We’ve all heard age-old adages like “Beauty is only skin deep,” “You can’t judge a book by its cover” and “It’s what’s on the inside that counts.” Sage words, no doubt. But in the wonderful world of sweeteries (the dessert realm, for those who aren’t sure of my made-up jive), I’m not afraid to say that I’m easily wooed by a beautiful outer shell, long before knowing what’s hidden underneath. A lovely pair of cinnamon swirls or a deliciously sugar-crusted top? Yes, please. Thankfully desserts are not like the people whom our trusty adages warn against. When a dessert looks out at you from its perfectly flakey crust and beautiful fruit-filled center, it’s not only saying, “I am pretty as a picture,” but it’s also saying, “And I’m mighty tasty, too.” And for the most party, given the use of good ingredients and the careful skills of a modest chef, pretty desserts can be trusted.
I came across this recipe for raspberry custard cups while browsing through Food52’s Your Best Raspberries recipe contest. It was love at first sight. Forget my love of ramekins and dainty desserts that can be eaten with a spoon; this dessert won me over for its pure, rustic, feels-a-little-fancy loveliness. The color of the custard is clean and simple, and after a quick final pop under the broiler, the raspberries turn a deep raspberry red and the brown sugar melts in an oh-yeah-I-was-just-sprinkled-here-but-don’t-I-look-divine kind of way. It emerges from the oven looking gorgeous, and here’s the real kicker: It’s tastes every bit as lovely as it looks.
Raspberry Custard Cups
From SLD, Food52.com
• 1/3 cup sugar
• 1 egg
• 1 tablespoon flour
• 2 teaspoons cornstarch
• 1 cup milk
• 1 teaspoon vanilla (Note: I upped this from the original ½ teaspoon. Feel free to use a little less if you’d prefer.)
• 4 ounces cream cheese, softened and cut into small pieces
• 2 cups fresh raspberries
• ¼ cup brown sugar
In a medium saucepan, mix together sugar, egg, flour and cornstarch. Add the milk and vanilla, and stir well with a wire whisk.
Bring to a boil over medium eat, whisking constantly. Cook (while stirring) for 5 to 7 minutes or until custard thickens. Pour into a bowl.
Add the cream cheese, and stir for two minutes or until the cheese melts. Cover and refrigerate until the custard cools, about 30 minutes.
Preheat the broiler. Pour the custard into six custard cups or small ramekins, and set them on a baking sheet. Press the berries into the custard. Broil 4 inches from the heat for 2 minutes or until the custard is golden.
Sprinkle the custard with brown sugar. Set aside for a few minutes until the sugar melts. Alternately, if you’d prefer brulée-type sugar, put them back under the broiler briefly, just until the sugar is bubbly (keep a close eye on them so the sugar doesn’t burn). Enjoy!
Have you ever been wooed by a looker of a recipe? What was it, and how did it turn out? What defines “food beauty” to you? Fresh fruit? Sugar? Sprinkles galore?!?! Let’s hear it!