Friday, November 9, 2007
Sugar High Friday #37: The Beta Carotene Harvest
Sweet Potato Flan with cider reduction, brandy snaps, and glazed pecans
Last month, I barely made the deadline for Sugar High Friday, and now I'm early for November's event. Blogs and blog events can be difficult to keep up on, and I'm still pretty new to the whole thing. The evil pie lady robs me of sleep (I am writing this post at 11:20 pm, which means it will not be done until 1:30 or 2 am- And yes, I do have to work in the morning), and keeps me from doing things like laundry and dusting... But it is just SO DAMN FUN!! And I hate wretched laundry and dusting, so any excuse to avoid such activities will do. Seriously, If it were not for SHF's, Daring Bakers, Retro Recipes, and all the other Internet foodie "parties" like that every month, I would probably get bored to tears with my blog and ditch it. I am so happy to have met such an interesting, talented and kind group of people (cue Aw Track a la "full house": Awwwwwwww). But really, I am.
Sugar High Friday #37 is hosted by the lovely and hilarious Leslie of Definitely Not Martha. Her blog is one of those gems that blends really funny writing with great recipes and photography. If you're unfamiliar with her, follow the link to her page. Now. I'll wait.
Ain't she a hoot?
Anyway, in honor of the upcoming US Thanksgiving, Leslie has chosen beta carotene as the November theme. Desserts using sweet Potatoes, squash (or as several of my family members like to call it "squaRsh"), carrot, etc. are all acceptable entries. So....I'm cheating, well- not cheating, but it's not like I made this recipe once, photographed it and entered it. I actually have been making this recipe every day for the last 4 weeks. It's on my dessert menu. Is that bad? I know, maybe I should have tried something new, but I had been planning on posting it before Thanksgiving anyway and it was just too perfect for this month's SHF's theme.
For it's first 2 weeks on my menu, this dessert was entitled "sweet potato flan", but it wasn't selling and no one could figure out why. All of the servers loved it, so they were pushing it with as much gusto as possible. All of the guests who did order it claimed to be delighted with it. Then, one of the cooks bet me a dollar that if I changed the menu to say "sweet potato creme caramel" it would sell better. Well, he was right. The next day I was out a dollar and completely sold out of flans. They are now one of the top selling desserts on the menu.
People are so weird.
Call it what you want, this stuff has a similar mouth feel to sweet potato pie, but with that nice custardy-eggyness and "self-saucing" caramel that can only come from flan. I'm serving mine with a brandy snap, glazed pecans, and cider reduction- but really, it is still just as tasty and chic when served alone.
Sweet Potato Creme Caramel
makes 6 individual servings
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 cinnamon stick, broken apart
4 grams (about 2 T) whole cardamom, crushed
1/8 tsp each grated nutmeg and clove
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
10 oz. sweet potato puree*
2 egg yolks
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 T brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 oz. calvados brandy
Combine the milk, cream, vanilla bean, and spices in a sauce pan and bring to a simmer. Cover, remove from heat, and let steep for 2 hours.
Meanwhile, spray 6 ramekins with baking spray. Combine
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
in a pot and cook until amber in color. Be careful- caramel gets hot as hell and will cause some of the yuckiest burns ever. Carefully ladle 1 oz of the caramel into the bottom of each ramekin. Set aside while you finish the custard base.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, yolks, sweet potato puree, sugars, and salt. Bring the milk mixture to a full boil, then remove from heat and slowly whisk into the egg mixture. Strain the custard and stir in the calvados.
Place the prepared ramekins into a hotel pan and fill with hot water until the cups are halfway submerged. Pour the custard into the ramekins, then cover the whole pan with foil. Bake at 300 degrees for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes, or until set. Remove from water bath and chill at least 2 hours.
At serving time, run the tip of a paring knife around the custards. Place a serving plate on top of the cup, then invert the whole thing onto the plate.
*To make sweet potato puree, roast 4 or 5 sweet potatoes in a hot oven until very soft and beginning to caramelize. When cool enough to handle, peel away the skin and puree the meat of the potato in a food processor until very light and fluffy.
Fall in Seattle...