Custard is really, really, really hard for Abe to make. The man can get two atoms to fuse together, but he cannot make cream and eggs stupid delicious. Guest chef Kevin O’Connor, who has worked at Dovetail and Le Bernardin, has come from the future to show Abers and me a foolproof method for perfect custard. And like all people from the future, he enlists the help of a robot: our sous vide machine.
- 8 egg yolks
- one cup of sugar
- 1/2 cup grapefruit juice
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 1 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 10 tablespoons of butter
- a pinch of salt
- 1 fennel bulb
- 1 teaspoon grapefruit zest
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 2 teaspoons of ginger
- 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
- a drizzle of honey
Kevin decides to make a simple and bright dessert to bust away the winter oh-nos and thundersnows. His frozen treat is here to remind us that coldness can make us happy and to count our blessings that the super fixed the radiator.
Kevin gets down to business fast and whips the egg yolks and sugar together until they are creamy. Then he adds grapefruit juice, lemon juice, and softened butter and mixes them furiously until the curd fully incorporates.
We would lose too much custard if we sealed our bags with a hand pump so, we employ the underwater vacuum method instead. We submerge the zip baggies filled with custard slowly into the water until the custard reaches the seal, and then run our fingers along the lock— it’s a good feeling. The custard cooks in the vide at 82° C for 20 minutes. Kevin relates to us that one of the most nerve-racking jobs in a high-volume pastry kitchen is babysitting custard. Since we have a precise heating tool to take away that worry, there’s space to discover the history of the microplane… or make an egg white mountain.
Also, we got a chance to start the fennel. Kevin chops away the fronds and halves the bulb lengthwise. We vacuum pack it with ginger, honey, lemon juice, and grapefruit and lemon zest. The veggie cooks at 82° C for an hour.
We put a little towel over our sous vide to curb evaporation. A lot of water goes at 82º C!
After the custard is done we pour it into a mixing bowl to chill in the fridge for an hour. This is when we did a couple of experiments. One of them, a sous vide olive oil cake, turned out so disgusting that it is not pictured here. O, brave frontier.
When the custard is ready, we fold in some homemade whipped cream. Then Kevin gets fancy and pours the custard into round molds and puts them in the freezer to solidify overnight.
The next night, Kevin returns to chop the fennel and make a simple grapefruit sugar. He mixes grapefruit zest, granulated sugar, a tiny bit of egg white, and then sticks it in the oven at the lowest setting for 15 or 20 minutes until the moisture evaporates. It is a tangy and delicious addition.
Overzealous, I plate myself… and we eat it all. Thank you Chef Kevin for our first dessert post ever!