Baked Orange Custards Makes 8 1/2-cup servings
- 3 cups milk (whole is best, 2% works too)
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 1 cup sugar
- ¾ tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 tsps Cointreau or Grand Marnier
- ½ tsp orange zest
Preheat oven to 500°F. Put eight ½ cup ramekins or glass custard cups into a roasting pan or large lasagna pan. Fill the pan up with warm water to about ½ way up the cups, creating a water bath.
Whisk together eggs, sugar, salt, liqueur and zest and set aside. Heat the milk in a saucepan to scalding (just before it boils and there are little bubbles around the sides of the pan.) Take the milk off heat. While whisking egg mixture, add in about 1/3 cup of the hot milk and whisk well. You are bringing the temperature of the eggs up or tempering the eggs (so that you have a smooth mixture and not sweet scrambled eggs.) Now add the rest of the milk and whisk thoroughly. Skim off about a tablespoon of the foam and put into each cup, then carefully fill the cups with ½ cup of the custard mixture. Bake the custards in the oven for 10 minutes or until just set and the tops have browned a little. If they are browning too quickly, just loosely cover pan with foil. If they are not set by 10 minutes, turn oven off and leave the custard in a few minutes more until they set.
Carefully remove the custards from the water and let cool a little. These are wonderful warm, but are also swell at room temperature. If you are not serving right away, let cool to room temp then cover with cling film and store in the fridge. Let them come to room temperature before serving. Calories: approximately 220 per ½ cup serving.
Orange Budino Makes 4 ½-cup servings
- 1 whole egg and 1 egg white
- 1/4 cup + 1 TBSP granulated sugar
- 2 TBSP flour
- 2 TBSP orange juice (from 1/2 a large orange)
- 1 TBSP lemon juice
- 1/4 tsp almond extract
- 1 TBSP orange zest (from 1 large orange)
- ¼ cup + 3 TBSP milk (I use 2% because that’s what I had- use whatever you prefer)
- A pinch salt
Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly butter or spray four ½ -cup custard cups or ramekins. Combine 1/4 cup sugar, egg yolk, flour, orange and lemon juices, and orange peel in large bowl; whisk until well blended. Whisk in milk.
Using electric mixer, beat egg whites and salt in medium bowl until frothy. Gradually add remaining 1 tablespoons sugar and beat until soft peaks form. Fold beaten egg whites into orange mixture in 2 additions. Divide mixture evenly among ramekins. Place cups in roasting pan and carefully pour enough hot water into pan to come halfway up the sides of the cups. Bake puddings until tops are golden and spring back when lightly touched, about 30 minutes. Remove cups from water. Serve warm or cold with whipped cream, if desired. Calories = approx 130 per serving.
Make-ahead chocolate soufflés (Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated) Serves 6-8
Soufflés scare the hell out of most cooks. We’ve all watched the scene inRoman Holiday when Audrey Hepburn pulls her perfect soufflé out of the oven and watches it sink into a big cheesy turd. These little babies will put that fear to rest. You make them as individual soufflés rather than a big one and bake-off only as many as you need, (and guess who gets to have chocolate soufflé for breakfast the next day…) Plus, they get made ahead and frozen. When you are ready, you just pull them out of the freezer, pop them in the oven, and voila! Accept the applause, you ROCK STAR!
- 5 TBSP unsalted butter (1 tablespoon softened, remaining butter cut into ¼ -inch chunks)
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar, plus 1 TBSP for coating the dishes
- 8 oz. bittersweet chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped coarse
- 1/8 TSP salt
- ½ TSP vanilla extract
- 1 TBSP orange liqueur (Grand Marnier or Cointreau work nicely)
- 6 large egg yolks
- 8 large egg whites
- ¼ TSP cream of tartar
- 2 TBSP confectioners’ sugar
- Optional toppings and add-ins: fresh raspberries, Clementine sections, dried apricots or cherries, crushed pretzels, salted peanuts or other salted nuts, crushed candy canes, Reese’s pieces or other small candies, whipped cream or whatever!
Coat eight 1-cup ramekins with 1 tablespoon butter, then coat inside of dish evenly with the 1 TBSP sugar; refrigerate until ready to use.
Melt chocolate and remaining butter in medium bowl set over pan of simmering water. Turn off heat, stir in salt, vanilla, and liqueur; set aside.
Bring the 1/3 cup of sugar and 2 TBSP water to boil in small saucepan, then simmer until sugar dissolves. With mixer running, slowly add this sugar syrup to egg yolks in a thin stream – you don’t want sweet scrambled eggs. Beat until mixture triples in volume, about 3 minutes. Fold into chocolate mixture. Clean beaters.
Beat egg whites until frothy; add cream of tartar and beat to soft peaks; add confectioners’ sugar; continue beating to stiff peaks. Cook’s Illustrateddefines stiff peak stage as when the mixture just holds the weight of a raw egg in the shell when the egg is placed on top. I prefer to scoop out some, and turn the spoon upside-down over the bowl. If it stays in place, it’s ready. (I’ve seen the kitchen trick of turning the full bowl upside-down over your head. A fancy schmancy trick sure to impress spectators, but if it’s not ready you have a hell of a hair conditioning treatment and have ruined a whole bunch of eggs…)
Vigorously stir one-quarter of whipped whites into chocolate mixture. Gently fold remaining whites into mixture until just incorporated. Fill each ramekin almost to rim, wiping excess filling from rim with wet paper towel. Cover and freeze until firm, at least 3 hours, and up to two days before serving. (NOTE: if you wrap these good in cling wrap and put in a freezer bag, they can keep for even longer than that.)
Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and heat oven to 400° F. Bake until fully risen, about 16 to 18 minutes. They are done when fragrant and fully risen. Do keep an eye on them the last 2-3 minutes so they don’t burn – you can practice your ‘basking in the glow of their adoration’ smile while you wait the last few minutes. Serve immediately.
Optional toppings and add ins: When I serve these for a dinner party, I put out a lot of little bowls with some of the optional toppings listed in the ingredients (and I’m certain you can come up with a few of your own). Encourage everyone to stick their spoon in the middle of their soufflé, open it up, and add in what they like. Then sit back, and watch your grown up guests turn into a bunch of happy little kids! Calories per serving (is she SERIOUS?!): approximately 320/8 servings, or 425/6 servings. Go for another walk around the block…they’re worth it!
Chocolate pudding (adapted from Real Simple) Makes 8 half-cup servings, or one BIG bowl, when it’s been that kind of day…
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 2 TBSP cornstarch
- 3 cups whole milk (I’ve used 2% and it works just fine)
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 6 oz. bitter-sweet or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped (I like bittersweet, but if that’s too strong a flavor for you, use semi-sweet or a combo of both)
- 1/2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
Mix together the sugar, cornstarch and salt in a medium saucepan. Add in 1/3 cup of the milk, stirring to form a smooth paste. Whisk in the remaining milk and the egg yolks.
Cook the pudding over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with spatula until thickened, about 10-15 minutes. Do not let it boil – if it’s at the stage when a few tiny bubbles are forming, turn off the heat – it’s done.
Add in the chopped chocolate and the vanilla extract and stir until the mixture is smooth. Pour into 8 4-oz. ramekins, custard cups, tea cups, etc. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 2 hours. You can make these up to 2 days ahead of serving (yeah, like you could actually keep out of them for that long…) Calories – 275/serving.