Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Masala Coffee Custards


My father’s childhood is mostly a mystery to me. I have only heard a couple stories of his life before me and most of those are through family and friends. I have tried to recreate the exact moment when he started drinking coffee. My father’s love of coffee is so abiding that I am fairly certain it will be mentioned in his obituary (not that that will happen any time soon.) If you took a straw poll of the hundreds and hundreds of people he knows, coffee-drinking would be at the top of the list of personal traits.

There is a clear geographic distribution to coffee and tea-drinking in India. My family hails from the land of tea. (I blame heritage for my addiction to said substance.) The first time I had coffee in India I was sitting at an engagement ceremony. Breakfast in all its fried magnificence was being served. Men were running around the room dipping ladles into the stainless steel vats of piping coffee and adeptly pouring them from great height into the guest’s stainless steel cups. As a tween (though we didn’t have that word back then), I had never had coffee (again, we didn’t have Starbuck’s mochas back then either.) To call that drink coffee would be serious misrepresentation. It was basically warm, sweet, spicy milk kissed by a coffee essence. Candy more than anything else.

I always imagine that this was the sort of coffee concoction that my dad’s mother created when he requested coffee for breakfast. Without any hard-evidence, I instead base this assumption on my grandmother’s fantastic sweet tooth and ability to make anything tasty. Something in him must have inherently understood the lameness of this coffee, because apparently in college, away from home for the first time, my father started to associate himself with the coffee-plantation kids. Under their tutelage, he began to drink dark unadulterated coffee the way he continues to consume it to this day. There must have been one moment where he stood is his friend’s house and he looked over to see a black liquid steaming in a cup. One short moment, where a friend or maybe a friend’s mother asked, “will you have coffee our way or would you like sugar?” And, then with sip, something deep seated must have clicked.

This dessert takes the sweet coffee of my dad’s childhood, which had been rightly that anyway, and turns it into a sweet custard. Serve it with strong coffee and coffee glazed donuts.
Coffee Custards and Doughnuts

Masala Coffee Custards

(makes 6-8 depending on the glasses)

In a saucepan, combine and simmer for about 2 minutes
1 cup brewed coffee
1 cup whipping cream
1 cup whole milk
1 cinnamom stick
10 black peppercorns
2 black cardamom pods
2 green cardamom pods

2 T honey
1/3 cup (or less) jaggery (or brown sugar)

Taste. If it isn’t sickly sweet, add more jaggery

3 egg yolks (that have been tempered)

Whip with a whisk

Add 1 packet gelatin

Chill for 4 hours

Coffee Custards and Doughnuts


Manggy said...

Ah, I wonder what he will think of these, then :) I certainly love them-- custard AND a doughnut? I am so there!

Anonymous said...

very delicious!!

ila said...

thats looks insanely delicious! plus, i love your little cups...

Anonymous said...

I rarely drink coffee, but wouldn't mind these delicious looking coffee custards. Your pictures are so good!

Dragon said...

Why doesn't starbucks sell these? They'd be a best seller!

The CFT said...

The coffee purist in me is not sure what to think, but the dessert eater that is me rejoices. Can't think of a better way to conclude a meal.

TS of eatingclub vancouver said...

I like the story. =)

And hey -- if the previous post wasn't your Joust entry, and this one isn't your Joust entry (both excellent!), then I wonder what you have up your sleeve!

Sophie said...

My husband is the same way about coffee :). I don't drink it but for some reason I really love the flavor in desserts, I like how you described this as candy-like!

La and Dr said...

Is this what you brought in a couple weeks ago? It was good... Thanks for posting the recipe!

eatingclubvancouver_js said...

Coffee, when I was growing up, was always instant, very, very light, like coffee-water, always with milk and very, very sweet. I started being more "sophisticated" :p in university, drinking black coffee because I couldn't afford to gain more weight drinking all that milk and sugar with the coffee.

I love both of your coffee-inspired (albeit a bit sideways inspired?) here and I've had it keep-new-ed on my reader for so long. There were my perk-me-up on boring days. ;)

Lynne Daley said...

While looking for a simple dessert for my Christmas dinner today, I came upon your masala coffee custards. They perfectly fit what I was looking for! Thanks for sharing and your father must a wonderful father!