A Little Magic: Maple Custard
Berkshire native Alana Chernila, local politician, mother of two, and author of the cookbook, The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying & Start Making (Clarkson Potter), dispenses change and cooking ideas to readers and friends. She shares her peak-of-the-season recipes with Rural Intelligence to help us make the most of what’s growing in our region. Her first cookbook has achieved top-seller status, and Chernila has just announced that she has a new one in the works: Meals from the Homemade Pantry (Clarkson Potter), due out in 2014.
I’ve remembered this custard with the help of my friend Janet Elsbach. These little custards are so easy to put together that you can even make them for yourself when your not feeling well. They are, of course, perfectly appropriate for healthy people, too, especially (as Janet tells us) in the lunches of small, healthy people, but the reason why this is such spectacular food is because if it’s simplicity, gentleness, and easy-going nutritiousness. I’ll stop shying away from what I really mean here and say right out that this stuff is like breast milk, only in a mason jar. Delicious, slightly sweet, high protein love. It will restore your health and well being, and then some.
Adapted from Mollie Katzen’s Moosewood Cookbook, with additional thanks to Janet who gave all sorts of exciting tips and additions to the recipe (as well as the suggestion for the perfect pudding container, that is, the 1/2-pint, wide-mouthed Mason jar).
Makes enough for nine 1/2-pint wide-mouth mason jars
1/2 cup maple syrup
5 cups whole milk
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (freshly ground, if possible)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Set nine 1/2-pint wide mouth mason jars (or ramekins or custard cups) into your largest pan. Set a kettle of water on the stove to boil.
Put the eggs into the blender or the bowl of a stand mixer fit with the whisk attachment. Blend (or whisk) the eggs until just starting to get foamy. Add the maple syrup, milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and vanilla. Blend or run the stand mixer again until the mixture is uniform. (You can also do this by hand with a whisk- just make sure that the mixture is well-beaten.)
Pour the mixture into the jars. Put the pan into the oven, and then pour the boiling water (remember that kettle?) into the pan so that it comes at least halfway up the jars. Close the door to the oven and bake for 50 minutes, or until the custards are set, puffed, and golden.
Remove from the water-filled pan. Let cool a bit, then eat warm or chilled. Top the jars with their lids for storage in the fridge.
Reprinted with permission from Eatingfromthegroundup.com. All text and photos copyright 2008-13 by Alana Chernila.