July 29, 2010

Fireweed Custard

This time of year, fireweed is everywhere.  It's a gorgeous plant, one of my favorites.  As it turns out, it's perfectly edible as well.  Pretty flowers, edible... I had to get in on this game.  I've got a few more things to experiment with, but the first thing I did was a fireweed custard.  I adapted the recipe from the fireweed ice cream recipe at livefromalaska.
I gathered my fireweed from Arctic Valley.  I didn't really know how much I needed, so I just picked several dozen stems.  Now, the custard recipe calls for petals only, so once I'd laboriously de-flowered my flowers I ended up with about three quarters of a cup.
Next, I added the cleaned petals to 1/4 sugar and processed them for a few seconds.
The resulting mixture was a rather gorgeous purple, instead of the magenta of the petals.  I added this mixture to 1 cup of heavy cream, 1/2 cup skim milk and 1 tablespoon of honey.  Over medium heat, I kept stirring until the sugar was fully dissolved, then removed to cool.  Meanwhile, I whipped up an egg yolk, then carefully stirred the egg into the cream mixture.  This was then returned to heat, just long enough to thicken, and finally, refrigerated.

Somewhere along the way I lost the nice purple color, but I tried to get it back with some judicious food coloring.
I served this custard layered with chocolate cake.  I wasn't sure how the flavors would work together, so I used a less-chocolatey chocolate cake, but actually I think it would have been even better with a dark chocolate cake - just a hint of bitterness to accentuate the sweetness of the fireweed custard.  The custard cake still won rave reviews from the family, though!

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