HUCKLEBERRY AND VANILLA BEAN POTS DE CREME
serves 4 - 5
4 egg yolks (use 5 if any of the eggs are small)
3/4 cup whipping cream or heavy cream
3/4 cup half-and-half (make your own if necessary)
1/4 cup sugar (white or turbinado)
1/2 of a 5-6" vanilla bean, split
pinch of salt
6 Tbsp. sweetened Huckleberry jam, preserves or puree
4 - 5 four ounce ceramic ramekins or other oven safe small bowls or cups
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
You will also need small squares of aluminum foil to cover the tops of the ramekins, a deep oven safe casserole or other pot that all the ramekins can fit into, a four cup bowl or oversized pyrex measuring cup, and a one cup microwave safe bowl or cup. Oh, and a wire whisk or an electric hand blender with a whisking attachment.
Here are the ingredients: clockwise from high noon we have whole milk, farm-fresh eggs, Huckleberry puree, heavy whipping cream, white sugar, vanilla beans, as well as four small ceramic ramekins and a larger ceramic casserole. All of the ingredients except for the vanilla beans are local. Well, the huckleberries came from Northern Idaho, but we picked them ourselves while on summer vacation, so I think that counts!
Split the vanilla bean lengthwise, and use the edge of your knife to scrape out all the tiny, glistening black vanilla specks. Put your half-and-half into a one cup microwave oven safe cup, add the sugar, the pinch of salt, and stir the vanilla specks into it. Heat the half and half in a pyrex measuring cup in the microwave on high for about one minute, or until steamy hot but not boiling over. You can also use a small pot on the stove, but be sure to watch it and stir it constantly.
In your 1 quart bowl or oversized pyrex cup, beat the egg yolks until they are thick. Pour the hot half-and-half slowly into the egg yolks, beating them as you go with a whisk. Whisk in the rest of the heavy cream. Note: if you use a hand blender, beat the mixture on low to medium, not on high, or you may end up with egg yolk spattered on everything in sight.
(Not that I would know, of course. Because you do NOT see egg yolk spatters on everything in sight in the background of this picture. It is just your imagination.)
Pour the still-warm mixture into four or five 4 oz. ramekins, trying to avoid pouring in any of the foam from the whisking process. This is where mixing the custard in a large Pyrex cup comes in handy - the spout helps keep the foam back while you pour. If you have to, you can skim the foam off with a spoon, however.
Here is the fun part - drizzle one teaspoon of Huckleberry puree into each cup of custard. Yum, yum, looks good already, doesn't it? Yes, there will be some Huckleberry puree left. No, you may not eat it. Save it for spooning over the tops of the finished custards. Yes, I know I'm a meanie, but you'll thank me later.
Cover each pot de creme with a small square of aluminum foil. Put the smaller pots into your larger pot and fill the larger pot with enough hot water that it comes about halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Now, put the whole thing into your oven for about 30 minutes.
The pots de creme are done when the edges are set but the middle still wiggles. Remove them from the oven, and let them cool enough to handle. Take them out of the larger pot, and allow them to sit on the counter, covered until they are near room temperature. Put them, still covered, into the fridge for 4-6 hours or overnight. That's it!
Serve cold with another dollop of Huckleberry puree. You can also double your caloric trouble if you like by whipping up a bit of the leftover heavy cream and dotting each pot with that as well.