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Lemon-Vanilla Custard

The finale of the Summer Entertaining Toolkit presents a sweet send off with Lemon-Vanilla Custard. This luxurious confection has the perfect balance of sweetness and richness. Think of it as refrigerator ice cream; a creamy, dreamy treat that tops a variety of ripe summer fruit and baked goods or is great, on its own, a spoonful at a time. [FYI, a few dollops of custard over sliced fresh bananas and vanilla wafers makes for one great tasting banana pudding as well!] This easy one-pot dessert comes together in no time and will delight your palate with its silky sweet taste.

The featured recipe will make about 8 servings depending on how much you decide to spoon on. A heaping tablespoon or two usually does the trick. However, it is easily doubled to serve twice the amount of individual servings or be used in a large trifle dish layered with fresh fruit and cubed pound cake to feed a crowd. Use ripe summer stone fruit like peaches, cherries, nectarines, and plums or fresh berries for the best results. Fresh cut melon is not a good choice to serve with this custard since they tend to water out when the custard is added, leading to a milky watery mess in the bottom of the serving bowl. Try the custard for breakfast, spooned over waffles or pancakes and topped with chopped fruit. Or smear on a piece of fresh pound cake for a quick dessert.

Overall, this recipe follows the same theme of versatility and customization as the other recipes included in my Summer Entertaining Toolkit. I hope this program has provided core recipes that you may incorporate into gatherings throughout the season. They all work together as a full menu, but try options where you break them out individually and compose a meal based around one or more. I encourage you to play and experiment with the menu to make it your own.

 Norm’s Notes: Canning Jars as Serveware

Canning jars offer a casual appeal in serving your menu and are cheap enough to be purchased in bulk when hosting a large number of guests. Use them for individual servings of dessert, green salad, or as holders for flatware on a buffet. My preference is for the wide-mouth variety because they are easy to fill and eat out of. I also use canning jars as holders for tea-light candles outdoors as they are sturdy enough to survive a slight wind gust without tipping. Place jars of varying heights and volumes to create mood lighting at the table or pack a few with fresh cut flowers for a simple centerpiece. Personally, I steer away from them when serving beverages since the screw top glass feels a bit unsophisticated, but if you like them for that purpose, go for it. A case of 12 wide mouth half-pints or pints costs around $12 to $15 and will serve you well over the year, whether as a container for banana pudding or quick table lantern.

Lemon-Vanilla Custard Trifle

Creamy Lemon-Vanilla Custard

Makes about 1 ½ cups

½ cup sugar

2 Tbsp. cornstarch

3 egg yolks

1 tsp. vanilla bean paste

½ tsp. lemon zest

Pinch salt

1 cup heavy cream

½ (8-oz.) container mascarpone cheese

1. Whisk first 6 ingredients together in a heavy bottomed saucepan until smooth and creamy. Gradually whisk in heavy cream until blended.

2. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly. Boil 1 minute; remove from heat. Cover with plastic wrap, placing plastic wrap directly on custard and let stand 20 minutes (custard should still be warm).

3. Whisk in mascarpone cheese until blended and smooth. Transfer to an airtight container or canning jar, cover and chill 1 hour. Custard will keep in refrigerator up to 5 days.

Glazed Summer Fruit

2 lb. fresh sliced or chopped fruit [Use desired stone fruit or fresh berries for best results.]

1 Tbsp. sugar

1 Tbsp. chopped fresh mint

1 Tbsp. rum or bourbon (optional)

Stir all ingredients together in a large bowl. Let stand 5 minutes and serve with a slotted spoon.

Full Summer Entertaining Toolkit:

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Norman KingNorman is a culinary expert and cookbook author. He first harnessed a love of stirring cast iron skillets atop wooden stools at his grandmother’s stove, leading his heart and feet...

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