Every now and again I have a flash of recipe inspiration. A gear slips somewhere in my brain, and just for a moment the dull grey veil that obscures my normal waking state, parts and I suddenly see flavours, textures and twists on classic dishes in extreme high definition clarity and then, it’s gone and I’m left scrambling to make sense and notes of my vision.
Of course I’d like you to think that my ‘gift’ is something special, enviable and absolutely infallible. An idea that could best described as absolute cobblers. I’m sad to say I’ve dreamt up some absolutely shocking ideas in the past; I was once adamant that I could get grapes to somehow work in mashed potato, to the subsequent disgusted grimace of everyone I shared it with. But sometimes…
I’d certainly seen the flavour combination somewhere else and forgotten, but the other day came an idea; rudely shoulder-barging aside any more mundane thoughts ‘apple, rosemary and salted caramel, I scribbled this down and mused on it a while. Deciding that I definitely couldn’t be arsed to do anything with apples right then, I thought on it some more and then it came. A crème caramel (or baked custard if you’re me) infused with rosemary and topped with salted caramel.
Right then and there, I decided to give it a go, mentally ticking off the short list of ingredients and realising that I probably didn’t have to buy a thing. Result.
As is often the way, I started making it, and then half way through wondered if anyone else had made something similar and wrote about it previously. A cursory Google provided the answer ‘not really’ which was slightly worrying. I ploughed on regardless, my quick research break had confirmed that rosemary and salted caramel go together, so what the hell.
Later that evening, I unmolded my inaugural Salted Caramel and Rosemary Baked Custard. Despite having made an individual portion that could choke a donkey, it wasn’t bad at all. In fact it was bloody nice. The rosemary-flavoured custard was perhaps a bit too subtle (I think I’ve fixed this in the recipe below) but yeah, I’m happy with the results.
Here’s the recipe – I’d really like to know what you think.
Salted Caramel and Rosemary Baked Custard
Serves 3 Greedy bastardos or 4 slightly more sensible people
3 Tbs Water
Generous pinch of Maldon Sea Salt
3 Sprigs of Rosemary (leaves stripped and chopped)
Pinch of Salt
470ml Full Fat Milk
½ Vanilla Pod or equivalent in Extract
2 Whole Eggs
3 Egg Yolks
Vegetable Oil or other neutral oil.
Of course, you’ll also need 3 or 4 individual moulds or ramekins.
Preheat your oven to 160C
First, make the salted caramel. In a small pan, bring the sugar and the water to the boil. Turn it down a little so it’s not boiling quite so furiously and watch it like a hawk. When it turns a nice deep caramel colour, quickly sprinkle in your generous pinch of Maldon and give the pan a swirl.
Quickly pour the salted caramel into your moulds, making sure to coat the bottom and a little way up the sides. When they’ve cooled, grease the sides with the vegetable oil.
To make the custard, add the rosemary, sugar, salt, vanilla and milk to a saucepan. Bring to the boil, and allow to remain at the boil for 1 minute.
Remove from the heat and put aside for 5 minutes
In a bowl, beat the eggs and yolks together then slowly add your warm milk mixture, beating all the time.
Pass through a fine sieve and leave to stand for 5 mins.
Skim off the foam and any bubbles on the surface.
Pour the custard into your moulds, and place them into a bain-marie using a roasting tin with boiling water two-thirds of the way up the sides. Place into your pre-heated oven and cook for 30-40 mins, until the centre is set and no longer liquid.
Remove from the oven, cool and then chill in the fridge for a couple of hours.
To unmold, run a sharp knife around the edges, place a small plate on top, and flip over, giving it a bit of a gentle shake.