There is no reason that any of us should be afraid to make custard. We don’t need to know how to temper eggs or what bain marie means. We really only need to be able to identify a jiggle. Adapted from The Making of a Cook (Atheneum, 1971). To read the full story, head here. —Genius Recipes
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Madeleine Kamman’s Butterscotch Creams
1/2 cup (100g) dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups (475ml) light or heavy cream (heavy cream recommended if not using a water bath)
Pinch of salt
8 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Roughly chopped toasted almonds, for sprinkling
In This Recipe
Heat the oven to 300° F. In a medium pot, combine the brown sugar and butter and melt over medium heat to make butterscotch, stirring until melted and smooth (alternatively, this can be done in the microwave, in a medium microwave-safe bowl).
In a small pot, scald the cream just until bubbles start to appear at the sides, then gradually whisk the cream into the butterscotch. Add the salt.
Choose a large bowl for whisking your hot butterscotch cream into your egg yolks. If it seems like the bowl will wobble as you whisk, you can steady it by rolling up a damp kitchen towel into a coil to make a nest for your bowl. Add the egg yolks to the bowl. Gradually whisk the hot butterscotch cream into the egg yolks, then add the vanilla.
Set six 3-ounce custard cups or ramekins on a rack, a tea towel, or a silicone baking mat in a large baking pan, evenly spacing the cups.
Pour the custard through a strainer evenly into the cups. Pull the middle oven rack partway out of the oven for easier access, carefully set the baking pan full of custard cups on it, then carefully pour or ladle very hot water into the baking pan around the custard cups, until the water is about halfway up the sides of the cups. Carefully push the oven rack back in and close the oven.
Bake until the edges of the custards are set and firm, but the center of the surface still ripples when gently jiggled, about 25 minutes—the custards will keep firming up as they cool. Remove the custards from the water bath and let them cool on a rack until you're either ready to serve, or to cover and chill them. Serve warm or cold, sprinkled with the toasted almonds.
Notes: If you don't have custard cups, you can instead make one big pan of custard in an 8-inch square cake pan or another oven-safe vessel. Kamman's original 1971 recipe did not call for a water bath, but in the revamped 1997 book she used them for all her custards for the most gentle, even cooking. If you don't have the makings of a water bath, you can skip it—the custards will bake a bit quicker and you'll want to be extra careful not to overbake.
Genius recipes surprise us and make us rethink cooking tropes. They're handed down by luminaries of the food world and become their legacy. They get us talking and change the way we cook. And, once we've folded them into our repertoires, they make us feel pretty genius too. Watch for new Genius Recipes every Wednesday morning on our blog, dug up by Food52's Senior Editor Kristen Miglore.