By Barbara Beltrami
We all talk about comfort foods — chicken soup and meatloaf and mac and cheese and the myriad foods that linger in our memory from childhood. But what about comfort desserts? What about those sweet smooth custards and puddings that soothed sore throats and upset tummies, sickbed treats for which we roused ourselves from the fumes of Vick’s Vaporub and aftertastes of stale ginger ale to savor a few spoonfuls of soothing pleasure that would hold us over until the next delivery of a new coloring book and even bigger box of crayons arrived.
YIELD: Makes 4 servings
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup cornstarch
2½ cups milk
3 egg yolks, lightly beaten
1½ tablespoons very finely grated lemon zest
1/8 teaspoon salt
½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
In a medium to large saucepan, thoroughly combine sugar and cornstarch. Whisking constantly, add milk and when mixture is smooth slowly add egg yolks, lemon zest and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently and then constantly until mixture is thickened and coats the back of the spoon, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in lemon juice and butter and pour through sieve to catch any lumps. Divide into individual bowls, cover with plastic wrap and chill. Serve cold with lemon cookies.
YIELD: Makes 4 servings
½ cup sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
Dash of vanilla
2¼ cups milk, heated until not quite boiling
Preheat oven to 350 F. Beat together the eggs, sugar and salt, add vanilla and milk and briefly beat together. Divide mixture into 4 oven proof ramekins and set them in a shallow pan filled with hot water that comes halfway up their sides. Bake 45 to 55 minutes until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Remove ramekins from oven. (To avoid hot water sloshing and scalding, let pan with water cool before removing from oven). Cover ramekins with plastic wrap and refrigerate or serve warm with vanilla cookies.
YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings
3 cups cooked short or medium grain rice
3 cups milk
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup raisins (optional)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine rice, milk, sugar, butter, vanilla, raisins, if using,, and half the cinnamon. Cook, stirring frequently, until liquid is absorbed, about 20 to 25 minutes. Divide evenly among dessert bowls and sprinkle with remaining half of cinnamon. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate or serve warm with raisin cookies.