Beekeepers’ baked honey custards
- 4 dessertspoons of tāwari or your favourite dessert honey
- 2 dessertspoons water
- 1 whole large egg
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 tsp liquid honey
- 250ml milk (for a very rich custard, you could make half of this cream)
- 1/2 tsp natural vanilla flavouring (optional)
- whole nuts (walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts) to garnish (optional)
Turn the oven to 160°C to preheat.
Prepare four ovenproof ramekins or dariole moulds by buttering dishes lightly.
In a heavy-bottomed pot, melt the first measure of honey and two dessertspoons of water.
Stirring gently, bring mixture to the boil and watch very carefully, swirling from time to time to make sure it doesn’t burn.
When the mixture just starts to gently colour, drop in nuts if using. Swirl to coat and roast nuts.
When the honey reaches a delicate pleasant gold, immediately remove from heat. Very quickly remove nuts and place on baking paper or foil to cool.
Pour the remaining boiling-hot honey caramel into the bottom of baking ramekins and swirl around sides to completely cover the bottom. Put aside to cool.
Next, whisk egg and yolks together. It is easiest to use one of those pouring jug-type bowls for this. While continuing to gently whisk, add warm milk and vanilla if using. Strain the mixture onto the honey caramel mixture in the moulds.
Bake the custards ‘au bain-marie’; that is, place ramekin dishes in a roasting dish or similar ovenproof dish with warm water reaching halfway up the sides. They should take about 30–40 minutes until custard is just set and does not wobble.
Remove from the water bath. Cool, then refrigerate for several hours.
Gently, using the back of a teaspoon, press down around the edge of the custard to loosen top. Quickly invert onto serving dish (you may wish to place your dish on top), firmly hold together and then invert. A swift, sharp shake will generally dislodge custard onto the serving dish. Carefully remove the baking dish, pouring any extra honey caramel on top. Place caramel nuts on top if using, to add a bittersweet crunch to the dessert. Enjoy.
Chef’s note: for flavour variations, you could infuse warm milk with rose geranium leaves or lavender. Alternatively, something like orange peel, a cinnamon stick or cardamon pod would all work well.