I’m one of the easiest people in the world to talk to which means that it’s a rare waking moment when I and I are not chewing the fat which term is far from apposite as I and I is vegetarian. It’s not a question of advancing years or retreating sanity that brings me into such close communication with myself as I’ve talked to myself for as long as I can remember which is an unreliable time frame with regard to memory as I instantly forget the names of people to whom I’ve just been introduced. That aside, there’s no one I would rather cook with than myself as it precludes any criticism or I told you so’s which are disheartening when I’m clearly fucking up as was the case when recently making Creme Caramel. I say “clearly” but what is now clear is that the clear errors were not apparent to I and I at the time although we were congratulating each other on a job well done as we unwittingly sank deeper and deeper into the moving sands of the dessert.
“If you’re feeling brave, tip the sugar directly into a thick bottomed pan and let it melt over a low heat”…challenged the author of the chosen recipe. Madness, I said to myself, and myself replied “If this is madness then I am a friend of folly” and tipped the sugar directly into the pan. Gently swirling the pan from time to time produced a warm brown bubbling caramel, as you can see from the picture above, and both I and I were confident that it was right…….boiling sugar does not lend itself to tasting and I was sure that once upon a time I had had a sugar thermometer by I couldn’t remember where I or I had put it so the caramel was tipped into the waiting dish where it quickly set into a perfect dark mirror. To my and I’s mind the difficult part was over. All that was left to do was pour a rich, vanilla flavoured custard over the dark mirror, put the dish in a bain marie and thence to the oven for an hour.
The hour passed reasonably quickly as one of us danced embarrassingly to jazz music from a French radio station whilst the other hid his face in his hands wishing he was with anyone but himself. The timer thankfully blew full time and the Creme Caramel saw its first moment of daylight and, without question, it was a ringer for the dog’s bollocks….why do I say things like that I said to myself who in turn said ” you’ve got fucking Tourette’s, that’s why”. At this point you may wonder what could be wrong with this paragon of a pudding and it was only after the recommended 12 hours chilling in the fridge that its true character came to light. The Rothko like surface of the pudding, as seen in the picture above, had become a pale, wrinkled covering and a spoon dug in revealed a far too thin layer of custard and a rather bitter caramel…..an altogether acquired taste. Our post mortem concluded that the caramel had cooked for a couple of minutes too long and it also dragged out another couple of truths which I thought I had safely hidden from myself. First of these was the sin of halving a recipe under the belief that it will work as normal and, adding injury to insult, only halving certain parts of the recipe. ….and there was no vanilla sugar in the custard as one of me had forgotten that there was no more in the cupboard.
I have talked myself into a replay next week once I have found the thermometer ( or me or myself chooses to make the caramel the easy way with water) and when the vanilla sugar cupboard is fully restocked.