Well, these probably aren’t really Irish; we tend to think that they’re more French, but we’ll call them Irish, anyway. We think that most people from Ireland might have at least a wee taste.
We came up with the idea for these as a possible dessert for the upcoming holidays, and, naturally, we had to try them first. We’d surely hate to make them for Thanksgiving or Christmas, and have a dessert we don’t like.
This is a combination of a couple of recipes, namely one from Family Circle and one from Bon Appetit. We didn’t like the one from Family Circle, as it used only milk. Come on, something that has cream in the name better have cream in it. We didn’t like the one from Bon Appetit because it was plain vanilla and made a whole lot (we’re talking 18 egg yolks for that one), so we merged, scaled, and finagled them, and this is what we got. We did put many ingredients in terms of grams, so we can scale up and down.
Oh, and since we were testing, we reduced the recipe to make just two Irish Cups o’ Cream, so that’s what you’ll see in the pictures.
We like to use organic heavy cream, as it’s just cream. Nothing else. For the Irish cream, we used Bailey’s, mainly because we know nothing about liqueurs, so we just picked up the brand name. Ideally, egg yolks should come from eggs that come from hens that are allowed to roam and peck, and eat and behave like hens. It’s right for them, so it’s right for you.
Procedure in detail:
Preheat oven to 300°F. Set up a water bath by placing six 4-ounce ramekins in a baking pan. We’ll be pouring very hot water into the pan later; make sure there’s enough space around the ramekins so that you can pour the water easily.
Mix together flavors. We knew everything was going to end up in a large measuring cup with a spout, and we’d finish by stirring in the Irish cream and vanilla. We thought that we’d get a head start by just putting those two ingredients into the measuring cup and adding everything else later.
Whisk egg yolks and sugar. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until smooth and light in color. It shouldn’t take more than a minute. Once whisked, set aside for now.
Heat cream and milk. Combine the salt, cream, and milk in a medium saucepan and place it over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a bare simmer, while stirring often to prevent scorching. This heating cooks the proteins in the dairy slightly, changing their flavors, and will help the Cups o’ Cream set better.
Temper yolks. Okay, prepare yourself: you’ll need to mix the hot cream into the egg yolks mixture without cooking the yolks. It can be done. You can do it, and here’s how. Start whisking the egg yolk mixture rapidly, and, while whisking, slowly, very slowly, pour in a bit of the hot cream. Once whisked in, add a bit more cream, then more, and more, until it’s all whisked together and foamy.
Strain. Now, no matter how good a job you did on tempering the yolks, there are probably a few bits of yolk that cooked, and we need to get them out. Simply strain the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer and into the Irish cream and vanilla that we mixed together earlier. Once strained, stir the mixture together.
Fill ramekins. Divide the mixture among the six ramekins, making sure that each has the same amount, so you won’t have to hear, “mine has less than that one.” To finish, sprinkle a bit of freshly ground nutmeg on top of each custard, if desired.
Place in oven and add water. Bring a teakettle with about 4 to 6 cups of water to a boil. Once boiling, remove from heat. Open the oven and slide out the rack that you intend to use for baking, and place the baking pan with ramekins in the center. Carefully pour hot water into the baking dish until it comes halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Very carefully, slide the rack back into the oven. You’re now baking in a water bath, or, if you want to sound chef-like, a bain marie.
Bake. Bake the Cups o’ Cream for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the custard is set around the edges but the center is still slightly jiggly. Remove the pan from the oven, and let the ramekins rest in the hot water for 5 minutes, before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Cool and Chill. Let the Cups o’ Cream cool on the rack, then cover each with a bit of plastic wrap and refrigerate until completely chilled, at least 4 hours, before serving (perhaps with a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream).
These seem as if they’re difficult to put together and bake, but, really, it’s pretty easy. We understand, though, if you think otherwise. We used to think that baking in a water bath was a lot of trouble, but, as with anything else, once you do it a few times, there’s nothing to it. So, at least, sometime, try it and you’ll see. The real question is how do these taste, and we can say they’re super smooth, creamy, and delicious. Except for the addition of nutmeg, which left the slightest hint of grittiness on the surface. In the future, we might mix the nutmeg into the cream while heating it, or do without. Four stars.