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Egg custard, meringues, coffee: sugar rush central!

I’m inexorably drawn to any riff on the egg custard tart format: I adore pastel de nata and loved Rachel Roddy’s budini di riso fiorentini (little rice pudding tarts) which I cooked back in January from Guardian Feast Issue No.158. Plus, who doesn’t love an affogato? Vanilla ice cream literally ‘drowned’ in a shot of hot black coffee – sometimes served with a crunchy crumble of amaretti biscuit.

Affogato means ‘drowned’ in Italian – creamy egg custard, crispy nutty meringue shards, hot shot of espresso. What’s not to like?

So, Yotam Ottolenghi’s baked custard affogato, meringue brittle was a no brainer for me to try to recreate from Feast Issue No.169.

As regular readers will know, I’m celebrating my love of the food columns and supplements in The Guardian by trying to cook at least one recipe from each issue of Guardian Feast in 2021. Find out a bit more about that here.

I’m ready to rock with Yotam’s baked egg custard

Even as I put this dish together, I was thinking: Wow, Yotam, that’s a lot of sugar. However, in the context of bold, bitter espresso shot, the sugar levels make total sense.

On to the making. Yotam says it will take 15 mins prep: I’m not sure how many hands he has, but whisking egg custard (separating five yolks and whites takes me about five mins!), toasting and blitzing nuts, whizzing egg whites with sugar… It took me a little longer! Having said that, the cooking time includes 20 minutes of meringue cooling so, pro rata, I guess from prep to finish probably took about an hour and ten. Don’t forget to factor in three hours of fridge time for the baked egg custard.

Each element is perfect – caramelly vanilla egg custard, sweet crunchy nutty meringue and a bitter coffee kick.

The Husband

I didn’t have full fat milk, so I used 300g of double cream (instead of 200g) and 100g of semi skimmed – don’t know if that’s an accepted replacement ratio but it worked fine.

I’m so glad Yotam warned me that ‘the custard will look very curdled’ when it’s taken out of the oven. It’s a great heads up. Take a look at the scramble below! That’s the kind of thing to make you cry if you’re not forewarned.

For the meringue brittle, I used almonds instead of hazelnuts (eldest daughter allergy) – and we all agreed peanuts would probably be a good fit too. Watch the measurements of the baking tray for the meringue spread (Yotam suggests 39cm x 30 cm). Actually, focus on the depth of meringue spread – about three millimetres, I’d say. My first batch of brittle was too thick to be ‘brittle’ (chewy shape shifter rather than shard). Fortunately, I still had three whites to play with from the five separated eggs and used those to better effect.

I started the dish late in the day and left the baked custard in the fridge overnight. We looked forward to Thursday morning coffee break with more fervour than usual. Yotam says there’s enough to serve four – we reckon its sweetness and intensity would certainly stretch to six. The Husband declared: ‘It’s delicious. Each element is perfect – caramelly vanilla egg custard, sweet crunchy nutty meringue and a bitter coffee kick.’

The eldest and youngest daughters agreed it would make a great dinner party pud but with a shot of decaf – I suggested a splash of brandy too. No one disagreed. The sugar hit was perhaps a tad vicious for 11am – but we’ve managed to continue picking at the leftover meringue (and my original chewy blobs) throughout the day. Thank goodness I have a dentist appointment in May!

Original recipe:

Yotam Ottolenghi – baked custard cream affogato, meringue brittle

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