Nigel Slater: Eating Together episode 3 – Custard: Nigel sees how custard brings out the child in us all, from his dad’s fabulous Christmas trifle to a fragrant Iraqi dish that takes Linda back to happy days in Baghdad.
His tour of the flavours of modern Britain reveals the secrets behind home-baked Portuguese custard tarts and a delicious Malaysian custard that is not yellow but green. Finally, Nigel comes up with some extravagant profiteroles with a touch of everyone’s style put together.
Nigel Slater: Eating Together episode 3 – Custard recipes:
Profiteroles with cheat’s custard
Nigel Slater’s profiteroles use both a simpler version of choux pastry and an easy alternative to proper custard.
- Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas 6. Grease a baking tray with a little butter and line with baking parchment.
- For the profiteroles, in a large saucepan, heat 250ml/9fl oz water with the butter, flour and salt over a medium heat, beating well until combined.
- Whisk the eggs in a separate bowl.
- Using an electric whisk, whisk the contents of the saucepan while gradually pouring in the beaten eggs. Continue to whisk until the mixture is smooth and glossy and all of the eggs have been incorporated.
- Dot tablespoons of the mixture onto the prepared baking tray, setting them a good 2-3cm/1-1½in apart. Bake the profiteroles in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until puffed up and golden-brown.
- Pierce the bottom of each cooked profiterole with a sharp knife to allow the steam to escape, then place onto a wire rack to cool.
- Meanwhile, for the cheat’s custard, whisk the egg yolks with the caster sugar and vanilla seeds until fluffly. Gently fold in the Marsala wine and mascarpone.
- Stuff each profiterole with the cheat’s custard through the steam holes, using either a teaspoon or a piping bag (you may need to enlarge each hole using a sharp knife).
- Arrange the stuffed profiteroles in a tall pile on a large serving plate or cake stand.
- Place two heatproof bowls over two saucepans filled with a little boiling water (do not allow the bottom of the bowls to touch the water). Heat over a medium heat until each pan of water is simmering. Add the plain chocolate to one bowl and the white chocolate to the other and stir until melted.
- Trickle the melted plain and white chocolate over the profiteroles, then scatter the pile with the chopped pistachios and crystallised roses and violets to decorate.
Floating islands (Îles flottantes)
Nigel Slater demystifies this quintessential French dish of meringue ‘islands’ floating in custard, splitting it into three easy stages.
- Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas 6.
- For the custard, warm the milk and vanilla seeds in a saucepan over a medium heat. Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer and simmer for 3 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, whole egg and the sugar until pale and well combined.
- Pour the warm milk over the egg mixture a little at a time, whisking continuously.
- Return the custard mixture to the saucepan and cook over a medium heat, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon, for 5-10 minutes, or until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Set aside to cool, then chill in the fridge.
- Meanwhile, for the meringues, sprinkle the caster sugar onto a high-sided baking tray. Cook the sugar in the oven for 4 minutes.
Method part 2
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk the egg whites using an electric whisk As you whisk them, gradually pour in the slightly warmed sugar, little by little, until it has all been incorporated into the mixture and stiff peaks form when the whisk is removed.
- Bring the milk to a very gentle simmer in a saucepan.
- Run a serving spoon under the tap, then take 3 oval-shaped scoops of the meringue mixture and gently lower them into the warm milk. Poach for 3-4 minutes on each side, or until cooked through. Remove from the milk using a slotted spoon and set aside to drain on kitchen paper.
- For the caramel, melt the sugar in 50ml/2fl oz water in a saucepan over a medium heat. Stir with a wooden spoon until the sugar dissolves in the water and the mixture turns copper in colour. Remove from the heat.
- To serve, ladle the chilled custard into bowls. Float one meringue ‘island’ on top of each portion of custard. Drizzle a trickle of caramel over each to finish.
Easy Portuguese custard tarts
These flawlessly authentic Portuguese custard tarts provide a delicious hit of sugar, vanilla and crisp pastry.
- Preheat the oven to its highest setting, or at least 230C/210C Fan/Gas 8.
- For the sugar syrup, bring the sugar, cinnamon and lemon rind to the boil in a saucepan with 250ml/9fl oz water. Reduce the heat until the mixture is simmering, then simmer for 3 minutes. Set the syrup aside until completely cool. Once cool, discard the cinnamon stick and lemon rind.
- For the custard filling, mix the flours together in a bowl. Pour in a little bit of milk and stir with your finger until combined.
- Bring the remaining milk to the boil in a saucepan over low heat, stirring regularly.
- Gradually add the boiled milk to the flour mixture and whisk for 1 minute, or until smooth and well combined.
- Slowly whisk in the sugar syrup until well combined.
Method part 2
- Whisk in the egg yolks, whole egg and vanilla seeds until smooth and well combined. Set aside.
- Roll out the pastry onto a lightly floured work surface to a rectangle measuring approximately 50×30/20x12in, but more importantly to a thickness of 1mm.
- With the longest edge of the pastry rectangle facing you, roll the pastry as tightly as possible, brushing it from right to left with water as you go. Cut the pastry roll into 2cm/¾in-thick discs.
- Place the discs in the holes of a muffin tin and massage them with a circular motion using a wet thumb, until the pastry rises up the sides of the holes in the tray. Make sure you don’t make any holes in the pastry.
- Fill the pastry cases with the custard until they are almost, but not quite, full.
- Bake the custard tarts in the oven for 20 minutes, or until the pastry has risen and the surface of the custard is scorched. Set aside to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving to allow the custard to set slightly.
Muhallabi (almond milk pudding) – Nigel Slater: Eating Together episode 3
This fragrant, exotic chilled custard dessert makes a fitting finish to any feast with a Middle Eastern flavour.
- Whisk the cornflour with a little of the almond milk to a smooth paste. Set aside.
- In a saucepan, heat the remaining almond milk with the sugar, vanilla essence, rosewater and cardamom pods over a medium heat, stirring until mixed well.
- Once the mixture has heated through, discard the cardamom pods, then pour in the cornflour paste and whisk vigorously until the mixture is smooth and has thickened to an almost custard-like consistency; this will take 10-15 minutes. Be careful not to let the mixture stick to the bottom of the pan.
- Pour the mixture into individual dishes or a large serving bowl and decorate with a sprinkling of ground pistachios or almonds and the ground cardamom. Set aside to cool, then cover and chill in the fridge for at least 15 minutes. Serve chilled.
Coconut pandan custard with blue pea-flower rice cakes
This dessert with a difference is an impressive way to end any dinner party with a South-east Asian theme.
Dad’s banana custard trifle
Nigel Slater shares an easy recipe with all the right ingredients: cream, booze and cherries on top.
- Arrange the Swiss roll slices in the bottom of a large trifle dish. Generously soak the Swiss roll pieces with the sherry.
- Prepare the jelly according to the packet instructions, using water to dissolve it. Pour the dissolved jelly over the Swiss rolls, then set aside to cool. Chill in the fridge until the jelly has solidified.
- Prepare the powdered custard according to the packet instructions using the milk. Add the chopped bananas and set aside to cool.
- When the custard has cooled, pour it on top of the jelly, then set aside to cool. Return to the fridge and chill for 30 minutes, or until needed.
- Whisk the double cream until stiff peaks form when the whisk is removed, then slather it on top of the custard.
- Toast the flaked almonds in a dry frying pan over a medium heat until just lightly coloured. Scatter them on top of the trifle.
- Decorate the top of the trifle with the sliced glacé cherries and candied angelica just before serving.