to the letter.

The custard was out of this world, and a perfect light ending to a heavy fried meal.  The honey flavor shone through without the cloying sweetness that honey based desserts sometimes have, and the vanilla bean just made everything that much better.  As for the cookies - I'd call them a mixed success.  The flavor of the tea and the orange peels added complexity to an otherwise simple dish, but their texture left something to be desired because I didn't grind the leaves down to a fine enough powder.  Live and learn - next time (and oh, will there be a next time!) I think they'll rock.

Space Honey Custard

3 C Whole Milk
4 Eggs
1/2 C Honey (my substitution - Baking Bites calls for 1/2 C sugar)
 1/2 Vanilla Bean, split lengthwise

While baking, your custard will need to sit in a water bath to prevent scorching, and you should set this up before you start working with your ingredients. I used an 8x8 Pyrex baking dish for this recipe, but you could also use ramekins if you prefer single servings.

1) Grease your ramekins or baking dish, set aside.  Place your water bath into the cool oven, and preheat to 325°.

2) Heat the milk and the vanilla bean in a medium sized saucepan over med-low heat. I scraped the seeds out of the pod and added them to the milk before I dropped in the split bean, because I love the speckled look the tiny seeds provide and I think scraping the seeds out helps intensify the flavor.

3) While the milk heats, whisk the eggs together in a medium sized bowl until they are well combined.  Pour in the honey and whisk again until the mix is fully combined.

4) When the milk is very hot, right before it boils, take it off of the heat and begin adding it to your egg mix very, very slowly making sure to stir the entire time.  Adding too much hot milk at once will cook the eggs, so patience is key here.

5) Once all the milk has been added and mixed into the eggs and honey, pour everything into your prepared baking dish through a strainer, to catch any lumpy eggs and the vanilla bean.

6) Pop the Pyrex into the hot water bath, and bake at 325° for at least 40 minutes.  My custard took more like 55 minutes to be done, so your time may vary.  Start checking at 40 minutes, and if your knife doesn't come out clean put it back in for five minutes and check again.

7) Once your custard is done, let it cool in the water bath for around fifteen minutes.  If you can't resist the delicious aromas, you can eat the custard warm, but I prefer to hide it in the fridge for a couple of hours and eat it when it is nice and cool.

1 comment:

  1. This blog is such a splendid idea! I will have to try this recipe sometime... it looks delicious!! xoxo