Thursday, October 13, 2016

Savory Cheese Custard with Fleur de Sel and Parmesan Wafers

When I first heard our latest sponsor, The Spice House, requested a “baking” challenge, I was perplexed. All my fellow 37 cooks, along with family and friends, know I have no talent when it comes to baking. Yes, I am fine roasting vegetables, but my oven is used to store pans. I almost sat this one out. Almost. Then the wheels started turning! I really enjoy savory foods and I also love a good cheese course. Oh wait….this is a baking challenge! After a light meal recently, I surprised my dinner guests with a cheese “course” they will never forget! I served them Savory Cheese Custard with super light Sea Salt and Parmesan Wafers, along with excellent Blueberry Chutney made by my dear friend, Brooke Brickman. What’s better than cheese and fruit?

Savory Cheese Custard

by Susan Ritchie-Hubbard

2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoons The Spice House French Broken Leaf Thyme
1 teaspoon The Spice House Lemon Peel Zest
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
3 large eggs, plus 2 yolks, room temperature
1 teaspoon The Spice House Aleppo Pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 ounces freshly grated Gruyere
1 ounce freshly Parmigiano-Reggiano
Boiling water

First Note: All custards start with two basic ingredients, cream and eggs. From there you can create the ultimate savory or sweet custard, whether you use more eggs, or any other thickening ingredient, like cheese! My first choice was of course cheese. Let your imagination run wild!!

Preheat oven to 300°F. Pour the cream into a medium saucepan. Add the thyme, lemon peel and garlic to the cream. Let the cream mixture come to room temperature. Set the heat to medium and stay close. As soon as the cream mixture begins to “steam” , (you will actually see steam start to rise) remove the pan from the heat. While the cream mixture cools slightly, whisk the eggs, egg yolks, Aleppo pepper and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Strain the cream mixture through a fine mesh strainer into another bowl or large measuring cup. Discard the solids. Very slowly, add the cream to the eggs, whisking constantly. Do not add the cream too quickly or the eggs will begin to cook. Add the Gruyere and Parmigiano-Reggiano, whisking until the cheese is completely melted. Divide the custard between the ramekin size of your choice. I selected individual ramekins, but I have also used party size ramekins. Place the ramekins in a baking dish deep enough to add enough boiling water to cover the ramekins, leaving 3/4” above the water line. Bake for approximately 28 minutes for individual ramekins and a bit longer for larger ramekins. As the custard cools it will firm up, so make sure the custard has a bit of wiggle in the middle when you remove the pan from the oven. I serve this custard at room temperature, but feel free to serve it warm.

Fleur de Sel and Parmesan Wafers
by Susan Ritchie-Hubbard

Eggroll wrappers
Good quality olive oil
The Spice House "Esprit de Sel" (Fleur de Sel)

Second Note: If you are like me and do not bake, these are the simplest crackers you will ever make and still impress anyone who tries them! I would typically buy a specialty cracker or baguette to serve with this delicious cheese custard. I had to come up with a baked “cracker” so I went with eggroll wrapper wafers. I found them really versatile! You can truly get creative with this ingredient. I know I will definitely use them again!

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a large baking sheet (s) with parchment paper. Cut the eggroll wrappers into wedges, or alternately, use biscuit and/or cookie cutters to make any shape you desire. Place the wrappers (in my case a single layer) on the lined sheet pan. Lightly brush the wrappers with olive oil. Sprinkle the wrappers with the Fleur de Sel. Using a microplane grater, shave Parmigiano-Reggiano over the wrappers. Bake for 10-12 minutes until the wafers are golden brown. Allow to cool on the pan and serve with the cheese custard. Enjoy!!

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