Friday, 18 February 2011

Coffee custard & bananas - a grown up comfort pudding

Banana custard was always a school-days favourite of mine. Mum went one stage better than plain old custard - coffee custard. Logic tells me that coffee and bananas shouldn't work together, but somehow they do, they really do. In the 70's coffee custard meant only one thing. Camp coffee essence mixed into Birds custard powder. I can still taste is now, it was a genius invention and something I have been longing to recreate for years but somehow have never got round to.

Now with my abundance of eggs I suddenly have a reason to make homemade custard. The hens keep on laying and so I need to keep on cooking. So it was to be homemade coffee custard, make with proper coffee, to serve with sliced bananas as kind of retro grown up comfort pudding. The perfect thing for a Friday night on the sofa with the box set of Mad Men.

You could turn this custard very easily into ice cream by churning it, once cool, in an ice cream maker. Custard based ice creams are among the simplest to make, with infinite flavour & texture possibilities that will no doubt be blogged about on another, warmer, day as the year moves on. If you want to turn this into ice cream, the only alternation I'd make to the recipe is to add a little more sugar, another 30g or so. The colder things are the less sweet they become, so frozen puddings will need to be almost cloyingly sweet in their unfrozen state. But don't worry once solid they will taste just right.

Coffee custard & bananas
enough for 2 greedy eaters...

4 egg yolks
60g caster sugar
200ml whole milk
100ml single cream
2 tbsp very strong coffee
2 bananas, cut into slices

In a glass bowl, whisk the eggs yolks with the sugar until sightly thickened. Set aside.

Put the milk & cream in a heavy based saucepan and heat gently until just below boiling point - keep an eagle eye on it, milk is infuriatingly susceptible to exploding over the top of the pan. Just as it reaches a near boil, pour it into the bowl with the egg and sugar whisking all the time until completely combined. Add the coffee and whisk again. Pour the lot back into the pan and heat over the lowest setting, stirring constantly, until it thickens to the consistency of double cream. Be patient, this will take 5 or so minutes. Don't be tempted to turn up the heat as you risk separation and curdling. Should it look like you may have overstepped the mark remove it from the heat and whisk as hard as you can. If the worst comes to the worst and it looks split an energetic blast in the blender usually rescues it. Hopefully you won't need to test this theory.

That is the custard made, now you have a decision to make. Hot coffee custard, or cold coffee custard. My preference is for cold, not ice cold, but chilly room temperature cold. So I pour it into bowl and leave it, top pressed with cling to prevent the dreaded skin forming, until it is cold. And then, only then, do I pour it over my sliced banana.

Heavenly and nostalgic.

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