Christmas time: Vanilla Custard with pistachio brittle

Hello, I hope you are all having a wonderful time surrounded by your loved ones!
Christmas2012 8I’ve always cherished this time of the year, it always seemed so magical and special. When I was a little girl I would start the count down to Christmas eve… starting from 100 days!! The preparations always began early, as we eagerly anticipated the delicious and crazy meal that would ensue the night of the 24th.
Christmas2012 1This year wasn’t any different. We started cooking on Saturday, preparing the dark stock for our brodo. Rolling our home-made pasta dough and making ragu for our tortellini, on Sunday. You know what I also prepared that Sunday night? Our dessert!
Christmas2012 4My mom, my hubby and I have always enjoyed hosting dinners, and we are strong believers that in order for things to go smoothly, one should plan accordingly and delegate cooking tasks.
Christmas2012 6This easy custard is perfect for entertaining because you can prepare it ahead and the flavors intensify as it rests. The brittle gives it a nice crunchy twist!

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Italian Vanilla Custard

This recipe is adapted from a traditional northern Italian custard recipe traditionally served during the Christmas Holidays, similar to the one issued in Saveur No. 134 Dec 2010. I hope you like it!
Makes 8-10 servings

500 ml heavy cream (about 2 cups)
500 ml milk (about 2 cups)
4 whole eggs
1/2 c sugar
1 tsp salt
half a vanilla bean, seeds scrapped
2-4 cardamom seeds
1 shot of brandy (optional, you can also use orange liquor or calvados)

Preheat oven to 300º F. In a small pot heat heavy cream, milk, 1/4 c sugar, vanilla, and cardamom seeds. Let it simmering for a couple of minutes, turn off heat and let stand covered for 5-10 minutes. In a bowl, whisk eggs with the remaining sugar and salt. While constantly whisking pour cream mixture onto eggs mixture in a steady and slow stream. Whisk in the brandy. Strain mixture into a baking dish or into individual baking dishes. Place them inside a roasting pan. Put the pan in the oven and carefully pour boiling water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the dish (or dishes) {bain marie}. Place in the oven and cook for 40-50 min until the sides hold their form and center is slightly jiggly. Remove from the roasting pan and let them chill.

You can eat them once they are chilled or cover and reserve in the fridge. Can be made up to 3 days ahead. Sprinkle some brittle and serve cool, warm or at room temperature.Christmas2012 5

Toni’s Pistachio Brittle

As with most of my mom’s recipes this will come in ratios and not exact amounts, so its easy to adapt and make it your own way!

2 parts white sugar
1 part brown sugar
1/4 part of heavy cream
1-2 parts pistachio
mandarin zest
sprinkle of salt

Line baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil. In a small pot heat white sugar and brown sugar over medium heat. Once it begins to melt stir constantly to avoid burning the sugar. When the sugar is completely melted and acquires a lightly caramel color, add mandarin zest and slowly pour the heavy cream while stirring constantly! {when you add the heavy cream the mixture will bubble vigorously} Once the bubbling has subsided stir in pistachio. Pour mixture onto baking dish, spread into a thin layer. Sprinkle some Maldon salt for a nice salty burst (optional) and let cool. Once the brittle has cooled its ready!
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I hope you all are having a wonderful Holiday time! Sending lots of love and good wishes to all of you and your families in this special time of the year!!

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