Dating from 13th-century England, this dish is basically the English version of Italy's zabaglione and France's sabayon. Once you add the wine, you can finish cooking the custard directly over the stove-top burner if you feel confident; the more cowardly but often wiser choice is to cook it over simmering water, double-boiler style.
We found ground galangal at Great Wall Supermarket in Falls Church.
Make Ahead: The custard may be made 2 days in advance, covered and refrigerated.
Yield: Makes 4 cups
- For the custard
- 4 large eggs, plus 2 large egg yolks
- 2 cups red wine
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled
- 1/2 teaspoon ground mace
- 1/4 teaspoon ground galangal (optional; see headnote)
- For the spice mixture
- Pinch ground ginger
- Pinch ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
For the custard: Bring about an inch of water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
Beat the eggs and yolks together in a medium bowl. Heat the wine in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until you see wisps of steam rising, then gradually pour it into the eggs, whisking constantly so the eggs do not scramble. Stir in the sugar. Place the bowl over, but not touching, the boiling water in the saucepan and stir in the cinnamon, cloves, saffron, mace and galangal, if using.
Cook until the mixture has become quite thick, 10 to 15 minutes, stirring constantly. The custard should heavily coat the back of a spoon; when you draw your finger across the spoon, you should leave a clear path through the custard. Pour the custard into a serving bowl or into individual glasses and allow to cool, then cover and refrigerate.
For the topping: Combine the ground ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg. Just before serving, sprinkle the top of the custard with the spice mixture.
Adapted from "A History of English Food," by Clarissa Dickson Wright (Random House, 2011).
Tested by Jane Touzalin.
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