Monday, December 19, 2011

Spiced Baked Muscat Custards

spiced muscat creams

Christmas has sort of snuck up on me this year. While the decorations have been out in the shops since October, our summer weather isn't really playing along and it's hard to get into the spirit of an Aussie Christmas when you're still wearing a coat in December! So with just days to go, I thought I'd embrace my favourite part of the season (ahem, get my act together) and bake up something festive. And these little beauties certainly fit the bill.

spiced muscat creams

If you haven't already noticed, baking with booze is one of my favourite things, and I reckon you're given a free pass at Christmas to indulge in brandy, rum or muscat-soaked desserts. These spiced baked custards have a triple hit of booze in the muscat-soaked raisins, the custard itself and also in the caramel on top. It's silky, rich, indulgent and downright delicious.

If you're cooking for a crowd, the custards can be baked in advance and stored in the fridge with the caramel poured on top just before serving. Or, if you like, skip the caramel altogether and serve them with a bruleed sugar crust and berries. I loved digging down to the bottom to scoop up the boozy raisins and have a little bit of all three elements in every bite… with a sip of muscat to wash it down of course!

spiced muscat creams

I also want to mention some lovely free-range eggs that I was given courtesy of McLean’s Run and One Green Bean that I used to make these custards. I grew up with chickens as pets, so we always had the freshest eggs with vibrant yellow yolks, and it makes such a difference in your cooking. The closest thing to collecting eggs from your own backyard is to use quality free-range eggs from Australian owned and run company who truly care about the welfare of their chooks. Thanks again to McLean's Run for sending me two dozen lovely eggs!

The baked muscat custards look adorable served in mismatched ramekins or teacups, but it's quite a rich dessert so I would keep the serving sizes quite small, especially if you're serving them at the end of a big lunch!

It's also time to announce the winners for my Jacobs Creek competition (picked at random). Congratulations to KayB, RozzieC and Phoebe! And thanks to everyone who participated :)

spiced muscat creams

Spiced Baked Muscat Custards
Adapted from Gourmet Traveller
Serves 6-8

• 100g dried muscatels or raisins
• 175ml muscat
• 600ml pouring cream (35% fat)
• 50ml milk
• 2 cinnamon sticks
• ½ vanilla bean, seeds scraped
• 6 egg yolks
• 55g light brown sugar

Muscat Caramel
• 250g caster sugar
• 50ml muscat
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine muscatels (or raisins, if using) and 125ml muscat in a saucepan and simmer over low heat until muscat is absorbed (6-8 minutes). Set aside.

Combine cream, milk, remaining muscat, cinnamon sticks and vanilla bean and seeds in a saucepan and bring to the boil over medium high heat. Remove from the heat, over and allow to infuse for at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk egg yolks and sugar until sugar dissolves. Pour cream mixture over and whisk to combine. Strain into a jug.

Preheat the oven to 160°C. Divide muscatel/raisin mixture between 6-8 ramekins or tea cups (depending on the size you are using), pour custard over and place in a tea-towel lined roasting pan. Pour in enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the bowls and cover tightly with aluminium foil. Bake until just set (50-55 minutes). Remove from the water bath and stand for 10 minutes. Refrigerate until required.

To make the muscat caramel, combine sugar and 80ml of water in a medium saucepan and stir over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves. Cook for 6-8 minutes, or until caramel in colour. Remove from the heat, add muscat, vanilla and 80ml water (be careful as mixture will spit), return to the heat and stir until combined. Set aside until cooled. Pour muscat caramel over the baked creams and serve.

Eggs used in this recipe were a gift from McLean's Run and One Green Bean

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