I’m an Austen girl through and through, but I’ll have to admit that I’ve become smitten with Downton Abbey. And, while I’ll be the last to say that a period drama is just like any other, Downton certainly helps fill a void of Austen. Thanks to my friend Ayelet, I’ve in my possession the first two seasons which flew by too quickly. I’ve become invested in the Crawleys, romanticized about stately entail and high teas, and even considered adding a dressing gong to my own dinner rituals (even though we eat at our coffee table more often than not).
I’m so enamored that I do what I do with ever other anglophilic situation (including Austen, Doctor Who, Shakespeare etc) and drink loads of earl grey tea. At any given point I have at least three or four types of earl grey tea in my tea cupboard (yes, I have a tea cupboard) and this is turn helps justify my immense collection of mugs and tea cups. So to celebrate the grand start of the third season I present Earl Grey Custards. A smart little dessert that smacks completely of English traditions.
Everyone has their favourite character on the show; mine is cousin Violet or Lady Grantham, Dowager Countess, of course. I like to think she would approve of Earl Grey Custards and might have something witty to say about my choice of table linens (Chevron duck cloth, really?! And is this a pinking shear cut I discern? Americans!). She always has something witty to say and I can only hope to have a similar disposition when I’m an
old lady Dowager Countess.
“No Englishman would dream of dying in someone else’s house.”
“I’m a woman, Mary. I can be as contrary as I choose.”
“Don’t be defeatist, dear. It’s very middle class.”
”So put that in your pipe and smoke it.” Yes she said that
This Earl Grey Custard could also goes by another name: pot de creme. But, I didn’t think it very appropriate since this is a British-themed post. Regardless of name, this egg based dish is a simple, flavorful one that soaks up any flavor you put to it, including, but not limited to, earl grey tea leaves. And, even if you don’t take cream and sugar with your tea, surely you’ll like this one exception.
Earl Grey Custards
makes 4-6 servings
2 cups cream or half and half
4 earl grey tea bags (or more for more flavor)
6 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste
1 teaspoon orange flower water (optional, but adds to the bergamot and orange essences found in earl grey tea)
hot water for water bath
1. In a small saucepan heat cream to a simmer (do not let it curdle). While it is heating, let teabags steep. Once heated through, remove from burner and let tea steep while prepping other ingredients.
2. In a glass bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, orange flower water, and vanilla paste.
3. Using a wooden spoon fish out teabags from saucepan, squeezing them to remove all the tea (don’t ever do this with tea bags for drinking tea as it adds tannins and bitter flavors).
4. In a slow stream, add a bit of cream tea mixture to the egg mixture, whisking constantly so as to avoid heating and scrambling the eggs. Continue to add the cream slowly until the two mixtures are completely combined.
5. Set the oven to 325 degrees. Pour custard into small ramekins or oven proof mugs/tea cups (most are, just check the details on the bottom of the cup). Place cups into a small jelly roll pan, pie plate, or other rimmed dish. Open oven and pull out top rack, place rimmed sheet holding ramekins on rack. Pour enough hot water into the rimmed dish so that it reaches about an inch up the ramekins. Carefully push oven rack back into the oven so as not to slosh any water into the custards. Bake for 30-45 minutes until set. The center of the custard should still be slightly wobbly. Let cool and store in fridge until ready to serve. Pair with hot earl grey and perhaps a biscuit for dipping.
“I’m afraid there’s something odd about my tea, dear. Or is Mrs. Padmore trying her hand at being an illusionist again?”
Put the kettle on and enjoy tonight’s show with these lovely little Earl Grey Custards. Even Isis would approve!