‘The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach’ – though I firmly believe this is only partially true but that’s a story for another day. But as a newly-wed, I was certainly living by this adage. To impress my husband with a
different unique dish (he has grown up on typical Indian dishes) and to flaunt my cooking skills (whatever few I had at that point of time) I wanted to serve him a dish that would floor him! This dish had caught my fancy as a kid, when i first saw it being cooked by Mum for a party at home. It looked so spectacular and tasted so yummy that I zeroed in on this dish to carry out my mission. When I told Mum about my intent and requested her for the recipe, I could hear an amused tone in her voice over the phone. This was one of the few non-Indian desserts that Mum used to dish out for us; one of them being the Crème Caramel.
Despite my first attempt, this dessert did come out well. But after that first attempt, I never made it again. Not because my husband didn’t like it but because post that attempt, the demands of juggling an 8 to 7 job and domesticity seized most of my time and energy. And, more over once the mission was accomplished I never had the motivation to make it again. Thanks to blogging, when I started compiling a list of Mom’s recipes, I realized that this was one recipe that I had not made ever since. And, what better way to have a reminiscence of those beautiful moments when I first made it J
Here is what you will need for this old-fashioned pudding:
3 large or 5 small egg whites
½ litre plus 1 cup Milk (coz it will reduce while poaching)
2 – 3 tbsp custard powder (Vanilla flavour)
1 tbsp sugar (adjust to taste)
Zest of 1 Orange (optional)
½ tsp Vanilla Extract
Pour the milk in a heavy bottom wide pot and keep it for heating on low heat.
(Lower heat and add orange zest, if using, and switch off the heat. Cover the pot and allow the flavors to steep for an hour)
While the milk is heating, whisk the egg whites till they become firm and glossy. (be careful not to over whip as this will dry out the meringue)
(Sieve the milk if you had used orange zest and return it to the pot)
Add sugar to the milk along with vanilla extract and stir to dissolve the sugar.
Ensure that the milk does not come to a boil. It needs to be hot to poach the whipped egg white a.k.a meringue but not boil at any point while poaching. (If the milk begins to boil while poaching, remove the pot from heat. Continue poaching the meringue and return the pot to heat after a few seconds)
Using a spoon (to shape as quenelle) or an ice cream scoop, scoop the meringue and gently place it over the hot milk.
(Do not over crowd the pan with meringues)
Poach one side and then very gently flip and poach the other side.
Poaching time will depend on the size of the meringue but you can consider an approximate time of two-minutes each side, plus minus.
(Poach till the meringues hold their shape / become firm)
Once done, remove them on a moist plate (I prefer keeping them on parchment paper but I guess silicon sheet would work well too)
Finish the whole batch of meringue in this manner.
Remove the milk from the heat. (strain it if there are bits and pieces of meringue in it)
The quantity of milk would have certainly reduced after poaching the meringue.
Add more milk to bring the amount back to half a litre.
(Keep the heat at its lowest)
Take half a cup of milk (cold or at room temperature) and add the custard powder to it. (two tablespoon if you like thinner custard and three tablespoons for a somewhat thicker one. We prefer the latter)
Mix well and slowly add the custard mixture to the milk in a pouring stream.
Keep stirring constantly till the milk begins to thicker.
Cook for a couple of minutes and keep stirring continuously.
Once the custard is cooked, remove from the heat and let it cool. Keep giving it a stir every now and then to avoid the formation of a creamy crust on its top.
Once it cools down, refrigerate the custard (or you can serve it at room temperature)
Serve the custard in individual glasses or small bowls, topped with the meringue. You can garnish it with finely chopped nuts or chocolate shards. You can even drizzle some caramel on the top. I sometimes sprinkle some cooled and crushed caramel pieces to add some texture.
Note: The original recipe had the yolks being gradually added to milk on a low simmer to make the custard but I failed to recall whether I was supposed to use all the egg yolks or not. Playing safe I used custard powder instead.
Note: The meringues will swell when you poach them. However they will certainly deflate somewhat in size after you remove them from the poaching liquid.
Note: In case you want to poach the meringues and intend to serve later, do not forget to cover with cling wrap before you keep them to a refrigerator. (Do not keep them longer than a few hours)
Note: I added a little more than a cup of milk more coz it reduce substantially while I was poaching the meringue.