Day 27 of 31 days of pumpkin and I have to say this recipe is a real highlight. How could it not be? I’ve taken a layman’s stab at a recipe in Claire Clark’s stunning book, Indulge: 100 Perfect Desserts.
Who is Claire Clark, you ask? Why, she is simply one of the world’s greatest pastry chefs. Back in London after spending 4 years as head pastry chef of The French Laundry in Yountville, CA, she’s currently working on a project of her own which is set to open in the Spring 2010. Indulge is an amazing book, as is the French Laundry Cookbook itself.
The granola on top of the custard is literally one of the best tasting things I’ve ever put in my mouth and I’ve eaten at The French Laundry. Twice. That I can make this at home anytime I want is a true revelation. Now I’m thinking I should do a mega marathon, like cook through her entire book of 100 recipes in a year or something. Oh wait. That’s been done already.
I read in the French Laundry Cookbook that Thomas Keller dictates that a liquid in his kitchen should never pass from one pot to another without first passing through a sieve. Claire Clark’s recipe reminded me of that today and the pumpkin custard passes through a sieve TWICE. I love it. It really makes a difference and is something I want to do more in my everyday cooking life.
Spice Pumpkin Custard with Orange-Infused Granola
This is my simplified version of Claire Clark’s recipe. She of course, uses real pumpkin in her version and has you boil it in milk and use some of the reserved milk. Yum. She also reports all of her measurements by weight. I’ve converted many of them here to volume measurements for ease of use, in case you don’t have a kitchen scale (I do and I was so happy to have it today). If you want the real Claire Clark recipe, you’ll have to buy the book.
Ingredients for the Custard
1/2 cup milk
13 oz canned puréed pumpkin
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
3 medium eggs
2 1/4 oz caster sugar
1 1/4 oz dark brown sugar
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
3 1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
Ingredients for the granola
1/2 cup demerara sugar
1/4 cup honey
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1.5 oz dessicated coconut
3 oz pecan nuts, roughly chopped
3 oz slivered almonds
4.5 oz large rolled oats
2 Tbsp canola oil
grated zest of 2 oranges
Method for the Granola
1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Put the sugar in a large pan with the honey, maple syrup, butter, and vanilla extract and bring slowly to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. I started out on very low heat, and as everything melted and dissolved, I increased it to medium-low heat.
2. Remove from the heat and add the coconut, pecan nuts, almonds and the oats. Mix well, and then quickly stir in the canola oil and orange zest. Work fast because the sugar starts to harden pretty quickly.
3. Turn out onto a rimmed baking sheet sprayed with nonstick cooking spray (or covered with a nonstick baking mat) and spread out evenly. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown, turning frequently to ensure even coloring. Remove from the oven and, as the granola cools, break it up into pieces. After it cools, store the granola in an airtight container.
Method for the Custard
1. Preheat the oven to 325˚F and bring water to boil in a teakettle. In a large saucepan, whisk together the cream, eggs, and milk. Warm it up over very low heat. While it is warming, add the pumpkin purée by passing the canned pumpkin through a sieve on its way into the mixture. Then add the caster sugar, brown sugar, all of the spices and mix well. Stir over very low heat until sugars are dissolved. You’re only heating it to help the sugars dissolve. Remove from heat and whisk in the melted butter. Pass the mixture through a sieve again.
2. Divide evenly among 6 ramekins and lay them in a roasting pan. Place the roasting pan in the oven and then pour near boiling water into the pan until it reaches about 1/2 of the way up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until set. The tops should spring back when you press lightly on them. Remove the dishes from the roasting pan and let cool, then transfer them to the refrigerator where they should chill completely. Serve with the granola sprinkled on top.