These creamy baked custards, delicately flavoured with vanilla and accompanied by a fresh cherry compote, are easy to make and sure to be popular with all ages. Take care not to overcook the custards – they should be just set when you take them out of the oven. This dessert can be prepared well ahead of serving.
If you want to turn out the custards for serving, line the bottom of each ramekin with a circle of baking parchment, and add an extra egg yolk to the mixture. After baking, chill for at least 4 hours or, preferably, overnight. To turn out, lightly press the edge of each custard with your fingertips to pull it away from the dish, then run a knife around the edge. Put an inverted serving plate on top of the ramekin, then turn them both over, holding them firmly together, and lift off the ramekin. * For chocolate custard pots with poached pears, flavour the milk with a thin strip of pared orange zest instead of the vanilla pod. In step 2, replace the caster sugar with light soft brown sugar, and add 1 tbsp sifted cocoa powder. Continue as in the main recipe. For the pears, heat 300 ml (10 fl oz) water with 85 g (3 oz) caster sugar and a split vanilla pod until the sugar dissolves, then bring to the boil and simmer for 2–3 minutes. Add 4 firm dessert pears, peeled, cored and thickly sliced. Cover and simmer for 12–15 minutes or until just tender, turning the pear slices in the syrup occasionally. Lift out the pears with a draining spoon and transfer to a serving dish. Simmer the syrup for 5 minutes to reduce slightly, then cool for 5 minutes. Remove the vanilla pod and pour over the pears.
Adding extra egg yolks in this recipe boosts the content of vitamins A and D and most of the B vitamins, as these nutrients are concentrated in the yolk of the egg rather than the white. * Cherries are rich in potassium and provide useful amounts of vitamin C.
Good source of vitamin B12. Useful source of calcium, vitamin A, vitamin B2, vitamin C, zinc.