One thing you should probably know about me is that I love custard. With a passion. I mean, I love most things egg-related, but custard in particular holds a special place in my heart.
Knowing that, it shouldn’t be too terribly surprising that when I was idly trawling my brain for cool breakfast foods I could enjoy during the summer, I hit upon the idea of breakfast custards. If you lay off the super-rich recipes with lots of cream and stuff–which I love, but which are maybe a little too much first thing in the morning–you’ve got something light, sweet, and with some protein, which is a pretty good combination for me on the days that I ride my bike to work. I need to eat something so that I don’t barf, but I don’t want to get stomach cramps while biking, either.
As I was thinking, I remembered this recipe, originated by Dorie Greenspan. It’s got a fairly eggy flavor to it, which I don’t mind at all, and it seemed worth tinkering with. I’ve made the lemon flavor before, and it’s very nice, but my first-ever trip to Bi-Rite Creamery over the weekend had me interested in trying a flavor combination they do wonderfully: lavender-honey. I already had an ounce bag of lavender buds bought from a local health food store (which has a spice vault in back, no kidding–it used to be a bank!) that I regularly use in homemade granola, so I tented my fingers, laughed an evil laugh, and made custard.
There were several variables that could have gone really wonky–subbing in some honey for sugar, which increased the liquid content of the mix; baking the custards in a little convection toaster oven, which required me to adjust the cooking time and temperature; and my own predilection for food experiments going awry. But these were pretty good! The lavender flavor was prominent and went well with the delicate milk and egg, and the honey definitely added something that only granulated sugar wouldn’t have. A very nice breakfast indeed, and not a bad dessert, either.
Lavender-Honey Custard (adapted from Baking: From my Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan)
Serves 6 (or one, if you’re the only person in the house who likes custard)
2 1/4 cup whole milk
1 tsp dried lavender buds
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup honey (I used local wildflower honey)
Prepare 6 ramekins or custard cups.
Heat the milk and lavender buds in a small pot; bring to a boil, then remove from the heat, cover, and allow to steep for at least half an hour. Make sure to reheat the milk before starting the next steps.
Preheat your oven to 325F (or 275F for convection). Line a roasting pan with two layers of paper towels, and place the ramekins in the pan. Heat some water in a pot or kettle until it boils, and then turn off the heat.
In a heatproof bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and honey. Strain the lavender-infused milk into a separate bowl to get rid of the lavender buds. Continue to whisk the egg-sugar-honey mixture and mix in a little hot milk at a time so that the eggs don’t curdle. Continue slowly until all the milk is whisked in.
Skim the foam from the custard mixture (I didn’t do this because I’m lazy), and then divide it into the ramekins. Place the roasting pan on the oven rack and pour enough hot water from the pot or teakettle to come halfway up the outsides of the ramekins.
Bake 40-50 minutes (or longer–mine were in the toaster oven probably a good 20-30 minutes more because I was paranoid about undercooking them), or “until they jiggle only in the center when you tap the cups lightly.” (I am not very good at telling when this is; but the tops will be a nice caramel-brown, and if you poke down the side of a clear ramekin with a toothpick, the tunnel will hold its shape somewhat instead of re-liquifying.) Carefully remove the ramekins from the roasting pan–everything’s really hot!–and place them on a wire rack to cool to room temperature. Cover tightly and store in the fridge 2-3 days. Or eat them all immediately, I don’t care. I’m not your mother. Do whatever the heck you want.