Does this happen to you? You look in the refrigerator and see a cup of heavy cream and you don’t know what you’re going to do with it. It does to us. And, it seems as if it’s a somewhat regular occurrence with a variety of ingredients (right now, we have nine egg whites sitting in the freezer awaiting a recipe). So, we searched through our vast holdings in the Scratchin’ It Central library, and came up with Wild Mushroom Flans.
This recipe is very similar to the Corn and Mushroom Custard that we made up, oh, a couple of years ago, and with good reason: both recipes come from Dining at The White House, by John Moeller. Since we really like the Corn and Mushroom Custard, we figured that this would be a shoe-in.
We prefer to use organic heavy cream when we can. It doesn’t contain thickeners or anything that isn’t cream. After all, you’re buying cream, right? The eggs, well, this is an egg dish, so ours come from happy hens allowed to range freely. These hens make the best-tasting eggs and it is soooo worth the extra expense. Mushrooms: well, we went with a mix of dried shiitake, porcini, oyster, and morel mushrooms, and a few fresh white mushrooms, but feel free to use what you have and what you like.
About the bain-marie: using this will make your custards smooth and creamy; if you try just baking your custards, they’ll turn out tough and rubbery. Not good.
Procedure in detail:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter six 4-ounce ramekins or custard cups and find a roasting pan that will hold them to use as a bain-marie, or water bath. We generally start heating a teakettle of water right about now, so it’s hot when we finish making the custards. If the water boils before you’re ready, you can just take it off the heat until you need it.
Fry mushrooms. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter, and, when foamy, fry the mushrooms, about 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper while they’re frying because it smells good and will make them taste even better.
Add onions. Stir in the onions and continue to fry until the onions are starting to become translucent and tender, about 2 minutes more. Remove from heat.
Whisk eggs. If you have a 2-cup measuring cup with a spout, it’ll be perfect for making custard, and you’ll have no problem pouring the custard later. A small bowl will work as well. In your container, whisk together the eggs and egg yolk. By whisking the eggs now, you can be sure that the whites and yolks are thoroughly whisked together.
Whisk in cream. Add the cream to the eggs and whisk thoroughly. You could use milk, but why?
Add seasoning. Sprinkle in salt and pepper and add the finely minced garlic and stir everything into your custard. You can still use the whisk for stirring, you just don’t need to whisk.
Fill ramekins. Fill each ramekin or custard cup about halfway with the egg mixture, then add about a tablespoon of mushroom mixture to each cup. The mushroom mixture will sink into the custard, which is normal. Finally, divide the remaining custard among the cup.
Bake. The easiest way to bake in a bain-marie is to set the roasting pan and custard cups on an oven rack, then add the hot water and slide the rack into the oven. Less chance of spilling that hot water, which is always good. Let the custards bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the center of each custard is set.
Cool. Remove the bain-marie with the hot water — careful — from the oven, and let the custards sit in the hot water bath for 15 to 20 minutes.
Serve. Run a dull knife around the edge of each custard, and upend each ramekin over a plate. It’ll slide right out. We went all fancy and placed ours in a pool of mushroom broth reduction.
We were surprised that these didn’t seem as good as the corn and mushroom custards. It seemed as though the flavors didn’t meld quite as well, and there wasn’t any corn to temper the mushroom and garlic flavor. While we might try these again, we’d be more likely to add something else in addition to the mushrooms. Three stars.