Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Custard with Strawberry Sauce and Macaroons
I received a very nice email a couple of weeks ago from a gentleman named Stephen, asking me if I were at all interested in doing a product review of a new line of wines called flipflop:
The flipflop collection includes Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Grigio, Moscato, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinot Noir. To learn more about the wines, you may visit the website at flipflopwines.com.
Well, we all know that I don't do product reviews. So I wrote back to Stephen and explained my policy: I'll happily try the wines, and even mention them when I write up a recipe that I've used them in, but I don't offer opinions in exchange for gifts because I don't ever want anyone to doubt my sincerity and think that I may have been swayed.
And he was so tickled that I would not only sample the wines and mention them, but also cook with them -- his best friend, it turned out upon continuing to email back-and-forth, is famed Las Vegas and San Francisco restauranteur/chef Hubert Keller, whose restaurants I've longed to visit -- that he offered to send me 4 bottles instead of the usual 2.
What's most entertaining is that I was communicating with Stephen at the very same time that I learned I'd won tickets to the (un)Corked wine tasting -- it was as though the universe was trying to tell me that I needed to learn more about wine, and provided the means to do so!
I had promised Stephen that I would cook with the wines, and that's precisely what I did -- for my special Passover dinner, no less. I made a main course with a wine-cheese sauce that will be tomorrow's post; and I put together a simple but elegant dessert with a hint of Pinot Grigio -- a light, fruity white wine -- in both the custard and the strawberry sauce.
I also topped the dessert off with a guilty pleasure that I can only get at Passover: Manischewitz almond macaroons.
Now, eating these is like eating M&Ms instead of Valrhona chocolate, for example -- I know this! They are not the light, airy, meringue-y macaroons that have been all the rage recently. Nope -- they are heavy and dense, and yet I love them. (Only the almond ones, though; the other flavors are all too dry.) I hang my head in shame as I type this, but I have been known to open and devour a can in one sitting, without sharing.
So, I took my sophisticated homemade custard and sauce and topped them with the crumbled store-bought cookies ... yes, I did. And you know what?
My dessert was fabulous! It was a perfect combination of simple, wholesome ingredients with a little bit of sweet sinfulness. It was also incredibly easy to make, only requiring planning to make it a day ahead. It was "lick the bowl" good, though I won't admit publicly whether I actually engaged in such boorish behavior!
The custard was luxurious and light, the strawberry sauce the perfect touch of Spring on an April day that brought a little bit of snow -- snow!!! -- to Ann Arbor. And the macaroons provided just the right texture in the midst of the creaminess.
Thank you, Stephen, for your generous contribution to my holiday dinner. I'll be doing more cooking with that wine, so stay tuned!
P.S.: If you haven't already fed my narcissistic ego, let me just remind you that Saveur is seeking nominees for the 2011 Best Food Blog Awards and the deadline is Friday! Any love you can show me by clicking on this link and nudging them in my direction would be most gratefully appreciated ... :)
Custard with Strawberry Sauce and Macaroons
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon white wine
1-1/2 cups half-and-half
pinch of salt
In the top of a double boiler, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and wine. Whisk in 3/4 cup half-and-half.
Turn heat to medium-high and heat 1" water in the bottom of the double boiler. Whisk the egg mixture constantly, until it starts to thicken and you can see traces of the whisk left in the custard (about 8-10 minutes); add the rest of the half-and-half and continue cooking and whisking for another 8-10 minutes.
When the custard is done, you'll be able to dip a spoon into it, run your finger down the middle of the coating, and the line will remain intact instead of having the sides bleed back together.
Place custard into a bowl, press plastic wrap against it to prevent it forming a skin, and refrigerate overnight.
6 large strawberries, chopped into 1/2" pieces
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons white wine
Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan. Cook, stirring frequently, over medium heat; press on the strawberries to help mash them. Cook the sauce until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Refrigerate until needed.
To complete the dessert
2 Manischewitz almond macaroons
Divide the custard among 4 dessert dishes or wine glasses; top each with a dollop of the strawberry sauce. Crumble half of a macaroon over each serving.
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