It’s Tuesday again and I find myself a week behind on my TWD posts.  I did in fact make last week’s Chocolate Armagnac Cake but between a death in the family and a stolen car I’m afraid TWD wasn’t exactly uppermost in my thoughts.  Rather than skip entirely I decided that I would combine two weeks of TWD into a TWD Double Header.

I’ll start us off with this week’s selection by Bridget of The Way the Cookie Crumbles;  Lemon Cup Custard on page 387, and then, if you are interested you can continue on to read about last week when Lyb of And then I do the dishes chose Dorie’ Chocolate Armagnac Cake (or The Cake That Got Me Fired).

Lemon Cup Custard:

To be perfectly honest, this recipe did not appeal to me at first glance.  I like lemonade and I’ve found some pretty good use for lemon zest, but over all I wouldn’t place lemon desserts any where at all on my favorites list.  However, Dorie’s playing around section came to my rescue again. I decided to split the recipe and do one half Vanilla Cup and one half Espresso Cinnamon Cup (sort-of, don’t worry, I’ll explain).

This recipe came together extremely easily, which I’m so very thankful for because I didn’t get to make it until tonight.

vanilla milk

I decided to use vanilla infused milk for both of my variations, so I started with the full amount of milk in a saucepan with 1 split and scraped vanilla bean.

eggs and sugar

At this point I pretty much decided I could create the entire custard base in one measuring cup, then pour off the straight vanilla into half of my custard cups while reserving half the mixture to add my espresso flavoring to.  So here we have all 4 eggs and the full 1/2 cup of sugar.

tempered eggs

It was a little tricky to hold the strainer while pouring a small amount of hot milk through it and still whisking the eggs to temper them, but I managed (don’t ask me how, I really don’t think I could explain).

custard mix

I added some vanilla extract to the custard mix and removed as much milk froth as I could before pouring half my mix into 3 custard cups.

espresso custard mix

For my espresso flavor I actually decided to go with a Mayan Chocolate coffee drink mix which brought cinnamon, chocolate and coffee all to the mix.  Since it did not have the strength of straight espresso I doubled the amount of powder added.

into the oven

After pouring the Mayan mocha flavored mix into the remaining 3 custard cups, I slipped all 6 cups into the oven in a water bath.

finished custard

45 minutes later – here are the results. You can really see the color contrast in the two different flavors now.

serving custard

Even though Dorie recommends serving this custard as is, I decided to put a drizzle of caramel over the Vanilla Cup custard and a sprinkle of cinnamon and cocoa on the Mayan Mocha Cup custard just before serving.

I’m glad I added the extra flavor to the top because I didn’t find that the custard flavors came through very strongly at all; of the two, the Mayan Mocha flavor was clearer.  I also found the texture to be a bit firmer than I generally like in a custard and I can see why other TWD-ers compared this to flan in texture.  Overall, I would say this struck me as rather mediocre; I don’t hate it, but neither do I love it.

Thank you Bridget for selecting a recipe that I wouldn’t have chosen on my own and keeping me true to why I decided to join this group in the first place.  Don’t forget to head over to her site for the recipe and peruse the TWD blogroll to see what everyone else has done.

Chocolate Armagnac Cake:

The picture of this cake has repeatedly caught my eye as I flip through Dorie’s Baking From My Home to Yours, but every time I stop and read the recipe I am turned off by the alcohol and the prunes, and yet it just looks sooooo good.  So I’m glad Lyb chose this recipe and I’m glad I was able to make it.

I actually do have step by step photos this time – aren’t you excited?

raisins and scotch

I didn’t have prunes or Armagnac on hand so I opted for the raisins and scotch variation.  I allowed the raisins to steep in the scotch overnight, then  attempted to light them on fire.  I don’t have a pretty picture of flaming raisins and scotch because it was not terribly spectacular and didn’t last very long.

nuts and dry ingredients

Ground pecans were my nut of choice – here you can see them whisked together with the remainder of the dry ingredients.

chocolate and butter

I decided to use the microwave to melt my chocolate and butter together – I wanted to avoid over heating and I wanted it done quickly (and I might be a little lazy sometimes).

melted chocolate and butter

Here we have perfectly smooth and shiny melted chocolate and butter.

egg yolks and sugar

The egg yolks get whisked with the sugar until they are thick and pale as you see here. The egg whites are set aside to be beaten severely a little later.

chocolate, butter and egg mixture

Now we need to start bringing all these segments together.  First, I mixed the chocolate and butter mixture into the egg yolks and sugar mixture.

add nuts and dry ingredients

Then we mix in the dry ingredients, all you really see here is a change in texture.

add scotch and raisins

Next we mix in the raisins and scotch.  I actually gave my raisins a few turns through the food processor because I really didn’t like the thought of biting into a whole raisin in the middle of this lovely chocolate cake.

Now back to the egg whites, we need to beat them until they are glossy and form stiff peaks – I completely neglected to take a picture of the stiff peaks, but I’m sure you all know what that looks like.

lightening batter

Here we are lightening the batter by stirring in about 1/4 of the egg whites.

final batter

Finally, we fold in the remainder of the egg whites until we have our final batter.

Pour that into our prepared pan and pop it in the oven.  The baking took about 12-15 minutes longer than the recipe stated for me.

finished cake

And Voila! The finished cake!  The glaze was a simple matter of mixing together melted chocolate, powdered sugar and butter – in my case this was never really self spreading as Dorie indicates.  But it did spread quite nicely with an offset spatula.

cake slice

Here is “Prince Charming’s” idea of a “representative portion” as is pictured in the book.  It looks quite lovely on the plate – but I don’t think either of us could actually eat that whole piece.

pac-man cake

Personally I think he just enjoyed making the cake look like a chocolate version of PacMan!

In any case, this cake is definitely very fudgy and rich and really more brownie like than cake like – or perhaps torte like would be a better description.  I’m still trying to decide if the fruity tones I’m picking up are my imagination or if I can actually taste the raisins through all the dark chocolate.

Thank you Lyb for selecting this recipe – I’m always up for more chocolate and this one has been calling to me.  Don’t forget to head over to her site for the recipe and peruse the TWD blogroll to see what everyone else has done.