Louisville, Ky., the land of mint juleps and Derby hats, has always known a little bit about making sweet treats with style—and a hit of bourbon. This country custard was created by Thomas Hiestand, executive chef for Levy Conventions at the Kentucky International Convention Center. The custard can be served in a chef’s table setting or for a plated event.
YIELD: 6 servings
1 ¾ cups whipping cream
1 cup whole milk (do not use low-fat or nonfat)
pinch of salt
½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise
¼ cup bourbon
1 cup sugar
7 Tbsps. sugar
1. Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Combine cream, milk and salt in heavy medium saucepan. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean into cream mixture; add bean. Bring to simmer over medium heat. Remove from heat and let steep for 30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, combine bourbon and sugar in another heavy medium saucepan. Stir over low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to high and cook without stirring until syrup turns deep amber, brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush and swirling pan occasionally, about 10 minutes. Quickly pour caramel into 6 ramekins or custard cups. Using oven mitts, immediately tilt each ramekin to coat sides. Set ramekins into 13x9x2 baking pan.
3. Whisk eggs and 7 Tbsps. sugar in medium bowl just until blended. Gradually and gently whisk cream mixture into egg mixture without creating lots of foam. Pour custard through small sieve into prepared ramekins, dividing evenly (mixture will fill ¾-cup size ramekins). Pour enough hot water into baking pan to come hallway up sides of ramekins.
4. Bake until centers of custards are gently set, about 40 minutes. Transfer custards to rack and cool. Chill until cold, about 2 hours. Cover and chill overnight. (Can be made up to 2 days ahead).
5. To serve, run small sharp knife around custard to loosen. Turn over onto plate. Shake gently to release the custard. Carefully lift off ramekin allowing caramel syrup to run over custard. Repeat with remaining custard and serve.
Recipe: Thomas Hiestand, executive chef for Levy Conventions Photo: Levy Conventions